Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame Inducts Fifth Group of Honourees

In Local, Sports

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame marked a milestone Friday, inducting its fifth group of honourees at a banquet at the Best Western.

The ballroom was packed with congratulatory groups formed around new honourees and ones from earlier years. Cobourg Councillor Adam Bureau also attended to offer congratulations from the town.

Bureau recalled how the CDSHF began when the late Ross Quigley began wondering why more was not done to acknowledge the achievements of the area’s outstanding athletes and the coaches, umpires and supporters behind them. Now those faces are part of an enormous collection, part of which can be seen in the display cases set up at the Cobourg Community Centre and Baltimore Community Centre

“We not only honour the contributions these individuals made through their sports, but also how they gave back to their community,” Bureau said.

Each table had a stack of programs listing all the details about why the newest eight inductees are being honoured.

William John (Jack) Bevan spent his entire life in Cobourg (other than his three years’ service in the Air Force during World War II. As a youngster, he played hockey and enjoyed bowling. In high school, he excelled at basketball. But his big passion was softball, where he was a star catcher on local pick-up teams (and later in organized leagues). He was always a familiar smiling presence in the town’s ballparks. And as one of the founders of the Cobourg Legion Softball League in 1958, he was involved in all aspects of the organization for many years – coaching, umpiring, taking charge of equipment, plus serving on the local executive as well as on the OASA executive board. His length of service won him a life membership in Legion Minor Sports.

Along with John Ryan, Jack coached the Legion Peewee baseball team to Cobourg’s first Ontario championship in 1960 and 1961. Two years later, he was among the group that helped found the Cobourg District Girls Softball League, where he would spend almost two decades coaching girls’ softball. He also went on to coach men’s softball, and hat his last at-bat (a single) at the age of 60 for Burnett’s in the Cobourg Industrial Softball League.

Jack passed away in 1993. Legion Fields opened up on D’Arcy Street the following year with its three diamonds – the middle one christened the Jack Bevan Diamond. It was considered a fitting tribute for a man who gave so much to the community and who spent almost every summer night of his life at a diamond somewhere in his beloved hometown.

“Dad was involved in sports for most of his life – making sure there were leagues to play in and by helping his teams and players do the best they could,” his son John said.

“To be recognized as a pilot in the sports community of Cobourg would have made him so proud.

“Winning was important to Dad, but how he got there was even more important – fair play, doing your best and giving 100%.”

The family came to Cobourg about 20 years prior to Confederation, and John noted that this honour comes about three months short of what would have been Bevan’s 100th birthday. His earliest ball career included playing against a team from Point Anne in Prince Edward County, one of whose members was a young slugger named Bobby Hull.

“Dad would be humbled and maybe even a little embarrassed by this recognition, as he would have having Legion Fields named after him.

“To me, this is his guiding spirit – giving back to the community he so deeply loved,”

Robert (Jim) Bradford loved sports like so many young people who grew up in Cobourg and the surrounding area, and he excelled in many of them – softball, baseball, hockey, skiing, football, volleyball, cross-country running and basketball were on that list. On the diamond, Jim was a valued member of the 1962 Legion Bantam Ontario Championship Softball Team, the Winchester Western Junior Provincial Championship Teams in 1963 and 1964, and the Cold Springs Cats All-Ontario Championship Squad in 1975 and 1976.

He found an alternate path, thanks to previous CDSHF inductee Jerry Lawless, the head of physical education at CDCI West, who provided the inspiration and a drive to a basketball officiating clinic. Jim would officiate the sport for many years and help found the South Kawartha Basketball Association. But he achieved his greatest success as an umpire on the diamond.

His umpiring career began in 1968, mainly working local games and tournaments. Over the next three-plus decades, he earned a reputation as the top umpire in this area (and unquestionably the most accredited). He would work the Pan Am Games in Indianapolis, the Canada Senior Men’s Fast Pitch Championships in Fredericton NB, the National Midge Boys Fastball Championships in Napanee, the Women’s Worlds in Newfoundland, as well as in numerous provincial championships (while also acting as an umpiring supervisor in various national competitions).

