The Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame announced its inductees for the Class of 2018 on Tuesday in Smithtown, and there were some local names on the list.
Nine individual athletes from Suffolk County (full list below) were selected, along with a group award. The names were unveiled at Watermill Caterers.
“It’s with great pride that we introduce the Class of 2018,” said the new executive director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame, Chris Vaccaro. “We have a diverse group from pro to amateur athletics, all with an undying passion for their hometown of Suffolk County.”
Two of those nine athletes hailed from the GreaterPatchogue coverage area in Bayport’s Joe Dooley and Bellport’s Cheryl Klein-Obelar.
Dooley, who died in 1999, is being honored for his 39 years as a football referee in Suffolk County. He was ranked as the No.1 official in Suffolk for 12 years and won the New York State Official of the Year in 1996.
He also spent most of his life as a lifeguard at Smith Point.
“He was an incredible, award-winning lifeguard,”said Vaccaro. “And there are a number of tournaments and awards named after him.”
A few neighboorhoods over, Klein-Obelar made a name for herself as a shot put and discus thrower, winning four Suffolk County championships while coming in first in three straight Empire State Games.
She went on to the University of Houston where she continued to break school records.
“She was a professional weightlifter and outlifted some of the football players from the University of Houston,” said Vaccaro.
The Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame will have an official induction ceremony on May 10 at the Watermill. Tickets will be available online.
- Stephen Bowen: Former NFL player from Half Hallow Hills West who currently works for the NFL
- Robert Burkley: Longtime track and field coach from Middle Country School District, went 26 years without a loss
- Joe Dooley: Highly regarded Suffolk County football referee for 39 years
- Cheryl Klein-Obelar: Recorded-breaking discus and shot put thrower for Bellport High School and University of Houston
- Edward Morris: Former executive director of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame; he served from 2000-2017
- Matt Ryan: Former U.S. Olympian handball player from Miller Place
- Shannon Smith: All-American lacrosse player from West Babylon who coaches Hofstra’s woman’s lacrosse team.
- Clem Stancik: Winningest tennis coach in New York State history for Brentwood High School
- Hans Wiederkehr: Former NFL player, Babylon football coach, and Suffolk County football administrator
- Special Recognition Award: Bay Shore Junior Fire Department Racing team
Top: Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame executive director Chris Vaccaro introducing the Class of 2018. (Credit: Nicholas Esposito)