By Curtis J Phillips
When it comes to Fort McMurray sports history prior to my arrival in 1982 all I know of is the trivial aspects. The numbers. Not the people.
There are always the old reliable standbys like Len Marcischuk, a walking encyclopedia of local sports, to bend my ear a wee bit.
So was honoured the other day, along with Dan Lines, to be invited down for breakfast to our local Royal Canadian Legion to meet some members of the ROMEO Club 165….Jack Avery, Larry Dewey, Charles Fraser and Alex Gordon.
ROMEO by the way stands for “Retired Old Men Eating Out” as these energetic seniors met regularly at the Legion to share friendship.
Charles, who actually is a descendant of the explore Simon Fraser for whom the Fraser River his named, told me stories about his ancestors, be it his father or grandfather, who used sled dogs (now a major sport) to traverse from Fort Chipewyan down during the winter months and also how during the summer months they sometimes ran the distance from Fort Chipewyan to Fort McMurray.
Also chatted a bit about Ken Hicks the local boxer who in 1969 won the Canadian Amateur Boxing featherweight championship.
Hicks would also win the Gordon G. White Trophy given out at the annual local boxing championships.
White, born in Fort McMurray in 1945, was an avid sportsman in both high school and on the local baseball diamonds and curling sheets, who later joined the USA Marines during the Vietnam War and was killed in action March 12, 1969 at the age of 23.
His sister Penny Fedorus says they are not too sure where the Gordon G. White Trophy is but if found would like to showcase it at the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame located at the Syncrude Sport & Wellness Centre (SSWC).
Speaking of the WBSHF, nomination deadline is fast approaching for the Class of 2014 so head to www.woodbuffalosports.com to find out how you may nominate be it for a coach, athlete, builder, team etc.
Was great to see all of the youth soccer players at the recent announcement held at Suncor Community Leisure Centre in regards to FC Edmonton professional soccer and its partnership with MacDonald Island Park.
The Edmonton based professional soccer team will be playing a North American Soccer League regular season game here – opponent to be named – 2015 when the SMS Equipment Stadium at Shell Place opens its doors.
This will be a first for Fort McMurray in that we have never had a professional league regular season game hosted in our region.
FC Edmonton will also be hosting upcoming clinics, the first February 7-9, 2014, for our local youth.
As honourary event chair, I quipped to Coach Colin Miller if they could use a former soccer player who 42 years ago played on a high school city/provincial championship team as long as he lost 110 pounds and had two knees replaced?
He shook his head no with a smile.
How about a water boy?
No again. I tried at least.
Amazing what a team may accomplish with a sense of confidence.
Saw such first-hand last Saturday when the Keyano Huskies women’s basketball team defeated the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings 71-69 in overtime at the SSWC.
The Vikings came into the contest 10-0 and ranked No. 4 in the national polls while the Huskies were at 3-7.
With four players stranding 6-foot-2 or taller, the Vikings dwarfed the Huskies but with a few minutes left before the first half, the Huskies started raining threes into the bucket to take a surprising 34-26 lead.
A strong believer in body language, they left the court with confidence and held on for the overtime victory. A young team, they must remember though that a four or five point lead in basketball with four or even three seconds remaining is not a guaranteed W in the win column.
Also took in Keyano Huskies men’s hockey up at Frank Lacroix as they hosted the SAIT Trojans from Calgary. Despite losing 2-1 it was an amazing game of hockey, with end-to-end action, Huskies head coach Paul Strand should be proud as he was able to motivate his team of student/athletes to a higher level of excellence.
The year 2015 is going to be simply amazing: 2015 Western Canada Summer Games, CFL exhibition game between the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Riders, Edmonton FC regular season pro soccer game, Oil Barons hosting 2015 Western Canada Cup, 2015 Canadian National Ringette Championships and much more.
Catch you on the rebound.