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Induction of first class in Avon High Athletic Hall of Fame set for Wednesday

Paul Potanka, left, a member of Avon’s 1968 baseball team that won a state championship, and long-time Athletic Director Bob Summers, right, reconnect Wednesday at Avon High. In the middle is  Steve Nyberg of the Avon Booster Club.

AVON, May 17, 2022 – In less than 24 hours, the Avon High Athletic Hall of Fame will induct their first class of 10 individuals and one team – Avon’s 1968 baseball team that won a Class C state championship.

The induction ceremony will be held at The Golf Club of Avon recognizing former coaches Martin deLivron and Bonnie Tyler, former athletic director Bob Summers and athletes Jason Fox (Class of 1991), Lindsay Horbatuck (2009), Madison Kennedy (2005), Victor Krasij (2001), Kia McNeill (2004), Richard (Dick) Migli (1970) and Kelly McCollum Sheetz (1991).

It will be an evening to reconnect with old friends, hear again about that memorable game or practice and laugh about it. It will be a time to make new friends and celebrate the excellence of Avon High athletes and coaches throughout the years.

The fun began on Tuesday with several of the inductees and their families getting a sneak peek at the new record boards posted at Avon High outside of the school cafeteria near the main gymnasium.

Thanks to assistance from the Avon Booster Club, three new monitors have been installed with one devoted to the new Avon Athletic Hall of Fame with the other two devoted to school athletic records.

Current Avon High athletic director Tim Filon, left, and Bob Summers, the first AD at Avon High, outside the athletic record books at Avon High.

Athletic Director Tim Filon and Steve Nyberg, a member of the Avon High Booster Club and the banquet organizing committee, welcomed the visitors.

Tom and Mildred McNeill and their son Jared, Kia’s twin brother, visited the school. They shared how Kia began playing youth soccer with the Avon Soccer Club, inspired to keep up with her older sister Shara.

Bob Summers, 93, paid a visit. He was delayed because he had been volunteering at a golf tournament in Newington earlier in the day. It’s not surprising because Summer was named the Connecticut State Golf Association’s volunteer of the year in 2019.

Summers was the school’s first athletic director from 1957 through 1995. He was impressed with the electronic record boards and the Hall of Fame.

“It’s wonderful. It is outstanding,” he said of the Hall of Fame and the record boards.

On his induction, Summers said, “Wonderful. It is a wonderful honor. It is real nice. Real nice.”

He paused as he watched the Hall of Fame display slides about the current inductees, including Summers. “Younger years and younger days,” he said and smiled.

Paul Potanka, one of the co-captains of the 1968 Avon High baseball team that won the Class C state championship, remembered Dick Kelliher, the second-year coach from the University of Maine that that helped lead the Falcons to the finals.

Avon beat two-time defending champion Cromwell, 3-1, in the championship game at Muzzy Field in Bristol.

Potanka recalled that practice the day before the state championship game included time for some posted photos with a Super 8 video camera.

“We were so relaxed and we were confident,” Potanka remembered. “The madness behind it was that coach knew we played our best when we were having fun. We had a memorable experience that day (in the state championship game).

More memories will be shared on Wednesday.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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