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Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Inducts Four Standouts


The National Sporting Goods Association is welcoming four iconic figures into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. The class of 2024 is comprised of Glenn Barrett (OrthoLite), Cathy Pryor (Hibbett Sports), Karsten Solheim (PING Golf), and Mike Thompson (Rawlings). The quartet joins more than 180 retailers, team dealers, manufacturers and industry influencers who have been honored with induction into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame since it was established by the NSGA in 1955.

“The Class of 2024 is a tremendous group of inductees who made great contributions to the industry,” says Pat Donnelley, Chairman of the NSGA Board of Directors. “Welcoming them to the Hall of Fame is a real thrill and it’s great to see them recognized and honored for what they have accomplished.”

Footwear entrepreneur Glenn Barrett, who founded OrthoLite in 1997, focused on the importance of comfort and performance in footwear, and introduced a new open-cell PU foam technology that led the company to become recognized as the world leader in braded footwear component technologies. OrthoLite partners with more than 500 of the leading footwear brands on the planet, and OrthoLite products can be found in more than 600 million pairs of footwear annually. Because the company is U.S.-owned and operated, and has production facilities in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Spain, India and Brazil, it can work alongside its brand partners wherever they manufacture shoes. Barrett is also a longtime supporter and member since 1980 of the non-profit Two Ten Footwear Foundation which helps people in the footwear industry with professional development and assistance.

Cathy Pryor, a 32-year veteran of Hibbett Sports, serves as SVP of Store Operations and was instrumental in the company growing from 28 stores to more than 1,000 and $1 billion in sales. Pryor hired, directed and developed a team of six regional vice presidents and 69 district managers who had an average tenure of 10-plus years at Hibbett. She advanced the employee culture based on the customers’ in-store experience and helped grow Hibbett’s e-commerce business channel. She also advanced in-house video production for employee education and training and formalized industry-leading employee training programs. Her understanding of store operations, visual merchandising, and commitment to operational excellence are key components to Pryor’s success in the industry. Moreover, she served the industry for eight years on the NSGA Board of Directors and was its first female Board Chair from 2019-20. She was also on the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Committee for more than a decade.

Karsten Solheim, who passed away in 2000, didn’t start playing golf until he was 42. In his struggle to improve his game, he decided to use his engineering skills to design clubs. A putter developed in his garage that made a distinctive “ping” sound was just the beginning as he founded Karsten Manufacturing and began production of PING Golf Equipment. PING revolutionized the sport for weekend duffers as well as professionals. Once he founded his manufacturing company, he turned his focus to golf and altering the blade putter made famous by the legendary Arnold Palmer in the 1960s. Solheim was looking for a name for the putter and his wife Louise suggested using the word answer without the letter W. The “Anser” putter became the most popular in the game. His PING Eye2 irons became the dominant irons on the pro tour in the 1980s, and he sponsored the Solheim Cup (the women’s version of the Ryder Cup). He won numerous honors and awards and is a member of the PGA of America’s Hall of Fame.

One could use the phrase “fits like a glove” to describe Mike Thompson’s 40-year career at Rawlings, the number one baseball brand worldwide and glove choice of more MLB pros than all other brands combined. Thompson, who currently serves as Rawlings’ Chief Marketing Officer, spearheaded the creation and management of both the sports and digital marketing departments at the company. Some of his most notable career achievements include leading contract negotiations to extend Rawlings’ presence at all levels of the game, “from Little League to the Big Leagues.” During his tenure, Thompson’s strong industry relationships and deep-rooted baseball knowledge successfully enabled Rawlings to be named as the glove and base of MLB, in addition to continuing as the official baseball and helmet. Thompson has also been instrumental in growing the Rawlings’ brand at the amateur and youth levels of both baseball and softball.

The Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony will be held May 21, 2024 at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona, the site of NSGA’s 2024 leadership event. Details on attending will be announced soon.