Accomplished high-school athletes were celebrated by the Orillia Sports Council at its second-annual Breakfast of Champions Thursday morning.
“We really believe that if you’re going to respect and honour your past, you also have to build for the future,” Orillia Sports Council president Jeff Marchildon told the local athletes assembled at Brewery Bay Food Company. “We are all inspired by our kids every day to see what they can accomplish with their studies, with their athletics, and you’re embodying that every day. That’s why you’re here.”
Marchildon educated the students about the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame, which will induct its second class of honourees Saturday night.
“We hope someday you are inducted into the Orillia Sports of Fame,” he told the young athletes.
Legendary local boxer Walter Henry, a member of the inaugural class of inductees last year, encouraged the high-school athletes to work hard in their pursuits.
“Sports aren’t easy,” Henry, who was named Orillia’s greatest athlete last year, told the students. “You have to really dedicate yourself and give up everything else if you want to be a success.”
The diminutive boxer told the wide-eyed local athletes about his first fight as a young Irish lad — a bout that occurred July 6, 1949. “I still remember when I went back to my corner, putting my arms up to be lifted on to the stool — that’s how young I was,” he recalled with a smile.
In 1957, he and his family moved to Orillia and, soon after, he was invited to a weightlifting club in Gamebridge. In that old barn, he discovered a boxing ring, heavy bag and speed ball and asked the owner if he could train there. The owner agreed and soon discovered he had a talent on his hands. He brokered Henry’s first Canadian fight at the Palace Pier in Toronto.
From those inauspicious beginnings, Henry used his work ethic, passion and skill to become unstoppable. He developed into a nine-time Canadian champion, a two-time Irish champion and fought at the 1964 and 1968 Olympics. He was also an official at the 1976 Olympics.
“Competing in sports is very demanding,” Henry said. “You have to put your whole heart and soul into it. I worked very, very hard and gave up everything. It wasn’t easy. But anything is possible when you work hard.”
Four hard-working athletes from each of Orillia’s three high schools were then lauded for their accomplishments and sportsmanship. Each student, selected by coaches and athletic department officials, was presented with a certificate of achievement from the city.
Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School athletes Heidi Hayes, Jessica Fraser, Tanner Sleep and Tyler Gysbers were honoured. Hayes was a key member of the school’s basketball, tennis and volleyball teams. The basketball and volleyball teams qualified for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championship. Fraser won an OFSAA medal as a swimmer, was most valuable player of the girls’ slo-pitch team and played volleyball. Sleep played soccer, badminton and ultimate Frisbee and was a key player on his team’s OFSAA hockey team. Gysbers is Fogarty’s starting quarterback, plays basketball and was also a cornerstone of Fogarty’s strong hockey squad.
Twin Lakes Secondary School multi-sport athletes Gavin Long, Kennedy Hilton, Rachel Cameron and Michael Montgomery were also recognized. Long, characterized as “an athletic phenom” by coach Andrew Corry, was the co-captain and scoring star of Twin’s basketball team, played volleyball, badminton and competed in track and field. Hilton was described as “a leader and team player with incredible skill” who played volleyball, rugby and flag football. Cameron, “extremely committed, positive and calm in intense situations,” shone in both soccer and volleyball for the Thunderbirds. Montgomery, “an incredible captain and all-around all-star,” played volleyball and basketball and competed in cross-country running and track and field.
Orillia Secondary School chose deserving multi-sport athletes Jessica Roach, Kirsten Archer, Alexander Stirling and Carden Vickers to be recognized at the Breakfast of Champions. Roach is an accomplished Nordic skier who raced to a 10th-place finish this winter at OFSAA, while also excelling at badminton and track and field. Archer was chosen for her excellence in rugby, hockey, flag football and badminton. Stirling, a two-time OFSAA gold-medallist in wrestling who recently competed at nationals, was also recognized. His wrestling teammate, Vickers, was unable to attend the event.
The Breakfast of Champions precedes Saturday night’s Orillia Sports Hall of Fame dinner at Casino Rama. Olympic figure-skating medallist Brian Orser and former NHL star player and coach Rick Ley will be on hand to be inducted into the shrine alongside family members of posthumous inductees Harry Gill and Jake Gaudaur Sr.
Original Article by: By Dave Dawson, Orillia Packet & Times
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Link to Article: 2016 Breakfast of Champions
Photo By: Orillia Packet & Times
Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016