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Bridgetown area residents honour local hall-of-famers

The 1959-60 “A” Boys Soccer Headmasters provincial champions. From left are Steve Walker (Jack Walker), Ken Pick (David Pick), Oscar Miller, Roy Mansfield, Ron Buckley, Linda Shaffner MacNeill (Mike Shaffner), Steve and Melissa Durling (Bobby Durling), Jack Ferguson, Geoff Flecknell (Bob Flecknell), Jim Gillis, Mackenzie Holman (Bob Hannam), Bill Jackson, Tim Jackson (Howie Jackson), Wally Jackson, Allan Leonard, Bob Lockett (David Urquhart).
The 1959-60 “A” Boys Soccer Headmasters provincial champions. From left are Steve Walker (Jack Walker), Ken Pick (David Pick), Oscar Miller, Roy Mansfield, Ron Buckley, Linda Shaffner MacNeill (Mike Shaffner), Steve and Melissa Durling (Bobby Durling), Jack Ferguson, Geoff Flecknell (Bob Flecknell), Jim Gillis, Mackenzie Holman (Bob Hannam), Bill Jackson, Tim Jackson (Howie Jackson), Wally Jackson, Allan Leonard, Bob Lockett (David Urquhart).

BRIDGETOWN - For the seventh year, Bridgetown citizens came together to honour their athletes at the Royal Canadian Legion auditorium. The theme of the 2016 induction ceremony on November 19 was a clear one: many of the inductees said they felt they had “returned home” despite a long absence from the community.

Sport was viewed as a bond for the community spirit for which Bridgetown has always been noted. The athletes were piped into the crowded room by Any Kerr. In his opening remarks, chair Dick Campbell recognized the demise of BRHS as an entity, but said “we look forward to following the sporting events at the new school which will produce future Hall of Fame inductees.”

Appropriate greetings from the Municipality of Annapolis County were brought by Warden Timothy Habinski. An excellent turkey dinner, prepared under the leadership of Bonnie Lightfoot, was served, after which Margie Chipman read the 2015-16 Honour Roll, a long list of singular achievements by Bridgetown athletes at different levels in various sports since the last induction. A moment of silence was observed for those previous inductees who had passed away recently.

Sport was viewed as a bond for the community spirit for which Bridgetown has always been noted. The athletes were piped into the crowded room by Any Kerr. In his opening remarks, chair Dick Campbell recognized the demise of BRHS as an entity, but said “we look forward to following the sporting events at the new school which will produce future Hall of Fame inductees.”

Appropriate greetings from the Municipality of Annapolis County were brought by Warden Timothy Habinski. An excellent turkey dinner, prepared under the leadership of Bonnie Lightfoot, was served, after which Margie Chipman read the 2015-16 Honour Roll, a long list of singular achievements by Bridgetown athletes at different levels in various sports since the last induction. A moment of silence was observed for those previous inductees who had passed away recently.

Builder Doug Oldford, left, began his career at BRHS in 1973 as a physical education teacher, coaching the boys’ basketball team.

Builder Doug Oldford

The first honoree of the evening was Builder Doug Oldford. In his remarks Doug confessed  that “basketball has been very good to me.” He began his career at BRHS in 1973 as a physical education  teacher, coaching the boys’ basketball team. As a competent, supportive and inclusive coach he saw the terrific bond which basketball supplied.  Consequently, in March 1980, he organized the first tournament in which alumni could come back, allowing the high school team to play against quality teams. The annual tournament has also recognized various supporters for their achievements: Duff Montgomerie, Don Merriam, Dennis Scanlan, Vernon Dakin, and James Mann. The tournament has become known as the Jack Walker Classic, in honour of the pioneering work of the first physical education teacher at BRHS. The two-day tournament, in its 37th year, has served as a homecoming for over 100 participants and 200 spectators each year, with Doug playing in 30 of them.

Coach Marven Taylor, left, was honoured for his expertise as a coach.

Coach Marven Taylor

Marven Taylor, the next inductee, was honoured for his expertise as a coach. From his early BRHS days he was a participant in many school sports, a highlight being a member of the 1982 provincial championship  “A” boys’ soccer team.  In 2000, he began his coaching career when his young daughter began playing summer soccer;  he would continue coaching her as well as his other two children, early inspirations for his future coaching assignments. Teams which benefitted from his coaching were soccer, hockey, basketball, track and field, and badminton. Significant wins were 2009 junior girls and 2012 junior boys 4 x 400 metre relay provincial bronze medal, 2013 junior boys’ hockey regional title, 2013 junior boys’ soccer provincial bronze medal, 2013 under-16 boys’ summer soccer provincial silver medal, 2014 senior boys’ soccer provincial champions, 2015 boys’ hockey provincial champions, 2016 senior boys’ soccer provincial champions. He continues to mentor athletes on an individual basis: in the community he is one of the five directors of the Trojan Sports Centre.

Athlete David Jones, left, dominated the Bridgetown Legion and BRHS track and field teams in the 1960s.

Athlete David Jones

The first athlete to be honoured was David Jones, who dominated the Bridgetown Legion and BRHS track and field teams in the 1960s, breaking records at local, provincial and national levels in shot put and discus. In 1963, he won both the provincial shot put and discus in Intermediate “B” boys; in the summer of that year, he would win both shot put and discus titles at Nova Scotia Age Class championships. At the 1964 Acadia Relays high school provincial championships, in the “A” boys’ division, he won both shot put and discus titles again, helping the Bridgetown Senior “A” boys win the provincial title. At the Antigonish Highland Games that summer, he was a repeat winner, being selected to represent Nova Scotia at the Canadian Olympic Trials. In 1965 he once again won the shot put and discus events at Acadia Relays. At the Highland Games, he won the junior division shot put, setting a new Canadian record. At Acadia University, his membership of its track and field team would help Acadia win the Maritime Intercollegiate Track and Field Championships in 1965 and 1966.

