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2023 Annual Newsletter

Updated: Apr 19

President’s Message

As we reflect on this past year, we have much to be thankful for. We were able to celebrate a great deal of individual and team accomplishments through the many activities and events that were held. This year we inducted eight Lifetime Achievers into the Class of 2023, celebrated Section 3 and NYS Champions from Boy’s and Girl’s Indoor Track, Boy’s and Girl’s Track & Field and Girl’s Volleyball, commended several youth teams in the spring and summer ceremonies; all while continuing to honor our many outstanding high school athletes and our two Ruth Demers Scholarship winners.

With the help of our two summer interns (Jake Dote and Grady English), and Mike Haag, a former intern; we continued to make great progress working through our five-year plan with our data entry project, scanning of team photos and articles, and cataloging of various artifacts.

We continue to require much help from our Board members and volunteers to continue making progress through this long process. Additionally, we continue to seek out grants for the funding of our interior redesign and the outside drainage work that needs to be done. Thanks to our generous supporters and some fundraising efforts we have been able to fund a portion of those projects. However, we are still in great need of financial support to see these projects to completion.

On behalf of our Board of Directors, we wish all of you health and happiness and hope that you come and see us when the doors open up again in the Spring. Thank you for all you do to continue with and promote our Rome legacies!

Grateful Acknowledgements

  • A huge thank you goes out to the Roman Runners Organization who hold their annual Thanksgiving Run, with proceeds going to the Hall.

  • We thank the Stewart’s Foundation for their donation through the Holiday Match Program for our student programs.

  • We appreciate our Summer Interns Jake Dote and Grady English for their assistance this past summer working on several projects including updating sports records, scanning photos and articles, cataloging programs and sport statistics books, and so much more. At summer’s end Jake and Grady returned to their colleges to continue their studies.

  • We also appreciate and thank Michael Haag, who continues to help with data entry in our Collection & Awards database. As a former Hall of Fame intern, he has a good understanding of our mission and goals.

  • We would also like to thank Carl Manganaro and Amy Lisewski for their assistance with our web page and linking our database with it, to allow us to gain more visibility in the community.

  • For the first time ever, the SHOE was a stop for cyclists during the Cycle the Erie Canal event. The event is an 8-day trip where cyclists travel from Buffalo to Albany. On day 5 of the event over 700 cyclists traveled from Syracuse to Rome and were greeted at the Hall by our board of directors who provided water, snacks, and a rest area. Donations for this event were provided by: Eggan Environmental, Hannaford's, and several Board members. We are now recognized by NYS as a Bike Friendly Business and have a bike rack outside the Hall. We look forward to greeting cyclists for years to come!

Financially Speaking

The Rome Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is very grateful for the outstanding support that we continue to receive! Many thanks to our many generous supporters who help our organization continue to grow. We rely heavily on all of you. Thank you all!

These donations come for a variety of different purposes: Individual and family supporters, Corporate supporters, Direct donations, Donations via various fundraisers, Bequests from dedicated friends and supporters of the Hall, and in Memory of and in Honor of loved ones.

In addition, we once again held our major fundraiser this year – our annual Golf Tournament. It was very successful thanks to our hard working Board members and other volunteers and, of course, the many golfers that played! The tournament accounted for 20% of our income this past year.

As you all know, there are a lot of expenses that are necessary to operate our facility. Our major expenses include utilities (gas, electric, water and sewer), insurance on the building and its contents, maintaining the facility (mowing and snow plowing) and paying for our summer interns. Planning continues on our organization embarking on a major renovation to the inside of the building to upgrade the facility and improve flow. We are excited about the future of the Hall even though this will be costly. Donations received towards this project are put into a dedicated fund, not to be used for day to day operations.

We continually seek new grants and other funding opportunities and are very grateful for the past financial support we have received from all of you as well as the entire community. Without continued support we will not be able to keep our organization financially solvent and we hope that you will continue to keep us in your financial thoughts and giving as we approach the holiday season.

Please remember that we are a 501(c) (3) organization and all donations are tax deductible.

Our facility is a gem here in Rome, New York as we are New York State’s only sports hall of fame and museum. All donations that we receive are earmarked to maintain our quality facility and to continue to celebrate and promote our athletic Roman heritage. We sincerely thank each and every one of you!

