Catch You on the Rebound
Curtis J. Phillips, Connect Contributor
The Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (WBSHOF) recently announced its first two of four inductees into the Class of 2016 with the selection of Special Olympics coach Ernie Kimball and Keyano Huskies high flyer volleyball ace Alwyn Piche.
A few months ago, I wrote in this space the Top 10 most memorable sports events of the last 35 years in regards to my daily interaction with the local sport community – be it in my profession or as a volunteer.
No. 4 on that list read: “1985 Alberta Summer Games may have been our first major sporting event attracting athletes in a wide-range of events. We gained several new facilities i.e. Jack Corless Field and the weather held out. Special memories here were the medals won by local Special Olympian Debbie Lebedynski.”
To this day, I recall the pure joy that Lebedynski exuberated. But like all athletes, there was someone there to guide her.
It takes a special person to work within the developmentally delayed community and Ernie Kimball is such a person.
He realizes that everyone has handicaps… only some are visible.
The first time I met Kimball was around 1985.
Having just finished organizing a sports event/fundraiser, I tracked down where Kimball lived and headed up to his abode, knocked on the door, introduced myself and handed over some of the proceeds to assist in his endeavours.
In part, through Kimball, many of the athletes he coached went on to volunteer with the Alberta Broadcasting Corporation, later Shaw TV.
It was through these interactions that my own friendships developed with many of the athletes. Special bonds that last to this day.
Of his induction into the Class of 2016, which celebrates 10 years for the WBSHF, Kimball said: “It’s been quite a few years since I was actually in that capacity, but I’m still familiar with a lot of faces in Fort McMurray. I was honoured.”
The media release states that for 13 years Kimball coached track and field, swimming, soccer, softball, floor hockey, skating, snowshoeing and curling.
“I just stepped in and never looked back,” added Kimball. “It was definitely a rewarding opportunity.
“This group has a non-judgmental, hardworking, fun loving, approach to sports. I felt I got much more back than I ever gave.”
Years ago I coined the phrase BANGO for a powerful volleyball spike that hits nothing, but court.
The King of BANGO without a doubt was and remains Alwyn Piche.
Born in Fort McMurray, raised in La Loche, Saskatchewan, Piche wore the Huskies uniform twice (2006-2009 and 2012-2013) and was twice named Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s Men’s Volleyball Players of the Year (2009 and 2013).
He led the team to prominence and his stats are impressive to say the least: 1,062 kills which are second of all time in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference archives, 176 service aces which are No. 1 in ACAC history and 109 blocks and 439 digs.
Piche was also inducted into the inaugural ACAC Hall of Fame in 2014 as an athlete.
Some say that Piche, who is fluent speaker and member of the Clearwater River Dene Nation, is a great role model for First Nations youth. I say he is a role model for all youth.
This year’s Induction dinner will be held at Shell Place June 16, 2016. Tickets available through Shell Place Box Office.
Catch you on the Rebound.