October 17, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 26

Hall of Fame gives Medical Lake a leg up

Sixth class will be honored, inducted in this weekend’s events

There are a lot of things the community of Medical Lake might not have.

A big box store, a movie theater, more than one place to get gas come to mind.

But one thing the 4,700 or so residents have is an event each year that now has become a tradition where former Cardinal athletes have their days in the spotlight through induction into the MLHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

The sixth class of the hall will be honored this weekend with festivities that include recognition at Friday’s Homecoming football game against Kettle Falls, and the official induction with a dinner and ceremony Saturday at St. Anne’s Catholic Church Parish Hall. Festivities begin with a social hour from 5-6 p.m. with dinner to follow.

This year’s inductees include Arnold Brown, Michael Dunn, John Musser, Amie Ross (Poteet) and Jonny Varona, bringing the number of former athletes and teams in the hall to 35.

“It’s the best event that we’ve been able to do since I’ve been here in relation to reconnecting our former students that did special things here,” Medical Lake assistant principal, athletic and activities director Chris Spring said.

The hall of fame recognizes a tradition in athletics that goes way back to the early years of Medical Lake High School. But it goes beyond the boundaries of the athletic fields and courts.

The hall includes three posthumously inducted members, John and Dana Jensen, along with Dannie Turnbough, all casualties of the Vietnam War and each a member of the initial class in 2008.

Central Valley, Rogers, University and Gonzaga Prep in Spokane have recognized halls of fame but Medical Lake might be one of the smaller, more rural schools, to operate one.

“It was presented to me as an idea from John Giannandrea and he and I kind of took it and ran with it,” Spring said. The committee hit the ground running and have dedicated a wall on the foyer of the school’s gymnasium for plaques that contain a brief biography and a photo.

Now, with the bar raised plenty high, the challenge is to keep the organizational fire lit. “Everything new is hot and everyone wants to be a part of it,” Spring said.

“As we proceed through this on a yearly basis our challenges continue to get greater, to sustain it and keep it to the level of excellence we feel we put on for a show,” Spring said. “It becomes a challenge financially, it becomes a challenge generating interest.”

Another goal – and challenge – is to bring back former inductees and make them part of the event. “Once people hear about it and see it that want to come back,” Spring said.

Attendance at the dinner, catered by Medical Lake resident Dean Haynes, owner of Tomato Street Italian Restaurant, has ranged between 100-150. “This year we’re anticipating a big crowd,” Spring said.

Interest depends on who is being inducted, Spring said. “Are they local, do they have family in the area?”

“You bring in a Jonny Varona, this year he’s going to bring in a big crowd. He’s also a 2000 graduate so he’s not too far removed,” Spring said.

The effort continues to be well worth the time.

“It’s just a big animal, but it’s a passion that all the committee members share and we’re excited to be a part of it and know how important it is,” Spring said.

Sure, Medical Lake might be one of the rare places on earth where a McDonalds actually went out of business but it sure has a hell of a hall of fame.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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