Photo by Jeff Gard/Today’s Northumberland
By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame’s fourth induction announcement on Sunday at the Cobourg Community Centre has added eight stellar names to the previous 25 inductees.
Don Ball Sr.
Don Ball Sr. Enjoyed an exceptional sports career, playing football, fastball, basketball and hockey at an extremely high level, winning many championships along the way. This included a time as left end on the legendary Cobourg Galloping Ghosts football team that won the 1948 Canadian Intermediate “A” Championship. In high school, he was on the basketball team that won the Queen’s University High School Invitational in 1946 and 1947. But it was on the hockey ring and ball diamond that he really shone. On the diamond, he spent an incredible37 years as a player (predominantly in the Hamilton Township and Cobourg Mercantile Fastball Leagues). A forward, he enjoyed a 24-year career on the ice (mostly with the Cobourg Mercantile League), and was renowned for “his agelessness and his sportsmanship.” The Cobourg Mercantile League annually presented the Don Ball Trophy to the least penalized team in the circuit and, in 1971, Ball was given the Percy Baker Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and ability. Hall of Fame President Gil Brocanier remembers one more thing about this inductee – at one time, he had his own sporting-goods store in Division Street in Cobourg, and there was no better place to go for fishing gear.
After graduating local schools and McMaster University, Brown wanted a new athletic challenge – which he found after being inspired by watching the Canadian Men’s Eight Rowing Team win the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He vowed to make that team and win gold at the 2012 Olympics. He even moved his family to Victoria, BC, to access the team’s training facilities. As a novice, he was lucky enough to get coach Doug White interested. He would put in 1,700 hours of training and, by fall of 2009, represented British Columbia in the National Championships. In 2010, he took silver at the National Championships in single sculls and was named to the national rowing team. Later, in 2011, he would claim a bronze medal at the World Championships as part of the Men’s Eight. The next year, he gained another bronze medal at the World Cup in Men’s Eight – a team that, in an early heat, set a World’s Best time that would stand for another eight years. Just three weeks before the London Olympics were set to begin, Brown was named to the Canadian Men’s Eight team as he had determined to do, standing on the Olympic podium after Canada won the silver medal.
Gaudet began her sporting career in 1965 as bat girl with the Coverdale Aces. She started playing fastball the following year and has been on the diamond ever since, as both player and coach. She was a valuable part of the 1972 Provincial Championship Novice A Fastball team coached by previous hall of fame inductee Ken Petrie. In 1975 and 1976, she played on the Cobourg Angels Junior B Ontario Championship teams. At the same time, she began a fastball coaching career, winning a Bantam Championship in 1977, taking the same team to the provincial finals of the Bantam A division in 1978 and then back-to-back provincial finalists in 1979 and 1980 in the Midget division. Then there was hockey – Gaudet helped found the first Cobourg girls’ hockey league, which led to her coaching an all-girls all-star team (christened The Flying Nuns, as it was sponsored by St. Michael’s Church). She also served on the Cobourg Community Hockey League executive for many years. She began refereeing with the OMHA and OWHA, while umpiring in the summer with Softball Ontario. In the late 1980s, she was part of the organizing committee for the Cobourg Junior Angels. She was instrumental in putting together a league for young girls to play fastball, while coaching one of the teams herself. In
For more than 40 years, Harnden was a mainstay of the Cobourg Community Hockey League – volunteer, member of the executive, tournament organizer and, first and foremost, a coach always remembered for giving his time, his knowledge and (more often than not) his patience in working with prospective young hockey players. Perhaps more importantly, he passed along his passion and pure joy for the game to generations of young boys and girls. In addition to his time on the rink, Harnden also honed his coaching expertise in the summer on the diamond, coaching teams to the Tyke EOBA championships in 1970 and 1987. In 2000, he began coaching in Baltimore with the dream of keeping at it until he could coach his great-grandchildren – and he did. Three-time Stanley Cup champion and long-time NHL coach Steve Smith was one of countless youngsters who learned the game from Harnden, saying, “All these years later, I still try to emulate his patience, wisdom and knowledge with the players I am lucky enough to coach – passing on the true gift that he gave to everyone he met.”
CDCI West named Lawless head of its physical education department in 1963 where – because of a shortage of coaches – he might coach anywhere from five to nine teams. On one occasion, he coached the school’s soccer and volleyball teams to championship wins on the same day. As coach and teacher, he influenced countless students, helping develop both their athletic skills and (more importantly) imparting valuable life lessons. He would go on to coach numerous teams (including volleyball, basketball and soccer) and individuals (primarily in track and field) to championship wins. Some of the most notable teams were 1967 and 1968 Kawartha and COSSA Boys Volleyball, as well as 1975, 1978 and 1979 Kawartha and COSSA Midget Boys Basketball. Lawless was a recipient of the Pete Beach Award, a provincial award recognizing excellence among coaches as well as their contributions to better their sport and their athletes. Upon his 1988 retirement, CDCI West presented him with the Coach’s Dedication Award and named two athletic awards in his honour – the Jerry Lawless Coaching Award and the Jerry Lawless Senior Male Athlete of the Year Award.
