Rimando and Ngata headline 2021 Utah Sports Hall of Fame inductees
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Former Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando already boasts one of the most comprehensive resumes in football history. The 42-year-old who retired from the sport in 2019 holds Major League Soccer’s all-time records for wins, shutouts, saves and games played.
Soon to be added to his long list of accomplishments; first football inductee into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame.
“He’s a phenomenal, world-renowned goaltender for one thing, but he’s also a wonderful, generous human being,” says Norma Carr, former Hall of Fame president and current member of the induction committee at ABC4.com. “He made Utah his home and then embraced the community. All of these things contributed to his enthronement.
As a prerequisite for induction, members of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame must be either Utah natives or residents over 10 years of age. Rimando, who spent 12 seasons between positions at Real Salt Lake, fit the bill. The Southern California native continued to call Utah his home and remained on the RSL team as an academy goaltending coach.
Rimando will be joined by other Utah sports greats such as NFL star Haloti Ngata, golfer Jay Don Blake, water polo legend Courtney Young Johnson and track and field icon Teri Okelberry Spiers in as part of the Hall’s 2021 initiation class.
“It’s exciting to be able to honor these people for all the great things they’ve done, not just here in the state of Utah, but what they’ve done out of state,” adds Carr. .
A 12-year NFL veteran, Ngata will enter the Hall after a decorated football career. After playing at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Ngata then played at the University of Oregon. All-American for the Ducks, he continued his success professionally, earning All-Pro honors five times. Ngata was also a member of the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII winning team.
While the most eye-catching names on the list of inductees may be football icons – American and association – the other three members of the class were pioneers in their respective sports.
Blake, a native of St. George, has had a lifetime of accomplishment on the golf course. As a member of the Utah State Golf Team, he won the NCAA Individual Championship in 1980 and was named Player of the Year in 1981. After turning pro, he held a place in the top 125 of the world rankings for 15 years before moving to the senior circuit in 2009, where he won two tournaments.
A pioneer in women’s water polo, Young Johnson was a member of the United States Olympic team that won a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. She continued to be an influential figure in the sport throughout her post-playing career.
Known as a legend in Weber County, Okelberry Spiers was the first athlete in Weber State history to compete in NCAA championships in two different sports in the same year. After being recruited to compete in several events for the track and field team, she also joined the volleyball team and competed in both sports collegiate championships in 1988. Her javelin throwing ability led her at the Olympic trials twice.
The inductees, who were named in 2020 but whose ceremonies have been suspended due to the pandemic, will be honored at a banquet at the Little America Hotel on September 20. With tickets on sale, it could be a great opportunity for fans to meet, congratulate and take a photo with the athletes, says Carr.
All five will receive immortality in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, which is enjoying its third year of operation at its location at City Creek Center Mall. With plenty of hands-on exhibits and free admission, Carr thinks it’s a must-visit destination for any Utah sports fan.
“There’s free parking for two hours below at the mall,” she laughs. “Nothing is holding you back, everything is free.”