For the first time in its 61-year history, the Arlington Sports Hall of Fame is officially on display.
“At last,” many kept repeating.
The organization, established in 1958, held an hour-long ceremony Sept. 5 to unveil the mobile retractable color banners of the 50 inductees in the lobby of Central Library. The exhibit will be on display there until Sept. 21.
Previously, the Hall of Fame existed on a Website only at www.arlsportshof.org.
“It is finally happening,” Hall of Fame board member George Varoutsos said to the guests, including past and current inductees, politicians, high-school administrators, board members and others.
Jim Smith told the gathering that the first thing he asked when he became the current president was: “Where is the physical Hall of Fame?”
“This has been a dream and something we have wanted to do for a long time, “Smith said, “Now it’s here for everyone to see and enjoy ,and we hope they do.”
The portable banners include this year’s six new 2019 inductees, who will be honored at a Sept. 11 induction dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 6:30 p.m.
The hope is that the banners will be rotated among prominent locales throughout Arlington. A site for the next display, though, is not yet determined, nor is a permanent home, which Smith said would be welcomed.
“We would be in the market for a permanent home where it could be seen,” said Smith, who asked for suggestions about any such sites, temporary or permanent.
“With the retractable banners that roll back into canisters, they are easy to move around, so we can display them at a lot of places,” Smith said.
During the ceremony, Smith gave an overview about the Hall of Fame’s history, recognized seven inductees in attendance, explained how the number of new inductees has increased in recent years, and encouraged all to explore the banners.
There have been 10 total inductees over the past two years, 20 over a four-year span. Hall members want that pace to continue into the future. They encourage many worthy nominees.
County Board members Erik Gutshall and Libby Garvey attended, with Gutshall reading a proclamation.
Longtime Washington-Liberty High School and Arlington YMCA gymnastics coach Joe D’Emidio was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. He attended the ceremony.
“It’s a great day to be in Arlington,” D’Emidio said. “It’s all about mentors, and this display is important for the youth of Arlington to see who is hanging out here in the lobby. Hopefully this will stir people to nominate others.”
Smith asked those interested in making a nomination to find directions and forms at www.arlsportshof.org.
The 2019 inductees are multi-sport athletes John Crone and Bernie Kirchner; basketball coach Maynard Haithcock (posthumously); former NFL runningback Reggie Harrison; wrestler and coach Milt Sherman; and senior triathlete, duathlete and coach Anne Viviani (posthumously).
The 2019 inductees initially were announced and introduced June 15 at the annual banquet of the Better Sports Club of Arlington.