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Holyoke Shows Up Big for First Ever Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame Induction

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The ceremony for first class of the Holyoke Athletic Hall Of Fame began with the familiar sounds of  “Hail Holyoke High School,” a traditional Holyoke fight song that generations still sing today.

During the song performed by the HHS Madrigal Choir, the captains of several current HHS sports teams paraded through the 400-plus crowd. While attendees sang and others continued to look for a table for the best spot to see the amazing athletes and coaches – many of whom traveled hundreds of miles to be inducted to the hall  at the Wherehouse in Holyoke on October 27th.

“The idea for a Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame had been a dream for a while, especially of inductee contributor and School Committee member William ‘Ronnie’ Collamore,” said hall organizer John Brunelle class of ‘84.

But it was Holyoke’s Superintendent, Dr. Stephen Zrike that pushed to make to it a reality.

“He told me we should do it and that other communities have it. With Dr. Zrike’s support, we were able to successfully move forward. The Hall is a great way for (current) students and student athletes to recognize the hall of famers and the great accomplishments that they’ve had in the past,” said Brunelle. “Some of these people have gone on to be college football stars, pro athletes, doctors, lawyers and great members of the community and they have one thing in common, they love the city of Holyoke and they love the kids in this city and that is why we started it.”

Brunelle and a committee of volunteers helped bring the event to life after many months. “The goal is to honor athletes of distinction from both HHS and the former Dean Vocational High School,” he said. The committee included HHS Football Coach Joe Dutsar, Gloria Urbina, John Whelihan, HHS History teacher Quentin Donohue, Peter LeClerc, and Rollie McCarter III. Brunelle said support for the Hall was “worldwide” adding that help came in from California, Florida, and even London.

”People never forget their roots,” Brunelle said.

The Herald was able to catch up with a few Inductees before their ceremony.

Debra Dumont, one of the individual athletes inducted, can trace her Holyoke Athletic history to the former Kirtland School playground.      

Dumont, HHS class of 1989, proved she could outplay anyone who was up for the challenge in multiple sports.

But it was on the Holyoke High soccer field where it became clear she had a toughness no one could match, especially at sweeper. With her tenacious game and her stats, she earned All-American status becoming the second Holyoker to do so. Dumont continued her career at American International College where she was a four-time first-team Northeast-10 all-conference selection (1989-92) and a two-time All-American (1992-93) as a member of the women’s soccer team and held many of AIC’s career and single-season scoring records. Dumont registered a school-record 77 points (31 goals, 15 assists) in her 77 career games played. She also set a school record for points  in a season with 27 points her freshman year.

Dumont said she takes her role as an athlete to heart and is grateful for the opportunities she received in Holyoke and especially the progress all women athletes  have made in sports since she was a girl.

“Sports made a huge difference for me. I was able to become an All-American and get my school paid for. I think that the females who get honored can be a positive role model for all athletes,” she said.

Most of all she was humbled by the honor to be inducted.

“It is amazing to be apart of this first group, I have no words for it. I look around and there’s so many amazing athletes here and to be recognized as one of the top in the city of Holyoke is quite an honor,” she said.

Dr. Arthur J. “Archie” Roberts Jr., another Holyoke legend and former storied HHS quarterback from the class of 1960, was also humbled by his induction.

“To come back to Holyoke and be amongst some of the great athletes that went before, I am just happy to be included,” he said.

Roberts went to Deerfield Academy after HHS and later took his talent to Columbia University where he threw for over 3,000 yards and threw for 30 touchdowns. He was later drafted in the 7th round of the 1965 draft by the Cleveland Browns. The Browns allowed him to practice and continue with medical school. He gave Football one more chance when he was traded to the Miami Dolphins. After that, he became a cardiac surgeon performing over 4,000 open-heart operations before retiring. Roberts also went on to found the New Jersey-based Living Heart Foundation in 2001.

Roberts said he is still a big  fan of the game he loves, having caught the Comp VS Holyoke game the night before the induction ceremony and various games in his New Jersey community and HHS over the years.

“The game has remained largely the same. Over the years some of the rules have changed. Certainly concussions as a problem has influenced everybody that plays the game and that has changed some of the tackling techniques and some of the rules the referees enforce… (Football) is still a great American game and it is a great character builder and I am still an advocate for the sport.”

In addition to individual athletes, the Hall program honored legends from as far back as 1918, teams, coaches, and contributors to Holyoke athletic programming over the years.

Here is a complete list of those who were honored:

LEGENDS
1918-1919 HHS Boys Basketball New England Champions
John “Abe” Collamore Class of 1952
Thomas “Buttermilk” Dowd Class of 1889
Joseph Szostkiewicz

TEAMS
1968-1969 HHS Boys Swim Team New England Champions
1979-1981 HHS Boys Basketball Western mass Champions

COACHES
John Gilligan Football 1970s-1980s
John “Jinx” O’Connor Baseball & Basketball 1960s-1980s
Arthur “Archie” Roberts Sr. Baseball & Basketball 1940s-1960s

CONTRIBUTORS
Dr. Robert Abrams Class of 1950
Ronald Collamore Class of 1949 Holyoke Trade School
Barbara Martino Athletic Director 1980s-200s

INDIVIDUAL ATHLETES
Patrick Brennan Class of 1985
Nicole D’ Addario Class of 1988
Waymond Dotson Class of 1960
Kenny Gamble Class of 1983
Francis Healy Class of 1965
JJ Jennings Class of 1970
Bruce Mitchell Class of 1970
Francis O” Brien Class of 1955
Julie Peltier Class of 1990
Dr. Arthur J. “Archie” Roberts, Jr. Class of 1960
Cedric Washington Class of 1995
Larry Westbrook Class of 1981

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Holyoke Shows Up Big for First Ever Holyoke Athletic Hall of Fame Induction