Shout Out to Past Inductees and their Families

Visitors to the Hall may notice some of the older Inductee Plaques have faded over the years, in particular, the old images adhered to the plaques. There is now a new process being used on our plaques that resists fading and allows us to use color photographs. We have updated all the plaques to this new process going back to 2014. We are inviting Inductees, or their family members, who wish to upgrade a plaque to the new technique to contact the Hall. A $10.00 donation is all that is required, along with a clear photo of the inductee, to allow us to move forward and upgrade the plaque. Take a look at the difference.

In Memoriam

We would like everyone to take a moment to remember our inductees who have passed during 2023.

Don Edick: Inducted 1998, passed away on February 6, 2023

Frank Viviani: Inducted 2005, passed away on March 17, 2023

Tony Abone Sr.: Inducted 2006, passed away July 6, 2023

Carl J. Eilenberg: A Founding member Inducted 2006, passed away July 10, 2023

Tom Hoke: Inducted 1998, passed away July 19, 2023

May they rest in eternal peace.

Induction Weekend

Eight distinguished athletes were inducted for 2023 on July 30th. Peter A. Fabrizio Jr., Tom Gifford, Billie Mays Jr., Doug Meiss, Ralph Mirabelli, Regina Jacobs Recco, Jeff Skibitski, and John Walsh were all inducted as the class of 2023. Following the enshrinement ceremony was our Induction Dinner which was held at Vernon Downs Conference Center.

Peter A. Fabrizio Jr. was a 2-time World Karate Champion. He was a brilliant scholar graduating from Rome Catholic High. He then attended Yale University and graduated with a degree in Economics. He started his career at J.Bush Corporation in New Haven Connecticut as an Investment Management Associate. Over the course of his 16-year career in martial arts he won over 400 trophies and awards while earning a 4th degree black belt. Peter attained the U.S. Championship 4 times, World Champion 2 times and was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 1995. In this time, Peter studied Japanese Shotokan, Korean Tae Kwon Do, Chinese Wu-Shu-Kung and Brazilian Capoeira, among other styles. Peter tragically passed away in 2002 at the age of 23 in an auto accident.

Tom Gifford was a three-sport standout player who deservingly earned recognition for his achievements in football, basketball, and baseball throughout his years at Rome Catholic High School. Tom turned heads in all of his sports and thrived on the tough competition he faced. The Rome Catholic Redwings sported some outstanding teams and records throughout Tom’s high school career. Success with baseball earned Tom a partial Division 1 baseball scholarship to Holy Cross. He played third base and centerfield for the Crusaders in 1969, ‘70, and ‘71 and missed ‘72 due to an injury. Tom was well known for his speed. Tom sadly passed away in 2020 at the age of 70.

Billie Mays, Jr. started his outstanding football career at RFA, then went on to Ithaca College where he was recruited as a linebacker. He later began an outstanding coaching career in football and track for the Rome City School District, producing several league, sectional and State champions. He continues to coach track today.

Doug Meiss was a three-sport athlete at RFA, receiving many All-Conference awards in football, ice hockey, and lacrosse. His involvement in officiating ice hockey started at a young age, giving back to the community by volunteering as a referee for the Rome Fort Stanwix Youth Hockey Association. He then went on to officiate NCAA Division I, Division II, and Division III in men's lacrosse for 40-plus years.

Ralph Mirabelli attended Rome Free Academy and was a member of the Soccer and Track teams, setting several records. He started his gain to fame when he began racing Bobsled and Skeleton, training at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. He raced in Canada, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Norway, competing at an elite level with the National Team until 2003 and continued racing for many more years. Ralph Mirabelli had become a world-renowned sledding racer.

Regina Jacobs Recco started swimming when she was six years old, while her father was stationed at Patrick AFB in Florida. She continued making big splashes when her family moved on to McDonnell AFB in Kansas and then to Griffiss AFB in Rome for her seventh-grade year in junior high school. Regina’s four years at RFA, while also swimming for the Leatherstocking Swim Club, were record setting. She still owns some RFA pool records.

