SPARTA, NJ - Sparta High School is taking the first steps in creating a Hall of Fame, seeking to honor alumni who have gone on to further success after graduation. The Hall of Fame committee, a 501c3, is holding a Casino Night to raise funds to create the facility to display the inductees.
The initiative began last year, spearheaded by guidance counselor and coach Tim Librizzi. He is serving as the president of the committee.
"After many years of discussing the community support and success of our athletic programs in Sparta, we have formed a committee to begin induction," Principal Janet Ferraro said.
“This is a really exciting time for the Hall of Fame,” Librizzi said. “Work began on the formation of the Hall of Fame two years ago when we acknowledged the need to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to Sparta Athletics, and we have worked hard to make that vision a reality.”
"Other than trophy cases, there is really nothing recognizing our former successful athletes," Athletic Director Steve Stoner added.
Initially the Hall of Fame will induct "10 to 15 athletes, depending on the number of nominees," according to Stoner. He said the plan is to later expand the Hall of Fame to include people who have had success in business or academics.
Librizzi said they expect to begin consideration of nominees at their meeting on Thursday.
"Part of our high school's current three year vision included addressing culture of the school and community," Ferraro said. "One of the identified efforts has been a focus on both an athletic and future academic hall of fame. The committee was formed last year, and we are finally in the stages of raising funds and nominating our first inductees into the athletic hall of fame. Next school year, we will begin to address the academic hall of fame."
The Hall of Fame will be created against the wall where people enter the main gymnasium, opposite of the cafeteria serving area. "With all of the activities that take place in the area of the gym and cafeteria, this is the perfect spot for people to see it," Stoner said.
The Casino Night event will be held on April 29 at Skylands Stadium in Augusta and will feature appetizers, catered by Krave, gambling tables, raffle prizes and a cash bar. Appetizers will be served at 6 p.m. Admission is $100 per person or $175 if registering together. In addition to ticket sales, there are sponsorship opportunities including:
- Roulette table - two table sponsorships at $200 each,
- Texas Hold-'em Poker table - one sponsorship at $150,
- Black Jack table - seven sponsorships available at $300 each and
- Craps Table - two sponsorships at $400
Several raffle prizes have already been donated, according to Stoner. They have received a golf foursome at Crystal Springs, a foursome at Skyview, Red Bulls tickets, Mt Creek Water Park tickets, a boat rental on Lake Hopatcong. High school football, wrestling and boys lacrosse coaches have donated raffle prize baskets as have the principal and vice principals. The Sparta Education Association is donating the proceeds of a jeans day.
Stoner and Fitzgerald and other committee members will continue to seek donations from local businesses and individuals.
“I feel this is a great opportunity to celebrate the history of Sparta High School athletics,” high school teacher, coach and committee member Jerry Carter said. “The Casino Night will be a lot of fun and is for a worthy cause.”
The committee is comprised of school administrators, coaches and community members. Administrators include Librizzi, the committee president, Ferraro, Stoner the committee treasurer, Vice Prinicpal Rory Fitzgerald, Dean of Students Steven Schels. High school coaches on the committee are Catherine Willie, Sam Slobodzian, Carter and Andrew Lowery. Community members are Lou Seville and Dee Passarelli.
"We started with people we know who have a connection to the alumni so we can get them the information," Stoner said. They hope the word will spread and interest will grow. Alumni are eligible for nomination 10 years after they have graduated from Sparta High School.
Librizzi drafted the by-laws and policies for the committee, including the nomination process. Stoner said Librizzi drew on similar successful Halls of Fame in other districts.
Willie said, “It has really been exciting being on the committee for the Hall of Fame. It has been great to look back into Sparta High School's rich athletic history and realize that we are going to recognize some incredible athletes, coaches and community members. It has been really fun researching and connecting with possible nominees.”
"This is a community effort and we look forward to showcasing some of our past teams, athletes, coaches and community supporters," Ferraro said.
Librizzi said, “We encourage our community to like our Facebook page @Spartahighschoolathletichalloffame and visit our website: shs.sparta.org/athletics/hall_of_fame.”
They already have a couple of nominees and expect to have the first induction dinner in October 2017.