Inaugural Sports Hall of Fame Dazzling
By Ed Pierce, Managing Editor // July 29, 2012
2012 INDUCTION CEREMONY
Inductees Travel From All Over America For Installation
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – Legendary knuckleballer Tim Wakefield stood before a sold-out crowd of friends, fans and admirers at the inaugural Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction Friday night and searched for words to describe his feelings at the moment.
Wakefield, usually a cool customer on and off the playing field, fought back tears welling up in his eyes while thanking the coaches he played for along the way in his long baseball career and for the unwavering support of his family.
“I wouldn’t be here today if not for my high school coach, Ken Campbell, or my college coach Les Hall,” Wakefield said.
“I also would like to thank my wife, Stacy, for allowing me to pursue my dream.”
Inducted in the professional athlete category, Wakefield played high school baseball at Eau Gallie High School and Florida Tech before rising to the big leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Red Sox.
He won 200 games in the major leagues and despite playing in key playoff matchups, the All-Star Game and in the World Series before millions of fans, he said being inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame is the top honor he’s ever been given.
“There’s something special about being recognized by those in your hometown,” Wakefield said.
“Melbourne is my home and always will be and this is something I will remember forever. Of all of the awards I have been given, this one means the most to me.”
Sold-Out, Standing Room Only Gala Ceremony, Web Streamed Live Globally on SpaceCoastDaily.com
Wakefield was just one of 26 exceptional athletes, coaches and administrators who were honored at a sold-out gala ceremony at the Cocoa Beach County Club.
The entire program was also web-streamed live across the world via SpaceCoastDaily.com.
Among the thousands of viewers who took in the proceeding on their iPads and personal computers was Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee member Larry Garrison, who was in North Carolina with his wife Jan.
“I watched the entire event on my iPad, and it was great,” said Garrison. “It was the next best thing to being there, and I’m already looking forward to the selection of the 2013 class – which I wouldn’t miss for the world.”
Special Video Tribute
Before each inductee was introduced, a special video tribute was played celebrating their accomplishments that led to their selection to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
The inductees received a unique crystal trophy signifying their induction and a framed poster of a SpaceCoastDaily.com Sports magazine cover honoring their achievement and did so before a boisterous and enthusiastic audience that rose for a standing ovation as each individual made his or her way to the stage to receive their award.
Former Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins defensive standout Wilber Marshall made a trip to Brevard County from Virginia to attend the induction ceremony.
Marshall, who was inducted in the professional athlete category, said he was fortunate to have been blessed to play with wonderful teammates in his storied career that began at Astronaut High School in Titusville, later going on to the University of Florida and eventually the National Football League.
“I am humbled by this great honor,” Marshall said.
“I never thought playing football would lead to this, but I am extremely proud to receive this award.”
Former NFL star Leon Bright, who grew up on Merritt Island and starred at Merritt Island High School, said he was stunned when he first heard he would be inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in the prep athlete category.
“I was sitting on my back porch when the phone call came,” Bright said.
“At first I thought they were joking, but when I realized this was for real, I became filled with pride. This is perhaps the greatest moment of my life standing before you today accepting this great honor.”
Kayla Hale, who won numerous state championships in both cross country and track at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy during a brilliant prep career, was unable to attend the induction ceremony as she was at Princeton University in New Jersey preparing to run in a track meet for Duke University.
Her father, Dr. Jim Hale, stood in for his daughter in accepting the Hall of Fame honor in the prep athlete category.
“Kayla told me when she learned about this, she was overcome with emotion,” said Dr. Jim Hale. “She considers it to be the best honor she has ever received.”
Sargent Thanks His Family for Their Support
Legendary outdoors writer Bill Sargent of Melbourne said he has won every award he possibly could during a career in journalism that spanned six decades, but being inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame beats all of them c0mbined.
“Who would have thought that a writer like me could go into the hall with all of these wonderful athletes and coaches,” Sargent said. “This is the most significant recognition and certainly the best award that I’ve ever been given.”
Sargent said his career would not have been possible if not for the support of his family.
“I want to thank my wife Barbara and my children,” he said.
“I missed a lot of dinners over the years with them and yet they always encouraged me. I wouldn’t be here today if not for them.”
Anne Cassidy flew in from Blairstown, N.J. to accept the Hall of Fame induction on behalf of her late mother, swimmer Bunny Cederlund, who missed competing in the 1940 Olympics because of World War II, but set countless senior and world swim records late in her life.
