Written by Dick “Mez” Meseroll — As one of the eight empaneled members on the New Jersey Surfing Hall Of Fame (NJSHOF) Induction Selection Committee, my first reaction to the list of 20 candidate nominees from which we had to choose an even dozen to be enshrined as the sophomore group into The Hall was, can’t we just call an audible here and put them ALL  in? I mean, just 12 inductees is all we get ?

Well, actually, we have a total Class of 13 members for ’17 due to South Jersey ripper and Women’s World Tour standout from the late ’70s and ’80s Sandy Ordille, who was “auto inducted” based on her selection into the East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fames class of 2016 — although she no doubt would have been a shoo-in without those hallowed credentials for the NJSHOF. Sandy aside though, I mean talk about a flippin’ stacked heat for 2017!

Listed below we present the complete nomination pool for 2017 with those indcuted noted and the remaining eight held over and included into the next nominating pool for 2019:

2017 New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame Class:

1) Charlie Kunes

Charlie Kunes, Northern Jersey District, age 72. Photo: Courtesy Kunes

2) Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer, Northern Jersey District, posthumous. Photo: Bruce Chrisner

3) Gary Finnigan Jr.

Gary Finnigan, Jr., Northern Jersey District, Age 61. Photo: Courtesy Finnigan

4) Bill Minder

Bill Minder, Northern Jersey District, age 82. Photo: Courtesy Minder

5) Kevin Casey

Kevin Casey, Central Jersey District, age 63 (shown here in 1977 at Hanalei Bay in Kauai). Photo: Mez

6) Tony Giordano

Tony Giordano, Central Jersey District, age 62 (shown here surfing in Barbados in 1982). Photo: Mez

7) Jeff Arensman

Jeff Arensman, Central Jersey District, age 66. Photo: Courtesy Kunes

8) Larry Friedel

Larry Friedel, Atlantic County District, age 64. Photo: Courtesy Friedel

9) Tom McClaren

Tom McClaren, Atlantic County District, age 73. Photo: Courtesy McClaren

10) Brian Heritage

Brian Heritage, Cape May County District, age 54. Photo: Mez

11) Mark Neustadter

Mark Neustadter, Atlantic County District, age 62 (shown here surfing the Outer Banks in 1978). Photo: Mez

12) Tom O’Brien

Tom O’Brien, Atlantic County District, age 54. Photo: McCarthy

*** Sandy Ordille / auto inducted

Sandy Ordille, Cape May County District, ageless. Photo: Bill Barnfield

Held over for auto re-nomination eligibility 2019:

13) Dennis Doyle

14) Justin Citta

15) Steve Jones

16) Bill Willem

17) Mike Morton

18) Glenn Magill

19) Seth Stafford

20) Matt Keenan

But, wth all the rules and procedures of selection and election into such an esteemed, august body, which was painstakingly discussed, debated, and re-debated over the course of many meetings of the NJSHOF board, 12 is the number we had to work with and it did not make our task any easier for the final induction phase of the process. And while having eight unanimous Hall Of Famers on the first ballot, it took two other rounds to come up with the other four honorees and — according to President Gary Germain, each round was extremely close as the laborious and meticulous process took its natural course and the creme de la creme finally rose to the top.

Then again, it’s not supposed to be easy to get into the NJSHOF or the East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame (our big brother organization, whose members have generously provided us with expert, invaluable advice and guidance) or any other hall of fame for that matter. To even be considered requires some serious bonafides just to get a look see let alone a nomination then inducted. That’s what makes it an honor to be both nominated and/or inducted.

But the five separate groups of Shoreline Directors (four per district) who represent the five distinct regions of the Garden State’s 125 miles of surfable coast — Northern, Central, Long Beach Island, Atlantic, and Cape May districts — had an even  tougher responsibility than the selection committee, which is comprised of  Bill “Doc” Rosenblatt, Lisa Roselli, Mike May, Jeff Salmon, Vince “Peanuts” Troniec, Jon Coen, yours truly, and alternate Bob McLaughlin.

The Shoreline Directors had to sift through dozens of worthy candidates and discuss their merits for each of those respective areas of the Garden State coastline before trying to whittle those down to just four nominees per district and craft crucial, detailed bios with any relevant media (written stories, magazine coverage, videos, photos, etc.) included before then submitting their Final Four, creating an overflowing pool of 20 nominees for us to consider.

I would have loved to be the fly on the wall listening in on those discussions and debates no doubt filled with pride, passion, and  stoke, which are inherent trademarks of all Jersey surfers wether Hall Of Fame caliber or just your everyday, blue collar, lunch pail guys ripping it up in anonymity at his local break. A special hats off to all of the NJSHOF S.D.s for volunteering for that painstaking, unenviable task and for pulling together some great bios for us on the selection committee to ponder, deliberate, and, possibly, lose more than a little bit of sleep over while trying to parse it all out before casting our votes for the finalists for 2017.

And, for the record, induction committee members were explicitly instructed to not discuss any nominee with anybody else — especially fellow Induction Committee members and Shoreline Directors — then submit their votes only to NJSHOF President Gary Germain while vowing to keep their lips sealed about their respective picks until after this official Class of 2017 induction announcement. While the seemingly bottomless talent pool of possible names to chose from made me glad I was not a Shoreline Director, it also reinforces the fact that, next to Florida (and with all due respect to the other great East Coast surfing states), Jersey has the most diverse, richest, deepest, talent-laden surfing community with so many local heros, visionaries, artists, shapers, photographers, competitors, freesurfers, historical figures, and generous, give-back-type souls both male and female anywhere. And, just coming into its second crop of inductees, it will take a long, long time to fill the New Jersey Surfing Hall Of Fame with them all.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017 and see you on May 12th for your well-deserved induction to be emceed by none other than World Champion Peter “PT” Townend at the Flanders Convention Center in Ocean City, NJ. Tickets and seating are limited so get on it now as more half the house is already sold through — visit the NJSHOF website for additional details or please join our FB home page. For more on the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, check the excellent video below.

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