Jeff Skibitski attended Rome Catholic where he played every level of every sport in Rome, reaching allstar status in every one of them. He was an outstanding football player as a quarterback, where he established several school records. He also had outstanding careers in baseball and basketball at RCH. He attended both UB and Hamilton College where he pursued his athletic career. After college graduation, Jeff returned to Rome Catholic to teach math and assist with Varsity football. He then moved on to Oneida High School where he taught math and continues coaching.

John Walsh was an RFA graduate, who specialized in several events in indoor and outdoor track, as a very successful sprinter, distance runner and jumper, with several school records. He then went on to Syracuse University where he tied the school high jump record and then attended Alfred State University where his success continued for three more years. It was here that he started training for the Decathlon and an Olympic tryout. Although he didn’t make the Olympics, he was grateful for the opportunities and experiences along the way. He continues to coach track athletes in Naples.

Congratulations to all of the 2023 Inductees for their Lifetime Achievements and welcome to the Rome Sports Hall of Fame.

Frank Clark Service Award

We were also able to honor Jerry Amoroso and Duane Wheeler this year as the 2023 Frank Clark Service Award winners. The service award is in memory of Frank Clark, who was a longtime member of the Hall of Fame board of directors and was active in numerous community organizations.

Amoroso is being awarded for his dedication and longtime service to the Special Olympics and coaching Rome Special Olympians, including his son, which started in 1982. He is a certified coach for golf, bowling, nordic skiing, floor hockey, equestrian, bocce, track and field, and basketball.

Duanne Wheeler is being awarded for his dedication to this community for youth soccer and canine frisbee competitions. His volunteer work with youth sports began in 1967 when he helped his father who was president of the Rome Federal Little League. He later helped coach for the Rome Youth Hockey Association and Little League Baseball. Duanne, alongside his wife Patti organized and ran the annual canine frisbee competition that was sponsored by Rome Parks & Recreation.

The Ellie Bruce Exceptional Team of Excellence

The 1970-71 RFA varsity hockey team, coached by Don Simons that had a 21-0 season record and won the section 3 championship, was this year’s recipient of the Ellie Bruce Exceptional Team of Excellence Award. This team award is sponsored by Bruce, a co-founder of the Hall and longtime member of the board of directors. Honorees are recognized with a permanent award plaque at the Hall.

William J. Coughlin Memorial

The Coughlin Memorial Award honors outstanding athletes from the community whose playing days were tragically cut short. It is named in honor of Bill Coughlin, a long time RFA coach and athletic director who was killed when he was struck by a car driven by a drunk driver while training for a marathon. The awards are enshrined in a display case at the RSHF and Museum. If you would like to nominate an individual nomination application forms can be found on our website, at Rome City Hall Recreation Department, and at Rome Sports Hall of Fame.

6th Annual Ruth Demers Memorial Scholarship

There were two $500 scholarships awarded in honor of the late Ruth Demers. Both scholarships were given to RFA seniors, one male and one female. The scholarships are given to senior athletes who demonstrate the outstanding leadership and dedication that Ruth possessed. The 2023 recipients were; Brynn Furbeck, attending Nazareth College and Jacob Swavely attending Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University.

Congratulations to both!

6th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Celebration

February of 2023 marked the 37th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). This celebration inspires girls and women to play, be active, and to realize their full power. The confidence, strength and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls and women need to become strong leaders. A vibrant annual movement we celebrate, NGWSD honors the achievements of female athletes, coaches and leaders and continues to acknowledge the power of sports to unlock limitless potential.

This year, on May 21st, 2023 we celebrated NGWSD by holding a youth Softball Clinic. The clinic was held at the Rome Girls Softball fields in partnership with the RFA Softball program. There were 21 participants who each received a goodie bag, a NGWSD t-shirt, pizza and bottled water.

A big thank you to local softball coach and board member Mark Beer as well as the RFA Softball team for helping inspire the next generation of Rome Softball players!Stay tuned for our 2024 event.

Ceremony of Champions Youth Reception

This year we were able to host two receptions to honor and recognize local youth teams and athletes for their achievements. Each player was awarded a certificate courtesy of the Department of Recreation and Director of Recreation, Ryan Hickey. The ceremonies are always open to the public.

