Hall of Fame keeps Alpena’s sports history alive | News, Sports, Jobs

One of the best parts of my job is getting to tell cool stories about everyday people.

The Alpena Sports Hall of Fame provides an excellent avenue for that every spring.

The months leading up to the banquet offer the chance to learn and write about the incredible athletic journeys of each year’s inductees. Over the years, I’ve written about some very accomplished Hall of Famers, including basketball stars, gymnasts, hunters, golfers, baseball players, runners, and track and field athletes.

Alpena plays host to so many great events each year, but as someone who’s a fan of sports and history, the Hall of Fame’s annual banquet and enshrinement dinner is one of best tickets in town.

Going to the banquet is like walking through a museum that only opens once a year. When you pass by row after row of picture displays and tables with old jerseys, equipment, newspaper clippings, medals, trophies and team photos, you realize how rich Alpena’s sports history really is.

There are plenty of laughs, plenty of tears, plenty of thank-yous and lots of great stories as attendees get a chance to rub elbows with Alpena sports greats past and present.

This year’s class is another incredible one with Michele (Suszek) Yates, Tim Holsworth, Phil Straley and John Cunningham set to share their stories and receive their Hall of Fame plaques next Saturday at the APlex.

The Hall of Fame will also honor Phil Schultz and Emily Szymanski as its Boosters of the Year and the 1965-66 Alpena High boys basketball team will be honored as the Team of the Year.

Consider that this foursome includes a multi-time national champion ultra runner, one of the state’s most decorated gymnastics coaches, a boxer who fought a young Tommy “Hitman” Hearns and one of Alpena’s best and most consistent golfers.

When you add all that up and add the fact that all four of them are originally from Northeast Michigan, it’s absolutely amazing.

It may not have the glitz and glamor of the National Baseball Hall of Fame or the Hockey Hall of Fame induction, but these athletes and their stories serve as a reminder of how sports can bring a community together.

The athletes being honored are local legends and they’re very honored to be a part of history, especially when they see their Hall of Fame plaques on display at the APlex for all to see. In some cases, inductees have already been inducted into other Halls of Fame, but their induction into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame is extra special.

Time will tell who gets inducted during future years, but I’m betting the classes will continue to be impressive. There are still many athletes of yesteryear who hopefully get their name called one day and in the last several years there have been lots of young, talented, record-setting athletes who will hopefully get a fair shake one day and land on the ballot.

Those interested in attending the banquet still have time to get tickets. Tickets for the banquet are $20 per person and can be purchased at The Alpena News office. Those interested in paying by check can contact Nancy Garant at 989-464-0319 to make arrangements.

James Andersen can be reached at 989-358-5686 or jandersen@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.

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