Rose Ladley, widow of Wahconah coach Ed Ladley, receives a plaque recognizing the 1992-93 boys basketball team's Western Mass title.
DALTON, Mass. — On a perfect day for an outdoor induction ceremony, Joanne Dowling found the perfect sentiment to capture the spirit of the Dalton CRA Athletic Hall of Fame.
"I would like to share a special thank you to the Dalton CRA and the community and, in particular, Boog Powell and Dan McMahon, for giving me the opportunity to play sports as a young girl," Dowling said, reading aloud from the letter of a 2020 inductee. "My family never had the means to pay for sports, but scholarships and the generosity of those mentioned made it possible for me to participate and to thrive."
Stories like that are what the CRA Hall of Fame is all about -- not only because that youngster, like so many others in the Central Berkshire town, thrived to inspiring heights on the field of competition but because the Hall itself serves a dual mission.
"Our goal is to create a permanent home that will tell the story of our incredible legacy of excellence," Hall Chairman Dustin Belcher said. "In addition to telling your stories and learning about the rich history, we are motivated to combat the rising need of families for financial assistance.
"So the second part of our mission was to make sure that every child, regardless of their financial situation, had a chance to write their story."
The story of the local Hall of Fame is just two years old. On Sunday, it welcomed 16 individuals, two teams and two contributors as part of its second class.
Wahconah's 1996 state co-champion girls soccer team and 1992-93 Western Massachusetts championship-winning boys basketball team were joined by contributors Dick Kaley and LP Adams, coaches Mike Cooney, Fran Reardon, Jim Duquette and Jim O'Connor, and individual athletes Everett Calkins, Craig Crosier, Phil Lennon, Maryann Lombardi, Eric McIlquham, Mark Poopor, Scott Pudlo, Geno Quirk, Diane Tedford, Kate Whitcomb, Matt White and Richie Zink.
The inductees were recognized in four groups in ticketed ceremonies spaced 90 minutes apart from one another on the lawn beside the CRA. The festivities were videotaped by Silver Whip Media, which will edit the remarks and interviews of the inductees for a full virtual induction ceremony on Oct. 4.
Sunday's event allowed old teammates and classmates to reunite -- behind face coverings -- and hear about their accomplishments at Wahconah Regional High School.
"This is the story of Dalton, this is the story of Wahconah, this is the story of Central Berkshire," Gary Campbell said in his induction remarks for the '93 boys basketball team. "And you can't write the story without this team that we're inducting today. The '92-'93 boys basketball team had the best record in Wanconah's history, 22-3.
"And I would say, overall, being a little part of that history, probably the glory years of basketball here in town. ... When you say that, you've got to think about upstairs and think about coach [Ed] Ladley. Coach, I know you're up there looking down us today, and I know you're looking down on your team today. And we're inducting you, too."
Like Ladley, the coach of the '96 girls soccer team, Robert "Boog" Powell, was inducted posthumously last year with the first Hall of Fame class.
Dowling inducted the booters, noting their standout defense, which posted shutout runs of seven games and six games during a 16-2-3 season that ended in a 1-1 tie against Wellesley in the state final.
"After 110 minutes of play, both teams were declared state champions," Dowling said. "Coach Powell was quoted after the game saying, 'It's a weird emotion. You don't know whether to be happy or sad or laugh or cry, we're caught in between.'
"Today, we're not caught. We are happy."
And they were happy to have a chance to continue the tradition begun last fall when the first class of the Dalton CRA Hall of Fame was inducted at Wahconah Country Club.
An indoor ceremony like that was not in the cards, but Belcher repeatedly credited the Hall's events committee with developing continually evolving plans to pull off the second annual event.
"It was one of those things where, we didn't want to be standing in the Hall of Fame room 10 years from now and looking at the plaques and missing the year 2020," Belcher said. "We realized it had to be different. We had to reimagine what it would look like, but we were determined to do something.
"And we really wanted to make sure the inductees and their families had an opportunity to do that in person. For the teams, for a lot of these guys, it's a matter of reuniting. They haven't seen each other in a lot of years. So that's one of the cool parts of this whole thing: They get an opportunity to catch up on the old times."
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