ORLANDO – Executive Vice President Kevin Naegele was one of 10 new inductees to the United States Specialty Sports Association Hall of Fame in a ceremony that highlighted the 41st Annual National Meeting & Convention, held at the Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate on Nov. 16-22, 2008.
Naegele entered the Hall of Fame in the Executive category. A huge contingent of supporters from his home state of New Mexico were on hand for the induction of the man they refer to affectionately as “The Governor.” Naegele gave a moving speech detailing his rise through the ranks of USSSA, but said his only real goal in life was to be a “Hall of Fame Dad.”
Others who entered the prestigious Hall of Fame along with Naegele were Eugene F. Williams, Jr. and Lou Calvisi, in the Manager category; Marie Pesch, in the Female Player category;Jason Kendrick, Todd Martin and Rick Weiterman, in the Male Player category; William B. Hensley III, in the Executive category; Travis Resmondo, in the Sponsor category; and Dick Calvo, in the Special category.
Kendrick and Martin are still active players. Kendrick played for the 2008 Major Division world champion Dan Smith team, while Martin played for runnerup Resmondo. Kendrick and Martin have been teammates many times during their careers. Weiterman started playing Big Time Softball at age 16 and was a part of 35 national championship teams over the years. Pesch, nicknamed “Princess of Pop,” was one of the most powerful female sluggers of all-time. Williams has managed the very successful Pace/ TPS teams from New York, while Calvisi guided teams in his home state of Michigan.
Several other awards were handed out during the convention. Director of the Year Awards were presented to: Jon Brandt of Connecticut (slow-pitch); Eddie Small of Virginia (fast-pitch); Scotty Baker of Mississippi (baseball); Todd Miller of Iowa (basketball); and Jon Parry of Kansas (soccer). Official of the Year Awards went to John Dye of Columbia, Maryland (fast-pitch) and Larry Lofton of New Albany, Indiana (slow-pitch). The Dwight Hall Sparkplug of the Year Awards went to: Steve Graham of Elk Grove, California (slow-pitch West); John DeMagistris of North Chili, NY (slowpitch East); Rick Brockwell of Dinwiddie, Virginia (baseball); Sam Ellis of Michigan (fast-pitch); and Mike Foss of Wesley Chapel, Florida (basketball). Complex of the Year Awards were presented to Snowden Grove Park in Southaven, Mississippi and Softball World in Euless, Texas.
Assistant Executive Director Awards were given to John Pond of Sutton, Massachusetts and Conrad Foss of Wesley Chapel, Florida. The Distinguished Service Award went to the City of Columbus, Indiana. The 2008 Award of Merit was presented to the City of Hobbs, New Mexico and to Combat Baseball Company of Kent, Washington.
Finally, the E.A. Ramsey/CEO Awards were presented to Tom Turley from Olathe, Kansas and Kevin Naegele from Hobbs, New Mexico. The Hall of Fame Ceremony & Awards Gala highlighted a week of activities at the luxurious resort in central Florida.
Attendees began arriving Sunday, Nov. 16, and committee meetings began bright and early the next day. A presentation on “Inside the New USSSA” served as a State-of-the-Association address and highlighted the direction
the group will be headed in the future.
Two new projects were unveiled at the session — USSSA Live, which will provide live game day video streaming on the Internet; and USSSA Today, which will serve as the official news magazine of USSSA.
More committee meetings and a general assembly were held Tuesday and later that evening the entire group attended an Orlando Magic NBA basketball game at Amway Arena in downtown Orlando. Wednesday was a short day, as meetings stopped at noon so members could compete in the USSSA Golf Tournament at Championsgate National Golf Course. Disney characters came to life Wednesday night at the USSSA/Disney Magical Evening in the ballroom and that was followed by a spectacular fireworks presentation. The highlight of Thursday was the Exhibitors Show, where vendors and manufacturers displayed their wares to the attendees. The final general assembly was held Friday, as members voted on playing rule and constitutional amendment changes.
Official sponsors of the 2008 National Meeting were the Amarillo Convention & Visitors Council, Best Western Lakeside, City of Aurora, Columbus Area Visitors Center, Hillerich & Bradsby, K&K Insurance Group, Inc., Kingsport CVB, Lexington County Recreation, Louisiana Association of CVB’s, Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club, Overland Park CVB, Panama City Beach CVB, Polk County Sports Marketing, Visit Lubbock, and Wicmico County CVB. The 2009 USSSA National Meeting will be held Nov. 15-21 at the Pechanga Resort in Temecular, California near San Diego.