FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 9, 2015
Contact: Kayla French
Palm Beach County Sports Commission reveals the 2016 Hall of Fame Class including former professional athletes in hockey, basketball, soccer, and baseball along with an award-winning writer and community contributor in the world of golf.
WEST PALM BEACH, FL – The Palm Beach County Sports Commission announces its 2016 Sports Hall of Fame inductees. The seven inductees will join a legendary list, dating back to 1977, of those that have achieved excellence in the world of sports. The induction ceremony will take place at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on the evening of March 20, 2016.
“The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees represent an elite class of athletes and individuals who have a passion for and commitment to sports. Each person represents the diversity of talent prevalent in Palm Beach County,” said Steve Politiziner, Co-Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee. “We are proud to have them as part of our community and honored to have the inductees join the other accomplished athletes and professionals that are members of the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame.”
Noah Babin, Ice Hockey
A native of Palm Beach Gardens, Babin proved that Floridians can play ice hockey too. In 2003, Babin became the first native Floridian to play hockey in a Division I program when he accepted a scholarship from Notre Dame. In 2007, Babin became the first player born and raised in Florida to sign a professional hockey contract when he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes. Two years later, serious knee injuries forced him to retire. Babin’s success opened doors for others as scouts, coaches, and recruiters continue to visit the state. Babin had great success in the juniors, relocating to Michigan to play in upper level leagues. In 2000, he was invited to play for the U.S. National Player Development Team, the first player from Florida to earn the honor. The team won the gold medal with Babin scoring the winning goal in the championship contest. His hockey stick and puck reside in the International Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. In 2010 Babin moved to California at the age of 26 to coach youth teams and give private lessons.
Kristy Whelchel Hartofilis, Soccer
Kristy is considered to be one of Palm Beach County’s greatest soccer players. Kristy’s story demonstrates the value that city and county sports leagues have on our youth and their parents. Due to her high level of excellence in our outstanding local recreational sports leagues, Kristy was able to earn a collegiate athletic scholarship to Duke University. Kristy was a star at Spanish River scoring 42 goals with 23 assists, leading the Sharks to their first Final Four State appearance her senior year. For her outstanding efforts, she was named Player of the Year by the Sun-Sentinel and Boca Raton News, along with first team All-State. She went on to play at Duke, starting at midfield all four years, where she earned All-ACC honors every season and All-American recognition. In high school, she was a four-time state champion and a regional champion with the Team Boca Soccer club and a starter for U19 & U21 U.S. National Soccer Team. Kristy followed that up by becoming a 3rd round draft pick in the inaugural draft of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA). Drafted 20th overall to the New York Power, Kristy played from (January 2001- August 2004) starting in every game for two seasons. In her first two seasons, Kristy accumulated 3,450 minutes of play and scored two goals. After her time with the Power, Kristy returned to Palm Beach County to coach at her alma mater. During her tenure, Spanish River saw a 20-3-2 record and a berth in the State Championship finals. While Palm Beach County has produced many female professionals in individual sports, Kristy was the first to accomplish the feat for a team sport.
Richard Rellford, Basketball
A native of Riviera Beach, Richard Rellford’s prolific high school career included a McDonald All-American selection for basketball and a ranking as the #1 small forward in the nation. Rellford’s accomplishments continued on the football field as he received Parade All-American honors and was rank the #1 tight end in the country. He then attended the University of Michigan on a basketball scholarship, and helped the Wolverines to an NIT Championship in 1984, along with two Big Ten titles in 1985 and 1986. In 1986 he was drafted by the Indiana Pacers as the second pick of the 5th round of the NBA Draft. In addition to a NBA career, Rellford played overseas in Europe for more than a decade. During the 1992-93 season with the AO Dafni League in Greece, he was awarded the A1’s Top Scorer Award. Becoming the first American to win the honor. His international achievements led him to a place in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame.
