BERLIN - From the exit signs in the hallway to the newly unveiled Berlin Athletic Hall of Fame wall, the color red surrounded everybody in attendance Saturday afternoon.
It was only fitting as the Berlin Athletic Hall of Fame members, who all once donned the color in the past; years later still serve a critical role in maintaining the reputation of the community.
“Berlin always had a rich history,” former Berlin athletic director and current wrestling coach Jim Day said. “I just thought [the unveiling of the Hall of Fame wall] should be celebrated. People should come here and know what this building is about. It’s a lot. It has a living breathing history.”
Right at the beginning of the wall is the plaque of Richard Patterson, Berlin class of ’39.
Patterson’s contribution went well beyond the football field, where he was the captain.
He served in the U.S. Navy and his life was taken during the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
Having him at the beginning serves as a reminder that athletes in Berlin have reached heights that go well beyond the fields or gyms they have played on or in.
“Berlin High School does a lot of things well in regards to students and academics,” Berlin Athletic Hall of Fame board president Bart Bovee said. “But sports have always been the thing that’s tied the school together. We go back as far as the start of the school back in the late [1930s] to the present day where we have athletes that represent the whole 70-plus years of accomplishments.”
After being established in 2008, the Berlin Athletic Hall of Fame and those involved in it had a vision, to honor the inductees in a special way.
It was done with having the pictures of those inducted on the wall as well as a brief description on each inductee and what made their athletic journey worthy of the recognition.
This Hall of Fame wall is unique, in that regard.
“To me it’s a fulfillment to have this completed,” Bovee said. “We’ve worked eight years trying to get this thing done the right way. We could have put something together a lot quicker and cheaper, but we held back and wanted to do it the right way. I think we have done it the right way.”
It certainly was.
After Bovee unveiled the Athletic Hall of Fame wall, he introduced two others to speak, Berlin mayor Mark Kaczynski as well as Day, who was the athletic director at the school when the progress began toward making this day a reality.
He has seen many athletes come and go from the school, and has fond memories of many former and current athletes that he cherishes.
“I’ve spent my entire professional career here,” Day said. “It feels wonderful to be able to give back. There are so many mentors on the wall for me, athletes I’ve coached and athletes I’ve respected as they’ve come through. I was in a unique position in order to pay it forward.”
The color red has great meaning to the Berlin athletes and those that have contributed to the athletics of the town, and now there is a visual display to remind everybody of all that have been through the halls.
“I’ve been to other hall of fame walls,” Berlin Athletic Hall of Fame member George Kanupka said. “This is one of the best I’ve seen in the state. I’m very impressed.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org