The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016 has a definite Central Alberta flavor.
All together 14 individuals and several teams were on the list of inductees which ranged from football to rodeo.Four of those athletes call this area of Alberta home and the teams getting in played their sport in Red Deer.
The name Butterfield might ring a bell to anyone who has been near a rodeo in this province. Brian, Tom and Vernon Butterfield of the Ponoka area gained entrance to the hall under the Rodeo Pioneer award.
“Years ago when we used to bulldog, when I had to get up (to speak) I’d say I’m long in action and short on words,” explained Brian as he said thanks for the nomination to the hall. “Now that I’m 85 years old I’m damn sure I’m short on action and words to boot.”
The actions of the Butterfield’s speak louder than any words when it comes to being part of so much rodeo history.
Another Ponoka resident, Marilyn Chidlow was inducted as a figure skater builder. She has been volunteering in the sport for more than 30 years with groups like the Ponoka Figure Skating Club and Skate Canada Board of Directors. She recalled spending plenty of time in the old Ponoka Arena where they used barrels of water to flood the ice as there wasn’t a Zamboni at that time.
Chidlow got the call about her induction while sitting in a parking lot in Edmonton during a visit with her granddaughter. It’s a memory she said she will treasure.
“I truly am appreciative of the Alberta, Northwest Territories,Nunavut section for their nomination to put me here today, in this room with all these photos, all of these wonderful people.”
The Red Deer College Kings volleyball teams from 1999-2007 were the other local inductees. This group won eight consecutive CCAA National Championships which is an amazing feat.
“In order to win eight championships you have to go something like 46-0 in playoffs. So to go 46-0 in playoffs is pretty impressive,” said Keith Hansen, the head coach of those teams. “But you don’t start off looking at that. You honestly try to prepare for each one.”
He says he never wore a piece of clothing or a ring which marked the championship during the next season because his line of thinking was it’s a new season and it doesn’t matter what happened last year.
In college sports where there is so much turn over in personnel Hansen says it was the veterans of those teams which should get the credit for the success.
He said work extremely hard to create a tradition, to create expectations, to create a behavior that represents your team.
“That’s best passed on by the players. So as a coach you hold them to a high standard but there’s nothing as positive, nothing as powerful as players holding each other accountable and I think the veterans did an incredible job of taking the young ones when they showed up at our program and saying this is what it means to be a King.”
At one point the Kings had six players on Canada’s National team which underlined the phenomenal athletes on the roster over the years.
Hansen says out of the eight titles won over the years there isn’t one which really stands out of the bunch.
“They all stood out for different reasons. There were a couple where I left the gym saying I can’t believe how well we played and there was a couple where I said we ground that one out.”
Hansen says the induction ceremony should be a great night for these players who have stayed close friends in spite of the miles which might prevent them from getting together.
The annual Hall of Fame banquet goes June 3rd in Red Deer.