By Jamie Kempton
The Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame will honor seven individuals during its 45th annual induction banquet on Saturday, April 21 at the Pearl River Elks Club in Nanuet. Reception is at 6 p.m. followed by the induction program at 7 p.m.
This year’s roster of inductees includes Bob Lawson, Clarkstown class of 1964; Tom Dickson, Clarkstown class of 1968; Thomas Sanders, Nyack class of 1971; Chuck Maze, North Rockland class of 1973; Jackie McCracken Houck, Nanuet class of 1984; Willie Worsley, Spring Valley basketball coach; and Tom O’Brien, the Joseph Holland Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
“Each year’s class stamps its own unique imprint and this year’s 45th anniversary class is characterized by accomplishment at the pinnacle of the inductees’ respective sports,” said Pete Scheibner, Hall of Fame Chairman. “We have athletes who excelled in multiple sports, a legendary basketball player and coach along with a distinguished referee and community organizer. Rockland County continues to churn out tremendous athletes year after year, so there is no dearth of strong candidates as we move forward.”
Worsley has coached the Spring Valley boys basketball team to 13 league titles and one New York State final four berth in his 18-year tenure. As a player, he made history as a starter on Texas Western’s upset victory over Kentucky in the 1966 NCAA championship game. Texas Western started five African-American players, a first in NCAA annals. By virtue of the team’s watershed triumph, Texas Western and its coach, Don Haskins, were credited with setting in motion the desegregation of college basketball teams in the South.
The team’s saga was depicted in a 2006 Disney movie called Glory Road.
Maze made honorable mention All-America as a football running back and was a pivotal contributor to three straight undefeated gridiron seasons for the Red Raiders, 1970 through 1972. On the wrestling mats, he was a Rockland County champion in the 170-pound weight class, and twice placed third in the New England championship tournament while competing for Brown University. Maze has served as CEO of the Rockland County YMCA for the past 13 years.
McCracken Houck starred in track, soccer and basketball. In track she was the MVP at the 1984 Rockland County championships after winning the 800-meter run and 400-meter hurdles. On the soccer field she was an All-County center halfback who helped Nanuet capture the Section 9 Class B title and advance to the New York State semifinals. On the basketball court she was an All-Conference small forward and team captain who helped lead Nanuet to a 16-victory season and a trip to the Section 9 Class B semifinals in the 1983-84 season.
Sanders gained first team All-County honors as a running back in 1969 and 1970 and contributed greatly to Nyack’s three successive RCPSAL football titles from 1967 through 1969. He led the County in rushing and scoring in 1969. In track, he was the 1968 Rockland County long jump champion and ran lead-off leg on the Indians’ County record-setting 880-yard relay team.
Lawson and Dickson starred as three-sport athletes for Clarkstown, four years apart. Lawson captained the Rams’ football, basketball and baseball teams to Rockland County championships. Those three teams collectively lost only one game all year. He later served in the Navy and had a 26-year career as an FBI agent. Dickson made All-County in football, basketball and baseball, and contributed to five County championship teams for the Rams, three in baseball and two in basketball. He died in 2011 at age 62.
O’Brien, a 1958 Pearl River graduate, was the longtime athletic director at the former St. Agnes Home for Boys in Sparkill. He worked for 47 years as a coach, athletic director and administrator serving troubled youth, disadvantaged children and people with developmental disabilities. He has been a Rockland basketball official and baseball/ softball umpire for 45-plus years, has directed the Orangetown Slo-Break Basketball League for 46 years, and coordinated the Orangetown Co-Ed Softball league for more than 30 years. In 1995 he was inducted into the Rockland County Softball Hall of Fame for his prowess as a player and manager of the vaunted Modern Auto Body team.
Tickets for the gala are $60 per person and $30 for children 12 and younger. Ticket deadline is April 14. For further information, contact Pete Castellano at 201-390-3245 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the ticket form on the Hall of Fame’s website, www.RCSHF.org.