HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
The Nepean Sports Wall of Fame welcomed eight new members into its elite athletic community in a unique manner Thursday night.
Wishing they could fill the Nepean Sportsplex salons with another crowd of 300, as they did in 2019, organizers followed current health and safety protocols because of the COVID-19 pandemic and held a virtual ceremony to increase the wall of fame membership to 84.
Hosted by CTV broadcaster Rosey Edeh and presented on YouTube, three coaches or managers, two builders, two athletes and one media member were inducted to celebrate the best in Nepean sports. The NSWF honours outstanding figures in its sports community every two years.
The ceremony, which took three nights to film, was staged in front of the wall of fame with the current plaques as a fitting backdrop. The wall honouring Nepean’s most noteworthy in sports is located in the lobby of the Nepean Sportsplex.
“Congratulations to all our new inductees,” said NSWF board chair Gavin Leishman. “They have made Nepean very proud through all their accomplishments and contributions to sport.
“Their plaques will be added to the Nepean Sportsplex lobby wall display to inspire future generations in our sporting community.”
Former NHL goaltenders Fred Brathwaite and Darren Pang were named as athletes, while Nepean Skating Club co-founder and coach Cynthia Reid and soccer’s Rene Braendli were selected as builders.
Hockey referee Mark Gallant, sprint canoeing’s Mark Singer and hockey’s Chris Byre were inducted as coaches/managers. Stu Schwartz was the first member of the media to earn a spot on the wall.
Brathwaite played nine seasons with Edmonton, Calgary, St. Louis and Columbus and posted a career record of 81 wins, 99 losses and 37 ties as well as 15 shutouts. He had a respectable goals-against average of 2.73 and save percentage of .901 over 254 games. He also played for Canada at the world men’s championships in 2000 (fourth) and 2001 (quarterfinals) and won a silver medal at the 1999 world junior championships.
A member of the Ottawa 67’s 1984 Memorial Cup championship team in his final year as a junior player, Pang went on to play 81 games for Chicago over three seasons in the 1980s. He had a record of 27 wins, 35 losses and seven ties, a goals-against average of 4.05 and a save percentage of .882.
A long-time hockey referee, Gallant has managed the refereeing program for the Ottawa District Minor Hockey Association and Hockey Eastern Ontario. At the 2006 Paralympics, he was an assistant coach of Canada’s gold medal-winning sledge hockey (now para hockey) team.
Singer has been a valuable member of the Rideau Canoe Club for more than 25 years. He represented Canada at the world junior championships and won eight national gold medals as a sprint canoeist. Singer has stayed in the sport as a coach for more than 15 years.
One of the Nepean Raiders’ most successful coaches, Byrne took the junior A team to four Central Junior Hockey League (now Central Canada Hockey League) championship finals, winning in 2003 and 2004 and being the finalist in 2005 and 2006. He also led the Raiders to the Fred Page Cup regional title and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup national tournament in 2004. The Raiders lost the Page Cup final in 2003. Byrne has been part of the amateur scouting program for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings since 2014.
Reid was a co-founder of the Nepean Skating Club, where she spent more than 40 years teaching a variety of students the technical elements and choreography associated with figure skating. She also coached NSWF member Janet Morrissey to the 1979 Canadian senior women’s singles title and a berth in the world championships. Reid and Morrissey also shared a second-place result at the 1980 nationals.
Braendli has been a long-standing contributor to Ottawa’s soccer community and was a founding member of the Ottawa South United organization. He has played an important role in the development of girls’ soccer throughout Ottawa and received the Centre Circle Award in 2019 from Ontario Soccer for his dedication and passion for the growth of local soccer.
For more than a dozen years (2006-18), Schwartz was the Ottawa Senators’ public address announcer for the NHL team’s home games as well as being the Sens TV host, and the emcee for Senators’ events.
A popular radio morning show host, Schwartz’s voice also could be heard at the 2007 Stanley Cup finals, the 2005 and 2008 NHL Drafts, the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series against Colorado in Stockholm, the 2009 IIHF World Junior championships and the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. Schwartz also was the PA announcer for women’s hockey and some men’s hockey games at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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