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CMSA Hall of Fame welcomes six in the class of 2016
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

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Leslie Wallin started playing 16-inch softball before some in today's Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) leagues were even born.

She started in 1987.

And in the early 1990s, she joined the Outlines flag football team.

In 2000, she joined the Diesel Daises, which she tagged as, "a raucous team known for its love of fierce competition mixed with fun."

Wallin has been a coach/player/manager of the Daisies for 16 years.

"I am proud of our hearty cheering and costumes worn on such holidays as Halloween, prom day and sundress day," she said.

The Daisies were invited to be the only women's team in the Chicago Pride Bowl a few year ago, and won the Spirit Award at that flag football tournament.

The Pride Bowl added a Women's Division this year, and the Daisies were participants.

"The Daisies have three teams in the CMSA women's softball league, two teams in women's flag football, two teams in women's volleyball, a basketball team, a badminton team, and have had a dodgeball team," Wallin said. "I play on two of our softball teams, flag football, volleyball, and have played basketball in the past."

She also is an umpire for women's softball and a referee for flag football, and was on the softball board for a couple of years.

Wallin also is now a CMSA Hall of Famer, it was announced in October.

Induction into the CMSA Hall of Fame is more than just wins and losses on the fields of play, or championships won. The honor also salutes dedication, preserving history, pride in sports, and building bridges.

"All of the 2016 Hall of Fame inductees have a proven track record of dedication to CMSA," said CMSA president Michael Erwin. "It is not just about playing sports to ( the new inductees ), but instead, strengthening the organization and preserving its rich history.

"When you talk to this class of inductees, it is clear they love sports and have pride in all they do which includes building bridges to the community through mentoring and volunteer work."

CMSA, in October, announced its newest class: Frank Kisner, Brian Kupersmit, Mark Liberson ( sponsor inductee ), Mark Sakalares, Brian Sommer and Wallin.

"I am very excited about the 2016 CMSA Hall of Fame class. They all are dedicated to the continuing success of the organization and are true role models for all members," Erwin said. "I encourage all members to seek them out and get to know them. No two of them are the same and they bring a different view of CMSA that should be shared with the membership."

Kupersmit, for instance, is a former CMSA president, who also has years of experience in flag football and Open Sunday Softball, and more.

Kisner has extensive softball experience, and has been the umpire-in-chief for the Open Sunday Softball League for eight years, has pitched in the B-Division and represented CMSA for years in the annual Gay Softball World Series.

Sakalares is a former CMSA board member and he too has years of play on the softball fields, on the golf course, and more

Sommer has been a CMSA member for 15 years in softball, volleyball, kickball, dodgeball and more.

"I am very excited [with] this award," Sommer said. "I am very happy to be inducted with Mark Sakalares who I played softball with, Frank who I have served as an umpire under, [and] Brian Kupersmit who I have known [through CMSA] for years.

"I was taught at an early age from my mom to always try to give back and volunteer. She would volunteer as a scorekeeper when I played [Little League] baseball; I think she instilled in me that you can't just be a player; you always have to work behind the scenes [too] in everything you do."

The induction ceremony will be Feb. 11, 2017, from 7-9 p.m., at Hamburger Mary's in Andersonville.

"Being inducted into the CMSA Hall of Fame is a big deal and all inductees should be celebrated," said Erwin, who noted that this year marks a change in the Hall's induction procedure. "I felt that the process had become stale and we needed to come up with a new process that was fair to everyone and allowed multiple people to have input into candidates that were nominated."

The CMSA Hall committee now includes Kupersmit, Julie Colwell ( Class of 2015 ), Gary Vien ( 2013 ), Joshua Dehnke, Christina Wiesmore and Jonathon R. Shaw. The current CMSA president also is on the committee, but only votes if there is a tie.

"I want the CMSA Hall of Fame to be more than just a group of people who are being recognized for years of experience," Erwin said. "I hope to develop a program this year that will give CMSA HOF members more visibility within the organization and allow them to share their experiences with the general membership."

Kupersmit "will go down as one of the most effective presidents in the history of CMSA," Erwin said. "He took an organization that was struggling and turned it around."

Erwin succeeded Kupersmit.

"I was happy to serve under him and still call on him for counsel on issues that come before me," Erwin said. "CMSA owes Brian lots of thanks. He deals with the [Chicago] Park District for us and helps to keep our costs down."

Liberson runs LKH Management, which operates bars in Lakeview and Andersonville, including Hydrate, Elixir, Seven and Replay, among others. Liberson's bars are, and have been, prominent sponsoring CMSA's flag football teams for years.

Erwin said Liberson is a "huge supporter of the organization and the sports community in Chicago." He added that Liberson is often at the fields "cheering on teams or helping to figure out how we can partner on social events and tournaments."

Erwin and Sakalares played softball on the same team for years. Erwin also recalls Sakalares' prominent role in CMSA's presence in the Chicago Pride Parade. "He will do whatever needs to be done to promote the organization and make sure people have a good time. He always has big plans and ideas, and they always result in making CMSA bigger and better," Erwin said.

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