Homer Inducts 1st class into sports Hall of Fame
Homer Central officially inducted the first class in the Trojan Athletic Hall of Fame Tuesday night at Butts Field during halftime of the Homer-Cortland boys varsity lacrosse game.
The inaugural class included athletes Bob Avery, Gerry Bell, Larry Brady, John Durkee, Michelle Franklin-Rauber; coaches George Butts, Michael Norris and Richard Wagner; and athlete/contributor Alan Butler.
Athletic director Michael Carboine introduced each member of the Hall of Fame and Vice-Principal Evelyn Sammons handed out the plaques to the new inductees.
Other commitments kept Brady away for the ceremony, but he will receive his plaque when the second Hall of Fame Class is inducted this fall.
Avery, Bell, Butler, Franklin-Rauber, Norris and Wagner were in attendance. Steve Butts accepted the award for his deceased father, while the late Durkee was represented by his daughter, Marissa.
What were the thoughts of some of the inductees?
“Number one, it’s an honor,” Avery said. “One of the greatest things about growing up in Homer was it not only a small town, but a sports town. Sports is a character builder and I always tried to be a good representative of that. It was wonderful to come home and I wish I could do it more often.”
Avery was he record setting Trojans running back who graduated from Homer in 1974, going on to play football at Syracuse University. He was also among the top wrestlers in Section 4. He was the Athlete of the Year in his senior year at Homer.
“It is such an honor to be inducted with Mister Norris and Mister Butts,” Bell said. “Guys like that can never be replaced. It truly is a great honor to be included with those two guys and to be part of the first class for the hall of fame.”
Bell was a successful Homer wrestler who won a gold medal for the United States at the 1967 Pan American Games. He was also a national AAU champion in 1971.
“I was really excited when I got the letter,” Franklin-Rauber said. “It was so nice to be back here. This (Butts Field) is such a nice facility now and I got to see so many people. Everyone here in Homer helped to make me the person, the mother and the teacher that I am today.”
Franklin is the track and cross country coach at Tully High after she being an outstanding runner for both the Trojans and SUNY Cortland. She held 10 school records when she graduated in 1987 and won eight New York State meet medals.
“It was such a great honor,” Norris said. “It was nice to be a part of Homer tradition. To see all the people here tonight and to be part of all this really brings back some good memories. I am glad for the opportunities that I had at Homer, but I never would had done everything I did without the support of people in the school and the community.”
A SUNY Cortland graduate, Norris was best known for being the school’s football coach for 31 seasons before retiring in 1984. He posted a 141-104-8 record during his productive stint and had a hand in coaching other sports at the school.
“I was really surprised when I found out about it,” Wagner said. “I really appreciate it very much. It was nice to see some old friends and to part of this ceremony.”
Wagner led powerhouse Homer wrestling squads from 1959-80, including the 1970 team that won a Southern Tier Athletic Conference and Section 4 team title. He retired from coaching and teaching in 1992 after 33 years with the school, his teams winning over 150 dual matches.
Butts Field is named for George Butts, who Norris remembered for having a hand in everything that went on in the sports program. He coached soccer, basketball, football, baseball and track teams during his 36 years with the Trojans. His basketball teams won Section 4 titles in 1956 and 1965, Butts the schools’ athletic director when he retired.
Durkee’s basketball uniform has been retired and hangs in the school’s gymnasium. He is still the school’s all-time leading scorer who went on to play at Colgate University. After a car crash left his legs paralyzed, Durkee returned to coach and teach history at his alma mater.
Butler was a 1973 Homer graduate and former Athlete of the Year who covered the Trojans for 19 seasons with the Cortland Standard before becoming the sports editor. His work for the paper was recognized and honored by the Onondaga High School League.
Brady was the school’s Athlete of the Year in 1981 after playing football, basketball and baseball. He went on to be an Academic All-America in baseball at Coastal Carolina and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he played in their minor league system.
Nominations for the next Hall of Fame Class are being taken until June. Applications can be found at the Homer Central Web site: www.homercentral.org/.
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Purple Tigers spoil Trojans' fun
It was a special night at Butts Field Tuesday. It was a night to remember some of the history of Trojan sports as the first nine members of the new Athletic Hall of Fame were formally inducted.
It was suppose to be a happy night, but long-time rival Cortland High crashed the party.
While Joel White notched the game-winning goal with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter to give the Purple Tigers a 10-8 lead, it was junior goalkeeper Zach Zayac who made all that possible with a 23-save effort to help Cortland escape with a 10-9 OHSL Class B Division triumph. The Trojans had a six-game winning streak snapped.
It was the seventh win in eight games for the streaking Purple Tigers, who now have a five-game winning streak of their own.
“I had a lot of help from the defenders in front of me,” Zayac said. “They did not give Homer many good shots. We all played well tonight and we all played tough.
“We did what we had to do. We knew we had to stop (Brian) McDermott and (Mike) Dugan. They did not have the kind of game they normally do.”
“Zach is seeing the ball very well,” Cortland coach John Spallone said. “He has elevated his level of play greatly.”
“Zach did play a very good game in goal,” Homer coach Tom Cottrell said. “Joel White was the best player out there tonight. Their best players had a better game than our best players.”
Cortland (8-5 division, 9-6 overall) raced to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter by scoring on the only shots taken. Theo Bishop started the action with an unassisted goal with 9:57 left in the quarter. Jack Spallone (2 goals-2assists) converted a nice feed from Nate Thomas three minutes later. With 5:11 left in the first quarter, Joel White notched his first of three goals and long-stick specialist Jesse Brown closed out the quarter with a goal with 1:41 still on the clock.
The Purple Tigers completed their five-goal run with 9:10 left in the second quarter when Spallone scored again, this time on a pass from Brian Benford.
Homer (10-4, 11-5) got on the board with 5:26 left in the first half when Greg Kiernan scored a man-up goal with an assist from Brian McDermott (3g-1a).
Thomas answered for Cortland less than a minute later as he fired a shot past Trojan goalkeeper Kyle Crosley (11 saves) with Spallone credited with an assist.
It looked like Cortland would enjoy a six-goal cushion at halftime, but Mike Dugan found the net with two-tenths of a second left to make the halftime tally 6-2.
While Zayac did make eight stellar saves in the first half, the Trojans missed their mark as 10 of 20 shots were either high or wide. Conversely, the Purple Tigers took just seven shots and had six goals to show for their efficiency.