Among the many event casualties of 2020: the Hazleton Area Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet.

Board members agreed last May to cancel the banquet because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 16th annual banquet was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 20, at Premier Catering & Events at Genetti Ballroom, Hazle Twp.

Fast forward one year later and a scaled-back version of the banquet is being planned for Sunday, Sept. 19, at a new location: Capriotti’s Palazzo in Banks Twp. near McAdoo.

“Due to the pandemic, the number of inductees has been cut back,” Joe Clark, president of the Hall’s board of directors, said. “Hopefully, we can return to normal next year.”

The board opted to elect seven male athletes, three females and one coach for its Class of 2021. They include:

  • Michael Barletta, Hazleton Area basketball; Muhlenberg College basketball.
  • Michael DeMarco, Hazleton Area basketball; East Stroudsburg University basketball.
  • Ed Hadzick, Weatherly baseball, basketball, cross country, football; Air Force Academy basketball, team handball.
  • Michael Joseph, Hazleton basketball; Bucknell University basketball; Hazleton Area head boys’ basketball coach.
  • Donald Pollitt, Hazleton Area track and field, football; Syracuse University track and field
  • Michael Portonova, Bishop Hafey tennis; King’s College tennis.
  • John Spevak, Hazleton baseball, basketball, football; Delaware Valley University baseball.
  • Alyssa (Flanagan) Carsia, Hazleton Area basketball; Bloomsburg University basketball; Bloomsburg basketball coach.
  • Heather (Dale) Natt, Hazleton Area softball; Lackawanna College softball; Hazleton Area head softball coach.
  • Rachel Ritz, Hazleton, Hazleton Area track and field; La Salle University track and field.
  • Margaret Brown, Weatherly softball coach.

Full biographical sketches of all 11 2021 Hall nominees will be published intermittently in the Standard-Speaker over the next several months until the banquet date.

The board eschewed a traditional team selection, a candidate based on his or her civic contributions to the local sports community and a “veteran” nominee for 2020. They again are expected to be part of next year’s program.

The board had canceled its monthly meetings from March 2020 through most of April 2021. Voting on the Hall’s Class of 2020 was scheduled to begin at the April meeting last year; however, the initial vote was delayed in the hope that another meeting soon would be rescheduled. A state of emergency because of the pandemic prevented board members from meeting in person.

“With input from the majority of board members, I felt we should not vote at this time,” Clark said back then.

Clark had hoped board members could get together to put plans in motion to vote for the Class of 2021 and the induction banquet next September.

That meeting didn’t occur until last week, with nominees on the ballot in April 2020 staying there. No new nominees were added.

“I would like to thank the board of directors for their commitment to the Hall of Fame through a difficult year,” Clark said. “Their dedication to the process is outstanding.”

Anyone wishing to nominate someone for the Hall in 2022 may contact any board member. For more information, email Clark at or call Ron Marchetti at 570-956-1532.

Advertisements for the commemorative banquet program are available by calling Marchetti at the above number.

Contact the writer:; 570-501-3595