Jim founded the South Central Umpires Association and served for many years as vice-president of the Cobourg Men’s Softball League. He convened countless umpiring clinics, sharing his wisdom and experience with a new generation of arbiters. In 2000, he became the first-ever umpire in Canada to receive Level 5 status in both fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball. Three years later, he was elected into the Canadian Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame, as well as into the Softball Ontario Hall of Fame.

“Jim would have been humbled and, at the same time, proud of this Sports Hall of Fame induction – he would never have expected or looked for recognition,” daughter-in-law Keren said.
“Jim always told me that, once you have some success, that it was important to give back and help others.”

She complimented all the inductees on the hard work, dedication and talent that were major factors in their success.

Kristen (Fawcett) Dajia grew up in a sporting family from Colborne. When that village won a 1974 Wintario grant that provided Colborne Public School with track-and-field equipment – at a time when interest in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics was growing – it represented a vital impact on Kristen’s athletic trajectory. She enjoyed particular success in discus-throwing both at CPS and later at East Northumberland Secondary School. When she went on to York University, she made both the track-and-field team and the varsity volleyball team (where she was part of three OWIAA championship teams and two CIAU bronze-medal winners).

Upon graduation, she got the chance to be a pioneer. A coach at York who had seen her discus throwing asked her to join a group learning to throw the hammer. Kristen would become one of the first Canadian women to train and compete in the hammer throw, capturing the Ontario championship in 1990, representing Canada at the Harry Jerome Track Classic in 1991 and competing at other international events. In addition to competing, she was teaching full-time and writing letters to Federal politicians to lobby for parity and equality for women in track-and-field events. Eventually the hammer throw officially became a new women’s track-and-field event, along with the pole vault and triple jump (nationally recognized in 1990 and internationally recognized as Olympic events in 2000). Thanks in large part to Kristen’s advocacy, Canada emerged as a leader in officially recognizing these new events and became one of the first countries to stage these events at its national championships.

Kristen was also a trail-blazer in women’s rugby. After playing for the Ajax Wanderers, she played second row for the very first Ontario Women’s Rugby team. In its second year of existence, her Ontario team won bronze at the Canadian championships. Today, women’s rugby flourishes across Ontario, and the Canadian International Women’s Team is among the top teams in world competition.

“We were an athletic family, thanks to my parents Bob and Joan Fawcett,” Kristen said (mentioning that her dad was a teacher at CDCI West who brought home nightly stories about the school’s teams).

“How many of you had a long-jump pit in your back yard?”

It’s also an integral part of the community, she added.

“It must be done, it must be organized, it must be coached. And anyone who has the ability to do these things, do them without hesitation. That’s the Cobourg attitude.”

Though her first reaction to being invited to try hammer throwing was, “Sure, what’s a hammer?” she would go on to become part of a group that tirelessly lobbied Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Minister of Sports Jean Charest until he recognized these new events (though, at first, they had to be performed outside the regular venues).

“But it would take place!” she declared.

“If you have some knowledge, you have to share it and help everyone rise to their fullest potential.”

Al F. Fenton seems to have never tried a sport he did not excel in. The list includes hockey, softball, basketball, football, and track-and-field. In high school, he was a regular competitor at Kawartha, COSSA and OFSSA, not to mention setting six new records in six junior events at CDCI West in 1967. He went on to top that by winning three races at the Kawartha meet in Peterborough, then taking home the COSSA championship in the 100- and 220-yd. sprints in Oshawa. At the OFSSA championship in Hamilton, he ran a personal best in the 100-yd. Sprint.

