MOUNT VERNON — There are memorabilia of the times when the best athletes graced Mount Vernon High School’s hallways, secure behind a plexiglass frame. Above them, plaques depicting those heroes stretch down the hall, all the way across the building.
It’s Mount Vernon’s Athletic Hall of Fame. And it’s about to feel a little more official.
On Saturday, March 19, the Hall of Fame will hold a banquet and — for the first time — publicly recognize those whose contributions have earned them the school’s highest honor.
“This is an induction ceremony for the new class (of hall of fame members,)” said co-organizer Sarah Glibert, “but it’s really a celebration for all hall of fame members.”
The banquet will be held at the Glenn A. Gallagher Centre at the Ohio Eastern Star Home. The dinner will include a silent auction of sports-related items throughout the afternoon and evening. Money raised will go to Mount Vernon Athletic Boosters.
Prior to the dinner, on Friday, March 18, the Boosters will host an open house at Mount Vernon High School, the current site of the hall of fame. This will allow visitors to see the updated hall.
The Mount Vernon Hall of Fame has not had a formal induction ceremony like this before. Organizers have sent invitations to all living Hall of Fame members, hoping to give them the recognition they have not yet received. As of now, no one is sure how many will actually show up.
“We’re still getting feedback,” Glibert said, “so we’ll wait and see.”
This year’s class consists of six athletes: Mike Abell (class of 1972), Corey Auker (’98), Tom Spreng (’00), Travis Popham (’06), Michael Lybarger (’07) and Carter Cassell (’10).
Following dinner and keynote speakers, the focus will shift to the class of 2011, followed by special recognition for each member of the hall in attendance.
The hall itself is the creation of two men, John Fair and Kent Miller, who decided it was time for Mount Vernon’s best to be recognized for their achievements by future generations.
“We discussed the idea back in the late ’70s and the early ’80s,” said Fair, Mount Vernon cross country coach and member of the staff at Kenyon College. “We were finally able to get some ideas together and come up with a list.”
That list was a preliminary lineup of possible inductees for the initial hall of fame class.
“We drew up criteria,” Miller recalls, “and applied them to the people on the list.”
The criteria were strictly applied. A nominated athlete had to either be elected First or Second Team All-Ohio, reach the podium at the state level, or display some sort of outstanding athletic accomplishment. For a team, it had to win the conference title, win at districts, and finish in the Top 5 at state.
After doing thorough research on the list of people and teams, and making some final cuts, the two men submitted the list — and their idea — to coaches.