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The 2024 inductees and their representatives gather for a 'class photo' after Saturday's Berkshire County High School Girls Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Nine Inducted into County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame

By Stephen Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Berkshire County High School Girls Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday welcomed nine new members, including seven women who were lauded for their many successes on the hardwood.
At least one also was recognized for her failures.
“I think the thing I’m proudest of is not so much what she did on the court, but how she was able to put herself in a position to fail time and time again,” Frank Field said in his remarks about his daughter, 2017 Hoosac Valley High School graduate Fallon Field. “That’s not easy for kids to do. Those who do it can really excel.
“No matter what the role was … whether it was the back of the press or offensive roles day-to-day and season-to-season, to put yourself in a position where you’re going to fail time and time again – you work hard in the off-season to prevent that, to minimize that, but it’s inevitable. That’s what I’m most proud of. She took it on willingly and with no complaint.”
And, as a result, Field and the Hurricanes succeeded far more than they failed in her time at Hoosac Valley.
She graduated as a four-time Western Massachusetts sectional champion and four-time state finalist before heading off to Bowdoin College, where she helped the Polar Bears reach the championship game of the NCAA Division III tournament in 2018.
At Proprietor’s Lodge on Saturday, Field, a 1,000-point scorer in Cheshire, joined Emily Rosse, the first inductee from Hoosac Valley’s four-year run of Western Mass titles, who entered the Hall in 2022.
The 2024 Hall of Fame Class features seven players, one coach and one contributor to the game who helped do the work that often goes unnoticed but was so necessary to help the athletes achieve success.
The Hall of Fame’s 11th class includes:
• Katie Eckert, Lee High Class of 2010, who scored nearly 1,000 points and helped the Wildcats win three Western Mass titles. Eckert went on to play college ball at Western New England University.
• Katie Keator, St. Joseph Class of 1988, one of the top scorers in the county in her day and a 1985 Western Mass champion with the Crusaders before playing four years of college soccer and basketball at LeMoyne College.
• Bella Aitken, Pittsfield Class of 2018, a 1,000-point scorer for the Generals who was named first team all-Western Mass three times and won the county Sportsmanship Award from the Berkshire County Basketball Officials in 2018. Aitken played on a MASCAC title-winning team at Westfield State University.
• Lisa Salinetti Ross, Lee High Class of 1986, who earned all-county and all-Western Mass honors as a junior and senior and won 12 letters for the Wildcats before graduating as her class’ valedictorian. Salinetti Ross helped Amherst College’s women win two league titles and still is No. 9 on the Mammoths’ all-time assist list with 278 in her career.
• Joyce Miller, Wahconah Class of 1990, a two-time all-county performer on the basketball court who switched sports at UMass-Amherst, playing for the school’s club hockey team in the winter and switched sports again after graduation, taking up competitive running, last year earning a Six Star Medal for having run in all six of the world’s major marathons: Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo.
• Jenna Benzinger, Mount Greylock Class of 2017, a 1,000-point scorer who also pulled down more than 900 rebounds and was a dominant presence in the paint for the Mounties. Benzinger was a two-time all-Western Mass selection and helped Mount Greylock go to the Western Mass semi-finals as a junior; she played her college ball at Brown University.
• Gary Wellington, who coached the Lee High girls for just five years but won 104 games in that span, compiling a  .788 winning percentage. Wellington led Lee to three state championship games, winning it all in 2010.
• And Robert Fitzsimmons, who joined a long line of contributors who entered the Hall of Fame not so much for their personal accomplishments as for their dedication to the sport and its players.
“A lot of people volunteer through many agencies, whether it’s AAU, youth leagues, high school – there are so many out there,” said John Vosburgh, a member of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors who served as master of ceremonies on Saturday.
Vin Marinaro, who served as director of Pittsfield’s Catholic Youth Center for 15 years, put Fitzsimmon’s service into perspective.
“I have known Fitzy for many years as he served the youth of the City of Pittsfield as an unsung hero,” Marinaro wrote in a letter read aloud by Vosburgh. “Day in and day out, he supervised young people at the CYC. He always greeted everyone with a smile and did whatever was needed to support our girls basketball program and all the other programs at the CYC.
“Every time I saw him, he would say, ‘Let me know whatever you need.’ He has a place in the heart of every young person he worked with and all the young women basketball players and coaches he helped behind the scenes. From timing to scoring and mentoring young people, he did whatever was needed.”
Fitzsimmons was one of two members of the Class of ‘24 to be inducted posthumously on Saturday. The other was Keator.
Accepting the honor on her behalf was her niece, Charlie Keator, a sophomore at Lenox Memorial. After talking about her aunt’s life and sharing stories she learned from family members, Charlie thanked the committee members on behalf of the Keators and, more specifically, thanked them for giving her the opportunity to learn more about her aunt.
“I’d also like to quickly express my gratitude for this opportunity of getting to learn all these wonderful accomplishments and stories of my aunt’s life,” Keator said. “As you all know, she passed away when I was very young, so being able to hear all these wonderful things about her has been a true blessing.”
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Toy Library Installed at Onota Lake

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Feel free to use or leave a toy at Onota Lake's newest infrastructure meant to foster community and benefit kids.

Burbank Park now has a toy library thanks to Wahconah Regional High School senior Alexandra Bills. Located along the wall at the beach area, the green and blue structure features two shelves with sand toys that can be used to enhance children's visits.

The Parks Commission supported Bills' proposal in February as part of her National Honors Society individual service project and it was installed this month. Measuring about 4 feet wide and 5.8 feet tall, it was built by the student and her father with donated materials from a local lumber company.

Friends and family members provided toys to fill the library such as pails, shovels, Frisbees, and trucks.

"I wanted to create a toy library like the other examples in Berkshire County from the sled library to the book libraries," she told the commission in February.

"But I wanted to make it toys for Onota Lake because a lot of kids forget their toys or some kids can't afford toys."

Bills lives nearby and will check on the library weekly — if not daily — to ensure the operation is running smoothly.  A sign reading "Borrow-Play-Return" asks community members to clean up after themselves after using the toys.

It was built to accommodate children's heights and will be stored during the winter season.

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