Getting the 1971 Wasson High School football team together for a photo before its induction into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday had its challenges.
The guys, players on the first local team to win a state title since 1956, were having too good a time. For a while, they were highschoolers again, living in the bodies of 50-year-old men, reliving a game and being together again. That’s the real truth about Hall of Fame inductions — they single out individuals, but they’re reunions in disguise. The annual induction ceremony Wednesday night at the World Arena was no exception. The family of longtime Colorado Springs sports announcer Jack Finlayson, the inductee, took up three tables, 25 relatives in all. Finlayson died in 1991, but daughter Terry Grinewich found a treasure trove of memories in her mom’s newspaper clippings that she used to put together the induction speech she gave. She is the seventh child of eight, and leaned on her siblings to fill in the blanks. “It was just a labor of love,” Grinewich said. “It’s really nice to have the family together.” Justin Armour was the valedictorian and a star athlete at Manitou Springs High School who went on to play five NFL seasons — including one Super Bowl win with the Denver Broncos. As a kid, scared about playing in a Denver basketball tournament, he got a lifetime of advice in just five words from his father. “Just hustle,’’ his dad said, “and stay low.” Armour is 6-foot-5. Yet, he said he remembered the advice his whole life, and it worked. Wasson and Colorado College athlete Ada Gee-deProsse went on to coach women’s basketball at four Division I schools and became the winningest coach in the history of the women’s program at Nevada. She thanked those who “inspired me along the way”: her mom, Gertrude, who encouraged her to play; stars like Billie Jean King and Chris Evert; and her sister, Eva, who taught her to swim, play tennis and ski. Mike Moran, U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman for almost a quarter-century, didn’t emcee the ceremony for the first time since the hall was established six years ago. This time, he was an inductee. “I’ve had a nice role in a hit movie,” Moran said, with the actors being Olympic stars like Bonnie Blair, Carl Lewis, Michelle Kwan, Matt Biondi and Mary Lou Retton. “I’ve been more than fortunate to be able to see them, get to know them, be able to tell their story.” Fisher DeBerry didn’t really need a microphone while thanking his assistants, players and staff in the Air Force football program for his success. He called his wife, LuAnne, “the real head coach of the DeBerry family.” His message: No one gets into the Hall of Fame without a supporting cast. “When you’re driving home tonight, if you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, you know he didn’t get there by himself,” DeBerry said. “Somebody had to put him up there.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0259 or firstname.lastname@example.org HONOREES The 2005 inductees into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame at the Colorado Springs Sports Corp.’s banquet and induction ceremony Wednesday at the World Arena. INDUCTEES - Justin Armour - Fisher DeBerry - Jack Finlayson - Ada Gee-deProsse - Mike Moran - Wasson 1971 football team AWARD WINNERS - Horst Richardson (F. Don Miller Award) - Fred Whitacre (Thayer Tutt Award)