Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame
Maceo Wofford walked into the newly renovated portion of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame late last year and was escorted to a large glass-top case at one end of the room. Hanging above it was a large photograph of the former Jamestown High School basketball star shooting a jump shot at McElrath Gymnasium 20 years earlier.
Inside the case were jerseys commemorating his hardwood tenure at Iona College and his professional stops with the Erie Hurricane and the Jamestown Jackals. A pair of sneakers, several stat sheets and a photocopied scorebook page from the game in which he poured in a JHS-record 53 points are also housed there. Three Gus Macker 3-on-3 championship trophies sit prominently on top.
Wofford, now 39, didn’t stop smiling for the entirety of his visit, because the CSHOF, located at 15 W. 3rd in Jamestown, has become his home away from home — at least as far as his treasured memorabilia is concerned.
And for the CSHOF, which will be holding its 38th annual induction banquet on Feb. 18 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club, that’s precisely why it was organized in 1981 and why its mission statement reads: “Honoring & preserving the sports history of Chautauqua County.”
The new inductees will include Cheryl Bailey, Tiffany Decker, Vincent Gullo, Mike Lopriore, Bob Palcic, Mark Weaver, Charles Johnston, Jack Harper and Luella Kye, bringing the number of enshrinees to 200.
Equally as impressive is that those athletes/contributors represent sports involvement ranging from administration to wrestling. To suggest that the 31-member, all-volunteer board of directors takes its mission statement and the people it inducts seriously would be a huge understatement.
But the inductees aren’t the only athletes who will be recognized on Feb. 18. In fact, 13 legacy awards will be presented by CSHOF sponsors and 40 additional athletes will be honored for their accomplishments in the last year.
Clearly, the CSHOF has grown in ways that Russell E. Diethrick Jr., then the Jamestown Parks & Recreation director and a charter member of the Hall, never envisioned when he convened a meeting on Dec. 6, 1980 at Fenton Mansion to discuss the formation of the organization.
Not only do the inductees total 200, they also represent 40 different sports categories, demonstrating the wide range of talent within Chautauqua County.
In fact, did you know that among the CSHOF’s inductees:
— Jim McCusker of Jamestown won an NFL Championship, and Bill Bergey (South Dayton) and Shane Conlan (Frewsburg) have both played in Super Bowls?
— Jenn Stuczynski Suhr (Fredonia) is an Olympic gold medalist in the pole vault.
— Bill Rexford (Conewango Valley) is the youngest driver to ever win the NASCAR Grand National title?
— Irv Noren (Jamestown) won three World Series as an outfielder with New York Yankees in the 1950s and two more as a coach with the Oakland Athletics in the 1970s?
— Hugh Bedient (Falconer) posted a 20-9 record for the Boston Red Sox in 1912 and beat Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants in Game 3 of the World Series, which the Red Sox eventually went on to win?
— 17-year-old Vincent Powers (Westfield) won the 1909 Kentucky Derby?
— Don Reinhoudt (Fredonia) was the World’s Strongest Man?
— Tara VanDerveer (Chautauqua), the Stanford women’s basketball coach since 1985, is one of only nine NCAA women’s coaches to win more than 900 games, and one of 10 NCAA Division I coaches — men’s or women’s — to win more than 1,000 games?
The best part is there are stories for each of the other 190 honorees, too.
“It has been a joy for me to get to know our inductees and to learn about their remarkable paths to this Hall of Fame,” said CSHOF president Randy Anderson. “I am proud of what this organization has been able to accomplish and for the broad support we receive from across Chautauqua County.”
If you’d like to hear more, stop and see Anderson at the CSHOF. He’s there from noon to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. He’ll even give you a tour, likely leaving you with the same warm fuzzies that Wofford had in his visit last month.