Nickel City Nostalgia: A time of pure paradise for local sports fans

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Many times Sudbury has been the center of sporting events, with countless provincial and national championships enjoying the enjoyment of all that makes Nickel City so special.

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However, any period is unlikely to come close to 1983, and particularly the period from early August to early September.

The backdrop, if you will: celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the creation of Sainte Anne des Pins, the Jesuit settlement when the town of Sudbury was born some 10 years later and blessed with a boatload of new sporting facilities, local organizations took the opportunity to welcome visitors to the town for sporting competitions of all kinds.

With the Labatt Brier calling the shots in March 1983, the feverish pace picked up until late summer. Consider for a moment the spate of activity where the Canadian Games for the Physically Disabled, the Canadian National Senior Men’s Baseball Championship, and the Ontario Summer Games all took place in the same city, all within a little over three weeks or so.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Everyone climbed onto the moving train that year to bring people into town.

Reunion 1983 created a series of gatherings, including several with a sporting aspect, that welcomed graduates from Sudbury High School, Sudbury Mining and Technical School (which later became Sheridan Technical School) and the current Sudbury Secondary School (which merged all of the above). . to remember days gone by.

The Warren Gingell-Alex MacPherson golf tournament followed directly on from the Tech High Grades basketball game, which featured names that live on in local hardcourt lore to this day: John Tymchuk (Jr. and Sr.), Jim Hann, Chucker Ross , Frank Bell, Ted Evans, Connie Jarrett, Ray Owens, Don Sarmatiuk, Peter Andler, David Sitko, Dave McKnight and Tom Hopkin were all part of the celebrations.

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A post-game “Coaches Roast” filled a packed hall with laughter and merry banter as friends and colleagues recognized the incredible contributions MacPherson and Gingell, Joe Costigan and Ellis Hazen made to Sudbury High School’s sport.

That theme followed just weeks later when two of Sudbury’s most celebrated hockey mentors took the spotlight at an evening honoring the impressive resumes of Toe Blake and Al Arbor. Locals rallied a who’s who of well-wishers, including Montreal Canadiens captain and Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau.

No sport was neglected, the calendar of events was packed to the brim. With Sudbury Olympic cyclist Gary Trevisiol just a year away from competing in the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, his hometown hosted the Ontario Provincial Cycling Championships at Copper Cliff.

Rob Seaman, who would also represent this area at the Summer Games in Ontario, finished fifth in his race, with Sudbury Cycling Club teammate Mike McInnis just two places behind. At the accompanying Caruso Club Festival, locals dominated the winners circle, with all of the following winners emerging: Eric Versterback (Novice), John Wornig (Senior 1), David Spears (Elite), David Girolametto and Dan Bartoli (Senior II). Trevisiol conquered the 400 meter sprint.

The Royal Canadian Legion Provincial Athletics Championships provided a wonderful start to the athletics portion of the Ontario Summer Games, with several local teenagers competing in both competitions.

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Highlighted by the likes of Dave Savage, Marnie Pettit and Lisa Stone, the Sudbury representation in the T and F disciplines also assembled Melinda Lucas, Jane Wardill, Kathryn Stoner, Cy Maxwell, Vic Wasylenko, Drew Innes, Mike Ellis, Steve Langille and Darry Hay, Tim Dunthorne and John Gibson.

The stands of Laurentian University Stadium were bustling like never before as more than 4,000 spectators flocked to the opening ceremonies of the Canadian Games for the Physically Disabled about two weeks later. With Ontario Lieutenant Governor John Black Aird and Games Chairman Charlie Laberge on stage, the evening came to life with the unveiling of the Games mascot, Charlie, and the singing of the national anthem by Sudbury teenage sensation Leisa Way .

The games were a great success, setting 41 new records and Ontario leading the medal parade with a total of 72, 39 of which were gold.

As the pan-Canada group of athletes made their way from Northern Ontario for this multi-sport extravaganza, the next delegation arrived, a variety of provinces represented on baseball nationals. Local hopes rested on the shoulders of the Sudbury Shamrocks, who opened the game against Quebec in front of a boisterous crowd at the Terry Fox Sports Complex.

“Everyone is feeling really good and confident that we can stage a first class championship in Sudbury,” said tournament chairman Eldon McDonald.

And when the eyes of the sports world weren’t on Sudbury, it was local athletes who made headlines outside of town when swimmer Alex Baumann and basketball star Eli Pasquale won three of Canada’s nine gold medals at the 12th World University Games in Edmonton.

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Still, Baumann made his way home, opting to skip the Pan Am Games in Venezuela to give his body time to recover in anticipation of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles (a very wise decision, we’d think). most agree). The world record holder stayed active and made time to compete in the two-mile Moonlight Swim, stage three of the Sudbury Fitness Challenge, finishing well ahead of Alex Wallingford, with Mike Chmara in third place.

In the women’s race, Sylvia Boissonault and Kim Vendette took the top two places, while in the one-mile swim, former Laurentian Swim Club member and Lockerby graduate Peter Ferguson edged out Tony Staalstra.

Yes, it was a summer full of highlights, both on the part of local athletes and those from coast to coast making their way to a city that was once as premier a sports tourism destination as any other venue in Canada.

Those were the days indeed – a time of pure paradise for local sports fans.

Nickel City Nostalgia airs every other week on The Sudbury Star.


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