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Larries Proudly March Into Hall Of Fame

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BRASHER FALLS - Kelly Dempsey could remember standing on the stage of the St. Lawrence Central auditorium as a student.
Nearly 40 years later, Mr. Dempsey, who now lives in Atlanta, returned to that same stage Thursday night to be honored as one of the eight individual inductees at SLC's 13th annual Hall of Fame ceremonies.
"We had one hell of a run here in a lot of different sports. It was a different time and a wonderful time to be a student," Mr. Dempsey said. "I lived away for 35 years ... This is always home. I couldn't be prouder to be a Tri-Town family member."
On stage, a handful of other inductees joined Mr. Dempsey, who was honored for his years on the football, basketball and baseball teams. Much had changed in their lives since their time in the school. But many lessons from St. Lawrence Central had stuck with them throughout the years: perseverance, teamwork, and a drive to succeed.
"This school and community were awesome. I would later know what a profound impact this school ... would have on me," according to class of 1975 graduate Kathleen (Burkett) Valancius, who was honored for playing soccer, basketball, softball and track.
Those sports did leave their mark on her; she is now a physical education teacher and coach today in the Salmon River School District.
The importance of family was apparent at the ceremony too. Class of 1982 graduate William Demo Jr, who played football, basketball and baseball, received an introduction from his father.
"His respect for the game and for all those involved was quite noticeable," the senior Demo said. "This is a quality that still exists in his every day living today."
His son praised his time at the high school.
"I would like to thank the good Lord for being born in 1964, meaning I graduated in 1982," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better bunch of guys."
Frank Mammano, who taught at the school from 1967 to 1977, was honored for his years as offensive coordinator for the varsity football team and coach of the basketball and baseball teams.
"He was an excellent math teacher and became very involved in coaching," fellow coach Jerry Mahoney said. "He was calm and under control at all times, unlike me."
James "Con" Elliott may not have been a student or parent in the district. But Mr. Elliott was inducted for his years of broadcasting high school sporting events on WPDM radio.
"The only thing I ever wanted to do is watch the kids, your kids and everybody else's to tell everybody what they did," Mr. Elliott said. "I don't know all of you, but I'd like to meet all of you, because that has been my life."
He is the school's first honorary inductee.
Rodger Hazen, a class of 1956 basketball and football athlete, opted not to give a speech after receiving his award. But team mate David Stevens praised him for his years of hard work. Mr. Hazen, who joined the junior varsity team in seventh grade, was part of the 1956 basketball team which won the league championship.
Stevens, a high school quarterback, noted Hazen was his center. "The writing on the wall was that this guy was going to be something special," Mr. Stevens said. "I could tell you he was my answer to homeland security."
Lacrosse coach Tom Geagan praised class of 1996 alumnus and inductee Shaun Felix.
"He's not a chatterbox, but his actions spoke volumes on the field," Mr. Geagan said. "The more challenges I put out there for him, the harder he worked."
Mr. Felix credited the "strong work ethic" and "leave it on the field attitude" he learned from his parents and coaches with shaping him into who he is today.
"I wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for all these people," he said, mentioning his coaches and teammates.
Other inductees were honored posthumously. Rick Gardner remembered his late friend Scott Kelsey, a three-sport athlete from class of 1975, as the "strongest and quickest guy for his size in this school."
Mr. Kelsey's father, former Stockholm Town Supervisor Lowell Kelsey, also passed away several months ago.
"(Lowell) was so looking forward and was so excited for this night," Mr. Gardner said. "They're both looking down at us tonight. Scott's saying, 'What's all the fuss about?' And Lowell is just beaming with pride."
Jimmy Grow remembered his late father, Harry, who was inducted for his years of support and service to the district. The late Grow assisted in the construction of the Tri-Town Arena and was a die-hard Larries fan.
John Demo said when the district was on an austerity budget Grow was a key player in making sure St. Lawrence Central was able to field athletic teams. And when the Tri-Town Community Center was being built, Grow, who ran a construction supply business, was there when the volunteers ran into challenges.
His son recalled his dad seldom missing a sporting event.
"He would follow us up and down the field to watch us play," Jim Grow said. "He would be absolutely thrilled to know you had remembered him in this way."
The 1974-1975 varsity football team and the 1989-1990 boys' hockey team were also inducted. The hockey team was the first to go to the state's final four since the school's 1982 team.
"You really had to search hard for weaknesses on this hockey team," Coach Mickey Locke said.
Mr. Mahoney praised the 1974-1975 football team, which were division II champions with a 6-2 record.
"You worked all week. It was intense," Mr. Mahoney said. "These guys had great chemistry. It was just a great group of guys."
Steve Michaud, one of the standouts on that team, suggested the unit was only a few plays away from being undefeated, They dropped a 6-0 game to Tupper Lake on a night when a Larries fumble recovery was run back for a touchdown but the score was called back due to an inadvertent referee's whistle.
He said he knew the group was tight-knit. He would find out how much so later on in life.
"I didn't know how much of a family it was until two of the guys married my sisters," he quipped. "I always thought my sisters were into football but they were actually into the football players."

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