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Sala, Barton, Norman, Andrews to Be Inducted into JALC Hall of Fame

LA Times columnist, Bill Plaschke, is the featured guest speaker at the JALC Hall of Fame dinner.

LA Times columnist, Bill Plaschke, is the featured guest speaker at the JALC Hall of Fame dinner.

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – The John A. Logan College Athletic Department will honor four new members at its Hall of Fame banquet and ceremony at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2 in the college’s conference center at the conclusion of the men’s basketball game with Lake Land College.

The induction is the school’s first in 10 years. Entering the Hall this year are former coach and athletic director John Sala; former women’s basketball coach Gary Barton; and former men’s golfers Brian Norman and Spence Andrews.

Jerry Halstead, athletic director and head baseball coach for the Vols, said he is pleased to see inductions reinstated at the school.

“One of the first things Dr. (Mike) Dreith wanted to do when he got here as president was revive the Hall of Fame and he has spent a lot of time putting this year’s induction together.

“We have an outstanding class of inductees,” Halstead said. “John Sala served as coach and administrator for nearly 30 years. Gary Barton was an extremely successful women’s basketball coach and has already been inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame. And both Spence Andrews and Brian Norman were All-American performers in men’s golf a few years back.”

John Sala

John Sala

Halstead described the selections as “well deserved” and added that the original Hall of Fame charter did not allow for the induction of coaches or administrators – that it was athletes only.

“I think it was past time to rewrite the criteria for induction and I am glad to say that the Hall of Fame Committee felt the same way,” he said. “It makes no sense to exclude a coach who has already been named to a national hall of fame. Nor did it make any sense to exclude an athletic director like John who served this school for multiple decades. I’m glad to see them all get elected.”

Dreith said he is pleased to be part of the reinstitution of the JALC Hall of Fame.

“It is important to reflect and reward excellence…and it is my understanding that the honorees are long overdue for this recognition,” he said.

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Dreith also took the initiative to land a featured speaker for the banquet in good friend, Bill Plaschke, a nationally known sports columnist with the Los Angeles Times and regular panelist on ESPN’s daily talk show, “Around The Horn.”

“I am very proud of being the person who gave Bill his first job in journalism, at SIUE, many years ago,” Dreith said. “It was obvious then that he was going to be a star. His almost daily presence on network television and his podium at one of the premier newspapers in America make him a perfect person to help us re-establish the tradition of a Hall of Fame dinner at Logan. I’m always proud to tell the story of how we first met and I am very pleased that he has agreed to be a part of the festivities.”

Plaschke was recently named “Man of the Year” by the Los Angeles chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters for his longtime involvement as a Big Brother. He has received a “Pursuit of Justice” award from the California Women’s Law Center for his coverage of women’s sports and also made an appearance as a sportswriter in the Will Smith movie, “Ali.”

Plaschke said Dreith helped him get his start in journalism more than 30 years ago when he was hired to serve a very unique task for the school newspaper at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

“I was hired to be a sportswriter for a school that had only a handful of sports,” he said. “Through Mike’s guidance, I quickly learned that the important thing is not the final score, but the human condition that is revealed beneath its numbers.

“Sports is not about statistics, but people. It’s not about the game, it’s about the triumphs and failures and effort that is evident during the game. Sports serves as a prism on our world, a vehicle through which we can witness the hearts of others, and, in doing so, learn something about ourselves.”

Plaschke said he is “proud and honored” to be given a chance to speak at Logan because the community college sports scene is his kind of sports scene – a place where athletes are not millionaire businessmen or major-college publicity machines, but rather tough, young adults trying to better themselves and bring some joy to their world through sports.

“I love the Logan nickname, ‘Volunteers,’ because that’s exactly what these athletes are,” Plaschke said. “They are folks who have raised their hands, stepped onto the fields and are willing to battle it out for the sake of a personal career, or a personal cause, or simply a connection with their world. In some small way, sports brings our world together, and I’m honored to be speaking at a place where this connection begins.”