Greene County paves way for new athletics Hall of Fame
By Brandon Hurley
Make way for the legends.
New Greene County activities director Todd Gordon is already generating substantial waves not even two months into the job after a recent ground-breaking announcement.
The Greene County athletic department is now accepting nominations for the inaugural 2020 Greene County Hall of Fame class. The first-ever induction ceremony is set for Jan. 17 between the girls’ and boys’ basketball games against Gilbert.
The birth of the Greene County Hall of Fame, which will also include athletes from Scranton High School, Grand Junction and East Greene High Schools, was created out of necessity, Gordon said. While trophies and team awards are prominently displayed in a case at the high school, there’s nothing acknowledging the success of individual athletes.
The long-time AD noticed the glaring hole and leapt into action. The best way to honor Greene County’s long ago success was to create a hall of fame.
“It’s a way to celebrate all the great things that have been done here,” Gordon said. “I wanted to have a special focus and time to recognize those people. There wasn’t a (Hall of Fame) here and it was a perfect opportunity.”
A seven member committee will meet at the end of October to select the inaugural five-person hall of fame class. The honor is open to athletes, coaches and teams in any of the sanctioned high school sports. The athletes must have garnered either a first team-all state selection or have been a state champion at some point in their careers. Consideration will also be given to athletes that went on and achieved post-high school success, whether that means an All-American or first team all conference honor in Division I, II, III or the NAIA. Collegiate athletes who placed first, second or third at an NCAA sponsored postseason event are also eligible for nomination. Any Olympic gold medalists are eligible as well.
Nomination forms can be picked up at either the Greene County high school or online at greenec.rschoolteams.com.
Gordon is fairly familiar with the hall of fame process, kick-starting the prestigious programs at both Carlisle High School and Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. Each one of those was a rousing success, the AD said.
“It really becomes the highlight of the year,” he said. “Hearing people talk about their memories and what (these) places mean to them. It’s awesome to hear why people think this place is so special.”
Gordon’s choice to include collegiate and professional accomplishments was a no-brainer as well. Athletic feats don’t always stop at the high school level.
“Some people mature later in life and they excel in college,” Gordon said. “Or they find their niche.”
Gordon may be referring to the late Doreen Wilber, who didn’t pick up archery until well into adulthood but enjoyed tremendous success, even winning a gold medal at the 1972 Olympic Games.
The coaching criteria is a bit stiffer. A coach must accumulate a total of at least 150 points to be considered for the hall of fame. Points are given for winning seasons, conference, regional, district and substate championships as well as individual state place-winners. Ten points are given for a top three finish at state while 20 points are given for a state title. In addition, 20 points are awarded for a state hall of fame induction while 30 points are given for a national hall of fame honor.
With just five available slots for the inaugural Greene County hall of fame class, Gordon expects the competition to be fierce. The selection process will not be easy. Each inductee tends to be a unanimous choice. After some discussion and debate, the initial classes are fairly quick and painless, Gordon said.
“The first two classes are usually star-studded,” he said. “There’s no drop off and there never is because they are all-staters and state champions. It’s just really cool. I get goosebumps when they talk to me about it. It’s great to see them become emotional talking about their past.”
The first class may omit some famous Greene County names, but it’s impossible to fit all the deserving athletes in the initial go-around. The local legends will eventually enjoy their shine, Gordon said.
“It doesn’t mean they are left out. Sometimes it just means they can’t make it to the ceremony,” Gordon said. “We try to make sure they get in one way or another.”
The addition of a high school hall of fame, in a way, is just another place for the communities of Greene County to express their athletic pride, Gordon said.
“We need to celebrate that with a little dose at a time,” he said. “Carlisle has carried it on and they keep inducting classes in. We will never run out of people to induct here. We will just be scratching the surface over the next few years.”
The decision to include athletes from Scranton, Grand Junction as well as East Greene was a rather simple one as well - those athletes make up what Greene County athletics are as a whole, Gordon said.
The plan is to get each inductee to attend the ceremonies this winter, if they are of course still living. Gordon plans to invite family members of the honorees as well. The hall of fame will have a shiny home at the new Greene County high school set to open next fall in 2020. Contrary to the traditional sense, the Greene County hall of fame will be displayed digitally, with full bios and accolades attached to each entry. Each inductee will receive a plague commemorating the honor during January’s ceremonies.