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This years’ class of eight inductees brings the overall total honored over the past thirty-seven years to 191. That’s a lot of talent, time and dedication to the love of participating in, coaching for, or officiating at the sport of their choice. One does not get inducted by just being good at something at one point in their life; to be an inductee into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, one must have a demonstrated LIFETIME commitment and achievements in either professional or amateur sports and have been born in, lived in or achieved in Chautauqua County.
“This is a very exclusive group of people who showcase all kinds of talent that can be found right here at home,” states Randall Anderson, CSHOF Board President. “We are proud to provide a place to be able to recognize all their hard work. It is why we do what we do here at the Hall of Fame” Anderson continued. “Our mission is simple but important, to honor and preserve the rich and diverse sports history of Chautauqua County.” As a former Ring School Elementary teacher, you can hear, see and feel the sincerity of Anderson’s passion for preserving this history for generations to come.
The Chautauqua Hall of Fame is located at 15 West Third Street, Jamestown and is typically open for tours from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm week days. You can also take a virtual tour from their website to get a taste for how fun a visit can be. www.chautauquasportshalloffame.org The Hall itself has 3800 sq. ft. of display area and they are currently working on an expansion that will bring another 2200 sq. ft. for use. There is an area that features pictures and information on all the inductees since the first class in 1982. Of great interest though is all the different memorabilia that can be found in the rest of the displays. With all of the things that immediately come to mind with the long standing history with the Expos & Jammers, with all of the proud moments in local High School sports and state championships, you can also get a real sense of the diversity amongst sporting talent that we have here in our county. Go cart champs, an OLYMPIC gold medalist in pole vault, and State Line Speedway racing are just a sample of other sports you can find exhibited at the Hall.
Anderson is justifiably proud of the work carried out by the members of the Hall of Fame. Unique for not-for-profits, the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame is run 100% by volunteers; there are no paid employees. This is important to the group, because it means that all money raised can go right back into the organization.
The Annual Induction Banquet will be held Monday, February 19th at the Rod & Gun in Lakewood. Tickets may still be available and can be purchased in the Jamestown area from the CSHOF, The Jamestown Cycle Shop, Lind Funeral Home, in Dunkirk from Matt’s News and in Westfield at Tony’s Shoe Repair. Always a fun night full of fellowship, laughter and prizes, the eight inductees will be honored along with recognizing community high school and collegiate athletes who have attained an outstanding achievement in the last calendar year. “The fabric of our community is on display with these young adults. The variety of sports that will be represented is crazy good” exudes Anderson. He goes on to show his appreciation for the tremendous effect that great coaching, parental support and taxpayer backing has on being able to produce such good athletes here in Chautauqua County. Everyone works together towards a common goal and that goal helps connect us to each other. As was done last year, no guest speaker will be featured. Not only is the speaker fee cost prohibitive, but really the focus is on the inductees; they are the guests of honor. Anderson notes it is fun to see all of the inductees cheering squads come out to support them on their night of honor. As most athletes will acknowledge they probably didn’t get to their position without family, friends, mentors, coaches and/or sponsors. “They help sell out the evening” smiles Anderson.
Every year the number of inductees in that class is different. Throughout the year on an ongoing basis, the Hall of Fame receives (unsolicited) nominations from the public. The submission process must include documentation of the accomplishments, such as newspaper articles or other awards.
The Board of Directors will go through each file, each year, and select that years’ class of inductees. There is currently a pool of 120 document supported nominations on file, awaiting their time for induction. “Unless you win an Olympic gold medal (Jenn Suhr), selection for induction doesn’t always happen instantaneously”, jokes Anderson. “You might have to wait a few years before picked. There are just so many deserving candidates around here!”
“Sports resonates with so many of us”, says Anderson. Just think about all the people you know because of that connection to a team, event or pursuit. Thanks to the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame for celebrating this important piece of our community.