SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Former Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando already has one of the most comprehensive resumes in football history. The 42-year-old who retired from the sport in 2019 holds Major League Soccer all-time records for wins, shutouts, saves and matches played.
Soon added to his long list of accomplishments; the first football inductee to the Utah Sports Hall of Fame.
“He’s a phenomenal, world-renowned goalie for one thing, but he’s also a great and generous human being,” says Norma Carr, former Hall of Fame president and current member of the induction committee at ABC4.com. “He made Utah his home and then embraced the community. All of these things contributed to his induction.
As a prerequisite for induction, members of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame must be either a Utahn born in the country or a resident over 10 years of age. Rimando, who spent 12 seasons between posts for Real Salt Lake, did the trick. The Southern California native continued to live in Utah and remained with the RSL squad as the academy goaltending coach.
Rimando will be joined by other Utah greats such as NFL star Haloti Ngata, golfer Jay Don Blake, water polo legend Courtney Young Johnson and track icon Teri Okelberry Spiers in as part of the induction class at Hall 2021.
“It’s exciting to be able to honor these people for all the great things they’ve done, not only here in the state of Utah, but also for what they’ve done outside of the state. Carr adds.
A 12-year NFL veteran, Ngata will enter the Hall after a decorated football career. After playing at Highland High School in Salt Lake City, Ngata went on to play at the University of Oregon. An All-American for the Ducks, he continued his success on the court at the professional level, winning five-time All-Pro honors. Ngata was also a member of the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII winning team.
While the most eye-catching names on the inductee list may be icons of football – American and association – the other three members of the class have been pioneers in their respective sports.
Blake, a native of St. George, has had a lifetime of achievement on the golf courses. As a member of the Utah State Golf Team, he won the NCAA Individual Championship in 1980 and was the 1981 Player of the Year. After turning pro, he held a spot in the top 125 in the world rankings for 15 years before playing on the senior circuit in 2009, where he won two tournaments.
A pioneer of women’s water polo, Young Johnson was a member of the United States Olympic team which won a silver medal at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. She continued to be an influential figure in the sport throughout her post-playing career.
Known as a legend in Weber County, Okelberry Spiers was the first athlete in Weber State history to compete in the NCAA Championships in two different sports in the same year. Having been recruited to compete in several events for the track and field team, she also joined the volleyball team and competed in the collegiate championships of both sports in 1988. Her javelin throwing ability took her to the Olympic trials. twice.
The inductees, who were named in 2020 but whose ceremonies have been suspended due to the pandemic, will be honored at a banquet at the Little America Hotel on September 20. With tickets on sale, this could be a great opportunity for fans to meet, congratulate and snap a photo with the athletes, Carr says.
All five will receive immortality at the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, which is in its third year of operation at its City Creek Center Mall location. With plenty of interactive exhibits and free admission, Carr thinks it’s a must-see destination for all sports fans in Utah.
“There is free parking for two hours below at the mall,” she laughs. “There is nothing holding you back, everything is free.”