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Tampa Bay Times Forum welcomes Florida Sports Hall of Fame inductees

by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning

An announcement made Tuesday morning revealed the names of 13 athletes selected for induction into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

Brandon High School wrestling coach Russ Cozart and former professional golfer Gary Koch were among those announced as members in the Class of 2012 during a news conference hosted by the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the Bud Lightning Party Deck at the newly-renovated Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“We were very pleased to partner with the Lightning and the terrific venue they have here to announce the inductees of the 2012 Florida Sports Hall of Fame class,” said Rob Higgins, executive director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.

Higgins was joined by Lightning Chief Operating Officer Steve Griggs, as well as the Florida Sports Hall’s president, Rick Dantzler, who both expressed their mutual excitement to recognize those individuals who not only showcase outstanding athleticism, but who are also important figureheads known for making an impact in their community.

Others in the class include Charlie Ward (Florida State, football/basketball), Alonzo Mourning (Miami Heat, basketball), Dick Anderson (Miami Dolphins, football), Henry Lawrence (Florida A&M, football), Joan Joyce (Florida Atlantic, softball/golf), Dave Roberts (Olympics, pole vault), Roland Martin (fishing) and George Smith, the longtime football coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale.

Also, Fred McGriff (Jefferson High, baseball), Vince Coleman (Florida A&M, baseball) and Kelly Slater (surfing), members of the 2011 class, will be inducted this year. Each was elected last year, but could not attend the enshrinement, so they will participate in the festivities with the 2012 class.

The Hall's 51st enshrinement is scheduled for March 19-20 in Tampa. The Hall, founded in 1961 by the Florida Sports Writers Association, recognizes athletes and events in the state. The facility's memorabilia, housed at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale, had inducted more than 200 athletes.

“We were extremely excited to participate in the first step of inducting some of the area’s most tremendous athletes into a very deserving place in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame today,” Griggs said. “It was a pleasure to actively engage ourselves in honoring all that goes on in our community.”

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