The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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April 27, 2014

ACBF evolving, improving

Trustees happy with changes organization made for 2014 event

The 2013-14 basketball season finally came to it’s close on April 20 with the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation’s Awards Dinner at the Human Resources Center in Conneaut.

It was an event ACBF trustees Mike Joslin and Nick Iarocci thought went extremely well, especially considering the ACBF made a fundamental change to the dinner’s program.

It was decided that the nominees for the Player of the Year awards would not speak prior to the announcement of the winners.

“I thought it went great,” Iarocci said. “I was pleased with the turnout despite the weather. I was pleased with how the banquet moved along. That’s not to say I didn’t want to hear the students speak. I always like to hear what they have to say, who they want to thank. But (them not speaking) makes the dinner more efficient. Just focusing on the Hall of Famers’ speeches was a good way to streamline things.”

“This was the first year we didn’t have all of the kids speak, which cut down on the time of the banquet by a good hour,” Joslin said. “I have some mixed feelings about that. I love to hear the kids talk.”

The ACBF welcomed 15 new members into the Ashtabula County Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It was another good Hall of Fame class,” Joslin said. “All of them were more than deserving. It’s always good to see the families and a lot of them show up from out of town.”

There are now 148 members in the HOF.

“I think that speaks volumes for Ashtabula County Basketball,” Joslin said. “It tells everyone what a rich tradition we have in Ashtabula County basketball. I keep thinking we’re going to run out of people or the pickings are going to get thin. Even now, I know some of these kids will be Hall of Famers.”

Despite that staggering number of members, there are still deserving players to be honored in the future.

“It encourages me to know this organization has a long way to go,” Iarocci said. “There really is a continued future for the Hall of Fame. We’ve inducted 150 people and we’ve got all kinds of people in the pipeline. We’ll be around for a long time to come.

“I’m not staggered by it, but I’m actually encouraged.”

“Next year is No. 13,” Joslin said. “It’s hard to believe. Somebody had come up and asked me if it was No. 8. I said no, it was the 12th year. We still have a rich pool of names.

“We started this 12 years ago. Some of those kids from 12 years ago are starting to hit 30 (years old). In another 10 years, some of those kids could be in the Hall of Fame. It will come full circle. It’s neat to think about. It won’t be too long (before that starts happening).”

As the ACBF ends it’s year and looks ahead to the next one, it’s time to focus on raising some money to add to the scholarships it already hands out at the dinner.

“A think a big push has to come from the area for increasing the scholarships,” Joslin said. “That’s the main reason we do all of this. We want the kids to benefit. It’s great to have all of the Hall of Famers there and it’s great to listen to them, but our main concern is we have to get some money for the kids and help them get to the next level. We’re in our infancy as far as scholarship money goes. I only see that growing.”     

One way to do that is through the addition of a paypal account on the organization’s website,, through which the ACBF can accept donations.

“People can go to the website and they can donate there through paypal and give right back to the kids,” Joslin said. “We’ll put that right back into the kids. It’s a nice way the community is able to give back. A lot of the Hall of Famers come up after (the Awards Dinner) and ask how to donate or who they can write a check out to. They want to know how they can help out.”

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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