WHITE PLAINS, NY — County Executive Robert P. Astorino invites Westchester residents to the 2016 Westchester Sports Hall of Fame ceremony for the induction of four honorees who have gained national prominence, and contributed to sports in Westchester. The ceremony will be held on Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
“This is a great opportunity to recognize the unique accomplishments of these talented athletes,” said Astorino. “They have dedicated their lives to good sportsmanship and teamwork, while enriching their communities.”
Inductees for this year’s Hall of Fame are:
· Originally from Colledimezzo, Italy, Gino D’Ippolito has been a Yonkers resident since 1951, and began refereeing in 1963 in Eastern New York. In the late 1960s, D’Ippolito was assigned to the pros, with the old National Professional Soccer League (NPSL), a forerunner to the original North American Soccer League (NASL). Since then, he has refereed in virtually every soccer final the USA had to offer, including the NASL, American Soccer League (ASL) and Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). The now 81-year-old was an official in over 600 NASL games from 1968 until the league’s final season in 1984. D’Ippolito has travelled to 29 nations to ref international games, as well as 15 World Cup qualifiers for the 1978, 1982, and 1986 World Cups. Over the span of his career, he has officiated over 2,000 professional games.
· A long-time resident of Tarrytown, Neil Fitzpatrick spent 30 years as Ardsley High School’s baseball coach and he was the founder of the school’s soccer team. On the baseball field he won numerous Coach of the Year awards, took his team to Sectional Championships six years back-to-back and won the State Championship four years consecutively. Fitzpatrick is remembered by his students as inspiring them with his honesty and respect.
· Michael O’Donnell has been the football coach at Archbishop Stepinac High School for 28 years, having started out in 1980 as an assistant, and working his way up to head varsity coach. In 2006, O’Donnell was named Athletic Director and head of the Physical Education department as well. He was designated Daily News Coach of the Year in 1993, 1995 and 1997. O’Donnell had a banner year in 2014 when he coached the Stepinac team to the CHSFL AAA Championship, recording the most wins in a single season in school history (12), and winning the league trophy, the Dubois Trophy (Cardinal Hayes High School) and the Turkey Bowl (White Plains High School). The following year, he led Stepinac to another CHSFL Championship and a New York State Catholic Championship. Coach O’Donnell also served on County Executive Astorino’s Concussion Panel, created by Stepinac alum, Dr. Mark Herceg, County Commissioner of Mental Health.
· Dan Ricci has amassed 404 victories, 16 league championships, six sectional championships, five regional championships and four New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) championships as the head girls basketball coach at Ossining High School. During his 24 years as head coach, Ricci guided the girls’ basketball program from mediocrity, to a perennial power. More important than winning, he cultivated a culture of teamwork, determination and sportsmanship both on and off the court. Eighteen of Ricci’s players have moved on to collegiate careers, including two-time National Champion Saniya Chong at the University of Connecticut. Ossining is only the second NYSPHSAA school to win a Class AA Federation Championship. Ricci also led the varsity football program to sectional and regional championships in 2007 while serving as head coach.
The four inductees were chosen from a pool of 80 nominees. In order to be nominated, each must be a person of good character, who has gained prominence in either professional or amateur sports as a player, coach, manager, official, owner, writer or broadcaster.
Hall of Fame plaques are on permanent display in the Sports Hall of Fame gallery at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
The event is open to the public and begins at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and the induction ceremony. Price is $80 per person, and reservations are required. The deadline for reservations is Friday, October 14.
For an invitation or more information, call (914) 231-4564.