Hall of Fame pushes through adversity to become reality with first class

About six years ago, I was talking with a coach about a recent track meet, finding out how Fallon performed and where he expects the team to be at the end of the regular season.

It was a typical reporting night until it took a surprising turn. We began discussing the previous student-athletes who participated in the program and how they took the sport to a new level. They broke records, elevated the bar of success and then did the same thing in college, like many great Fallon student-athletes continue to do in a variety of sports.

As the phone call with Paul Orong neared the one-hour mark, he asked what would it take for Fallon to create a Hall of Fame to honor these Greenwave greats, including coaches and contributors. I had no answer why one hasn’t been created except hearing the stories about Richard Hucke leading an effort decades ago. It’s an idea that’s resonated since Paul and I spoke.

Last year while speaking with Paul about the upcoming track season, the subject came up. It’s much easier to discuss these grand plans of creating such a monumental display of the community showing its gratification and support for what the Greenwave has done for more than a century. Creating a Hall of Fame, like many who attempted previously know, is one of the hardest endeavors to make a reality.

The following month, my family and I traveled from our home in Reno to Fallon to meet with Paul, John Dirickson and my father, Steve Ranson. We all discussed our vision of a Hall of Fame and what needed to be done to make this happen. Again, it is much easier to discuss and plan than it is to execute.

“I thought it was a great idea having seen what Elko had done. I’m very glad to be a part of our Hall of Fame beginnings,” said Dirickson, who owns Your Next Level Exposure. “There are so many deserving student-athletes that excelled for themselves and their school.”

Paul began recruiting members to join the committee, targeting well-known members of the community, like radio announcer Larry Barker and ex-Fallon athlete Tom McCormick, who share the same passion and desire of Greenwave athletics. In May, a small group of us met for the first time, going over the same information discussed in March. By June, we gathered almost 30 potential members for a pizza dinner and proceeded with our plan to get this off the ground. We wanted the first class to be inducted in 2016 but time was against us, forcing us to push for 2017.

For several months, we researched local, regional and national halls of fame. We wanted to do this right.

Donnie Nelson from the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association has been one of our biggest supporters from the beginning. Rhonda Bennett, who organizes the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame, was also helpful in providing insight on how they made Nevada’s work. We examined how Elko created its Hall of Fame and even researched the National High School Federation’s Hall of Fame, which had invaluable information. Before the summer, we had drafts of our application and process, and bylaws.

The community reunion gave us our biggest platform to spread the word. Angela de Braga, whose three sons won state titles for the Greenwave, and retired and longtime administrator Judy Pratt sold T-shirts at the reunion, giving us a head start to funding the Hall of Fame.

We met monthly once the school year began in August with much still left to discuss and finalize. When should the induction be? How many should get in? How do we be fair to those who competed in the 4A versus those now in the 3A? Many questions were still left to answer.

The induction was either going to occur during reunion week in August or homecoming in the fall. We went with the latter because most of the inductees would be returning to Fallon for the first time in many years. It would be a true Homecoming weekend.

Nominations were available to the public early this year, yet none were received until March when the county museum and its volunteers, Dave Lumos, Bunny Corkill, Yvonne Arciniega Sutherland and Nancy Sanders Stewart, spent several months researching Fallon athletes from the school’s establishment through the 1970s.

“What we concentrated on was those yearbooks. That took a lot of time,” Stewart said during a March meeting with the Hall of Fame. “We only did the museum’s yearbooks. Sometimes, there was no yearbook. Sometimes, there were pages taken out. We were actually relying on what the students reporting in the yearbooks. Then, they began to change their style of presenting yearbooks for pictures. It was like a storybook.”

In the final two months leading up to the nomination deadline, we were overwhelmed with the number of nominations. Credit people spreading the word throughout the community and the launch of our Facebook page, which featured daily “Did You Know?” posts about ex-Fallon greats.

“There are many details yet to be accomplished and refined but I think we’ve started something the community can feel proud of and will be continued into the future,” Dirickson said.

The many years spent trying to lift this Hall of Fame from the ground are now over. On Thursday, we announced the first class of the Greenwave Hall of Fame as 35 student-athletes, coaches, contributors and teams will be inducted on Oct. 7. History has been made thanks to the valiant effort of the volunteers, nominators and supporters of Greenwave athletics. None of this would be possible without their dedication.

Much is still left to be done with the Hall of Fame, including setting up the induction ceremony and dinner. But rest assured, it will not disappoint. This will be the event of the last two centuries as we honor those who made the Greenwave the successful program it has become in the Silver State.

Thomas Ranson, a 2003 Fallon grad and two-sport letterman, can be contacted at lvnsports@yahoo.com.


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