The teams were:

Spring Reception:

Youth basketball:

1. Boy's Chaos- 4th grade CNY JBL A DIvision Champions

2. Boy’s Chaos- 5th Grade CNY Savage Champions

3. Boy’s Chaos- 6th Grade CNY JBL A DIvision Champions

Rome Grizzlies championship hockey teams:

1. Squirt - Snowbelt Jam Division Champions

2. Bantam Red - 14U Snowbelt Jam Division Champions

NYSSD Basketball team - North Country Athletic Conference Playoff Champions

Imani Pugh - Section 3 Indoor Track 55m Hurdles Champion

RFA Girls Volleyball team - Winter Volleyball Section 3 Champions

Summer/Fall Reception:

Town of Lee Little League’s 2023 Major Division Champion - Nunn’s Home Medical

Rome Cal Ripken Baseball League 2023 Minor Division Tournament Champion - E. Centro Welding

Rome Girls’ Softball:

1- Spring 12U Champion - 3M Property Maintenance

2- 12U Summer Rec. League Champions - Rome Spirit 10U

30th Annual Golf Scramble

Our Annual Golf Scramble continues to be one of our most successful and critical fundraisers each year. We were able to hold our scramble at Rome Country Club again on Saturday, July 22, 2023. We had a total of 24 teams compete in three divisions.

Winners were:

1st place American Division- Team Korpela consisting of Jim Korpela, Kevin Coe, Carl Tardugno, Matt Vitalone

1st place National Division- Team Martin consisting of Bob Rieck, Paul Panek, Tom Narolis, Mike Barthold

1st place Co-Ed Division- Team Williams consisting of Tyler Williams, Mackenzie Welter, Matt Welter, Josh Reed Longest drive,

American Division- Kevin Coe Longest Drive,

National Division- Mike Maratea Longest Drive,

Co-Ed Division- Jim Tims

Closest to pin on #2- Gary Tarantino Sr Closest to pin #3- Brad WatersClosest to pin #14- Carl Tardugno Closest to pin #16- Gerry Staudmyer

The Golf committee wishes to thank our sponsors Bouton Physical Therapy, Nascentia Health, Mazzaferro's Meats and Deli and to all the individuals and businesses who sponsored a hole, and all the golf teams for your continued support of our organization. We look forward to seeing you in 2024.

Memberships for 2023

Memberships to the Rome Sports Hall of Fame are available in several categories. Please consider one or more of several methods of support.

General membership- $25

Family membership- $40

Lifetime membership- $150

Corporate Sponsorships 2022-

  • Gold – ($550)- Americu Federal Credit Union, Nascentia Health & Home

  • Silver- ($350)- M & L Worldwide Logistics, Kris Tech Wire Co., Rome Teachers Federal Credit Union,

  • Bronze – ($200)- Strong-Burns & Sprock Funeral Home, Greg Ellinger Collision, R.E.M Fire Systems

  • Captains - ($150)- Ace Hardware Company of Rome, Acchino Auto Body, Davidson Auto Group, Eggan Excavating & Equipment, Eye Care Center of Rome, Nunn and Harper Funeral Home, Rome Sign & Display, Henry P. Smith Post #24, Toccolana Club

Friends of the Museum

Felice Moving & Storage, Greg Ellinger Collision, Windrath Family Foundation, Kevin Colmey, Bouton Physical Therapy, Nascentia Health & Home, Athmedics, CNY Awards & Apparel, Roman Runners Organization, Stewart’s Holiday Foundation, Joe Ryan Jr. Foundation, Hazen B. Hinman Foundation, NYSSD Print Shop, Jake Dote- Summer Intern, Grady English- Summer Intern, Michael Haag-Intern, City of Rome D.P.WLake Delta Kiwanis Club, Lince Security & Video Systems, Assemblywoman Marian Buttenschon, Toccolana Club, Nick & Angela Bottini, All those who made donations in memory of someone who passed in 2023, All those who made donations in 2023 to our organization.

