MASSENA - On a night when the Massena Central Hall of Fame welcomed six individuals and one team to its ranks, they also welcomed the return of a Red Raider Wall of Fame.
The late Kenneth Adams and Rick Aslanian, along with Jay Laba, Candace Scruggs, Laura Scruggs, Paige Truax-Arcet and the 2001-02 girls basketball team took their place on the walls near the high schools main gymnasium, along with all of the other inductees from the previous 23 classes.
Martha Slack, a member of the Hall of Fame Committee, recalled that the individual and team plaques were a part of the school until a capital project that included a refurbishing of the gymnasium.
Four years ago a capital project turned the gym around. For a few different reasons its been four years since we got that (Wall of Fame) back up again, she told those who gathered for Friday evenings induction ceremonies. Its something the community felt very strongly about, that we were going to get the wall up again. Finally we said, Lets go.
To make it a reality, though, Mrs. Slack said they had to raise $4,000, which they did thanks in large part to Massena Savings and Loan. The Hall of Fame Committee approached Kirk Wilmshurst with a proposal to have the bank sponsor the wall, and he didnt hesitate, she said.
Massena Savings and Loan donated $2,000, which Mrs. Slack said theyll be matching next year. Many others also chipped in, including those who sponsored greens and tees for a fundraising golf tournament.
Not one of them hesitated, she said.
Mr. Wilmshurst said the bank was proud to be a part of the Red Raider program.
Myself and Massena Savings and Loan thank you for allowing us to be part of a great program, he said, noting that he hoped the athletes of today would use the hall of famers for their inspiration in the future endeavors.
Among those they could look up to were those inducted during Friday nights 24th annual Hall of Fame ceremony.
Beverly Adams and her family represented Kenneth Adams, a four-year letterman on the varsity wrestling team who sported a 76-12 record over those 12 years. He was a two-time Windsor Tournament runner-up, three-tine sectional champ, an intersectional champ, and was undefeated in his senior year.
My daughter and I are here from South Carolina. Were really glad we came for this, Mrs. Adams said.
She said not knowing Mr. Adams when he was in high school she wasnt aware of his record. They met at SUNY Potsdam, and she had attended some of his college matches.
I never knew his record in high school until I read his scrapbook, she said. I remember seeing his signature move in high school, which was the firemans carry and that was quite a sight. He was a team player. He did everything for his team. He was a man that was very humble, Mrs. Adams recalled.
Rick Aslanian was a three-sport athlete for the Red Raiders, a standout on the gridiron as a lineman on the varsity football team, who, both his junior and senior season, was named All Northern for his play on both sides of the football.
He wrestled in the winter, compiling a 45-5 record, and ran track in the spring. Mr. Aslanian was team captain in his senior year.
But, his wife Sheila said. in accepting the award, he didnt think he was Hall of Fame material.
He was a very humble man and truly believed he was not worthy of this award, she said, recalling that when he was notified he had been selected, he told her, Honey, they got the wrong guy.
I know they have the right guy, Mrs. Aslanian said. He was very proud to be a Red Raider. He shared many memories of high school and college sports with his family. We felt pride.
He not only played, he also coached kids in soccer, she said.
He passed on his motto - theres no I in team, she said.
Jay Laba was a four-year athlete, playing running back on the junior varsity and varsity football teams and switching to short distance runner on the varsity track team in the spring. In 1991 he was the leagues leading rusher in football, with 13 yard per carry, and was selected as the 1991 Co-Mike Mittiga Award winner, given to the most valuable varsity football player.
On the track, he was voted the Top Male Performer by Northern Athletic Conference officials in 1992. He also qualified during his career for the Empire State Games and the state meet.
Mr. Laba called his induction a great honor and thanked his family for supporting him along the way.
Without that push. I would not have been able to do all of that, he said.
Also inducted this year were Candace Scruggs and her twin sister, Laura Scruggs Warner. Both were three-sport athletes in soccer, indoor track and spring track. For all four years they were both a Northern Athletic Conference Academic All-Northern and a member of the New York State Scholar Athlete team.
Both thanked those who helped them along the way, including their family and coaches.
I couldnt have done this without my sister, Candace said. She pushed me in all sports and made me a better player.
Laura, in her acceptance speech, called her sister my best friend as she thanked those who made her the success she was.
Page Truax-Arcet excelled at two sports, starting her career as an eighth-grader and participating in both basketball and softball. Among her softball honors were selected as 1st Team All-Northern, Section X MVP, Watertown Daily Times MVP All-North and Team MVP. In basketball, she was a Section X MVP, Jan Reitz Finalist, Elks Team MVP, 4th Team All-State, Katie OShaughnessy Award winner, 1st Team All-North, Mel Busler channel 7 News Athlete of the Week and Massena Red Raider Athlete of the Year.
Im truly grateful to have been part of this as an athlete and now as a coach, she said. Thank you very much for this honor and Ill say it again, Im very proud to be a Red Raider.
The 2001-02 girls basketball team, under the leadership of Coach Bob Jordan and Assistant Coach George Trippany, compiled a 23-3 overall record, capturing the Section 10 Class B championship and Section 10 Overall championship. They were Section 10-3 regional participants. Over the season, they won 23 straight games, placing them undefeated in their league.
For me, it was an absolute pleasure and honor to be a part of this. A monkey could have coached them and they would have had success. These girls were awesome when they came to me. They were just exceptional young ladies, Mr. Jordan said. I know theyre successful because I knew they were going to be successful no matter where they are.