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High School Sports Hall of Fame opening soon

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Waves of nostalgia await visitors to the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame.

“This is something concrete which evokes memories. You go from one memory to the next and you want to research it,” Mara Murphy told a group gathered for a preview of the hall this week. “When you’re 18, you’re more interested in your friends than in your past, your ancestors. But soon, you realize that’s important.

“This will be a point of departure for all the questions people have about their past and a place to start answering those questions.”

The Lincoln Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/1bXSzl5 ) the Hall of Fame in the Nebraska School Activities Association building at 500 Charleston St., just north of Haymarket Park, will open to the public next month.

“We think it will be three days a week,” said Larry Munksgaard, executive director of the hall of fame. “And if service clubs or schools or groups want a tour, they can call me.”

The tour begins in the Wally McNaught Theater, which honors the longtime Lincoln Southeast basketball coach and athletic director. An anonymous donor funded the theater because he saw McNaught’s influence on his employees.

A video featuring Tom Kropp, Matt Davison, Kelly Benson Jeffries, Nancy Kindig Malone, Chuck Mizerski and Erick Strickland sets the mood, with the Hall of Famers talking about the power of high school sports in their lives and the lifelong values learned in sports.

The video, produced by Perry Stoner of NET, takes viewers around the state to small towns and cities, swim meets and football games, pep rallies and practices.

Next comes the all-school kiosk, with pictures and information about every school in the state from 1854 to 1994. This labor of love was spearheaded by Larry Murphy, Robert Ruyle, Gary Burchfield, John Lee and L. Dean Stewart.

“It took us five years to dig up the information, to search for pictures of the schools and to verify information,” Ruyle said. “We realized that people light up when they see a picture of their school.”

In line with the mission of the Hall of Fame — “honoring the past to inspire the future” — Mara Murphy said it will be a treasure trove for people trying to connect with their pasts.

“We have wonderful memories of what we did after basketball games,” she said. “This will be such a concentrated area of information.”

The kiosk area gives way to sport exhibits, with flooring that directs visitors — yard-line markers in the “turf” for football, a wrestling mat circle, maple floors for the basketball and volleyball areas, turf for soccer, baseball and softball, and lanes of the track.

And finally, the honor room, with all the athletes, coaches, officials and contributors who have been inducted in the first 20 years of the Hall of Fame.

Munksgaard said organizers continue to collect memorabilia and want to exhibit the great moments in high school sports.

“We want things that will interest a statewide audience. That’s our next project,” he said. “And we’ll add schools to the kiosk that, through consolidation or mergers, have opened since 1994. We only have about 10 of the 40 in that category that have reported their information.”

Groups can call Munksgaard at 402-432-8049 to arrange for tours.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

This AP Member Exchange was shared by the Lincoln Journal Star.

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