The decision to honor a former coach as a Hall of Famer might seem like a no-brainer, but it doesn't mean it's that obvious to the honoree.
Case and point: Dave Nemi.
Niagara County Community College's former baseball coach clearly has the credentials for such an honor, but the humble Lockport native never expected to earn the school's athletic version of entertainment's lifetime achievement award, even though he's the program's all-time winningest coach.
"I never thought of it," said Nemi, who will be inducted into NCCC's Athletic Wall of Fame during the school's annual athletic banquet May 10. "I was aware [the honor] existed but being honored just didn't cross my mind."
"That's his personality," said Bob McKeown, the Trailblazers' women's basketball and softball coach, who played baseball for Nemi at the school. "He's a quiet guy who doesn't expect any attention to be drawn to him. He's a fantastic instructor on campus, cares about his students -- and definitely deserves a spot on that Wall of Fame."
Former athletes Dan Uhteg and Meredith Reid also are members of NCCC's 2007 Wall of Fame class.
"The reason I got into coaching wasn't for the accolades," said Nemi, who turned to coaching after a shoulder injury ended his playing career in the old Suburban League -- now known as the Western New York AAA Muny League. "I just kind of migrated into it. Really, this is the cherry on top of the cake."
Nemi, 49, isn't the first coach to earn the wall call at NCCC but is the first also to be on the school's distinguished alumni list.
Nemi, who played baseball at NCCC in 1976, took over the program in 1984 after coaching stints at his high school (DeSales) and college (Buffalo State) alma maters. He also coached for one season at Medaille College before accepting the job at Niagara County Community College.
He coached while teaching part time at three different colleges. He currently is a full-time professor at NCCC.
Nemi posted a 310-282 record in 18 seasons with the Trailblazers. NCCC is a Division III program that plays in a conference with both Division III and scholarship Division I junior college programs.
NCCC became the circuit's first non-Division I program to win the Penn York Conference Championship during the fall portion of the 1993 season. During the spring 1994 season, Nemi also guided the Trailblazers to a 36-3 record, and the program earned a spot in the eight-team Region III Tournament used to determine the field for the NJCAA National Championships.
Although NCCC entered as the top seed, its dream season ended in the double-elimination regional tournament as an extra-innings loss, coupled with an ill-timed injury to the team's No. 3 starting pitcher, proved to be too much for the team to overcome.
"We had three pitchers on that team that were undefeated in the regular season," Nemi said. "We had three guys who were all-region picks on that team. Pitching-wise we didn't have as much depth, but we did have a lot of talent."
Nemi coached one All-American and three future professionals at NCCC.
"As a player he made you feel very comfortable and very relaxed," said McKeown, a member of the school's Wall of Fame who still holds the program's conference record for homers in a single season, 11.
"I had my two best years of baseball statistically playing for him," McKeown said. "He was a players coach and, to this day, anyone who played for him appreciated what he did for them. . . . He made playing here a fantastic experience."
Lee Wallace, NCCC's director of athletics, said Nemi brought organization and the recruiting aspect to the program, "which is something we've missed since he [stepped down]."
Nemi is the fifth coach to earn the wall honor at NCCC. He will join Eric Knuutila, wrestling; Dan Bazzani, basketball; Jon Roth, baseball; and the late Roy Sommer, bowling.
Uhteg was a National Junior College Athletic Association National Champion in wrestling in 1990-91 and is one of two wrestlers in the history of the program to go unbeaten in a season. He is a member of the NJCAA Hall of Fame (2005) and Ithaca College Hall of Fame (2006). He earned NCAA All-America honors at Ithaca.
Reid played soccer at NCCC from 2000-02, earning First Team All-Region honors twice. At the time of her graduation, she held the program's single-season record for goals (33), finishing her career with 48.
Tickets for the banquet are $15 and can be purchased by calling the NCCC Athletic Department office at 614-6270.