Cederlund passed away last year at the age of 89 and was inducted posthumously in the amateur athlete category.
“My mother would have been so proud of this wonderful recognition for her accomplishments,” Cassidy said.
“After her death, we found notes by her computer about how she was planning a strategy to set new records as she turned 90. She would have been so touched by this ceremony tonight.”
Honor From the Entire Community
Like Cassidy, Floyd Horgen traveled a great distance to attend the ceremony – all the way from Montana where he is retired.
Horgen was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in the coaching category following an illustrious career of leading the Brevard Community College men’s golf program.
“This is a very special honor for me,” Horgen said. “Golfers usually are supported by other golfers.
“When I found out that this honor was coming from the entire community, I was really moved.”
College athlete inductee Matt Walters of Melbourne, who soared as a defensive star for the University of Miami football team and helped the Hurricanes win the national championship, described how he felt when he learned he would be inducted.
“At first I thought they were talking about somebody else,” Walters said.
“I have never thought I was a good enough as an athlete to deserve an honor like this.”
Walters said he shares his Hall of Fame award with God, his family and all of the coaches he played for through the years.
“Starting with youth football in Melbourne and then on to Eau Gallie High School, at Miami and then in the pros, I had so many great coaches who helped me,” Walters said.
“They encouraged me and pushed me to work hard and probably thought more of my career as a football than I did at the time. I am here surely here because of them and their support for me.”
Dr. Zundra Feagin-Aubrey shattered a host of state records and earned numerous state titles running track at Cocoa High School in the 1990s and went on to help Louisiana State University claim the NCAA championship in Women’s Outdoor Track and Field.
She said her induction into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in the prep athlete category was one of the most meaningful achievements of her life.
“I first started running at Kennedy Middle School in Rockledge and knew I was fast when I started beating all the boys in races,” Feagin-Aubrey said.
“I’m deeply honored that people still remember my accomplishments. This honor means so much to me because it comes from the people in the community where I grew up.”
Brevard County coaching legend Gerald Odom traveled from his retirement home in Douglas, Ga. to be honored with induction in the coaching category.
Odom, who helped Merritt Island High School win state football championships as an assistant coach in 1972 and then as head coach in 1978 and 1979, said he never expected to be inducted as a member of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
“When I first heard about this I was speechless,” Odom said.
“It is one of the greatest honors of my life and one of the greatest honors I will ever receive. It is very unexpected and I can’t thank everyone associated with the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame enough for this distinct and humbling honor.”
Susan Kretschman accepted the Hall of Fame award on behalf of her daughter, Kelly Kretschman of Satellite Beach, who was inducted in the college athlete category.
Kelly Kretschman dazzled in four sports at Satellite High School before becoming a four time NCAA softball All-American at the University of Alabama. She also helped the United States win a gold medal in softball as a key member of the 2008 U.S. team.
“Kelly couldn’t be here tonight because she’s a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Maryland and helping the team get ready for a big game,” Susan Kretschman said.
“She wanted me to tell you how proud she is of this honor and how much it means for her to be inducted in the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.”
Specially Prepared Video Thank You’s
Two other Hall of Fame inductees who could not be present for the ceremonies Friday sent videos thanking everyone for the honor.
Dr. Anthony Catanese, the president of Florida Tech, was inducted as a “sports visionary” for his work in leading Florida Tech’s effort to bring college football to the university.
Catanese was in Philadelphia supporting Florida Tech’s rowing teams competing in the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta there.
He said he was thrilled to receive the Hall of Fame award and proud that the community is excited about Florida Tech adding football to its growing lineup of sports.
“We can be a tremendous resource of academic achievement in higher education and research and yet at the same time, we can excel in athletics,” Catanese said.
“I am grateful for this great honor and excited about the future for Florida Tech.”
Clint Hurdle also couldn’t make it to Cocoa Beach for the inductions because he was managing the Pittsburgh Pirates major league baseball team.
Hurdle, who was one of the best prep baseball players ever and became a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals, was inducted in the high school athlete category.
He also sent a video acceptance and in it, Hurdle said he was thankful for being blessed with the ability to play baseball and for having wonderful parents and family that remind him what truly is important in life.
“My parents made me what I am today and I wouldn’t be receiving this award if not for them,” he said.
His father, Clint Hurdle Sr. was on hand to pick up the Hall of Fame award for his son.
“He’s a great son and we are all very proud of him,” Hurdle Sr. said.
