VSS seeks sports shrine

VSS athletic director Sean Smith and Panther hoopsters John Garvie and Quinsy Leier hold pieces of the new gym floor being sold to alumni athletes for the new school’s sports hall of fame. - Kevin Mitchell/MORNING STAR
VSS athletic director Sean Smith and Panther hoopsters John Garvie and Quinsy Leier hold pieces of the new gym floor being sold to alumni athletes for the new school’s sports hall of fame.
— image credit: Kevin Mitchell/MORNING STAR

VSS Panther athletic director Sean Smith recently checked out the Husky Fever Hall of Fame in Seattle.

The 5,000-square foot display room is located on the west end of Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion and pays homage to Washington’s rich athletic history and traditions.

For the record, the Huskies went 11–11 in Warren Moon’s first two seasons as a starter; but during his senior year, Moon led the Don James coached Huskies to a 27-20 win over the favored Michigan Wolverines in the 1978 Rose Bowl and was named the game’s MVP on the strength of two short TD runs and a third quarter 28-yard touchdown pass to Robert (Spider) Gaines.

Moon, a two-time Grey Cup MVP, is naturally featured prominently in the Husky Fever Hall of Fame room which includes displays featuring all 23 of Washington’s current athletic programs, retired varsity sports, and a room for the school’s athletic Hall of Fame inductees.

“They’ve got Warren Moon’s stained jersey in their,” laughed Smith. “It’s an amazing place.”

A $1 million naming gift funded the Hall of Fame by Husky Fever, a support organization for Washington’s department of intercollegiate athletics. Formed in 1977, it includes retailers, manufacturers and brokers from the food industry. The total project cost for the Husky Fever Hall of Fame was $1.8 million.

Now, the shrine Smith envisions for the new Vernon Secondary School gym area won’t be nearly as elaborate as UW, but it will serve as a nice historic venue for a school which opened in 1968.

“We’d like to get a jersey from J.D. Jackson (hoops), a putter from Chris Baryla and a boot from (pro cowboy) Ty Elliott,” said Smith. “These accomplishments need to live on in our new school.”

Smith and the rest of the jocks at VSS have secured the old gym floor to jumpstart fundraising for the shrine.

“Our plan is to frame one piece of the floor to represent each of the 43 years of athletes that have contributed to the history of the Vernon Panthers,” said Smith, who runs the football program. “The 43 pieces will be transferred to the new school and individually displayed for future Panthers to see.”

Each piece will have the year and list of athletes from that year. Alumni are asked to donate at least $25. They will receive a keepsake while also having their name displayed in the shrine.

“We want to get as many athletes’ names as we can,” said Smith, a Fulton grad.

Shelley Budgen has already stepped up to be the rep for her year. We’d like to get at least $100 from each year. Leaders for each year will send out our message to other athletes in their year and encourage them to participate. Our goal is to have all 43 years represented in the new school.”

Former VSSS (Vernon Senior Secondary School) Panther basketball shooting guard Morris Vardabasso is the current school principal and has give his full blessing to the shrine.

All money from floor sales will go directly to Panther athletics. New equipment, badly needed, will be purchased. The rest will support the shrine.

Donations will of course be accepted and former athletes are urged to check out the Facebook page entitled LEGACY OF PANTHER ATHLETICS.

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