NCCC to induct first Hall of Fame class
SARANAC LAKE — An Olympic gold medalist, a top NCAA basketball official and the members of four national championship teams are among more than 130 people who will be inducted into North Country Community College’s new Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday at the Harrietstown Town Hall.
The ceremony, part of the continuing celebration of the college’s 50th anniversary, kicks off a weekend of festivities including men’s and women’s soccer games, alumni soccer games, a cocktail reception and the unveiling of an athletic Wall of Fame on the college’s Saranac Lake campus.
“The college’s athletic program has a long history of accomplishment at the local, regional, state and national levels,” NCCC President Dr. Steve Tyrell said. “We are proud and excited to welcome back and celebrate those who have been instrumental in that success. It’s amazing to reflect on the caliber of athletic talent that has come through and continues to be fostered by this small community college in the Adirondacks.”
Creating an Athletic Hall of Fame is something the college has wanted to do for a long time, according to college athletics director Chad LaDue.
“It was about three years ago, when the college started planning for its 50th anniversary, that we realized this would be the perfect time,” LaDue said.
A committee was formed and a mission statement was crafted. The Athletic Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who “have helped bring recognition, honor, distinction and excellence to North Country Community College and its intercollegiate athletic programs,” the statement reads.
Nominations were sought and an inaugural class of inductees was chosen. This first group represents the first 30 years of the college’s athletic program, from 1967 to 1997. Subsequent classes of inductees will be named every five years.
The inaugural roster is filled with names that local residents who’ve followed the Saints’ athletic teams over the years will likely remember. Coaches to be inducted include Tim Gerrish, who built the college’s hockey program into a juggernaut that brought home a national championship in 1995, and Grover Moore, whose men’s basketball teams held the best regular season record in the nation (46-1) from 1973 to 1975.
Student-athletes to be inducted include Ogdensburg native Jamie Luckie, a standout in soccer and basketball at the college who has officiated three NCAA Final Fours during his career as a Division 1 men’s basketball referee, and Potsdam native Phil Vivlamore, who was the college’s first All-American in hockey.
Lake Placid native Jim Shea Jr., who won a gold medal in skeleton at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, will be inducted in the distinguished alumni category.
Coaches and members of four of the college’s national championship teams will also be enshrined in the Athletic Hall of Fame: the 1995 men’s hockey team, the 1988-89 men’s alpine ski team, the 1981-82 women’s alpine ski team, and the 1973-74 men’s basketball team.
While many of the 130-plus inductees still live in the region, some are returning to North Country for the first time since they graduated, including two members of the ’95 men’s hockey championship team who will travel here from Sweden. Others are coming from as far away as California, Colorado and South Carolina.
“We’ve had some unbelievable athletes and coaches over the years, and it’s going to be great to have them all come back,” said Larry McFaddin, a Hall of Fame inductee who has coached men’s and women’s soccer at North Country and is an instructor in the college’s Sports and Events Management program. “Athletics has been part of the fabric of North Country Community College almost from the very beginning. It’s always academics first, but athletics has always played a role from an enrollment standpoint, and it continues to bring people of very diverse backgrounds and places together here.”
Celebrating the accomplishments of college’s past student-athletes also teaches an important lesson to current and future student-athletes, LaDue explained.
“There are so many success stories among our inductees, beyond just their accomplishments at the college,” he said. “We’ll be able to say to our students, ‘Look what these people have done, and it all started here in the middle of the Adirondack Park. This is what you can do, too.'”
The festivities kick off Friday at 6:30 p.m. with a dinner in auditorium of the town hall at 39 Main St. in Saranac Lake. The ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m. Unfortunately, due to the large number of people attending and limited space, the ceremony is not open to the public.
However, the public will have the chance to meet and interact with the inductees on Saturday at a pair of Saints soccer games at the Sparks Athletic Complex: a 1 p.m. women’s match and a 3 p.m. men’s game, both against Word of Life. During both games there will be a barbecue and an introduction of the inductees.
A Wall of Fame with the names of each inductee has been created outside the Sparks Athletic Complex gymnasium and can be viewed during Saturday’s events. Historic pictures, jerseys and other memorabilia from the college’s athletic program will also be on display inside the gym. Later, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, there will be a cocktail hour with a cash bar at Nonna Fina restaurant.
Sunday’s events include a women’s soccer alumni game at noon, and a men’s soccer alumni game at 1 p.m.