CONNECTICUT WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME: BELIEVE IN A DREAM
by Tracey Finer, Hall of Farner, CWBHOF Executive Board Member
"To accomplish great things we must not only act but also dream, not only plan but also believe" - Anatole France
When you were a kid, do you remember thinking that anything and everything was possible? That all of your dreams could come true if you just wanted them bad enough? That there were no obstacles too big or too difficult that could prevent you from achieving your goals? You were the hero, you were the star, you were the winner. The only thing you had to do was believe. But then you grew up and the innocence of your childhood gave way to the responsibilities of adulthood and your dreams were replaced with reality.
Louise Albrecht, Anthony Candido, Linda Wooster, Brenda Reilly, Ann V. Farris
But what happens to those who refuse to accept the idea that being a grownup means you have to put limits on your imagination? Twenty years ago five friends decided to find out. Their goal was simple ... to honor individuals who had contributed to the enhancement of women's basketball in the state of Connecticut. The fact that no other state hall of fame existed for women's basketball in the country was not viewed as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to be the first ... thereby setting the standard for others to follow. After reviewing constitutions from another hall of fame groups throughout the country, the founding five--Tony Candido, Women's Basketball Official; Louise E. Albrecht, Associate Athletic Director, SCSU; Linda Wooster, Associate Athletic Director, Quinnipiac University; Dr. Ann V. Fariss, Director of Athletics, University of Bridgeport; and Dr. Brenda A. Reilly, Associate Athletic Director and Women's Basketball Coach at CCSU-- created the constitution and organizational framework for what would be known as the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (CWBHOF).
But that was only the beginning, and some might say, the easiest part of their plan. The difficult part would be to inspire others to believe in their dream. The founding five knew they would need a lot of support to make their hall of fame a success. They decided that initial funding would not come in the traditional form of contributions as was the case with many new organizations. Instead, the CWBBHOF established its own style of fundraising through membership fees, holding women's basketball coaching clinics, and selling concessions at baseball card shows at area colleges. Additional sources of funding would include proceeds from the Brenda A. Reilly Memorial Golf Classic and private party fundraisers.
Once the organization had a constitution and financial support, it was time to concentrate on the main reason the Hall of Fame was created to honor former players, coaches, referees, and honoraries who had demonstrated extraordinary dedication to the support of women's basketball in Connecticut. Individual selection for induction into the Hall of Fame would be either through the candidate's participation, service, support, or achievement in women's basketball. A nominating committee would ensure that the selection of potential inductees met established criteria and that all candidates had demonstrated outstanding character, integrity, and sportsmanship. Since the first induction ceremony was held in April 1988, in New Haven, CT., nearly 200 outstanding individuals have been inducted into the CWBHOF.
So is it true that dreams do come true? One needs only to look at the success, longevity, and impact of the Connecticut Women's Basketball Hall of Fame to remind us that indeed they do. All it takes is for the kid within us to believe.