The best athletes in the history of returned on June 17 to celebrate their induction into the school's new Athletic Hall of Fame. Begun by Co-Athletic Director Gary Mazzie, the project honors students who received All-State honors during their careers.
A total of 138 athletes, spanning graduating classes from 1963 to 2011, were inducted during the inaugural ceremony.
The evening began with remarks from Master of Ceremonies Alan McGillivary, who focused on the qualities that set the Hall of Famers apart from other athletes.
"These honorees embraced the big game, the big moment," said McGillivary.
He also quoted advice given by Robert E. Lee to a mother who asked him what she should teach her son: "Teach him to discipline himself."
Following McGillivary's opening remarks, Gary Mazzie addressed the crowd and the honorees.
He began by stating that the Hall of Fame would be "a source of pride not only for Johnston High School, but for the whole community."
Mazzie recounted the time he spent in the library searching through old issues of
the Providence Journal on microfiche. Despite the work and time involved, Mazzie said he persevered because of the importance of the task at hand.
"We want them to know how fondly and respectfully they're remembered," said Mazzie.
During the presentations, Mazzie joked that some of the students he had trouble
tracking down lived "right around the corner."
While many of the honorees still live in Rhode Island, several have moved away. Some weren't able to make it, and others travelled great distances to be part of the occassion. Vincent Crosby, Class of '87 traveled from Nampa, Idaho; and Dennis Mariano ('88) came from Fort Worth, Texas.
After the ceremony, the honorees socialized with friends, family, and former
classmates, while some reflected on their achievements."It was good to hear that they remembered us, it was good to see," said Alan Rainone, a member of the class of 1986.
Alaina Denoncour, a 2011 graduate, praised the efforts of Gary Mazzie.
"Mr. Mazzie put a lot of effort into it, and I'm glad to be a part of it.," said Denoncour, who reached the 1,000-point career plateau on the girls' basketball team in December.
Mazzie explained that in future years, additional athletes will be honored based on the All-State criteria used for the first class of inductees, along with the recommendation of a newly-formed nominating board which will review the careers of other deserving student athletes who weren't included in the inaugural class.
There will also be annual dinners, with proceeds benefiting the Robert A. Smith Scholarship, Mazzie added.
"My long-range vision is to have an actual room that can be visited," said Mazzie, who also mentioned creating an online Hall of Fame which would include photos and video.
There were a lot of ways the evening could be described, but in the end, one quote
from Mazzie summed up the evening perfectly: "You have made Johnston proud. Go Panthers!"
See the list of inductees to the 2011 JHS Athletic Hall of Fame here.