A lifetime of sports achievements were recognized at the 2009 Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet
Respect was the underlying sentiment at the recent Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet that took place on March 29, 2009, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Friends and family gathered to honor the new Hall of Fame inductees and Annual Sports Awards finalists that have all accomplished greatness in their field of sports in Palm Beach County.
A special tribute was presented to two long-time local sportscasters who passed away during the year, Jim Gallagher and Buck Kinnaird. Gallagher, the former Sports Director at WPEC-12, and had served as emcee of the Hall of Fame Banquet since its inception. Dr. Ed Eissey, in presenting the tribute said that Buck Kinnaird, former Sports Director at WPTV-5, "represented everything great in sportsmanship, everything great in what we expect of our leaders."
The Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame also paid homage to 1991 inductee Derek Harper, whose NBA playing schedule for the Dallas Mavericks prevented his acceptance at the time of his induction. On Sunday night, he was honored along with the Class of 2009.
Harper paid a public tribute to the man who "paved the way for me," his coach at North Shore High School, Floyd Andrews. Harper choked back tears while speaking, and by the time he had finished and embraced Andrews, he wasn't the only one dabbing his eyes inside the Palm Beach County Convention Center. "You've been a lot more than a coach to me," Harper told Andrews.
Acknowledging that their lives eventually went in different directions, Harper lamented the times they were apart, but made it clear he never forgot Andrews' life lessons. "The cream did come to the top," Harper said. "That's what you always told me — the cream would rise. I'm very grateful to you, because you made me the man I am. I feel I am a solid man, a role model, and I give you a lot of credit for that."
The Sports Hall of Fame proudly honored several coaches as new inductees; FAU football coach, Howard Schnellenberger; Jack Rhine, the former Gator’s baseball coach from Riviera Beach High; Jupiter High football coach, Charlie Persson; and C.W. Pell, who helped build the football dynasty at Pahokee.
Other inductees included PGA Tour pro Mark Calcavecchia, who watched a video tribute of his career, then cracked, "Amazing how, as the pictures went by, I seemed to gain a few pounds in every one of them."
Two brothers who were standout high school basketball players and sons of Hall of Fame Chair Joe Ceravolo were inducted: Darryl Ceravolo of Palm Beach High and Joey Ceravolo, from Twin Lakes. Also honored were journalists Ray Boetel of The Fort Lauderdale News/Sun-Sentinel, and the Palm Beach Post's Tom D'Angelo, who thanked the Sports Commission "for not letting (for what he described as irate readers) get their hands on a ballot."
Inductee Bill Davis, former President of the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, current Chair of the Groza Committee and a long-time supporter of sports in Palm Beach County gave an emotional thank you to his former basketball coach at Palm Beach High, Joe Ceravolo.
Besides recognizing this year's inductees, the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame presented several other awards:
Amateur Athlete of the Year: Florida Atlantic University quarterback Rusty Smith won for the second time in three years. Smith threw for 3,224 yards and 24 touchdowns this season and led the Owls to a victory in the New Orleans Bowl, where he threw for 307 yards.
Professional Athlete of the Year: Jeff Blake, of Wellington and White Birch, has been named MVP of nearly every major polo tournament in the United States.
Coach of the Year: Rollie Massimino, who started Northwood's basketball program four years ago, went 27-8 last season and reached the NAIA quarterfinals. Massimino accepted the award after flying back from watching his former team, Villanova, defeat Pittsburgh in Boston on Saturday to reach the Final Four.
High School Coach of the Year: Jupiter Christian's Bill Powers led the Eagles to their second consecutive state title. Their 27-game winning streak is the longest such active run in the state.
High School Player of the Year: Wellington's Ashley Brasovan completed her fourth consecutive undefeated season. Ashley was unable to attend the Banquet as she was in Amman, Jordan participating in the junior division of the World Cross-Country Championships where she placed 26th.
Other award winners were Santaluces High's Willie Gibson (Men's Basketball Coach of the Year), Palm Beach Lakes' Cassandra Rahming (Women's Basketball Coach of the Year) and Angela Gunderman (Special Olympics Athlete of the Year).
Eugene Mische, founder and CEO of Stadium Jumping, received the prestigious President's Award. Coca Cola and Pepsi were each recognized as Outstanding Sports Contributor for their support of local youth sports.