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So many ways to celebrate the Sports Hall of Fame Class
2023-06-26
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For the likes of Gary Foy, Christine Jaworski, Tessa Bonhomme and others, entry into the Greater Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame last week only strengthened their ties to the community that they have always called home - even during the periods of their lives that take them away from northern Ontario.

For other 2023 inductees, like Jeffrey Buttle and John Beedell, for instance, the ties to this region do not date back to birth - but certainly do not make their bonds to Sudbury any less meaningful.

"The Sudbury connection for me is really when I became a competitive skater," noted Buttle, a bronze medal winning figure skater at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy who was born in Smooth Rocks Falls but moved to Sudbury at a relatively early age.

"Before that, I was skating in clubs that were more recreational. You did it for fun, which was wonderful - that's where I fell in love with the sport, for sure. Moving to Sudbury, Wendy (long-time coach Wendy Philion) taught me how to train, she taught me discipline and still nurtured my love for the sport."

"She remained as my longest standing coach."

She and Buttle's family were also on hand for his shining Olympic moment, the biggest source of pride according to the 40 year old 2008 World Champion.

"In that setting (Olympics), you are isolated from family," said Buttle. "I knew that they were there, I knew they were in the building but I hadn't seen my family during the Olympics."

"On the podium, I could lose focus and finally scan the building and up ner the top of the building, I could see Wendy and my family standing and cheering for me. It was a huge moment to know that the people who really made it happen were there with me in the building."

"It felt amazing."

In late summer of 1960, at the time when John Beedell and Joe Derochie represented Canada and the Sudbury Canoe Club at the Olympic Games in Rome, the pragmatics of having family on hand were substantially more daunting.

All of which made the recent induction of his father (John), who was born in New Zealand in 1933, was introduced to paddling upon his move to the north in the late 1950s and sadly passed away in 2014 all the more interesting for Jeff Beedell.

"Sports stories were almost like war stories; my dad didn't talk about it much," noted the highly respected lawyer who was called Ottawa home for much of his life and represented the family at the Sudbury Dinner last week.

"There's so many things now that he has passed that I wish I had asked him about. This invitation to come and speak and be part of the induction proved to be a very personal journey for me, one that I had not anticipated."

"I did some research, checked some facts with my mom and came away for more settled knowing that I had a much better picture of what it would have been like, what that five years would have been like paddling with Joe."

In fact, one area of discovery would come via the awareness that was gained as to the role that Don Stringer (Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame - 2019) enjoyed in the future paddling success of John Beedell.

"My dad was very late to the sport; it was Don and his family that really got him fired up about the sport," opined Beedell. "I knew Don by reputation only, reading the book by Fred Johnston (Book of Champions of Canadian Canoe Association - 1900-84) - but I did not realize the impact that he had on my dad."

Not to mention the partnership with Derochie, who is making his way back to Ontario this summer from his home in British Columbia, taking part in a long canoe excursion along the Trent-Severn Waterway with a group that includes his brother, Dave, still residing along the North Channel about an hour outside of Sudbury.

"I can only imagine how two people who were six years apart in age could team up in a sport like that and do what they did," said Beedell. "That's a pretty unusual matchup."

Beedell and Buttle were part of the 2020/2022 Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame Classes that were recently feted, along with Foy, Jaworski and Bonhomme and a group that featured: Gary Trevisiol, Robert Esmie, Jim Logan, the Fighting Fielding Brothers (Cliff/Cecil/Carmen), Brent Hatton, Karen Duguay Bunting, the Capreol Fastball Mazzucas, Fabio Belli, Gilles Lafrance and Terry Crisp.

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