Sunday, October 10, 2021

Good News: The Importance of the Hall of Fame

You don't need to hear it from me, we all know we live in challenging times. If it's not the political division and polarization that is dividing our country or living with and through a pandemic, it's the rising costs of gas and food, the effects of social media on teenagers... We are tired. Many are weary. What to do? The answer is simple: share the good news of Sports and Spirituality.

The Gospel is the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is available to anyone and everyone— thanks be to God. In the spiritual life, it is important to hear, pray with and pay attention to the words of everlasting life. They are as relevant and important today as they were 2,000 years ago. I was reminded of that in today's second reading.

In sports, the good news extends far beyonds the wins and the lessons learned from the losses. Though it's been a joy to celebrate the success of the San Francisco Giants, I would like to share where I found an antidote to despair, a wellspring of inspiration that lifted my spirits and left me thinking more about the importance of community and the strife for excellence: The Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration at the Olympic Club.

I have attended this evening event since 2018, when Jill Costello—a former coxswain that I coached—was inducted, posthumously. I am very proud to have been one of many people who submitted her profile for induction. As an invested club member, sports fan and student of history I have always found this evening to be interesting and inspiring. Here's why.
As written in the program, 

The purpose of the Olympic Club's Hall of Fame is to recognize and to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves on behalf of The Olympic Club in at least one of the following categories: (1) athletic achievement, (2) coaching and development of Club athletes, or (3) significant distinguished service to the Club.

There are currently 86 individuals and eight teams representing 20 sports in the Hall of Fame, as well as 23 charter members. Their stories emphasize not only the hard work and commitment necessary to hear greatness, but also the importance of the Club in their development. 

And those stories are exactly what we need—what I need to hear.

To hear the story of each inductee is to be reminded that no one achieves greatness alone. Whether the honoree was part of an individual or a team sport, they recognized family members, coaches, teammates and friends who supported them along the way. Each member of the Hall of Fame overcame adversity. No one was a stranger to failure or set backs. And yet, the Hall of Fame Class of 2021 triumphed in their own way. Their grit, determination, sense of humor, their memories and stories made victory, excellence and triumph a reality. They did it! I dare say we are all better for it.

The evening begins with a reception that is open to all members. At this reception, I was able to congratulate the inductees, many who I did not know. It didn't matter. I ran into friends who were happy to introduce me—what an honor. Each  one was gracious and welcoming. It must be humbling to be in that type of spotlight. I loved seeing just how many club members came out for each individual. This is community at its best.

The official program was hosted by Brian Murphy, of Murph and Mac, my morning sports talk radio show on KNBR—the Giants flagship station. When you spend an hour listening to a person every morning, it's hard not to feel like you know him or her very well. I thanked Murph for emceeing the event and for the excitement he gets in his voice when he talks about the 2021 SF Giants. He set the tone on this evening just as he does on 104.5/680. Thanks Murph!

As meaningful as it was to come together even during this phase of COVID, the good news is the story of each honoree. I will profile but three (as featured in the photo at the top)

Margery Meyer, inducted for swimming "did not start competitive swinnging until 1987 at the age of 64 at the encouragement of her daughter, Marguerite. She later remarked I found something lurking deep that gave birth to something in me... a potential I didn't know I had. I got a taste of it, and away I went!"

At 21, Al Sandoval "started playing handball at the historic courts in Golden Gate Park the Olympic club recruited him in 1980 his fellow Hambel players were mark on his legendary intensity on the court, where he lived “in the zone“ and intermittent hyper focused sometimes spiritual state of mind where anything is possible. Sandoval‘s intense focus is contagious, elevating his doubles partner‘s games above their school level he refuses to concede that a higher ranked player could beat him."

And, I have had the great pleasure of playing golf with the highly decorated, incredibly talented Patricia A. Cornett, MD. "She walked on to the Stanford University golf team and was eventually one of the first six women at Stanford to receive a scholarship. Cornett helped lead Stanford to conference titles in 1975 and 1976 and was a WGCA All-American first team selection in 1975. She competed in four national collegiate championships, with third and eighth place finishes. She then went on to earn her medical degree at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Over the years, she has balanced her professional and golf careers admirably; she was once ranked number seven in Golf Digest's Top 100 golfer doctors in America, one of only two women recognized."

These are but three snapshots into the new faces that decorate the Olympic Club's Hall of Fame The others are Commodore Cochran, Track and Field, Russell A. Hafferkamp, Water Polo,  Peter Varellas, Water Polo, and the 2015 Women's Basketball Team

Schools and communities throughout the country have their own Hall of Fame ceremonies and events. Please don't lose the commitment to honoring our past through celebration today. It is Good News. Thanks be to God for these people and all those who have brought them to this ring of honor. The significance of this annual event is not lost on me or anyone who was able to attend. Congratulations to all!

Photo Credits: 
All photos are from @OlyClub

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