At the age of eight, Lewis was already gaining attention on all-star hockey and baseball teams, earning commendations from no less an authority than previous inductee Layton Dodge, who called him “a star in the making.” In 1966, Lewis helped his Novice All-Star hockey team become the OMHA Zone Finalists during the winter and the Eastern Ontario Baseball Association Tyke A champions in the summer. Two years later, that same talented group would claim the first-ever “Little NHL B Championship. During his years at CDCI East, Lewis would be part of the Midget COSSA Championship Basketball team in 1970 and the Junior COSSA Championship Football team in 1971. On the ice, he would join the Cobourg Cougars Junior C team for the 1971-1972 season – the season where the Cougars were OHA finalists, with Lewis finishing third in playoff scoring. The next year saw the Cougars finish the season as Central and Eastern Ontario Junior C Champions, with Lewis sharing the top-scorer laurels. And the next season after that brought Cobourg its first-ever OHA Championship with Lewis as Captain. He was instrumental in the Cougars’ success, capturing the league’s scoring title and Most Valuable Player Award. As well, his 162 penalty minutes also set a record, his 88 points were a new single-season record, and he would add 71 points in group and provincial playoffs.
Sustained achievement characterized Reyns’s success on the wrestling mat throughout the 1970s. At CDCI East, he was an integral part of the school’s championship wrestling team (a group that was Kawartha Team Champions in four of those years). Individually, he won the Kawartha Championship in his weight class in 1971 and 1974, was COSSA Champion in 1973, finished as the OFSAA runner-up in 1974 and was named the school’s Most Valuable Wrestler. That same year, he took home a silver medal from the Ontario Winter Games. And in his final year of high school, in 1975, he once again captured the COSSA Championship and then claimed the OFSAA Gold Medal in the 54K weight class. He was named CDCI East Athlete of the Year. Over the next four years, at the University of Guelph, Reyns would be part of the varsity wrestling team that won the OUAA Championship in 1976 and 1977, and finished in fourth place in the 1977 World Cup Team Championship-Freestyle Division. Individually, in 1975, he was the Canadian Junior Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion, the Canadian Junior Freestyle Wrestling Silver Medalist and the Ontario Senior Open Freestyle Champion. IN 1976, he captured the OUAA Wresting Individual Championship and served as an alternate on the Canadian team for the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics.
Any history of fastball in this area is incomplete without a chapter for Timlin. He was 15 years old when he took the field for the Cold Springs Men’s team and, in just five years, held the dual positions of player and coach (a position he would keep for the next two decades), after which he commenced a 25-year Slow-Pitch playing career. In that time, Cold Springs would emerge as a fastball powerhouse. After spending the 1960s and early 1970s as a part of the Ontario Amateur Softball Association and the Hamilton Township League, Cold Springs petitioned to join the Peterborough City League for the 1975 season. They finished first in the league and won the OASA Intermediate C Championship, a feat they repeated in 1976. Four years later, the Cats captured the Ontario Senior A fastball championship. Still guide by Timlin, the Cats took home the OASA Intermediate B Championship in 1989. Then came the establishment of the Masters level by the OASA in 1996. Over the next 15 years, the reunited Cats participated in more than 20 Masters events, winning two Canadian Masters Championships, an Eastern Canadian title, plus three gold, two silver and three bronze OASA Master Championships.
These accomplishments are just a snapshot of what each achieved. A more detailed story about each, along with the chance to hear from them personally, will come about at the annual induction ceremony June 16 at the Best Western Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre.
President Gil Brocanier thanked everyone present for supporting their mission of collecting, preserving and exhibiting the sports history of Cobourg and district. For the purposes of the sports hall of fame, that would include Alderville First Nation and the townships of Cramahe, Hamilton and Alnwick-Haldimand.
This was the dream of the late Ross Quigley, a project he worked on for years.
Cobourg Deputy Mayor Nicole Beatty recalled discussions about a possible sports hall of fame as a legacy project as she and Brocanier served on the Canada 150 Committee, and the seeds were planted.
A board was formed in 2017, and the first induction was in 2019. Now, the north wall of the great hall at the CCC is lined with cabinets crafted and contributed by Frank Bouwmans of Bouwmans Cabinetry, each with generous glassed-in display space and the logo of the Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame carved into the front at the bottom.
“It’s great on game night – Cougars and others – when you see people stopping by to check the memorabilia,” emcee Joel Scott said.
There is also a website with close to 100 stories of local sports that cover 43 different sports – everything from bird racing to hockey.
You will see more than 1,000 newspaper clippings (a great many of them by the legendary Layton Dodge), as well as 1,300 images in the recently launched scrapbook and more than 1,000 sports memorabilia items.
Also on the website is information about making a nomination for the 2024 group of inductees – the deadline is Sept. 30.
You can also get information about nominations for the second annual Ross Quigley Youth In Sports Award, a $1,000 bursary given annually to support the post-secondary education of two local athletes (not of the same gender) who meet the criteria – a graduating student from a Northumberland school who lives in the catchment area. Decisions will be made on the basis of athletic, academic and community achievement, and the deadline for this award is May 1.