By Steve Knez
Nine members of the Burbank community were inducted into the Burbank Athletic Walk of Fame on Saturday in a ceremony that took place outside the recreation center at George Izay Park.
Mother Nature provided the pleasant climate and the City of Burbank, Park, Recreation and Community Services Department hit one out of the park as the one-hour event honored the commitment and dedication of individuals and their contribution to organized sports programs sponsored by the City of Burbank. The inductees included Cindy Dyer, Douglas Howe, Dennis Roy, Robin Smola-Schwer, Terry Scott, Chuck and Tonie Siedsclag, Elise Sterns-Niesen and Jess Talamantes.
Judie Wilke, Director of Park, Recreation and Community Services, was very pleased with the event. “This is what it’s all about,” she said. “These people impacted so many lives and we were able to honor them today. It was a fabulous day.”
Approximately 250 people attended the event, including Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski. “Being part of a [sports] team teaches us lessons about life,” he said during a short speech. “The athletic programs in Burbank could not exist without these amazing people. They are local sports heroes.”
Wilke was the master of ceremonies for the event and each inductee was introduced by a member of the Burbank Athletics Walk of Fame Criteria Committee. The Athletic Walk of Fame has been inducting honorees since 2004.
“This is a tremendous honor,” Roy said. “I never expected anything like this in my lifetime. I wish I had 30 more years to volunteer all over again.”
Each inductee was overwhelmed with joy and very humble and excited to reveal their placard on the ground about 20 feet behind home plate at Bill Burton Field.
Howe, who currently resides in Ohio, wasn’t sure what to expect. “I thought this was going to be a couple of guys and a photo op,” he said with a smile, “but this is a big deal. Nobody volunteers in order to get honored. That’s what makes this so unbelievable.”
Talamantes, former Mayor of Burbank and current City Council member, is a large advocate of youth sports. “The team concept [learned in youth sports] can help you in the business world and the political arena. It builds a foundation for our youth to grow on.”
As acting mayor during last year’s ceremonies, Talamantes posed for pictures with the class of 2011. However, he accepted his own award this year with Mayor Golonski by his side.
“Among other things, playing sports is a commitment to a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “It can be done from five-years-old to 80. I feel honored to receive this award.”