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The 2017 selectees inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame recount their memories of playing sports in Rockland County.
John Meore/Lohud

NANUET – More than 40 years ago Pele, the Babe Ruth of soccer, scored on a bicycle kick, beating a 19-year-old defender who had the unenviable task of covering him.

But that 19-year-old, Tom Mulroy, who honed his soccer skills in programs in Rockland County, did such a good job defending against him that at game’s end, Pele handed the kid his jersey.

The jersey and memory remain treasured.

But more important to Mulroy are the things that put him on that field that day, led to his 13-year professional soccer career, his current career as owner of a sports marketing company and to Saturday night.

The 1974 Ramapo High School graduate was one of six people inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame at the Pearl River Elks Club.

PREVIOUSLY: Rockland’s Sports Hall of Fame to induct six

LAST YEAR: Rockland Sports Hall of Fame welcomes nine new members

RELATED: Recent Hall of Fame inductee Coffey dies suddenly at 27

The Miami, Florida resident shared the night with Nyack three-sport athletes Al Taylor and Jerome Whidbee; Haverstraw High School athlete Fred Adler, who has officiated track and field since 1979; Pearl River Section 1 four-time champion wrestler Phil Donnelly and former Nyack football coach John Castellano, who guided the Indians to two state titles.

But he also shared it with his former coaches – men he credits for his success.

“They weren’t just coaches. They were like fathers to me,” said Mulroy, who grew up in a single-mother household.

“I’d be dead or in jail if I didn’t have my sport,” said Mulroy, who looked out on a ballroom that included several of his former club and high school coaches.

To Mulroy, coaches were family and “great role models, paving the way.”

Whidbee also found family in teammates.

The 70-year-old, who graduated from Nyack in 1966 and went on to be a backup quarterback at Tennessee State and to play semipro football after that, said, “We had big fun. We were like a family. We played like a family.”

The Spring Valley resident was Nyack’s starting shortstop, starting point guard and starting QB. He cited his basketball team’s victory over Clarkstown – a team it never beat – his senior year as the highlight of his high school sports career.

He noted he’s now friends…