By celebrating its sporting past through its Hall of Fame, George Mason High School hopes to inspire its athletes of the future.
The Hall of Fame display case, a permanent fixture in the lobby of George Mason High School’s gym, may seem like a thing of the past, a remembrance of athletic achievements. However, stop by on any given day and the finger prints on the glass are fresh, as are the smudge marks from the countless students who press their noses up against the casing for a better look.
In fact, the Hall of Fame project at Mason is anything but old news, with seven new inductees being honored this year on Nov. 4 and another seven already slated for a 2007 ceremony.
This year’s class, consisting of Ted Yeary, Jim Davis, Joan Clinton, Nick Earman, Jenny Boozell, Carlos Rodriguez, Al Krueger and the 1954 boys track and field team, is the first class in nearly a dozen years to be inducted.
Although the Hall recognizes and inducts past athletes, the value of such an honor resonates within the community, and inflicts a sense of pride in current and future Mason students.
The Hall is not meant to be a museum, says Joel Hamme, vice chair of the Athletic Boosters, but rather an inspiration for young Mason athletes to emulate.
“The purpose is to excite and motivate the students, not only the present generation of Mason athletes but the future ones as well,” Hamme says. “We want kids to see these athletes and say ‘I can do that’ or better yet ‘I can beat that,’ and set goals for themselves.”
The Hall of Fame display, which features 15 athletes and one coach, was dedicated on Dec. 19, 2005 and was made a permanent fixture through the joint efforts of the Athletic Boosters, the GMHS Alumni Association, and the GMHS Athletic Department.
The idea of the Hall of Fame began back in 1992, when alumnae Scott Sager and Bill Laing, realized the window of opportunity to talk with coaches and players from the 1950s and 60s was rapidly closing. The two quickly began the process of collecting information for comparative analysis to find and recognize the best athletes since the school opened in 1952.
“The goal is to make sure we don’t lose the excellent sports history associated with George Mason High School,” says Sager, who serves as the Alumni president and chair.
While this year’s ceremony will continue to recognize athletes from Mason’s first three decades, next year’s honorees are predominantly from the 1990s era, bringing the Hall up to date. After this initial “catch-up” of Mason’s athletics is completed, the Hall plans on electing new inductees every two or three years.
This year’s class will also be honored at Mason’s home football game on Friday Nov. 3, the night preceding the actual inductions. Although they are the third group of inductees (athletes were recognized in 1992 and 1995), this year’s group still features many “firsts” in Mason athletics.
The 1954 boys track and field team will be honored as the first Mason team to win a state championship and will also be the first team to be inducted into the Hall.
Among the individuals honored will be Ted Yeary (class of 1968), who was a two-time state champion in the 440-yard dash and the top Mason runner on two state championship cross country teams.
From the class of 1970, Jim Davis, Mason’s first state wrestling champion and two-time All-District football lineman will be honored for his achievements. Two-time All-District basketball player Joan Clinton, who was also a four-year starter in basketball and softball, will be inducted from the class of 1977 along with Nick Earman, a four-year starter in baseball and three-year starter with over 1,000 career points in basketball, as well as an All-District selection in both sports. From the 1980s, Jenny Boozell (1988), a two-time state singles champion, who also garnered three state doubles titles and a state team championship in tennis as well as All-District honors in volleyball will be honored. She will be inducted with fellow tennis champ Carlos Rodriguez (1989), a two-time singles champion with three state doubles titles and four state championships. Long time Mason teacher, athletic director and coach of three different sports teams, Al Krueger, will be honored as well. Krueger’s biggest accomplishment was the six state titles he won as Mason’s boys tennis coach.
The six athletes, coach and track team were selected after being narrowed down from a list compiled from nominations after several discussions by the Hall’s Selection Committee. Hamme compares the process to that of Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“You go back and look at what each athlete has done and you want to recognize those who have made a significant impact and had great athletic achievements,” he says.
“Thanks to the hard work of those involved with the commemorative banners in Mason’s gym and a lot of great detective work in cataloging results and picking peoples memories, we have something that engenders a great sense of pride and community.”
And that’s something that will never get old.
This year’s induction will be held Saturday Nov. 4, at 5:30 p.m. in the Mustang Gym at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased or reserved by Monday, Oct. 30. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served. To purchase tickets or confirm reservations please contact Joel Hamme at (703) 534-01061 or [email protected]