The inductees for the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame: from left, John Covert, Eric Ogbogu, David Heller, Andrew Fitch, and Richard 'Dick' Rote. / Seth Harrison/The Journal News
YONKERS — They are A to Z in terms of accomplishments.
And Wednesday, they received one collective thank you and salute.
Coach John Covert, whose Ossining running teams of the ’60s and ’70s won state and national titles; Andrew Fitch, who started wrestling in the early ’50s at New Rochelle High School and competed in the ’64 Tokyo Olympics; Dave Heller, who has spent more than three decades as a Westchester swimming official; Eric Ogbogu, a star running back at Archbishop Stepinac in the ’90s who went on to play defensive end for three NFL teams over eight seasons; and Dick Rote, the former Pleasantville High School athletic director, who coached the school’s football and golf teams to multiple league and sectional championships over three decades, are now members of the Westchester Sports Hall of Fame.
Their induction was celebrated by 230 spirited people at a sold-out dinner Wednesday at Dunwoodie Golf Club.
There are now 233 county sports legends enshrined in the 45-year-old hall on the County Center’s first floor.
Rote, 71, an eight-year Bozeman, Mont., resident who coached 10 league champion teams in both football and golf, with football winning four and golf three sectional titles, said of his link to other coaches, “I think we all loved our jobs and had great respect for each other.”
Heller, a longtime, still-serving Section 1 official, whose résumé includes everything from officiating and coordinating officials to organizing 33 clubs for summer competitions, said of his work, “I never won a medal. I never won a trophy. But I helped an awful lot of kids win them.”
And it is that type of commitment that connects the five, according to Ogbogu, 38, an Irvington native who lives in Maryland.
“I knew anything was possible if I worked hard to get it,” Ogbogu said. “I know for myself and how hard I worked ... how much dedication I put into football and my sport, my life — you know, family and everything else — and spending time with each one of these guys, talking, it all seems like, you know, they’ve all kind of done the same kind of things in their lives.”