Craig Dolch, Sportswriter
An award-winning sportswriter who has lived in Palm Beach County for more than 30 years, Dolch is best known for his extensive golf coverage. Dolch worked 26 years for the Evening Times/ Palm Beach Post (1982-2008), primarily covering golf as well as the Miami Dolphins, Florida Gators, and Florida Panthers. He has written for numerous publications and authored a book commemorating the 50-year anniversary of the Lost Tree Club. Currently, he hosts a weekly two-hour golf radio show on ESPN 106.3 FM and writes a weekly golf column for Scripps Newspapers and TCPalm.com. He also writes the script that Jim Nantz narrates for PGA Championship DVD and is a freelance golf writer for Sports Illustrated, Golf World and the New York Times.
Malachi Knowles, Community Contributor-Golf
Malachi’s passion for golf started at ten years old. In his early years at Washington Elementary and Roosevelt High School, he was anointed “shag boy” by the “Caddy Master” at Everglades Country Club in Palm Beach. Malachi started and became the first Team Captain for the Men’s Golf Team at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland, earning a golf scholarship and letterman for three seasons. Malachi was the first African American to graduate with a two year “Master of Regional and City Planning” Degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1965. After returning to Palm Beach County in 1993, Malachi founded “Inner City Youth Golfers’ Incorporated”, a non-profit foundation working with at risk youth between the ages of 8-17. Uniquely, ICYG has developed its own initiative: Say NO to Drugs-Say YES to Education, Culture, and Golf in order to grow the game of golf and promote the positive aspects of life. He also started the “African American Golfer’s Hall of Fame” in April 2004, which is currently headquartered in Palm Beach County. ICYG annually participates in the Palm Beach County Sports Commission’s Kids Fitness Festival as a youth golf clinician. Knowles is currently involved as a Publisher for Golf Fore Anyone, Inc.; and is a member of The Golfer’s House Committee, Bear Lakes Country Club, Fairview Golf Club, Inc. and the Sunshine State Amateurs Golfer’s Association, Inc.
Jackie K. Manuel, Basketball
Jackie Manuel, a former All-American basketball player, led West Palm’s Cardinal Newman High School to two state championships. He was named a Gatorade Player of the Year in 2001 and named All-State class by Florida Sportswriters. Manuel was the MVP of the Class 3-A state tournament both in his sophomore and senior seasons. Manuel played for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels from 2001-2005 and was a tri-captain of the 2005 Tar Heels National Championship team. He played five seasons in the NBA Development League before transferring to the Basketball Japan League for a year. Manuel is currently the Assistant Basketball Coach at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Andy McGaffigan, Baseball
Andy McGaffigan is a native of West Palm Beach. His 11 year Major League Baseball (MLB) pitching career started in 1981 and included several prominent homes such as; the Yankees, Giants, Expos, Reds and Royals. McGaffigan has a combined 38-33 won-loss record, 24 saves, 3.38 ERA in 363 games as a starter and relief, 773 hits, 610 strikeouts, 294 walks in 833.3 innings. He was named the Southern League Pitcher of the Year for Nashville in 1980, and suffered through a broken leg injury with the Yankees in 1981.
For tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and any additional information on the Palm Beach County Sports Commission’s 40th Annual Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, please contact the Palm Beach County Sports Commission at 561.233.3180 or visit www.PalmBeachSports.com.
About the Palm Beach County Sports Commission
The Palm Beach County Sports Commission is a private, not-for-profit organization contracted by Palm Beach County to promote and market the County as a sports and sports tourism destination. The Commission brings sporting events and activities to the County, enhances economic impact, stimulates bed tax revenues (primarily in the off-season), and maximizes utilization of County facilities. The Commission offers a full range of event service support, corporate partnerships, sponsorships and a local membership program that support its goals. Local, regional, national and international marketing efforts are ongoing by the Commission with sports organizations and event owners. The Commission also produces sports-related programs for the residents of Palm Beach County including the annual Lou Groza Awards program, the Sports Hall of Fame, and the Kids Fitness Festival of the Palm Beaches. For more information on the Palm Beach County Sports Commission go to www.palmbeachsports.com.