Who are the most accomplished athletes in New Milford High School sports history?

Which Green Wave coaches have made the greatest impact on their teams and the school community?

Which NMHS teams deserve special mention among the more than 1,000 Green Wave teams in a wide variety of sports that have represented the high school in interscholastic competition over the past century?

Those questions are now officially open for discussion.

A newly formed New Milford High School Athletic Hall of Fame (AHOF) is making progress toward its goal of inducting its first class of Hall of Famers, tentatively in the fall of 2010.

The organization will be independent of the school district but has received the support of Superintendent of School JeanAnn Paddyfote, NMHS Principal Greg Shugrue and Athletic Director Ted Oczkowski.

AHOF board of directors members Bill Kraft, Ali Reinke and Norm Cummings explained the Hall's progress to date and its goals Tuesday to the Board of Education's Operations Committee.

They said the organization achieved corporate status in July and has applied for non-profit tax status.

AHOF's board is comprised of Mr. Cummings as president, Mr. Kraft as vice president, Bill Granata as secretary and Ms. Reinke as treasurer.

Dawn Hough, Bill Knipple, Bethany Mihaly and Ted Zaloski serve as an advisory committee.

Mr. Cummings said this week the AHOF will soon introduce its website and begin accepting nominations from the public for athletes, coaches, teams or "support" individuals to be considered for Hall of Fame induction.

"I hope the AHOF will be able to recognize the deserving athletes, coaches, teams and longtime supporters who have been a part of NMHS athletic history," said Ms. Reinke, a former Green Wave softball player who now teaches physical education at the school.

"We hope to receive many nomination forms from the public to be sure that we do not leave out any outstanding candidates," she added.

Mr. Kraft, a retired NMHS teacher who, like Ms. Hough, Ms. Mihaly and Mr. Knipple, boasts a wealth of NMHS coaching experience, explained his reasons for wanting to be part of the new venture.

"We want to organize a gathering each year of former NMHS athletes and coaches and honor these people who have made major contributions to the program," Mr. Kraft said.

"I hope to contribute in my small part in recognizing these people for their successful high school years," he added.

The NMHS Athletic Hall of Fame will differ from some area halls of fame now in existence, such as that of Danbury High School, which places a heavy focus on the post-high school accomplishments of ex-Hatter athletes.

The NMHS AHOF will base its induction process largely on the accomplishments and contributions of its candidates during their time at the school.

"Our goal is acknowledgement and proper recognition for outstanding individuals who have contributed to NMHS athletics over the last 100-plus years," said Mr. Granata, himself a three-sport Green Wave athlete in the years leading up to his 1991 graduation.

The eight board and committee members have been meeting since last fall and share what Mr. Granata calls his " passion for NMHS athletics and a pride in recognizing individuals who have contributed to our community through athletic accomplishment at NMHS."

In accordance with its mission statement, said Mr. Cummings, who is the editor of The Greater New Milford Spectrum, the AHOF will seek through its inductions of past athletes, coaches and teams to motivate and challenge current and future student-athletes to reach their potential.

Ms. Reinke, who is the Green Wave freshmen softball coach, agrees that goal is important to her as well.

"As a current teacher and coach at NMHS, I hope to spread the excitement of the AHOF to current students and athletes," she related.

"By having a display in the athletic wing in upcoming years," she observed, "students will be able to see the long history of NMHS athletics and the outstanding performances that students have achieved."

Among the area high schools now with athletic halls of fame are Housatonic Valley Regional, Immaculate, Danbury, New Fairfield, Litchfield and Torrington.