2023 Donations

2023 Individual Donations - Crystal Barry, Vie Evans, Donella Murphy, Bill Kiser, Tim Traxel, David Montoya, John Walsh, John "Moe" Herbst

2022 Family Donations - John Meldrim, Tom & Marli Adams, Phil & Livia D'Antonio, Joe & Francoise DiBella, Joan Kotwicka, Marie Mastracco, Bill Fahy

2023 Donations In Memory of -In Memory of Tom "Coach" Myslinski Sr- Duane & Phyllis Niemi, Stephen B. Waters, Gabe Vaccaro

In Memory of Tom Hoke- Linda Harjung & Karen Gaesser, Lorraine Hoke, Jeanette Dominic, Mike & Debbie Davis

In Memory of Carl Eilenberg- Dennis & Sybil Johnson, Joe & Kathy Olney, Nancy Ryan & Family

In Memory of Albert Nardslico- Jeanette Dominic

2023 Lifetime - William R. Stevens, Dee Coughlin, Robert Warshal, Lynn Manfred Bosco, Mary Orbinati, Don & Cyndy Commerford, Mark & Katherine Hinman, John & Rosemary Mody, Randy J. Williams, Nick & Angela Bottini

2023 Other Donations- Archi Cianfrocco, Jack Charney, Joe Sherman, J. Michael Graziano, Sally Evans

We received many more donations, too numerous to mention everyone.

Thank you for your support of our organization.

General Donations

We are grateful for the continued and much needed donations to the hall that includes:

  • Glass jar monetary donations at our entrance

  • Donations in memory of a deceased family member, a loved one or friend

  • Outright gifts to our organization

  • Commemorating someone’s birthday or anniversary

  • As a tax deduction

  • Bequests through a will or living trust

  • A beneficiary for your retirement accounts

  • Assets and IRA’s

  • Life insurance

  • Organizing and operating a youth sports clinic through the Rome Sports Hall of Fame

  • Service to our organization: either by giving volunteer hours, event registration, mowing, snow plowing, cleaning, computer work, etc.

  • Event sponsorship for our Golf Scramble, banquet, youth receptions, or a few other events

Ways to help us

Please remember that we are a 501(c) (3) organization, and all donations are tax deductible.

  • If you have any archived item(s) or artifacts that you wish to donate

  • If you would like to make a monetary donation to purchase a specific item(s) on our wish list

  • If you wish to purchase the item(s) on your own and donate them

Rome Sports Hall of Fame Wish List for 2023

  • 5 iPad stands

  • Moveable Display Wall

  • New Display Cabinets

  • Speaker system for the display cabinets

  • Laminator for newspaper articles and photos

  • Fire- proof file cabinets

  • Rome Catholic High School Sports Memorabilia

  • We are actively seeking a Grant writer who can volunteer their time to search for eligible grants for our non-profit organization

**As you all are cleaning up your homes and purging old memorabilia; please do not throw away yours or your child’s high school sports season program books, statistics booklets, team photos, and championship memorabilia. We are in the process of cataloging all that we have available for folks to review. We would be happy to take those off your hands if you wish to donate them to our museum.

Yearbooks needed from RFA:

Sr. Annuals: 1891-1901, 1903, 1909-1911, 1914, 1918

Deowainstas: 1992, 2009, 2014, 2016SAA/The Aloysian: Up to 1937, 1940-1943, 1945-1962, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Yearbooks needed from Strough: 1964-65, 1974-1975, 1979, 1985

Yearbooks needed from Staley: Up to 1979, 1981, 1983-1992

Projects Continue at the Museum

The Planning Committee has been hard at work on the Museum remodel project. Webinars on how to run a capital campaign have taken place. Experts in the field of capital campaigns have been brought on board to assist with the planning.

In keeping with our mission to provide the best possible experience for our visitors we are undergoing a renovation to make the following improvements:

  • Handicap accessibility

  • Move the entrance from the canal side to the roadside

  • Create a resource/research Library

  • Create a theater for viewing of our video files

  • Paint

  • New wiring to power the display cabinets

Finally, after months of struggling to understand how to use our new ipads we are nearing a start date to interview inductees and other key figures of the Hall of Fame and Museum!

The technology committee has been undergoing intensive training with Apple to learn how to use iMovie and GarageBand to create digital files that our visitors can view. It is our intention to use these ipads to bring some of our rich sports history to life. We have also partnered with Mosyle to manage our 6 ipads for security and easier updating.

Stop by and tour our Museum to see and hear what we have accomplished.

Gift Shop

We now have a gift shop with items that would make fabulous Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers! Polo shirts, t-shirts, caps, mugs and more.

Call 315-339-9038 to leave a message to find out what hours we will be available. Shop early as there are limited sizes and colors.

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