John McIsaac, (accepted by Elizabeth Ritchey, left) was a member of both the Bridgetown Legion and BRHS track and field teams in the 1960s.

John McIsaac

The second athlete to be honoured was John McIsaac, another member of both the Bridgetown Legion and BRHS track and field teams in the 1960s, winning accolades as a distance runner. In 1962, he won the Midget Boys Mile at the Provincial Age Class Championships with a new provincial record; at these championships in 1963, he won the two-mile run in record time followed soon by a Canadian Juvenile record victory. He represented Nova Scotia at the Canadian Age Class Championships, winning the 3000-metre run. At the Dominion Day track meet in Toronto, he placed first in Midget Boys Mile.  At the Antigonish Highland Games in 1964, he won the 880-yard run, as well as the senior men’s open three-mile run. At the Nova Scotia Age Class Championships he won the juvenile mile run: at the Eastern Canadian Age Class Championships he won the juvenile two-mile run. Coupled with the summer track season, each year John had outstanding performances  at the Acadia Relays, winning provincial titles for BRHS. In 1964 he won the provincial cross country title. In his absence, his sister Elizabeth Ritcey accepted his honour.

Athlete Brian Tidd, (accepted by Dean Tidd, left) was a member of the Bridgetown Legion and BRHS track and field teams.

Athlete Brian Tidd

The final athlete honoured was Brian Tidd, another member of the Bridgetown Legion and BRHS track and field teams. At the district high school track and field meet in 1987, Brian set a shot put record which still stands today. With successful performances at provincial high school championships in shot put and discus, Brian represented Nova Scotia at the Legion National Track and Field Championships. In 1989 he set a record in senior boys’ discus at the district meet which still stands today. In the provincial championships, he placed first in discus and third in shot put. Placing second in discus at a selection meet, he represented Nova Scotia in 1989 Canada Summer Games. In 1990, he represented Nova Scotia at the Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships in shot put and discus, setting  Junior records in both events. At the World Junior Warm-up Meet he would win silver in discus; at the Atlantic Coast Games in 1991, Brian won silver in discus. In his absence, his brother Dean accepted his honour.

Soccer Champs

Perhaps the emotional highlight of the evening was the induction of the 1959-60 “A” Boys Soccer Headmasters provincial champions, as a companion to last year’s induction of the 1959-60 “A” girls’ soccer team. The boys will be remembered for going undefeated in their quest for the provincial title. As well, this team had won the “B” boys’ provincial soccer title the previous year. After completing the regular schedule, these “young men” won the Western Valley Congress title by defeating Annapolis and Digby. They then defeated West Kings in a hard-fought series, followed by a dominant 5-0 victory over Liverpool of the South Shore zone. In the provincial finals, the team won the championship with a decisive 5-1 win over Halifax Municipal High School. Jack Walker was the team’s coach with help from Ken Buckley and Sydney Flecknell. Team members were Ron Buckley, Ed Clark (manager), Bob Durling, Jack Ferguson, Bob Flecknell,  Jim Gillis, Bob Hannam, Bill Jackson, Howie Jackson, Wally Jackson, Allan Leonard, Roy Mansfield, Oscar Miller,  David Pick, Michael Shaffner, John Sproule, and David Urquhart.

See photo at top of story.

The 1964-65 "A" Girls Volleyball Headmasters Provincial Champions. Back from left are Heather Bishop, Wanda Baker (Mary Banks Cowen), Heather Connell Pollock, Linda Messinger Coyle, and Sandra Messinger Fisher. Front from left are Reta Reece Blades, Sandra Tupper Adams, Margret Ann Whitman Purdy, and Sharon Connell Lycett.

Volleyball Champs

The other team to be inducted was the 1964-65 “A” Girls’ Volleyball Headmasters Provincial Champions. Practices for the team began in March 1965 in preparation for the Western Valley Congress Volleyball Tournament. The girls emerged victorious against teams from Annapolis Royal (15-6, 15-8), Digby (15-2, 10-15, 15-1)and Middleton (15-5, 15-2)with only a single loss to Digby. In another district competition, Bridgetown defeated Clare District High (15-6, 15-12). In the regional competition against Bridgewater and West Kings, a double-knockout competition, Bridgetown was victorious. Winning these games earned the girls a berth in the Provincial Headmasters Tournament against St. Pat’s from Halifax, OLA from Cheticamp and Musquodobit High. The Bridgetown team, with coach Heather Bishop, played the championship round against Musquodobit with a clear victory (15-5, 15-4, 15-3, 15-9). Team members were Mary Banks, Heather Connell, Sharon Connell, Linda Hannam, Linda Messinger, Sandra Messinger, Reta Reece, Sandra Tupper and Margaret Ann Whitman (manager).

Thus ended another evening of recognition and camaraderie for the family and friends of our local athletic heroes. Nomination forms for next year’s inductees can be downloaded from the Hall’s web site at www.bridgetownsporthalloffame.org  To view photos of the 2016 ceremony go to the web site to follow the links to the Induction Ceremony Picture Gallery. The permanent location for the Hall of Fame is the Trojan Sports Centre on Bay Road– drop in to see some Bridgetown history!

Article by John A. Montgomerie, educator, musician, and writer residing in Bridgetown.

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