Sep. 6—Area soccer standouts will be honored for their contributions to the sport with the launch of a new hall of fame this fall.
Starting in November, The Tribune-Democrat High School Soccer Hall of Fame will recognize players, coaches, referees and contributors within the media company's coverage region on an annual basis.
The hall of fame will capture and preserve the rich heritage and tradition of local soccer, organizers said.
"I was excited about the concept of a local hall of fame for high school soccer as a way to honor the many individuals and teams who have helped grow and enhance the sport in this region," Tribune-Democrat Publisher Chip Minemyer said. "Soccer is extremely popular in the region at all levels. This hall of fame will celebrate those who have stood out as players, coaches, officials and contributors — and should signal to young players just getting started that not only are they participating in a sport they can stay with throughout their lives, but they'll be playing in a community that values soccer and celebrates excellence in the sport."
Individuals who have made significant contributions from schools covered by The Tribune-Democrat in Bedford, Cambria, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland counties can be nominated for the hall of fame, which will be housed in The Tribune-Democrat's lobby.
Players must be five years removed from varsity play. Coaches must be retired for five consecutive years prior to nomination. Referees must have served in the area for at least 10 years.
Written nominations must not exceed 300 words.
To nominate someone for the hall of fame, click here then complete and submit the electronic form.
Nominations will be accepted through Oct. 1.
"Some fantastic people who have been involved with the local soccer community are developing this hall of fame," Minemyer said, "and I'm especially happy that this program will be associated with The Tribune-Democrat in perpetuity."
A committee consisting of nine people will vote on hall of fame candidates. The first class (maximum of five) will be inducted between the Santa Fund Soccer Classic girls and boys games.
This year's all-star contests will take place on Nov. 16 at Greater Johnstown High School's Trojan Stadium. The girls game will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the boys contest set to start at 7:30 p.m.
"I am super-excited and honored to be involved," committee member and Windber Area High School girls soccer coach B. Paul Buza said. "When the idea was pitched, I instantly felt it was the time. In fact, it was long overdue.
"Soccer in our area has a rich history with many outstanding contributors including players, coaches and referees. The local history of our sport needs preserved, and individuals honored for past achievements and contributions. I am extremely thankful for those individuals who are making this a reality."
Now in its 13th year, the Santa Fund Soccer Classic has become a staple within the region.
"It's hard to believe that we've been hosting the Santa Fund Soccer Classic for more than a dozen years now, shining a spotlight on the best senior girls and boys soccer players from across the region," Minemyer said. "The Santa Fund Soccer Classic has become a local tradition and, we're told, something players look forward to as they progress through their high school careers.
"Now, to take that relationship to another level with the establishment of a soccer hall of fame feels like a natural next step."
Santa Fund donations can be made now at https://www.cfalleghenies.org/fund/tribune-democrat-santa-fund/ or by check to Santa Fund c/o The Tribune-Democrat, P.O. Box 340, Johnstown, PA 15907-0340.
Donations will be used to purchase Christmas gifts for area children, with distribution in mid-December. Forms for nominating families for the program will begin appearing soon in The Tribune-Democrat and at Tribdem.com.