The Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame held its 54th annual induction ceremony last weekend, with five new members taking their places alongside the hundreds of local sports legends that came before them. The enshrinement, which took place at Diamond Mills, saw many of those legends join in the celebration in the large banquet hall for the nearly sold-out event.
Rick Andreassen, Randy Dodig, Steven Freer, Ed Short and Derek Whittaker were there to represent the Class of 2017 on a night that wasn’t just about honoring athletic prowess, but also family and community.
“There was one constant in all speeches,” said Freer following the event. “Support by the Saugerties community.”
The hall was filled with circular dining tables save for a long table and podium where inductees were seated. A long two-sided row of local sports memories ran along one wall, with photographs and news clippings featuring the athletic exploits of hall of famers both past and present. Further connecting to Saugerties’ rich sports history, tens of past inductees were introduced, each name evoking their own glories on the field or in the gym. And the families of departed members were also introduced, further showing the Hall of Fame and the Saugerties Athletic Association’s devotion to preserving its history. Greg Chorvas, president of the Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame Club, said he’d like to one day preserve that history in a more permanent setting, like a museum.
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s out there,” Chorvas said, noting that while there are sometimes modest displays at the Kiersted House or Town Hall, there’s no permanent home for the Hall of Fame. “Unfortunately, to create a space costs money. It’s not dead. It’s something I hope to see in my lifetime. Whether that happens or not, I don’t know.”
That’s also part of what makes the annual induction ceremony so special, Chorvas said. It’s an opportunity not only for the community to celebrate its past, but it gives people who’ve moved away the incentive to visit Saugerties again and reconnect with their own past and the people who are integral parts of those memories.
“It’s very important,” he said, noting that there are family lines in inductees and attendees alike that stretch back even further than some of the old scorebooks from the early 20th century on display at the ceremony. “As these members age, it’s something that they have to look forward to once a year. It might be the only opportunity that they are getting together with other individuals that they competed with or competed against. It’s a nice opportunity to kind of relive and bring back the memories.”
That’s certainly true for Randy Dodig, who became the fifth Dodig in as many years to be enshrined in a hall with a great many more inductees sharing his last name.
“It’s very special,” he said. “To go into the hall alongside both my parents and my brother is pretty amazing. I’m extremely proud. I’m honored that the members thought enough about my career and contributions to the community to vote me in.”
In Short, his induction was also something of a family affair.
“It is an honor to be in the hall alongside many of the men who I played with or against,” he said. “It’s awesome to know I share a forever place in Saugerties sports history with my grandfather James Freligh and my two uncles, John and Gordon Freligh.”
The ceremony was the third in a row at Diamond Mills after many years in the banquet hall at the Glasco Firehouse, a space that was only slightly smaller and is already fully booked for the rest of the year. But with a credo appropriate for a sports-themed event, Chorvas said the Hall of Fame is always looking at ways of topping themselves.
“Never let complacency set in,” he said. “It’s not me. It’s a team effort. There’s no way I could do it alone. Hopefully we can carry on this tradition and expand this tradition for many years to come.”
Part of that is looking to the business community for sponsorships in the hopes of increasing the scholarship offerings to eligible students. Lily Haig, ranked second in the Class of 2017 with a GPA of 100.67, is a longtime soccer player and has an academic record a mile long. Jacob Johansen, ranked fifth in the Class of 2017, is also an academic powerhouse, with time spent playing soccer, lacrosse and basketball with the Saugerties Sawyers. They were the recipients of the Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame and Jack Keeley Memorial scholarships respectively, earning them each $1,000 toward their college educations. Chorvas said the scholarship committee received 11 applications from 11 eminently qualified candidates, and turning nine of them away was difficult. Perhaps one day Haig and Johansen will enter the Saugerties Sports Hall of Fame and will have the chance to reflect on what growing up here meant to them.
Rick Andreassen, who had three banquet tables filled with siblings and extended family, said he was humbled to grow up in Saugerties.
“I realize how fortunate I was to be raised in such an amazing community,” he said. “Personally I wish I complimented more publicly about how well the event was organized and how much Saugerties sports molded and shaped me to be the man I am today working with children.”
“It was great,” he said. “This town always has supported athletics and it was very humbling to see everyone come out and celebrate and recognize our achievements.”
Like most of the people there who’d grown up in Saugerties, there were a great many familiar names and faces on hand to join in the celebration. It was a night to honor five new inductees, two Saugerties High senior scholarship winners, and President’s Award winner Rob Houtman, president of the Bowlers’ Club in Saugerties.
“It was great to see all those friendly people there to support the Hall of Fame banquet,” Ed Short said. “Some of the highlights for me was to see so many teammates that I haven’t seen in years, along with being inducted with Rick, Randy, Steven and Derek and listening to their stories. Fantastic evening.”