Al was also a valued member of the West’s Junior Harrier team, and was one of three Cobourg runners chosen in 1967 to complete at the first Central Ontario-Maritimes track-and-field meet in St. John, NB. That same year, in team sports, he was top scorer on the Bantam A Basketball team and was voted Outstanding Junior Football Player by his teammates. It did not come as a surprise when the 16-year-old athlete was Cobourg’s Athlete of the Year for 1967.

Outside of school, Al played both all-star hockey and softball. In 1968, along with many of his teammates, he made the jump from midget all-star hockey to the Junior B Cobourg Cougars, where he would be a prolific centreman for two seasons. In softball, his talent at the plate and on the mound helped his Dairy Queen team capture provincial OASA championships in 1970 and 1971.

His athletic and academic prowess won Al a four-year Division 1 hockey scholarship to Colgate University, where he earned his BA in 1974. He accepted an invitation to attend the Toronto Maple Leafs Rookie Camp that fall before returning to Cobourg and a job at General Foods. While playing fastball int he summer and Mercantile Hockey in the winter, he studied for his MBA from Western University, Upon receiving the degree in 1978, he moved his young family to Wooster, Ohio, where (while settling into his life’s work) he was instrumental in introducing the sport of hockey to a generation of young players through the development and organization of Wooster’s Youth Hockey Club Program.

Rosey Bateman had researched Fenton, and added some details she had gleaned from correspondence from people who had known him, such as the comment that he was always willing to set a goal and put in the work to reach it.

“He never let any distractions get in the way. He was dedicated, focused and self-disciplined.”

Offered a try-out with the Toronto Maple Leafs just after graduating from Colgate, “he didn’t make the team. But he had no regrets, having done everything he possibly could that summer to prepare for it.”

Fenton died in 2007 at the age of 55, but his dedication was recognized with the Alan Fenton Hockey Classic at the Alice Noble Ice Arena in Wooster named in his honour.

“I believe Alan took a piece of Cobourg with him when he set out to teach the youth of Wooster hockey,” Bateman declared.

Effie Francis (Fran) Jay never played a sport, but she did play an important role in the community’s baseball and hockey programs – and especially in the growth and acceptance of women’s hockey. The lifelong Cobourg resident married Ron Jay in 1963, a man who was heavily involved in local baseball. She soon gravitated to the administrative side of the sport, joining the Cobourg Baseball Association executive. In this role, she took on a long list of responsibilities that included organizing tournaments, running fundraisers, housing and feeding visiting umpires, billeting visiting team members and working the canteen. This work earned her the Curtis Products Award in 1987, an honour given to the person judged to have contributed the most to the Cobourg Baseball Association. While attending a Toronto Blue Jays game, she and her husband were featured on the stadium Jumbotron in honour of their contributions to baseball, with the caption “Mr. And Mrs. Blue Jay from Cobourg.”

Their son Brian discovered hockey and, when he went off to play, his kid sister Brenda often tagged along. But when Brenda was old enough to play for herself, there were no girls’ teams – and boys’ teams did not accept girls. This was the start of Fran’s advocacy for girls’ hockey, through which she later spearheaded the creation of the United Counties Hockey League (later known as the Lakeshore League) which offered girls a chance to play against girls’ teams from other towns.

In 1982, Fran became the first-ever Girls Governor on the CCHL executive, bringing her administrative talents to this new passion. She would later be elected a CCHL Life Member in recognition of her work, and she would eventually join the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association executive as a Regional Director. A board member from 1993 to 1999, she served as the team liaison for international teams and organized the 1997 and 1998 Senior AAA Women’s Provincial Championships that were held in Cobourg. She also helped to organize the 1997 Women’s World Championships held in Kitchener, and was involved with the Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey team.

Jay’s widower Ron offered the family’s thanks.

“She was a very humble person, which seems to be a theme with everybody that has been inducted,” he said.

“Fair play and determination, and give others the chance, giving back more you take in this community.”

