2018 Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame inductees grateful for the community

Posted at 11:10 PM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 23:11:14-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The 2018 Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame inducted their 2018 class on Tuesday night at Van Andel Arena.

The 2018 class includes David Harris, Chris Kaman, Gene Paxton, Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, Jim Haskins, and the Paganelli family of football officials.

Harris played football at Ottawa Hills and University of Michigan before embarking on his 11-year career in the NFL playing for the NY Jets and last year with the Patriots.

“The athletic community in Grand Rapids is on it’s way up," Harris said on Tuesday. "There’s a lot of untapped talent here. It’s huge city with a lot of potential and tonight is just a showcase of the athletes that have come through here and the coaches who have motivated a lot of young men and women to be outstanding individuals in the community."

Chris Kaman played basketball at Tri-unity Christian, Central Michigan and for 13 years in the NBA but was not in attendance due to a fishing trip he had already planned in Alaska.

Gene Paxton coached basketball at Grand Rapids Community College for 25 years and was surprised by many of his former players who attended on Tuesday.

Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll was the only female inductee in 2018 and said it was truly an honor. "I just think that the realization of of how lucky we are to play sports and have sports in our lives, especially as females," the Michigan State women's golf coach added. "I think to me tonight is just about saying thank you and recognizing the people that have believed in me and allowed me to do what I do."

The OK commissioner, Jim Haskins, was awarded the 2018 Warren Reynolds Lifetime Achievement Award and echoed her feelings of gratitude toward the community: "We’ve got great people. I have always had great people to work with. They have done a fantastic job, and that’s the reason why I’m here. It’s because of the results that we got together. This award is not only for me but for them also.”

And finally, the Paganelli family of football officials was the Outstanding Team honoree.

“It’s just a great honor for our family," Perry Paganelli stated before the ceremony. "It goes back to my dad with officiating and the three boys in the NFL. But not only my dad and our family, there are so many officials in this area that have helped us get to where we are today. So us three Paganelli boys owe a lot of thanks to a lot of the officials in this area.”