Norwich Athletics Hall of Fame a reality


Patrick Newell

I heard talk of a Norwich Athletics Hall of Fame a few years ago. Those talks were more like whispers traveling the rumor mill rather than anything substantive. Yesterday, after meeting with longtime NHS sports supporters, Pete Smith and Jim Dunne, I can confidently announce that Norwich High School will have a sports Hall of Fame.
Dunne and Smith – Norwich graduates in ‘55 and ‘63 respectively – will assume responsibility of gathering information for all pre-1970 athletes. From 1970 and forward, Mark Abbott will shoulder the main responsibility, along with a committee, of compiling appropriate Hall of Fame nominees.
Tentatively, the first Hall of Fame class is slated for induction in the spring of 2011, although nothing is finalized at this time. Dunne is in the midst of ongoing exhaustive research on Norwich athletics, and he has contacted a number of men for input on potential nominees. Dunne said he has put together a rather large list of athletes; however, all of the nominees must be properly researched for future discussion on their HOF merits.
A suggestion Dunne and Smith will present when the HOF committee meets is to induct entire teams based on outstanding seasons. For instance, the unbeaten, unscored on 1937 football squad has few equals on the NHS sports landscape. Individually, many of the star athletes on that team will eventually be inducted into the Hall as well.
Smith and Dunne were quick to point out the contributions of Abbott, who, for a quarter century, has maintained in-depth and comprehensive statistics of his basketball teams. Abbott’s brings that same attention to detail to his committee, and that should ensure that the most worthy Hall of Fame athletes are recognized.
In my meeting with Dunne and Smith, all of us bandied about some HOF criteria. Will nominated athletes be voted on? How many will be inducted each year? Who will present the selections? How many years will a nominee remain on the ballot? Will there be separate Hall categories such as athletes, coaches, and contributors? Will the emphasis be on an athlete’s accomplishments in high school, or will accomplishments outside of high school carry significant weight? For more recent graduates, when does an athlete become eligible for induction?
Other area schools have had their own high school Hall of Fames for years, and I am excited Norwich High School will now honor its outstanding athletes of the past.