Lawrence Gerald (Larry) O’Connor is familiar to several generations of CDCI West alumni from the large sepia-toned framed picture of him crouched at some long-ago starting line that hung in the office. In his 1990 induction into the University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame, he was cited as “the outstanding hurdler of Canada during the 1930s, setting many Canadian records.” Larry was born in Toronto in 1916 but came to Cobourg when he was 13 and his father was appointed to the bench as County Court Judge of Northumberland. Enrolling at Cobourg Collegiate Institute (which later became CDCI West in the 1960s when CDCI East was built), he brought with him the reputation of an extremely talented athlete. He immediately began training with fellow Cobourg resident Art Ravensdale, a hurdler already setting records. Larry was chosen for further training at the Ontario Athletic Commission Camp on Lake Couchiching, where – while competing in track meets in the area – he distinguished himself by being the first boy to swim to an island one mile away.

Larry graduated from CCI and went on to the University of Toronto in 1934. He joined the Toronto West End YMCA Club and the Varsity Blues Intercollegiate Track and Field Championship Team, where he trained beside Jim Worrall. Both competed at the historic 1936 Berlin Olympics Summer Games. In the 110-metre-high hurdles final, Larry would take sixth place while establishing a personal-best time of 14.8 seconds. After the Olympics, he went on to set Canadian records in the 110m hurdles, the 120-yd.-high hurdles and the 220-yd. low hurdles. In the annual Maple Leaf Gardens Track Meet of 1937, he set a new world indoor record in the 60-yd.-high hurdles.

At the 1938 British Empire Games held in Australia, Larry was a gold-medal-winning member of the 4×110 yard relay team and a silver medallist in the 120-yd.-high hurdles with a time of 14.2 seconds (the third-fastest in the world that year and a Canadian record that stood until 1963). A year later, he raced to time of 24.8 seconds in the 110-metre-high hurdles, setting a Canadian record that stood until 1964.

Larry was awarded the Norton Crow Memorial Trophy (for the Canadian Amateur Athlete of the Year) and the John W. Davies Trophy (for the Outstanding Track Athlete of the Year). In addition to the University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame, he was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1968, and the Athletics Ontario Hall of Fame in 2013.

Bateman returned to the microphone to share further research on O’Connor, adding details of his law career and his war service (during which he took part in the Military Track and Field Championships and also sustained a right-arm injury in combat in France). He died at age 78 in 1995.

Katie Kennedy and Abigail Miller of the Northumberland County Museum and Archives also shared a panoramic school photo that would have taken some time to shoot, during which O’Connor and a friend darted from one place to another and actually appear twice in the shot.

Arthur (Art) Ravensdale was born in England in 1911 but, at some point, made his way to Cobourg and attended CCI, where he was an academic and athletic stand-out. His name appeared regularly in results from track meets, and the Ravensdale Trophy was created in his honour for presentation to the top all-round male athlete of the year until 1960. In 1929, Art won the 120-yd. hurdles at the Canadian Championships in Banff – then won again in 1930 in Toronto, 1931 in Winnipeg, 1932 in Hamilton, 1933 in Fort William and 1934 in Montreal.

Art’s career could have been tragically derailed when he broke a hip while playing rugby at CCI, but he fought his way back to a full recovery with determination and hard work. In 1930, in addition to winning the Provincial and Dominion Interscholastic Championships, Art competed for Team Canada at the British Empire Games held in Hamilton. He graduated from CCI in 1929 and took up studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Representing Marquette, he ran the 120-yd. low hurdles in 13.2 seconds, giving him a share of the world record. The Marquette Journal noted that he “set municipal records that will probably stand for years.” He also set a new Canadian record at the Dominion Championships in the 120-yd. low hurdles, beating the previous record by 0.4 of a second.

In 1932, Art took first place at the Canadian Track and Field Olympic Trials in the 100-m hurdles and, with that, went on to represent Canada at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics later that year.

