With all the rich history associated with River Falls High School athletics, the names and accomplishments of those individuals and teams are remembered primarily through the stories and memories of its alumni and supporters.
High school Pep Club advisors Ryan Bishop and Steve Trudeau have spearheaded an effort to establish a Wildcat Hall of Fame, with the inaugural class to be inducted this summer.
The Wildcat Open, the 1st annual Wildcat Hall of Fame Golf Tournament, scheduled for Friday, July 29, at Kilkarney Hills, will conclude with the school's first hall of fame induction dinner. Fourteen individuals, including former athletes, coaches and supporters, will be honored as the first inductees into the school's new hall of fame.
"This is something that's been talked about for years," Bishop said. "There's such a rich tradition and history here. We thought it was a good time to bring it on board."
Trudeau pointed out River Falls is the only school in the Big Rivers Conference without a hall of fame, and said the idea developed out of the success of the school's student Pep Club.
"School spirit has taken off this year," he said. "But when the kids walk out that door in three weeks and graduate will that put an end to it? We want to bridge that gap with the alumni with the motto 'Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat.'"
Bishop and Trudeau said they began meeting with alumni, coaches, staff, local business owners; anybody they could tap for ideas, back in March. Together the group developed a list of over 50 individuals and formed a committee to select the first group of inductees, which will be announced in June.
Bishop said the inductees will be chosen primarily from the last 50 years, with a special category each year called the Legacy Award to honor individuals from more than 50 years ago.
Other categories include athlete, coach, team and distinguished citizen. Bishop and Trudeau said the distinguished citizen can include anybody from non-athletes to team supporters to other notable alumni.
"We want to emphasize the character aspect," Trudeau said.
The new Wildcat Hall of Fame will be located at the entrance to the high school gymnasium and feature plaques of each inductee with a short biography. Bishop said the group is close to launching a website and Facebook page that will include more information, including a form for people to nominate future hall of fame candidates.
Bishop and Trudeau said they hope plenty of Wildcat alumni and supporters will take part in the Wildcat Hall of Fame Golf Tournament July 29. The day will include lunch, golf, the induction ceremony and live music among other things.
"We encourage alumni and family of alumni to play in the tournament," Trudeau said. "We think it's going to be something special."
Registration and sponsorship opportunities for the tournament will be available on the upcoming website. Until then, Bishop said people can e-mail RFHS_Alumni@yahoo.com with any questions.