Hall of Lame?

Madeleine O'Meara, Sports Editor

This past weekend I was invited to go to the Heisman Club Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The few times that this has come up in conversation with friends, it has been met with laughter.

While I understand the laughter, I resent the sentiment behind it.

It is sort of comical. The fact that Oberlin has a Hall of Fame for athletics strikes most students as funny because it seems weird that we would have a Hall of Fame to honor athletic achievement, especially because most students don’t think we have any. However, having attended two Heisman Club Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, I don’t think it’s weird at all.

The Heisman Club strives to provide further support to the Athletics department in order to enhance the student-athlete experience at Oberlin. One of the ways it does this is through continuing this experience after graduation: holding fundraisers, helping to organize Homecoming (on the off-chance that you’re not a student-athlete and are still reading this, Oberlin does have Homecoming) and inducting former athletes into the Hall of Fame.

And while the pre-made nametags and free hors d’oeuvres are enough for me to have a good time, I love the Heisman Club Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony because of the sincerity of the inductees.

When they accept their plaques that signify their entrance into the Heisman Club Hall of Fame, each former student-athlete gives a little acceptance speech. In the five minutes they have to talk, it is palpable how much it means to them to be invited back to Oberlin for a ceremony in their honor to recognize something that was a huge part of their lives at Oberlin.

Ryan Kelley, OC ’96, a former men’s lacrosse player who was inducted this year, explained how he was supposed to be inducted last year, but five days before the ceremony his brother was diagnosed with leukemia. Throughout his brother’s sickness he was able to call up teammates in the medical field and ask them questions and use their networks to explore care options for his brother. He noted that his brother is now in remission, and he was grateful that the Heisman Club let him postpone his induction. Kelley was genuinely moved that he still felt supported by Oberlin 15 years after he graduated, and that a lot of this support came from the Athletics community.

That’s why the Heisman Club Hall of Fame isn’t a funny concept to me.

It’s refreshing to see someone express sincere emotion completely unself-consciously, especially at Oberlin. It’s even rarer to see someone express this type of emotion about Oberlin Athletics. When I talk to a 1951 football alumnus from Texas who flies in every year to see the Homecoming game, or a women’s cross country runner who was allowed to run with the men’s team before Title IX was passed because of Oberlin’s progressive policies, it’s hard to laugh at honoring our former athletes.

When David Craig, OC ’87, a former men’s soccer player, accepted his induction this year, he said, “Oberlin makes you whole. This school makes you a whole person, and athletics was a very important part of that for me.” No one laughed.