In 1934, Art again represented Canada at the British Empire Games in London, finishing fourth in the 120-yd. hurdles. One year later, he retired after being recognized as the Canadian Hurdling Champion for seven consecutive years – 1928 to 1934 – then returned to where it all began. At CCI, he would coach the next generation of track-and-field stars. Years later, the Town of Cobourg bestowed a very special honour when it named Ravensdale Road after him.

His son Jerry recalls that the Marquette scholarship was a blessing for his father, as his parents were a carpenter and a hairdresser who grew vegetables behind their home on the west side of College Street.

He never took the opportunity to ask his father one question – why hurdles?

“No one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I’m going to become a hurdler.’ But he became very good at it.”

Dave (Earl) Waldie was that rare athlete who was considered elite in two sports. Born in Campbellford, the life-long Alnwick-Haldimand Township resident was a stand-out at the rink and on the diamond. He began playing hockey at the age of five in the Cobourg Church Hockey League and – from Novice through Minor Midget – would be the Most Valuable Player and the leading scorer every year. In 1980, he led his Major Bantam team to an All-Ontario championship, a first for Cobourg. The next year, at age 16, he suited up for the Cobourg Cougars and was named OHA Jr. C Rookie of the Year.

Drafted by the OHL’s Cornwall Royals, he would split his first year between Cornwall and Newmarket (Tier 2), then join the Royals full-time for two seasons, amassing 99 points in 1984-1985. At the end of the year, a clerical error enabled Portland (of the Western Hockey League) to pick him up as an overage player. Dave’s greatest season was in 1985-1986, lighting the lamp 68 times, adding 58 assists for 126 points. He was named the WHL Rookie of the Year and made the first WHL All-Star Team. He also won the Bill Anderson Sportsmanship Award for leadership and dedication, as well as the Pat Shugog trophy for MVP of the games. That was the year Portland hosted the Memorial Cup and, in four Memorial Cup games, Dave tallied seven points.

His junior career now over, Dave had tryouts with both the Detroit Red Wings and the Hartford Whalers before signing a contract with the Peoria Rivermen of the IHL. He played in 11 games, recording two goals and three assists, before deciding to retire from pro hockey.

He exchanged his skates and puck for running shoes and a ball, becoming an integral part of four Cobourg Ball Hockey League championship teams. His success in hockey was matched by a number of softball accomplishments – one OASA All-Ontario Squirt Championship, two Peterborough Men’s Town League Championships, seven Cobourg Town League Championships, one OASA Intermediate A Championship, one OASA Intermediate B Championship, one OASA Masters Championship, two OASA Masters silver medals, two Canadian Masters Championships, one NAFA Championship, and two appearances in the ISC World Fastball Championships.

“What an honour – very special!” Waldie said.

“I always loved the history of this area. It was very special – the community, the people. I was very fortunate my dad would take me in the summer to watch the Cold Springs Cats play. I could name every player on the team.

“In the wintertime, I got to go watch the Cobourg Cougars. I could name every man on that team.”

His father also took him to Sommerville’s Sports to get him outfitted for his own athletic pursuits, then took him to the old Cobourg Arena, “and here I am tonight.”

He “grew up fast” after getting drafted to the Cornwall Royals from the Cobourg Cougars, and went on to be in two NHL camps.

“I played a couple of exhibition games with the Whalers,” he said.

In the end, however, “I just wanted to come home and be me, see my buddies, make new friends.”

Looking out at the audience, he said, “I didn’t get here alone. I have a lot of teammates here tonight.

“You are part of this tonight. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you guys.

“There’s so many memories – you don’t do it on your own.”

A sad note to the evening for him was the loss of his father a few weeks back.

“He was everything – the greatest, one of a kind, heart of gold. He would do anything for anybody.

“I never played to go into the hall of fame, but it’s an honour.”

The inductions were followed by the presentations of the Ross Quigley Youth In Sport Award, created in honour of the founder of the CDSHF.

