I’m a sucker for a hall of fame, and it doesn’t really matter which one.
Everybody has one, it seems. There are thousands upon thousands of hall of fames in America and across the world and if I could just set aside about 10 years, I’d love to see them all.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend induction ceremonies at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. (Lynette Woodard); the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. (George Brett); and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio (Barry Sanders).
I even walked through the Bowling Hall of Fame in St. Louis one afternoon many years ago, since it used to be just across the street from Busch Stadium. It might still be.
I mention all of this as a prelude to the Wichita Southeast High School athletic hall of fame, which will soon be inducting its second class. I love this stuff, but I have some gentle advice for Southeast.
Slow down. Whoa, fellas. Remember, a hall of fame is forever and you don’t to induct everyone you can think of in the first couple of classes because that means you’re gonna run out of worthy people eventually. And no hall of fame wants that to happen.
Last year, the Buffaloes’ first HOF class included 15. Every one of them was worthy because Southeast, like every City League high school, has plenty about which to crow.
But 15 in the first class? It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle with that many honorees.
The first Southeast class included Randy Canfield (basketball), Kevin Clinton (football, baseball), Sylvester Cowans (track and field), Jim Davie (football coach), Jim Deckinger (baseball coach), Buff Farrow (tennis), Chuck Hatter (swimming coach), Don Lamb (athletic director, football coach), Buffalo Bob McFarland (super fan), Neil Piper (soccer), Jeff Smith (football), Jessica Smith (soccer), LaVerne Smith (football), Gary Snyder (gymnastics) and Kareema Williams (basketball).
And I’m out of breath.
That is one large class of inductees.
This year, Southeast is inducting 10: Harold Brandenburg (football coach), Ramona Breedlove (track and field), Derek Clark (gymnastics), Reuben Eckels (football), Dan Johnson (football coach), So Young Lee (tennis), Bill Means (football coach/athletic director), Harold Montgomery (football), Carl Taylor (basketball coach) and the 1978 baseball team.
No John Dawkins? He and Chuck Porter are probably the best assistant coaches in the history of City League football (Porter was also a tremendous head coach), and Dawkins belongs in the Southeast Hall of Fame.
See? Even with 25 inductees in the first two years, I’m finding something to quibble with. Shame on me. Dawkins, I’m sure, will get in.
My argument here really is that it would behoove Southeast to take its time. Pull back some and make your hall of fame an even more special shrine. Also, it would be a good idea to publicly explain the process by which you choose inductees. Perhaps that is explained somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it.
Southeast can probably go on inducting 10 to 15 former athletes, administrators and coaches for a few more years until it starts to become difficult to come up with people. But eventually that’s going to happen. Which is why I think it would be a good idea for high school sports halls of fame to just pick a few inductees each year.
The number that keeps jumping into my head is three, but I suppose it could be five. Just not 15, not even for the first class.
I’m not picking on Southeast here. Really. I know of many halls of fame that go crazy with class size and in the process water everything down. I like small classes for bigger impact. I like hall of fame ceremonies to be cozy, not like a fraternity rush.
That said, I think it’s really cool that Southeast has an athletics hall of fame and I’m interested to see who will be going in as we move forward. Just keep it modest. And get John Dawkins in there as soon as possible, please.