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Hare officially joins wrestling hall

December 04, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

Induction into a hall of fame usually serves as a sort of epilogue for important contributors to sports.

Rick Hare's officiating career certainly has the contents for such a conclusion. But, he insists, the means haven't quite justified the end.

"It's not total closure, but it's definitely a pinnacle in my career," said Hare, who recently was presented a Lifetime Service to Wrestling award by the Maryland chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

"Part of my induction speech was about the attrition level of our sport and how we need more people to take a role as an official. It's our responsibility to make sure that we have competent officials that know the rules. I'm still trying to do that."

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Hare, 61, of Williamsport, received the honor along with four others on Nov. 16 during the eighth annual Dinner & Induction Ceremony at Loews Hotel and Restaurant in Annapolis, Md.

"It's a humbling experience. The namesakes are already there and you just hope you've done something worthy enough to be recognized," he said.

Hare's first exposure to the sport came when Martinsburg (W.Va.) High School started its wrestling program in 1962. That was the start of his wrestling career, which led to his coaching career and was followed by his officiating career.

Hare spent 33 years as an active official and, in the two years since, has served as an ambassador to the sport.

"Even 10 years ago I thought it might be time to stop, but I've just enjoyed being around the athletes and coaches," Hare said. "After 33 years, it was my time to step away from active officiating. But there was such a passion for the sport that I wanted to start spending more time in helping getting as many people involved as I could."

Hare officiated more than 50 state championships in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia -- he even once officiated championships in all three states during the same season.

Hare was West Virginia's Outstanding Wrestling Official in 1991 and in 1998 was named Wrestling Official of the Year by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.

Wrestling USA Magazine -- in its May 30, 2005 edition -- named him its 2005 Official of the Year, a national recognition.

"I never, ever seek out these type of accolades but they're all important to me," Hare said. "The awards seem like an individual thing, but it's special to the entire sport of wrestling and to the area."

Hare was nominated for induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame by North Hagerstown coach Greg Slick, a 2007 honoree.

"In my opinion, when Rick Hare came into the gym you were getting the best official in our area," Slick said. "He was going to be on top of things, he was going to make the correct call at the correct time and he was going to make sure those kids were safe out there when they wrestled.

"He absolutely loves the sport of wrestling."

Hare still serves as head official at the Maryland State Wrestling Championships. It's one gig that Hare will hold on to for as long as possible.

"The camaraderie and the people that you meet in the sport is what I like most," he said. "Seeing a young athlete win his first state championship as a ninth-grader and seeing that same wrestler four years later win it again -- seeing those things happen is what I'll remember most."

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