Congratulations to the Bangor City Council and its proactive motion of support behind the creation of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame along with its wish that the hall be located in the Queen City.
It’s a logical fit along with the council’s idea that it would be ideal for the hall to be at the new Bangor Auditorium, which is still in the planning stages but hopefully will become a reality in the next year.
It’s a refreshing thought to look ahead and think of fans attending a tourney game at the Auditorium and then also taking time out to visit the basketball hall and delve into the sport’s history. Or, during the off-season, it could become a popular spot to attract people to the city.
Bangor has a rich tradition of basketball history, primarily through its hosting of the Eastern Maine high school basketball tourney, but perhaps an even bigger factor in its favor of having the hall in the city is its centralized location in the state.
This coincides with one of goals of the new hall to achieve a balance and blend of basketball hall inductees from throughout the state. The hall’s organizers, former UMaine basketball coach Skip Chappelle and Maine basketball commissioner Peter Webb, intend to do so by not only focusing on high school basketball, but colleges, past town teams and semi-pro teams as well while gathering information on potential inductees from 16 county-based committees.
That’s a commendable philosophy put forth by Webb and Chappelle. They realize that it’s easy to come up with a list of some of the state’s past basketball elite — great players like Lisa Blais, Cindy Blodgett, Rachel Bouchard, Joe Harrington, Matt Rossignol and Andy Bedard or coaches like Ordie Alley, Bob Brown and Dick Barstow.
The more difficult task Webb and Chappelle want to achieve is recognizing those who may not be in that elite class, but have still made significant contributions to basketball in the state.
That kind of grass-roots approach may touch a lot more people in our state and provide a more in-depth look at Maine basketball history. It may also recognize community leaders in the sport such as a longtime youth coach who has taught the game’s fundamentals and helped enable players later succeed on the high school and collegiate levels. Or perhaps that coach also was able to make the game fun and by doing so, enabled more kids to keep playing that great sport.
Seeking input from 16 committees that represent each Maine county is also a wise move by Webb and Chappelle and may also provide opportunities for those who always question why a certain person is in a hall of fame and who is not. It’s time for these people to get off the sidelines and get involved in the process. If they don’t, then they lose their right to complain.
Webb and Chappelle face a daunting task of assembling the hall’s first class for 2011. They have a wealth of basketball credibility, experience and contacts from Fort Kent to Kittery. They come from a generation that does not shy away from hard work and volunteerism. The generations that have followed would be wise to adapt the same qualities.
Understandably, in the months ahead Webb and Chappelle’s focus will be on assembling the first class for the basketball hall and then looking ahead to a site for the hall. With the support of the Bangor City Council, a positive step has been made in having that site in Bangor.