Devine, Pringle, Waldrop, Washington among 2022 LCAC Hall of Famers

Some of the top local athletes were inducted into the Lee County Athletic Conference Hall of Fame during an emotional and nostalgic evening at the Crown Plaza Hotel on Thursday.

Six athletes were honored – including Lee County all-time leader Noel Devine (North Fort Myers), state champions Isaac Harvin (Cape Coral) and Jennifer Henshaw Seluk (Cypress Lake), baseball players Kyle Waldrop (Riverdale) and John Tolisano (Estero) and one of the best football players in Fort Myers High School history in Richard Washington.

Riverdale’s Bobby Pringle, the winningest baseball coach in Lee County history, was also inducted, and longtime Swim Florida coach Mac Kennedy was celebrated in a special contributor category.

The LCAC has been unable to hold the banquet for the past two years due to the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring everyone together to recognize these unique individuals who deserve the honor they will receive tonight,” said Lee County athletic director David LaRosa.

LILY:Devine, Washington, Pringle, Waldrop among LCAC Hall of Fame class of 2022

The LCAC was formed in 1987 and has inducted 116 people into the Hall of Fame.

Devine was introduced by his head coach at North Fort Myers, James Iandoli, who described him as a “lightning in a bottle” athlete. Devine went on to have a Hall of Fame career at West Virginia University.

“He’s an amazing dad and he’s an amazing person, and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Iandoli said.

AFTER:‘I left my mark’: With his family by his side, Noel Devine enters the West Virginia Hall of Fame

Fort Myers head coach Sammy Siranni joked that Devine “brought a lot of nightmares” to his coaching staff.

“It was very loving and almost brought tears to my eyes,” Devin said of their praise.

Harvin began his exuberant speech with a humorous rebuke that he was late for the honor.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I’m here now. I’m in the Hall of Fame,” said Harvin, who was the Class 4A state champion in the 200 meters in 1994, breaking a state record .

Kennedy spoke of his early days in Fort Myers 50 years ago (“E-mail wasn’t invented back then,” he said). During his career, Kennedy coached more than 10,000 swimmers, including 21 state champions and more than 300 who earned college scholarships.

“I had a great opportunity to work with a lot of really good athletes,” he said. “Lee County is a great place. … It really is a showcase for great athletes.

Pringle spent nearly 30 years in Riverdale and oversaw the high school careers of eventual MLB draft picks like Waldrop and Tommy Watkins.

“The biggest thing is that they’re talking about the most wins,” Pringle said, as his win counts with the Raiders approaching the 400 mark. “The problem of being in a school as a head coach for 27 years, and good thing they don’t keep those stats, I’d probably have the most losses in Lee County as well.”

Waldrop was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, fulfilling one of his dreams with a decorated minor league career.

“I think of all the incredible athletes who have come out of Fort Myers, and to be mentioned among them is truly an honor,” Waldrop said. “Growing up in Fort Myers, many of those Hall of Fame athletes are now people I looked up to as a kid.”

Frank Turco, Estero’s former head coach, described Tolisano, a two-time All American drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, as the best clean hitter he ever coached. Tolisano was surprised by his emotion on stage,

“It’s something I will remember forever,” he said.

John Tolisano, a star baseball player from Estero High, was inducted into the 2022 Lee County Athletic Conference Hall of Fame at the Crowne Plaza in Fort Myers on Thursday, April 21, 2022. He is seen with former Estero and current Canterbury manager Frank Turco.

State 200 medley champion Seluk described her “most treasured memory” in swimming: returning from shoulder surgery before her senior year. After a three-month rehab, she finished third in the United States.

“It’s not always easy,” Seluk said. “It’s not always about the wins at the end of the day. It is the journey that creates the champion. … The sport of swimming taught me that you are much tougher than you actually think.

Washington holds the Green Wave record for all-time leading receiver and is signed with North Carolina State. In his speech, he expressed his gratitude to his family for supporting him after he failed to fulfill his dream of becoming a member of the NFL.

“It’s better than being in the NFL, I think,” Washington said. “I’m a Hall of Famer in your eyes – we did it. We did it.”

The new Hall of Famers joined on stage at the end of the banquet, smiling as their many supporters – family, friends and educators – proudly took photos.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Devine said. “It’s been a long journey. I am very honored and privileged to be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with all the great athletes who have gone before me.

Follow sportswriter Dustin Levy on Twitter: @DustinBLevy. For additional Southwest Florida sports coverage, follow @newspresssports and @ndnprepzone on Instagram.

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