SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Former Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando already has one of the most complete resumes in soccer history. The 42-year-old who retired from the sport in 2019 holds Major League Soccer’s all-time records for wins, shutouts, saves, and games played.
Soon to be added to his long list of accomplishments; the Utah Sports Hall of Fame’s first soccer inductee.
“He’s a phenomenal and world-renowned goalie for one thing, but he’s just also a great and giving human being,” Norma Carr, the Hall of Fame’s past president and current member of the induction committee explains to ABC4.com. “He made Utah his home and then embraced the community. All of these things were contributing factors to his induction.”
As a prerequisite for induction, Utah Sports Hall of Famers must be either a native-born Utahn or a resident of over 10 years. Rimando, who spent 12 seasons between the posts for Real Salt Lake, fit the bill. The native of Southern California has continued to call Utah his home and has remained on RSL’s staff as an academy goalkeeper coach.
Rimando will be joined by other Utah sports greats such as NFL star Haloti Ngata, golfer Jay Don Blake, water polo legend Courtney Young Johnson, and track and field icon Teri Okelberry Spiers as part of the Hall’s 2021 induction class.
“It’s exciting to be able to honor these people for all the great things that they’ve done, not only here in the state of Utah, but 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 starring 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 gridiron success at the professional level, earning All-Pro honors five times. Ngata was also a member of the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII-winning squad.
While the most eye-catching names on the list of inductees may be icons of football – American and association – the other three members of the class have been trailblazers in their respective sports.
Blake, a native of St. George, has enjoyed a lifetime of achievement on the golf links. As a member of Utah State’s golf team, he won the 1980 NCAA individual championship and was the 1981 Player of the Year. After turning pro, he held a spot in the top-125 of the world rankings for 15 years before moving on to play on the senior tour in 2009, where he has picked two tournament wins.
A pioneer in 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 has 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’s history to compete in the NCAA Championships in two different sports in the same year. Having been recruited to compete in multiple events for the track and field team, she also walked on to the volleyball team and played in the collegiate championships for both sports in 1988. Her ability in the javelin throw took her to the Olympic Trials twice.
The inductees, which were named in 2020, but whose ceremonies were put on hold due to the pandemic, will be honored at a banquet at the Little America Hotel on September 20. With tickets for sale, it could be a great chance for fans to meet, congratulate, and take a photo with the athletes, Carr says.
All five will receive immortality in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame, which is enjoying its third year of operation at its location at the City Creek Center Mall. With lots of interactive exhibits and free entry, Carr feels it’s a can’t miss destination for all Utah sports fans.
“There’s free parking for two hours underneath at the mall,” she laughs. “There’s nothing that holds you back, everything’s free.”