By Dan Plouffe
For the first time in over four years, the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame held a live induction ceremony Wednesday evening at Lansdowne Park’s Horticulture Building.
Tim Higgins (athlete – hockey), Carol Anne Chenard (builder – soccer referee) and Earle Morris (builder – curling coach) all collected their sparkling glass mementos, while Jill Perry (athlete – boxing) and Murray Costello (builder – hockey administrator) were also unveiled as 2023 inductees prior to banquet, but were unable to attend due to an overseas coaching assignment and health considerations, respectively.
Ottawa Sport Hall chair Dave Best also announced at the event that a sixth new plaque would be hung in the Hall for former Major League Baseball player Erik Bedard, who makes his home in quiet Navan and asked that his induction be done equally quietly.
Full features on each of the inductees, as well as photos and videos from the event, can be found on OttawaSportHall.ca.
Morris’s speech – which began by recounting his roots growing up “dirt poor” and never meeting his father, but idolizing his grandfather curler – is one worth re-watching when the induction ceremony is broadcast on Rogers TV Ottawa on Oct. 11 at 9 p.m.
“I’m just so thrilled,” Morris said of his induction. “We made Ottawa our home about 40 years ago, so to be receiving these kinds of accolades in your hometown really feels special, especially since it’s such a great sports town.”
Higgins, 65, had a bleachers section’s worth of fans to cheer his induction, including several of his grandchildren.
“This night would not be possible without the people I’m very lucky to have in my life,” underlined Higgins during his remarks that touched the crowd with the thanks he gave to his supporters interwoven with his life story.
Chenard thanked her parents – speed skating officials themselves – and her family and friends, as well as the regional, provincial and national soccer associations who backed her.
“Being a fan of the referee is not an easy job,” she cracked.
Her final words were more serious however and certainly resonated with the gathered local sport crowd.
“The hardest games that I had as a referee were not my games in front of 70,000 fans, or finals of an Olympic Games,” Chenard noted. “They were when I was a young referee at the local park, trying to manage parents and adult coaches. I just knew everything that was said and it all felt very personal.
“We are facing a critical shortage of officials across all sports. Recognize that young referees are learning and they’re developing just like the players are. Take a referee course to better understand the laws to understand the rules of the sports that your children play, or volunteer as an official. And don’t be a bystander when there’s referee abuse.
“And as leaders, I also ask that you make an effort to increase representation. I’m wearing it today because a local team wrote to my provincial association to tell them that they thought that I had talent. I was given games based on my performance, not based on the fact that I was a female.
“But you have to take risks, make conscious decisions to make your sport inclusive, so that people can see themselves represented, and they can see the different pathways that are available for them to be involved in your sport.
“Thank you very much.”
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