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 Tri-Town News October 23rd 2008 

SIDNEY - On a night dedicated in part to setting records, the Sidney Alumni Sports Hall of Fame set its own mark October 4 during the 6'h annual Induction Ceremony.

About 200 alumni and guests reserved tickets to the induction event this year. This represents a second huge jump in attendance since adding a special Legacy Award to the evening's festivities.

Also, now that the Hall of Fame has created an "Induction Weekend", this year's success definitely mirrored that of the entire Homecoming Weekend from the perspective of Alumni, school and community participation.

The purpose of the Sports Hall of Fame for Sidney alumni and coaches consists of two main goals: To honor athletic excellence in an alumni setting and to raise money in order to "give back" to the school's athletic department.

A 10-person,Hall of Fame committee, which functions well as a team, works several months to prepare for an evening and weekend of this magnitude. It was a real pleasure to see everything run so smoothly and to experience the enjoyment of such a wide age range of alumni. In fact, it is now considered to be the MOST successful single event involving all generations of alumni in the 10 year history of the Sidney Central School Alumni Association (SCSAA).

Induction Weekend started Friday October 3 at the Sidney-Walton Homecoming football game. At half time, Committee chairman Greg Davie recognized the Class of 2008 - Anthony "Tonsee" Smith (SCS class of 1963), Coach Larry Armour, Michele Mancini Benton (`89) and Robb Munro (`96). Also introduced were the newest recipients of the Legacy Award, which this year honored all track and field record holders. About a third of the more than 90 recipients were present.

A post-game reception was held at the Sidney VFW, which brought everyone together in a social setting and gave old friends a chance to relax and reminisce.

As for the induction itself, the HOF returned to its original home at the Sidney Elks Lodge after a two-year absence. The Elks presented a delicious roast beef and turkey buffet. Thanks to Gary Stevens and his workers for another splendid meal!

Once again, a fun and profitable sports auction was held, raising nearly $1500!

Tonsee Smith, a 10-letter winner at SCS, was the first to be honored. He had some help in the introduction from his 1963 classmates Bill McIntyre and Dick Genmond who spoke about Tonsee in a part roast, part heartfelt respect manner. One of last year's inductees - also from 1963 - Mike Gallup returned the "favor" of presenting a mock award made possible by classmate Hang Bouvier. It was Mike who got similar treatment the year before.

In accepting his induction plaque, Tonsee reflected on his experiences and how special, it was to have so many friends and family with whom to share the honor. The former football, basketball and baseball standout was truly humbled.

Next was Larry Armour, whose best known value to the Sidney sports program was in coaching shot put and discus. He was introduced by longtime friend, colleague and mentor Doug Quinney. Doug pointed out the lesser known elements to Larry's value to the sports program, such as football scouting,coaching varsity rifle and many modified sports. But it was also the care and compassion he showed while getting the most from his athletes that stood out most in his mind.

Larry's usual soft-spoken patter was replaced at the dais with some great humor and memories of his 30-plus years at Sidney. His personal mantra of "always looking to the skyline", concentrating on the present and the future, was always part of his coaching equation.

Steve Benton, himself a well honored athlete, gave the introduction for his wife and former Sidney and Colgate basketball standout Michele Mancini Benton. The mutual respect this couple has for one another was clear as Steve not only reviewed Michele's measurable accomplishments, but offered the immeasurable reasons why Michele was and is a successful person.

Michele spoke of the importance of family, citing the support she experienced as a student-athlete at Sidney during her acceptance speech. Now as she and Steve build their life together, Michele maintains that her emphasis of family will be just as strong. In a lighter moment, she challenged anyone in the audience to a game of two on-two with her and her husband, for which there were no takers!

Doug Quinney returned to introduce Robb Munro. who like the others excelled in multiple sports. The significance of that should not be lost, he said, as today's young athletes are pushed into specializing rather than experiencing the variety offered at the high school level. Doug was especially proud that Robb has also become a successful track & field coach at neighboring Bainbridge-Guilford.

In his emotional speech, Robb said what so many others before him have said. He recalled the moments when he realized what the support of a community like Sidney meant. One was when he learned a man drove all the way to Delhi to watch him run ("and he didn't even have a kid on the team!"). The other was while in college, his cross country team had upset the #4 team in the country and thought they'd be greeted with a big reception upon retuning to campus. It didn't happen. That's when Robb thought of the many fire truck escorts and other examples of Sidney's enthusiasm for its young people.

The cap to the tremendous Hall of Fame evening was the introduction of the Legacy Award recipients. Each person was given a beautiful glass-etched desk plate made locally by Karen Jones of Pioneer Glass.

Alumni from '1963 to the present were announce Doug Quinney. Doug coached all but the three oldest alumni, who comprised 75% of the 880 yard (half-mile) relay team. This is the oldest school record in existence.

However it should be noted that the trio who accepted their awards came from faraway places. John Bethe ( '63 from California), Tom Osterwald (`65 from Kansas) and foreign exchange student Fleming Larsen (`63 from Denmark) used this time to hold a very special reunion. They also were pleased to be part of Tonsee Smith's induction at the same event.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were three current Sidney students who actively hold school records. They are seniors Ashley Mahlmeister and Kim Young, and sophomore Lyndsay Delello.

It was a lengthy program, but a worthwhile one, too. The reunions held within the track and field contingency were a major source of pride. But the honoring of four more of Sidney's athletic best was the shining moment of the night.

In the near future, look for the proceeds of the induction to pay for two portable scoreboards for use in outdoor sports at Sidney Central School. These scoreboards will also assist for future tournaments, such as the 2009 MAC Wrestling Championships, coming to Sidney in February

By Greg Davie


As Printed in the Tri-Town Newspaper