“He will cherish this honor and it will hold a special place in his heart.”
Thanks To God, Friends and Supporters
Amateur athlete inductee Sherri France of Melbourne has always been rock solid on the playing field, no matter if it is clubbing tape-measure home runs or delivering a two-out clutch base hit to hep her team to victory.
But France stood before the crowd at the inductions and wiped away tears and her voice cracked with emotion several times.
“I want to thank God first and foremost and I also would like to thank all of my friends and supporters through the years,” France said.
“I can’t believe I am standing up here as an inductee with all these remarkable athletes. Thank you so much for remembering me in this way.”
Another amateur athlete inductee, running coach and athlete Doug Butler, thanked for his family and God for helping him accomplish so much in life.
“God took a no talent like me and gave me the ability to run,” Butler said.
“I’m also grateful to be recognized as a runner for the Hall of Fame. My kids remember me as just a coach.”
Tennis star Robin Dolan-Keener was inducted in the amateur athlete category and said she’s won tennis tournaments all over the world, but nothing compares to being inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
“This is the biggest award I have ever received,” she said.
“It’s wonderful to receive this honor here in Cocoa Beach where I grew up. I am grateful for this and tremendously proud to be a member of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.”
‘The Real Heroes’
Former Cocoa High School star Bob Anderson was inducted in the college athlete category. Anderson was a two-time first-team All-America selection at West Point and led Army in rushing during each of his three varsity seasons.
In accepting his Hall of Fame award, Anderson thanked his older brother for pushing him to be the best he could be as an athlete.
“People say I am a hero for what I did as a football player,” Anderson said.
“I would like everyone out there to stop and think about who the real heroes truly are, the men and women who wear the uniform are serve to defend our freedom and our country like my older brother who became a pilot and rose to become an Air Force two star general.”
Coaching inductee Rick Stottler died in 2010 and was remembered at the ceremony for his leadership in guiding Florida Tech’s mens’ soccer team to two national championships.
With Stottler’s family unable to attend the induction because of his granddaughter’s college graduation, his longtime friend, Dick Biery, accepted on his behalf.
“I knew Rick for 48 years and in all of that time I knew him as someone who always wanted to be the best at whatever it was he was doing,” Perry said.
“It’s no surprise to me that he was able to be so successful in business and as a coach. He worked hard at anything he did and I am sure he would have been enormously proud of this tribute to him tonight and this very special honor.”
Decades-long friends Mike Gaudy and Chuck Goldfarb were each inducted in the coaching category and used the occasion to gently poke fun at one another.
Gaudy was honored with a Hall of Fame induction through a long career at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School where he coached boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball, tennis, football, and once even pinch-hit as a cheerleading coach.
“I want to thank my wife and my family and all the great athletes who made my job easy,” Gaudy said.
“And I want to point out that I made it into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame before Chuck Goldfarb.”
Goldfarb guided Merritt Island High School to several state baseball championships and then became athletic director at Cocoa High School where he enjoyed even greater success as the school won three consecutive state football titles and the state basketball crown.
“I am so proud to be inducted in the Space Cast Sports Hall of Fame as a coach,” Goldfarb said.
“This wouldn’t have been possible if not for the talent of so many great athletes over the years that I had to great fortunate to coach. This award belongs to all of them. I also want to say that I am glad I never was a cheerleading coach like Mike Gaudy.”
Six Hall of Fame inductees were unable to attend the ceremony because of professional commitments. Those included Reggie Nelson, college athlete; Cris Collinsworth, professional athlete; Mitzi Kremer, college athlete; Kelly Slater, professional athlete; and Ashyln Harris of Satellite Beach, prep athlete. Vicky Hurst, who was inducted as an amateur athlete, was represented by Holy Trinity Athletic Director Lenny Paoletti.
The first-year class of inductees for the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame was chosen from a large field of nominees in seven categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Special honorary recognition was also bestowed upon individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
The committee selecting the inaugural class of 2012 did so with input from the public, school administrators, athletic directors and coaches.
The organizing and selection committee consisted of Maverick Multimedia President & CEO Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Ed Pierce, Sports Editor Peter Kerasotis, Health First Founder and 40-year Brevard resident Larry Garrison and Space Coast Sports Promotions President Rusty Buchanan.
Very humble — and highly talented – sportsmen and women. Brevard County should be extremely proud of these honorees. Wonderful story, Ed!!
So exciting for the county! Great coverage of a great event.