What an Honor
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It was obvious walking into the Seven Hills Conference Center that it was a special occasion because of the elegant setting, including wine glasses, smiles, hugs and handshakes, which showed it was a celebration.

SF State’s 31st annual athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was Saturday and eight former Gators were inducted, bringing the total in the Hall of Fame to 240.

“This is really a special night. It’s a tremendous honor for someone to be bestowed into a Hall of Fame,” said Pete Dearborn, a baseball inductee who played from 1985-86. “It’s neat my kids could be here. I appreciate everybody coming out to support their family and friends.”

Dearborn was very humble in his speech, sharing credit with his team for what they accomplished as a group.

“That’s so Pete Dearborn, to give someone else the credit,” said Michael J. Simpson, SF State’s director of athletics.

Simpson coached the Gator baseball team when Dearborn played, and Joaquin Wallace, the current women’s basketball coach and a player on the same SF State baseball team, gave everyone a chuckle when he said the team called Simpson “Skippy.”

Wallace was Dearborn’s presenter and said he had not seen Dearborn since their playing days, but when they met in the lobby it was like old times.

The lobby was packed before everyone sat down together in the dining hall. There was a lot of chit-chatter as everyone mingled.

“I didn’t believe it would be this nice,” said John Burton, a men’s basketball inductee who played from 1946-49. “It’s great to see some of my old friends that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Burton had two handkerchiefs just in case he got caught up in the moment, but he didn’t have to use them.

“Does everybody know who Jerry Rice is?” asked Allen Abraham, former SF State wrestling coach and football inductee, and Rudy Lapera’s defensive coordinator and presenter.

After the majority sat in silence with a little mumbling from table to table Abraham joked, “What’s wrong? Do you guys follow football?”

Abraham went on to say that Lapera reminded him of Rice because he thought their speed was similar on the field.

“Jerry Rice and me, wasn’t even close,” Lapera said, to everyone’s amusement.

Amy Hamel-Goan, a swimming inductee who swam from 1982-86, had the best success story of all the inductees.

Hamel-Goan was talked into coming to SF State to join the swimming team, and she said, “It was a good move.”

Hamel-Goan ended up being a two-time All-American, breaking a school record, being in the top 10 in the Gator record books in five events and was a member on six of the top 10 relay events in the school’s history.

In his 10 years as athletic director, Simpson said there has been a recurring theme about the value of athletics and what athletics has meant to the athletes.

“I came to State as a scrawny little 17-year-old and joined the wrestling team because I used to get picked on,” said Mario DeCaro, a wrestling inductee who played from 1980-84.

DeCaro said the university is better for giving 17-year-olds like him that don’t know what the world is about the experience of being on a team.

“SF State means a lot to me and any wrestler,” DeCaro said. “I have a desire and hope that the program continues to excel.”

All the inductees said it was an honor to be a part of SF State’s Gator Athletic Hall of Fame.

“Definitely one of the highlights in the spring for us,” Scaffold said.

The full list of inductees includes Burton, Dearborn, DeCaro, Hamel-Goan, Lapera, John Monolakis, who wrestled between 1977-81, William Partlow, director of athletics from 1978-94, and George Powles, a coach from 1934-38.

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