Jim Nicoletti, who heads East Hampton High School’s Hall of Fame committee, said during a conversation this week that he thought the spirit that had attended the inauguration of the Hall’s first class in the fall of 2012 might lessen with the induction of succeeding classes.
“The first year was so great,” he said, “and I do remember thinking, ‘Wow, how are we going to top this?’ How are we going to retain the same feeling? And yet this past fall there was a whole new group of people being inducted, as individuals, as teams, as coaches, and with them were their families, and there was no drop-off in feeling.”
“The [undefeated, once-tied] 1965 football team had 31 of its players there,” he continued. “From all over, from as far away as Florida, with their families. They all got together. The same thing with the 1976-77 state-championship basketball team. Whole families came. Harry O’Rourke [an octogenarian from the class of 1949, an 11-varsity letter athlete known as ‘the runner who could put the ball in the end zone’] had his whole family there too, including his grandkids, from Ohio or somewhere. Everybody was so happy and proud. . . .”
Nicoletti said his appearance at The Star this past week was to issue a call for nominations to the Hall of Fame’s 2014 class. “I’ve found that at the induction ceremonies, people will come up to us and ask what they have to do to nominate somebody. So many names are brought up to us. We tell them to take a nomination packet from the pile we have there and fill it out.”
“By the end of the morning, all the packets have disappeared, but very few come back. That’s because time’s not pressing, I suppose. Well, time is pressing now: Nominations for the third Hall of Fame class must be in by the end of March. People can either submit nominations online, through the school’s website, ehufsd.org, or pick up a packet at the high school’s athletic office, or at the East Hampton Library. If anyone has any questions, they can call me at 631-875-6941.”
“We have probably 40 good nomination packets of people who’ve been nominated, but haven’t made it,” Nicoletti went on. “They stay active for 10 years, but, as far as nominations go, the more the merrier. There’s no limit. There are many deserving people who have not gotten in yet, obviously. Eventually, everyone will get in who deserves to get in. There’s plenty of space on the wall.”
“We have been playing catch-up, as we knew we would,” Nicoletti said. “In the first two years, there were certainly people, like Ross Gload, who were no-brainers — we didn’t need to see a list of his accomplishments. But, when it came to Harry O’Rourke or Tony Gilliam, we needed to because not many of the committee members were familiar with what they had done here.”
As for the committee, Nicoletti said four members — Sandy Vorpahl, Ellen Cooper, Bill Herzog, and Fred Yardley — went off this year, and that Jim Stewart, Sharon Bacon, Maggie Dunn, and Norton (Bucket) Daniels came on for three-year terms.
The outgoing members, he said, would continue as historical advisers. In his 90s, Daniels, the committee’s historical adviser in the past two years, was, said Nicoletti, “as sharp as a tack. He’s such a valuable resource, especially when it comes to the 1930s and ’40s.”
Stewart is a veteran coach (wrestling and boys soccer) and teacher at the high school; Bacon heads the Kendall Madison Foundation, which is helping to improve the school’s weight room that is named in her late son’s memory, and Dunn is a member of the Hall of Fame.
“We had 25 nominees who made the official ballot last year, and 11 individuals, two coaches, and two teams got in,” said Nicoletti. “There’s a whole process involved leading up to final votes by our 13-member committee. The class that gets elected will be announced at the year-end athletic awards ceremony in June, and the formal induction ceremonies will be held over the homecoming weekend. I don’t have the date for that yet.”