Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame preparing to induct class of 2021


HOLYOKE – After a year’s absence, the Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame is preparing to once again induct a new class.

John Brunelle, who serves as the chair of the committee, said the hall of fame was created a few years ago. He said a former School Committee member had “tried to start it,” but “did not get a lot of support to do it.” Later, he said when he and another former School Committee member were elected they approached former superintendent/receiver Stephen Zrike. He said Zrike told them to “go for it,” so they started and committee and added people” to the board.

“Dr. Zrike was really behind it, supportive. Unfortunately, we haven’t got much support from the athletic director at the high school,” he said.

Brunelle said the purpose of the hall of fame was “to honor the athletes” as well as raise money for scholarships. “Mostly every community has a hall of fame. We’re giving out scholarships and donating to high school programs as well as youth programs. We just donated $500 to the Holyoke Chicks With Sticks, that’s across and field hockey, the sports that need the money,” he said.

The first year’s induction ceremony, Brunelle explained, saw an attendance of “over 400 people.” This, he said, was the same during the second year. However, he said the event was canceled during the third year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 induction ceremony, which will take place on Nov. 6 at the Wycoff Country Club, has a limited attendance of 300 people.

Brunelle went on to speak about some of the 2021 inductees, which included former recent athletes, legends who he said have “been out of high school for 50 plus years” and contributors such as coaches. He said athletes were not limited to one specific sport and included athletes such as gymnasts, track and field and swimmers.

He said they have also inducted whole teams. “This year it’s the hockey team [from ’79] and football team from ’82 that won the Super Bowl and went undefeated,” he said. Other 2021 inductees were three coaches including Girard Parenteau who coached Purple Knights Hockey from 1958 to 1990 and Richard “Rooster” Peloquin who coached alongside Parenteau.

The 2021 athlete inductees are host to a variety of former district students including gymnast Patricia Camus, track star Steven Lapointe, basketball player Jackie Smith, soccer player Beth Szostkiewicz Craven, three sport athlete Ronald Westbrook, basketball player Ramon Cosme, football player Daniel Cain, four sport athlete Jamie Athas and cross country runner Preston Hunter. Contributors for the class of 2021 include Nick Cosmos Sr. who served as the executive director and vice president of development for the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, as well as William George Morgan, who invented the game of volleyball.

Including athletes, legends, teams and contributors, Brunelle said there was a total of 16 inductees. “That’s going to be about the average size, the first year we inducted a lot, too many,” he said, laughing. “We have limited it now to eight athletes, two coaches, two contributors, two teams and give legends. We have 100 years of Holyoke athletics to make up for. We try to keep it balanced with women and men.”

Brunelle said the unfortunate reality was that by the time a lot of their legends were inducted, most of them had passed away. However, when nominations are opened each year he said they encourage members of the public to continue to nominate former Holyoke athletes, including those who have passed. “There are so many people from Holyoke that have done so many things,” he said.

Tickets to the event can be bought online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/holyoke-public-schools-athletic-hall-of-fame-induction-ceremony-tickets-156996537871. Tickets for the event, which will take place from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., cost $30 and includes dinner for guests. More information about the event, along with current and previous inductees, can be found on the Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame Facebook page.

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