After a one-year hiatus because of COVID-19, the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame is bringing back its annual scholastic/collegiate athletic award ceremony.

This year’s event will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 16, at the Lebanon High School gymnasium.

Unlike in the past, however, it will not be open to the public. Instead, the gathering will be livestreamed on the chapter’s website, centralchapter.wordpress.com.

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Dave Bentz, chapter president, told LebTown that attendance will be limited. He said the athletes, their families, and athletic directors will follow strict COVID-19 protocol, including masking and social distancing.

Two athletes – the top male and female – from the 10 public high schools in the chapter’s geographic area will be recognized as C.S. “Pop” Kelchner nominees. (Kelchner was a former coach at Albright College and longtime major league scout, including for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s in the early years.)

The chapter covers the six Lebanon County districts – Lebanon, Cedar Crest, Palmyra, Annville-Cleona, Northern Lebanon and Elco – as well as Tulpehocken and Conrad Weiser in Berks County and Hershey and Milton Hershey in Dauphin County.

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According to its website, “The purpose of the Central Chapter of the PA Sports Hall of Fame is to perpetuate the memory of the individuals who have brought lasting fame and recognition to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, specifically to … Lebanon County and [the] surrounding area.”

When the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 1962, the Central Chapter was one of three original chapters and covered a much broader area, Bentz said.

Now there are 31 chapters, he said.

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Of the 20 Kelchner nominees, one male and one female will be chosen as honorees for the Hall of Fame in the fall.

The May 16 ceremony will also honor the top male and female collegiate athlete with the Henry L. Wilder Memorial Award, named for a past editor of the Lebanon Daily News. Those two will enter the Hall of Fame as honorees as well.

Bentz said it’s progress that the scholastic/collegiate athletic award ceremony is being held, even if attendees are not able to share a meal.

And after a year where livestreaming brought many people closer to high school sports, he said, having the ceremony carried that way to the public seems fitting.

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