By Mark Ambrogi
Martha Randel didn’t see it coming.
“I was very surprised and very humbled and honored to achieve that award,” Randel said.
The long-time Zionsville resident received the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2017 President’s Distinguished Service Award April 29 during the Hall of Fame 16th Annual Women’s Awards Banquet at Primo’s Banquet Hall in Indianapolis. Each year the award is given to one person at the men’s and women’s Hall of Fame banquets.
The award is given to a non-coach, non-basketball player who has gone “above and beyond” in service, commitment, dedication, participation and loyalty to the Hall of Fame. Randel has been an associate director and volunteer for 16 years. There are 125 to 133 associate directors, which is a volunteer position. Randel’s husband, Larry, is an associate director as well.
“Prior to being with Hall of Fame, I was part of an association (Indiana Citizens for Sports Equality) with other women trying to get equal opportunities for girls in the Indiana high schools,” Randel said. “Whatever the boys had, we wanted the girls to have the same. For example, an announcer at girls varsity games like there is at boys games. There were several things that girls didn’t have for support that the boys did.”
The group disbanded when the Hall of Fame started the women’s banquet and began more support for girls basketball.
Randel has two daughters, both married and Zionsville residents, who played sports at Zionsville Community High School. Teri Cruz, a 1995 graduate, played basketball, softball and volleyball. Tina Lizana, a 1992 graduate, played softball and volleyball in high school.
Randel said the driving timeline was to have the first Hall of Fame induction for women at least 25 years after the first girls state tournament, which was in 1975-76.
“There needed to be a group supporting the women’s banquet, and I said I would be glad to help,” Randel said. “The first year we had to honor two classes at one time because we didn’t get organized in time.”
Randel said her women’s committee helps select candidates for the Silver Anniversary Team. The team is recognized by the Hall of Fame, but they are not inductees.
“Part of our work on all the above is finding the women, because often they are married with a different last name than in high school, of course, and often schools did not keep stats on their high school careers,” Randel said. “There are lots of phone calls, Facebook searches, etc., to locate the ladies who are selected for induction or a member of the Silver Anniversary Team each year.”
The committee also selects two Circle City officials for recognition during the awards banquet and sponsors a golf outing in June as a fundraiser.