It was an evening to both celebrate the past and inspire future generations to reach for greatness themselves.
The second class inducted into the Fort Frances Sports Hall of Fame was granted official entrance Saturday night during ceremonies at La Place Rendez-Vous.
First to be recognized were former NHL and Canadian Olympic team player Chris Lindberg and former CFL all-star kick returner and defensive back Jeff Treftlin, who both earned spots in the local hall after recently being inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in Thunder Bay.
Lindberg was unable to attend due to staying in Calgary to follow his son’s progress at a high-level amateur tournament, with former Muskie teammate Jon Gustafson on hand to accept on his behalf.
Treftlin did make the journey from Winnipeg, with his former Muskie head coach Jack Hedman introducing him.
“I thank my coaches and former teammates not only for their friendship but for their love of the game,” said a grateful Treftlin, who won the Grey Cup in 1989 as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“I also appreciate our mentors who played on the team just before us who taught us to work hard but have a lot of fun.”
Honoured posthumously was pitcher David “Diamond Dave” Brockie, with his children, Ted Brockie and Helen Moszynski, on hand to speak on his behalf.
“He would be very honoured and pleased by this,” said Moszynski.
“You don’t expect something like this eight years after he died.”
Ted Brockie spoke of his father’s integrity.
“He had the philosophy that you can’t be crooked one day and honest the next,” said the current owner of Brockie’s Jewellers here.
“You have to be honest every day and stand up for what you stand for.”
The father-son tandem of Jim and Glenn Witherspoon was welcomed into the hall mainly for Jim’s creation and sponsorship, and Glenn’s playing, coaching, and managing, of the Fort Frances Royals from 1958-74.
“[Jim] was a tremendous member of this community,” said Neil Kabel, a former member of the Royals who did the introduction for the elder Witherspoon, who passed away in 2001 and had his honour accepted in his absence by oldest son, Dennis.
“The words that come to mind when I think of Jim are courage, confidence, commitment, and integrity,” Kabel said.
“Hockey was a vehicle that let Jim have an enormous impact on so many lives.”
Glenn Witherspoon is the former mayor of Fort Frances from 1991-2003 whose efforts helped in the building of the Ice For Kids Arena.
He was inducted by Hall of Fame co-organizer and former Muskie boys’ hockey head coach Terry Ogden, and proceeded to regale the crowd with tales of his former playing days with the Royals.
“I recall playing against [Bill ‘Goldie’ Goldthorpe], who was the inspiration for Ogie Ogilthorpe from the movie ‘Slap Shot,'” Glenn grinned.
“I told him he was a poor friggin’ excuse for a hockey player, and he came over the boards and put his stick up against my throat and put me down,” he recalled.
“I thought, ‘What a way to die.’
“He got led away by the cops and then I really got mouthy,” laughed Glenn.
But the induction accompanied with the most emotion was that of former Muskie girls’ hockey head coach Scott Clendenning.
Both Ogden and current Muskie girls’ coach Todd Hamilton became choked up while speaking about their former player and teammate, respectively, who died of a heart attack in 2015 just four days after leading Fort High to a silver medal at the OFSAA ‘A/AA’ championship in Kenora.
“I don’t think Scott could have been more proud than to be inducted into the Fort Frances Sports Hall of Fame,” said Hamilton, who then passed the microphone to Hailey Clendenning, the eldest sibling of four who all gathered on stage at that point.
“He wasn’t just a coach. He was everyone’s friend and he made everyone feel important,” she lauded about her father.
“He was one of the most hard-working and caring people there was,” she added.
“He was an amazing father, coach, friend, and teacher.”
Head coach Bob Barron then welcomed his historic 1980 Muskie senior girls’ basketball squad into the hall after it finished an amazing run with only one loss in two years and Fort High’s first NWOSSAA championship of any kind–despite having only six players.
“I remember International Falls being on the way to the state championship and inviting us over as the ‘poor cousins’ from the Fort to play ahead of time,” a jovial Barron recalled.
“Guess what? They lost!”
Barron also noted the squad as being the hall’s first female inductees, as well as the first basketball players to gain entrance.
Jean Bujold spoke on behalf of her appreciative teammates, which also included Kathy Kolynchuk (now McConnachie), Laurie Pearson (Moxham), and Tracy Cameron (Roach), along with absent players Lori Gustafson (Medhurst) and Marigold Bishop.
“Fort Frances is, indeed, a better place because of the labours of people from the past up to today with one mission–getting sports right for the kids,” said Bujold.
The final inductees were the members of the curling quartet that won the 1958 Manitoba Schoolboys Curling Championship in Winnipeg and the whole rink was on hand for Saturday’s ceremony–in one form or another.
While skip Peter McLeod, third Bob Grattan, and lead Leonard McQuarrie were present in the room, second Art Berglund was not as he took a bad fall and was laid up in his hospital bed in Colorado Springs, Colo.
But thanks to modern technology, Berglund was able to see the room–and be seen in the room on a tablet device–thanks to being connected via FaceTime.
McQuarrie had the initial chance to speak–a privilege he didn’t take lightly.
“Usually, the media wants to talk to the skip or the third after a game, and we also had a gregarious second in [Berglund],” chortled McQuarrie.
“He could talk for 20 minutes.
“This is the first time I get to talk first,” McQuarrie noted. “I’ve been waiting 60 years for this!”
McQuarrie likened Fort Frances back in the late 1950s as “a combination of Mayberry, Sesame Street, and Leave it to Beaver.”
“It was a great honour to be from this community and to be part of our group.”
Grattan recalled fondly the scene when the team returned from their conquest.
“I remember coming home to the train station on New Year’s Eve, 1957, and everyone in town seemed to be there,” he beamed.
“We got off the train and it was bedlam,” he added.
“It’s something I’ve never forgotten.”