Rockville High School Athletics Hall of Fame holds inaugural induction ceremony
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Thu., Jun. 20, 2013
Twelve people were inducted into the Rockville High School Athletic Hall of Fame at the inaugural induction ceremony on June 16.
The idea for the Hall of Fame came from Athletic Director Steven Phelps, who was quick to give the credit to the other committee members, especially Bob Molta and RHS alum Scott Smith – both staffers of the Eastern Connecticut State University Athletic Department.
Molta said the toughest part of the process was gathering the information on hundreds of former athletes, coaches and other supporters, in order to determine who should be inducted.
"At Eastern, I have all the stats at my fingertips," Molta said. "Here, it was a shot in the dark. Committee members pointed us in the right direction, but there wasn't a whole lot of information available. The most difficult part was finding the people who should go in as charter inductees, because they should be the cornerstone of the program. We wanted to be sure we got that right."
"The hardest part was getting in touch with the former coaches and trying to get them to give us input," Smith said. "We tried to reach out to coaches from every sport, and a lot of them don't live in this part of the country anymore, so that was a challenge."
Smith said he and Molta poured through RHS yearbooks and wrote down names that came up multiple times. They also contacted local newspapers to troll through their archives.
"We got stuff on people from the '30s," Smith said. "We're not done including people from then. It's been a lot of fun. When you look at those names from a long time ago, a lot of those families are still around."
Among the criteria for eligibility was how long the person had coached or played, and the amount of time since they'd left RHS, but Molta said the most important thing was they wanted the honor to be based on what each person did while at Rockville High, rather than beyond.
"It's been a long time coming to this day," Smith said. "It's really encouraging that people have an interest in Rockville athletics and its history. We have a lot of people coming back to the high school – some for the first time [since they left], and that's part of what it's all about."
"It's been two years worth of work," Molta said. "It's fantastic. I think we're headed in the right direction."
Eventually, the inductees will be honored with a permanent memorial as the Hall of Fame will have a permanent physical home in the hallway near the RHS Athletics office, which will be seen by students entering the gymnasium.
"It was something that I had seen in other area towns and schools," Phelps said. "I said, ‘This is something we don't have, but Rockville has a great history of athletic accomplishments.’ It's great for the community and for the current athletes who come through this building to see that our athletic achievements are rewarded."
Phelps said the committee of about eight people worked hard for two years to form the organization with strong bylaws and developing plans for the future. He said that it is yet to be determined if the inductions will be every year or every other, as well as how many will be inducted each time.
Inductees include: Dr. Betsy Anderson McShea – Class of 1987, star soccer, basketball and track player; Joseph Calaci, Jr. – Class of 1970, football player; John Canavari, Sr. - soccer, baseball and basketball coach from 1952-1967; Thomas J. Dunn – football coach from 1979-2004; Francis E. Geissler – Class of 1933 baseball and basketball player, and coach from 1942-1948; Harry M. Geraghty – cross-country, track and basketball coach from 1973-1955; Susan M. Golden Perrella – Class of 1999 cross-country and track athlete; D. Michael Leonard, III – Class of 2000 baseball and hockey player; James L. Martello – Class of 1965 basketball, soccer and baseball player, and girls' basketball coach from 1977-2001; G. Alan Putz – Class of 1965 basketball and baseball player; William T. Romanowski – Class of 1984 football, baseball and basketball player; and Ralph Shumey – Class of 1947 soccer, baseball and basketball player.