As current Charger teams pour hours of time and gallons of sweat into practices and competitions with hopes of achieving greatness, past Charger legends hang on the walls just outside the gym motivating the current athletes to leave a lasting legacy at their Alma Mater and join their ranks.
These legends are members of the Hillsdale College Athletic Hall of Fame. Their plaques and pictures adorn the first level of the George Roche sports complex, giving visitors a glimpse into the tradition of Hillsdale sports.
“Anybody who walks by those plaques has to be a little interested in who’s there and why they’re there,” said broadcasting professor and Hall-of-Famer Parke Hayes ‘67. “I think it’s just important for a school with as great a history as Hillsdale’s that it would have the [Hall of Fame]. It’s important to recognize the people who have given a lot of effort over the years.”
Who are the faces etched in the walls of the complex, and what is their significance? To put it in perspective, only 60 individuals and teams over the course of a 168-year have had the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame began recognizing Hillsdale athletics in a variety of positions; student-athlete, coach, athletic administrator, teams, or meritorious service-provider- in 1997.
In approximately two weeks, four Hillsdale teams or individuals will join the most elite group in Charger athletics after successfully passing through an official nomination and selection process. Their actual induction ceremony will occur at a banquet on campus in the spring.
Claudette Charney, assistant athletic director and head women’s basketball coach, serves as chair of the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. The board consists of faculty, athletic administrators, community members, and others, who receive written recommendations from faculty, friends, staff, or alumni of the College, and present their nominations to the President’s Office for final approval.
There are specific qualifications for each category of eligible recipient, such as teams must have won a conference title. Receiving All-American status doesn’t even guarantee a spot in the Hall, although all
All-American and All-American Academic award recipients are pictured in the sports complex basement.
Sports Information Director Brad Monastiere, along with historian Linda Moore, research the nominees. Monastiere writes their biographical information for the displays.
Hayes, a member of the Hall of Fame committee, has had the opportunity to learn a lot about various inductees over the years as well. This is because he worked at the radio station WCSR, which broadcasts college games, for over 33 years before retiring. Even to this day, Hayes teaches the broadcasting class at the college and appears on the radio station frequently.
“I’m a lifer and I’ve lived in Hillsdale all my life and I’ve been a Charger fan all my life, even when they were the Dales,” Hayes said. “I have more than just a passing interest in local sports. I’ve announced a lot of the games involving a lot of the people who have played for the Chargers.”
Hayes said he has lots of memories of Charger athletics. He said he remembers most vividly some of the football playoff games, and the 1981 men’s basketball team which made it to the semifinals of the NIAI national tournament. He also remembers when the college hosted the 1985 national tournament for track, which Hayes said was a “big deal.”
While many athletes, coaches, and administrators may take for granted the excellence that each plaque on the wall represents, those members have set the standard for all other athletes to follow, and their example is a cornerstone in the community, Hayes said.
“When I was a kid in Hillsdale I was made aware of the college and its athletic programs and some of the people involved and I had chance to meet some of these people, and that was great stuff,” Hayes recalled. “Here I am, a little nine or ten-year-old kid, playing little league football and I got the chance to play on the college field. … We were grade school kids who were in the big time. That’s always been an important part of the community- the college and the athletic program.”