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A week later, we’re still in awe of celebration of Fame

By Tom King - Staff Writer | May 14, 2023

It’s not often that history makes history, but that’s what happened a week ago in Nashua. And many are still talking about it.

The fact that the Nashua Athletics Hall of Fame was revived and holding its first in-person induction in over 22 years was certainly a historical moment in itself.

But then you look at those who were inducted, like longtime coach Art Kobs, longtime contributor Ed Lecius, or the entire 1987 Nashua girls basketall national championship team – and you had a celebration of history that was history in itself.

The moment when the Hall of Fame Class of 2023 was introduced, coming into the banquet room one by one at the Courtyard Marriott, to thundering applause for each – perhaps Kobs, Femi Ayi and the 1987 team got the loudest – was a moment in itself, not to be missed if you can catch the Nashua ETV broadcast which we’re sure will make the TV and YouTube rounds.

Obviously a moment like that was what Nashua Athletic Director Lisa Gingras had in mind when she met with various people and established a committee to revive the Hall of Fame back in 2018. We’ve been through the history a few times in this space.

But it got real. The virtual induction in 2021 was tough, because of the fact those inducted couldn’t experience a moment like the one that took place last Sunday. But several of that induction class were on hand and introduced.

“The Hall of Fame is back,” Gingras declared to the sellout crowd as the ceremony wrapped up, “and it’s not going anywhere this time.”

No it isn’t, not after last Sunday’s experience. For many, some great memories were relived with the photos and video interviews, or some learned things they hadn’t known. Tributes were paid. Many of the inductees talked on how their circumstances fit. For example,how fitting it was that Kobs was inducted along with one of his best athletes, Phil Greenwood. Or how Ed Lecius, Jim Tebbetts and Femi Ayi join other family members in the Hall. Or Mickey Cernuda, talking on how fitting it was she was being inducted at the same time as her idols from the 1987 team, whom she said motivated her time and time again.

And the memories talked about by the 1987 team members. A few were already inducted in the first wave of the Nashua Hall over two decades ago, but to all go in together gave them the chance to have a reunion weekend, if you will. Ayi’s induction served as just that for members of the 1997 Nashua Division I championship football team. All you had to do was see their joy as many of Ayi’s former teammates and coaches gathered for a photo at day’s end.

These are opportunities don’t often get. These are moments in time that aren’t often celebrated. The value of this was seen.

“Lisa you were right on,” Lecius said as he addressed the crowd. “Today’s sellout confirms it.”

The messages the inductees gave were many. The video interviews were far from boring, and often entertaining. As funny and candid as Ayi can be – really, a filter does not exist – he had an incredible message at the end of his video.

“If you learn to be part of a team, if you’re going to be a good team player,” he said, “then you’re going to be a good human being.”

We can’t wait for the next induction in two years. Nominations open next April, and you can bet there will be another fitting class (Disclaimer, yours truly is on the Hall Committee).

As Gingras told the crowd, it’s important to “have the opportunity to recognize greatness in this city.”

And have history make history.

Tom King can be reached at tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or on twitter @Telegraph _TomK.


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