Quigley had a passion for his home town of Cobourg, its sports community and his belief in the capacity of its youth for success, and he never missed a chance to give back. Applicants for the $1,000 scholarship must be graduating OSSD students residing in the CDSHF area and attending school in Northumberland, They must be active in school, community or higher sports activities (as athlete, coach, official or supporter) and must be continuing their academic pursuits through university, college, apprenticeship or other post-secondary institution.

Chase Lalonde of CCI achieved an 88% average as a multi-sport athlete. For three years, he was captain of both the hockey and baseball teams (winning baseball’s MVP award in 2022). He also played for the school’s junior and senior volleyball teams. His dream is to play professional ball, and he has honed his skills and leadership playing for the Northumberland Jacks (and serving as their captain). He also coached and assisted Jacks U8 and -9 players to help them improve their own skills. Looking for a challenge in 2021, he joined the Toronto Mets in the Canadian Premier Baseball League, the highest league in Ontario. For the last two years, he has played with the league’s Ontario Yankees in Ajax, experiencing success at a whole new level. This year, he had to consider going to an NCAA school or a Canadian school. He decided to combine his studies with his baseball aspirations and has been accepted at the University of Ottawa on the baseball team and in the Bachelor of Commerce Marketing Program.

Maria Linton excels with a 93.6% average in Grade 12 and is a hard-working and devoted athlete (mainly in track-and-field and cross-country running). She worked diligently at both for three years and also found time to be on the school soccer and swim teams (where she was a competitive swimmer for four years). She has also instructed swimmers at all skill levels and is employed by the Municipality of Port Hope as a lifeguard. All this was accomplished in spite of health issues she experienced in Grade 10. She persevered and regained her confidence and her competitive edge. She also squeezed in 150 community-service volunteer hours in high school. This fall will find her headed to Western University to study biochemistry and genetics.

The evening had begun by continuing a tradition begun last year of recognizing outstanding athletes from the district’s two high schools, four more certificates were presented.

Cobourg Collegiate Institute stars were announced.

Jonathon Aitken has won awards in CCI soccer and basketball, and proved a stand-out athlete on the Ultimate Frisbee team. He represented CCI at OFSAA level in soccer (2023 in Windsor) and Ultimate Frisbee (2024 in Lakefield). As an athlete Jonathon leads both by example, with incredible energy and passion, and through his strong communication skills and motivational qualities. He has earned the respect of both peers and coaches while competing on teams during ever season of his four years at CCI/

Maria Linton (also a Ross Quigley award winner) has a list of athletic accomplishments that include first place in the 2023-24 COSSA Track and Field 1500-metre and 3000-metre events. She was also the Senior Girls cross-country champion, holder of the Senior Girls course record in COSSA, and ninth-place finisher in cross-country at OFSAA, Just this past weekend, she won the 3000-metre at OFSAA. She runs and trains with the Durham Dragons and, outside of school, has been very involved with the Northumberland Aquatic Club – not to mention her work as a lifeguard and swim coach.

St. Mary Secondary School had its own stars to boast.

Aurora Brydson is a multi-sport athlete competing with the St. Mary Thunder athletics during all three seasons for the last two years – after previously focusing on track and field in Grade 9 and, in Grade 10, becoming an award winner for Junior Girls Basketball and Junior Girls Volleyball and winning Junior Female Athlete of the Year. She has qualified for OFSAA track-and-field every year of high school, while also qualifying as a member of the Senior Girls Volleyball team this winter. With one year of high school remaining, she is sure to add to this impressive resume.

Nolan Rice has been a multi-sport athlete every year at St. Mary, competing in Thunder athletics for all three seasons. His award-winning performance on the boys’ basketball team led them to a Kawartha Championship this season. He also contributed positively on the boys’ volleyball and basketball teams, while adding badminton and boys’ rugby to his resume in Grade 12.

Emcee Joel Scott wound up the evening by reminding everyone that the CDSHF looks forward to next year’s group of inductees, and nominations must be in by Sept. 30. Details and forms are on the website.

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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