It was a sight most New Hope-Solebury athletes have never seen.
Robert “Pop-Pop” Heath Sr. was at a New Hope sporting event and he didn’t have his camera.
New Hope is starting an athletic Hall of Fame. On Friday night the Hall of Fame was dedicated to Heath at halftime as the New Hope boys basketball team hosted Collegium Charter in a Bicentennial Athletic League Independence Division finale.
Collegium Charter topped the Lions, 42-38.
Heath was honored for his support of the athletes at New Hope and for creating highlight videos each season. The videos allow the athletes to relive the biggest moments of their playing careers and share those memories with their families.
“This is a man who has spent countless hours at our athletic facilities with our kids, our parents, our fans and the school staff capturing memories that will last a lifetime,” said Vice Principal Erik Pedersen, who heads up the athletics department and is the chair of the Hall of Fame committee.
“Pop-Pop is a pillar in our community. He’s left an indelible and lasting mark on our athletic programs.”
The Hall of Fame wall is just outside the gym, where a plaque dedicating the Hall of Fame to Heath already hangs.
Heath was surprised at the honor.
“There are so many others who have done so much in the way of contributing to the high school,” said Heath, who has watched his children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren participate in sports at New Hope. “I’m excited about the wall, but I think it’s more important for the athletes to be recognized.”
Heath presents the players with DVDs.
“It gives them an opportunity to remember what they’ve accomplished,” he said. “It’s just a record for them and something for them to look back on.”
At halftime senior Sabrina Vlahovic, a standout in basketball, softball and field hockey for New Hope, presented Heath with a plaque.
“It was such an honor to be the one who gave him the plaque,” she said. “He comes to all of my games. He’s been at my field hockey games in the rain, he’s been at all the basketball games, softball games when it’s really hot. He’s been to every game and supported everyone. He’s the sweetest man ever and we’re all so happy that we were able to do this for him.”
Nominations officially opened up at the game. The inaugural induction will be in November.
There are three categories for nominees: athletes, coaches and contributors.
To be eligible, an athlete must be five years beyond graduation; a coach must have seven years of service with active coaches eligible; a sports contributor is an individual or group who has helped develop or foster the growth of athletics in the New Hope-Solebury School District community.
Nominations are open to the public. Nomination forms may be obtained at any school in the district. To nominate electronically go to the district website, nhsd.org.
“We have been constructing the Hall of Fame and going through the process for the last eight to 10 months,” Pedersen said. “This started last school year and we knew that we wanted to start off with a dedication because that would allow us to get the information out to the community to gain nominations.”
The basketball team also recognized seniors Mike Borys, Christian Keating and Mike Les.
New Hope had a 9-5 lead after the first quarter of the game. By halftime Collegium held onto a slim 15-12 lead, but the Cougars extended it to a 27-21 after the third quarter and hung on for the win.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” said New Hope coach Rick Fedele. “We didn’t make shots in the first half. We had a lot of good looks but we didn’t make them and that’s what really hurt us. We could have opened up a lead there and we were 6-for-21 in the first half and that’s not going to get it done. We’re a 45 percent shooting team and we shot 28.
“That’s the breaks of the game. You’ve got to hope that the shots fall and they didn’t for us.”
“It’s Senior Night and we had the Hall of Fame dedication so you want to get a win, but the shots didn’t fall for us,” said Keating, a team captain who also plays percussion in the New Hope-Solebury band. “I think we shot 6-for-21 in the first half, which just can’t happen. Some games we really don’t shoot well and that was our downfall in this one.”
Keating plans to attend Penn State, where he will major in business.
Keating and Kyle McLaughlin each put up eight points to lead the Lions.