Photos courtesy of Don McCormick
Main photo: The 1982 Huntsville Honeys (from left) coach Dan McConnell, Judy Martin, Deb Wolfe, Jackie Lovegrove, Joanne Bennett, Manuela Stevenson-Ireland, Donna Westrop, Afolake Aiyede-MacDonald, Lynda Thompson-Smith, Debbie Hoyle, Helen Payne, Cindy Kristiansen, Wendy McLennan-Patterson, Heather MacGregor-Young, and manager Wendy McConnell. Absent from photo: Gail Cummings and Gail Nicholls-Menard.
It was a night for the record books, one that will be commemorated on plaques, of course, but also logged in the memories of those who were there.
More than 200 people—the most ever—attended the Huntsville Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Active Living Centre on May 12. Heartwarming stories were told, old friendships were rekindled, and an unexpected guest added something special to an already remarkable night.
“It was an awesome night,” says Huntsville Sports Hall of Fame president Wendy McConnell. “The inductees had tons of family and friends there. It got a little emotional.”
Among those emotional moments were a heartwarming and moving tribute by Shelley Martin as she accepted an award on behalf of her sister Linda Rowe, and Juergen Kuehnen gave a moving speech about his immigration to Canada and getting involved in soccer and handball, says McConnell. “He was one of the founding fathers, for sure.”
David Lough gave a great speech about his coaching years both in Huntsville and with the Burnaby Lakers lacrosse team. And despite thinking that George Selkirk didn’t have any living family members, McConnell was contacted by a woman in Toronto, Elizabeth McMillan, who said she’d read about the celebration on Doppler and that she was Selkirk’s great-niece. She made the trip to Huntsville for the induction ceremony. “That was a special little perk that we weren’t expecting,” says McConnell.
And then there are the Huntsville Honeys, the 1982 All-Ontario champions (pictured above). McConnell and her husband Dan founded the Honeys in 1972 and “kind of grew up with those kids,” she says. Many of the girls played with them right up until they went to university, but 1982 was a banner year for them. They toured Denmark and Sweden that year, playing a variety of teams while there, and they won the All-Ontario championship. “It was a pretty phenomenal year for us.”
Despite living in far-flung places, 13 of the 15 players were able to attend the ceremony, one travelling from Bermuda to be here.
“Some of them I hadn’t seen for 36 years,” says McConnell. “It was like a reunion for us. The awesome part is they all picked up right where they left off and became instant friends again. It was full of laughs all weekend.”
The team already had connections to the Huntsville Sports Hall of Fame. Player Gail Cummings, who is now an athletic director at Skidmore College in New York and wasn’t able to attend because she was coaching NCAA playoffs, was one of the first inductees to the Hall of Fame. And McConnell was inducted in 2001 in the builder category for her work with the Honeys.
The induction ceremony also honours Huntsville’s Male and Female Sports People/Volunteers of the Year. Two local, committed and tireless volunteers were recognized for their contributions to sport in Huntsville with the Mike Greaves Award, presented to Bill Coon, and the Jan Glenn award, presented to Karen Litchfield.
The Huntsville Sports Hall of Fame’s first induction was in 1990 and it continues to be an important part of the Huntsville community.
“Huntsville’s sporting history is so widely known. Huntsville is one of the top towns in the province of Ontario for lacrosse and hockey, and we’ve got so many wonderful members of the Hall of Fame that did so much for this community for these various sports,” says McConnell. “I think it’s important, as did Mike Greaves, our founder, to honour and recognize these legends of sport and their commitment to the community that was so crucial back in the day. There’s not a lot of towns that recognize their heroes like we do and that’s something that I’m very proud of.”
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