Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sports hall of fame in works here

As head coach of the Muskie boys’ hockey team, Terry Ogden saw his squads provide numerous memorable moments for local sports fans.
Now, with the help of the community, he wants to make sure the all-time great athletes, teams, and builders of sport in Fort Frances will be remembered for all posterity.

Ogden and former Fort Frances Canadians Midget ‘AAA’ head coach Dave Egan are spearheading the drive to create the Fort Frances Sports Hall of Fame, with their goal being to hold its inaugural induction banquet next spring.
“The real inspiration for this were the guys already elected to the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, especially Art Berglund,” Ogden said, referring to the nine current inductees from Fort Frances who reside in that pantheon of legends.
“Art is in the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and others,” he added.
“He told me a while back that it’s nice to be honoured in those places, but it would be nicer to have his picture hanging in Fort Frances,” Ogden noted.
“We want to recognize the people from here that have gone on to do great things in sports.
“Whether it’s bowling, figure skating, or whatever . . . there’s a lot of folks who may not ever get into the Northwestern Ontario Hall of Fame but certainly would qualify to get into the Fort Frances Hall of Fame,” he reasoned.
Ogden said he believes the history of our community is real important.
“People have gone unnoticed and unrecognized over the years,” he remarked. “You mention Art Berglund to kids around here today and they don’t know who he is.
“Some of these people have passed away, important builders in sports, but their families are still here,” Ogden added.
“We have to recognize our own,” he stressed. “If we don’t do it, nobody else is going to do it.
“We should pat these people on the back and thank them.”
Egan got on board via a simple exchange of ideas over coffee.
“I knew we were in good shape with the Ice For Kids Fund, which has received several sizeable bereavement donations from families in recent years,” noted Egan.
“It’s nice to be able to use that money for this kind of a cause.”
Ogden approached Jason Kabel, the town’s manager of community services, who was open to the idea of creating a local sports hall of fame.
The concept went to a town committee, was presented to council, and then sent back to the committee before being approved.
Ogden said one of the best parts of the plan is that it will not affect the bottom line of local taxpayers.
“The hall is being funded completely by donations,” he stressed, adding anyone who makes a donation will have their name added to the current Ice For Kids “Wall of Fame” list located to the left of the main entrance to the Memorial Sports Centre.
The first tangible spin-off of the pair’s efforts is a $2,000 display case placed on the wall leading to the entrance to the corridor housing the Fort Frances Lakers’ and Muskies’ change rooms.
Constructed and attached three months ago by local resident Stan Blasky, who also built most of the display cases on the upstairs level of the IFK Arena, the case contains the photographs and biographies of the nine Fort Frances members of the Northwestern Ontario hall in Thunder Bay.
“My only concern is that, eventually, we’re going to run out of wall space,” chuckled Blasky.
Ogden said those nine currently featured in the case are guaranteed induction at the inaugural banquet next spring, along with what will be an annually-selected group of four or five honourees and possibly one team.
Of the individuals, at least one must be an athlete and one must be a builder.
“The criteria for selection [for athletes] is that the person must have been a permanent resident for at least five years and developed their basic skills while living here,” Ogden explained.
That would mean the likes of Chicago Blackhawks’ defenceman and current reigning Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, who played minor hockey here from age five until he moved away at age 14, would be eligible.
Ogden and Egan currently are putting together the selection committee that will evaluate the nominations put forth by the public.
Those wanting to send in nominations or donations can address their submissions to the Fort Frances Hall of Fame c/o Terry Ogden, 903 Third St. E., Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 1S2 or c/o Dave Egan, 823 Frenette Ave., Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 2N4.

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