By Pierre Sanz, Durham College Journalism Student
The Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame has been inspiring athletes since it opened in 1986. It began in 1982 when Oshawa City Council made a request to open the Hall of Fame and the Oshawa Civic Auditorium Corporation formed a committee to make it happen.
“How it all started was back in 1982,” explains Dan Walerowich, the current chairman of the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, “there was a city council at the time and they made a comment about how it would be nice to have a Hall of Fame in Oshawa that would recognize the accomplishments of athletes in the community.”
In 1983, the founding Board of Governors for the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame were approved by Oshawa City Council. Council also approved a constitution with a mission to recognize and honour the great achievements of individual athletes and teams in Oshawa who have accomplished excellence and notoriety in sports and have also made a huge influence to the expansion of sport.
Terry Kelly, who was the chairman of the founding Board of Governors in 1986, was approached about making the Hall. He put together an induction committee to get the creation of the Hall going. The committee had Eric Wesselby, Charles Pell and Steve Keating, to name a few.
On May 21, 1986, the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame was officially opened by name, the chairman of the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The Oshawa Civic Auditorium was the home of the Hall of Fame when it first opened.
A total of 34 inductees were honoured during the first ceremony. Ever since then, an annual induction ceremony with free admission has been held on the last Wednesday in May.
A few of the first inductees back in 1986 were Barbara Underhill (skating), Bill Dell (football), Eddie Westfall (hockey) and Andrew Stewart (baseball). All of them were born in Oshawa.
From day one, Walerowich says the Board wanted to open a museum and showcase athlete memorabilia.
The first logo the Hall of Fame adopted lasted from 1986-2006 then a new logo was released. The new logo, which was unveiled once the museum opened, has four pillars in it, which represent ability, sportsmanship, character and contribution.
After the Hall of Fame was located at the Oshawa Civic Auditorium, in 1997 the Board of Governors wanted to move the location from its corridors to a 2,100 square foot fitness room adjacent to the box office lobby at the facility.
On April 7, 2008, mayor John Gray approved the move into the General Motors Centre. When the GM Centre was changed to the Tributes Communities Centre, the Hall of Fame was not impacted.
The Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame had a big impact on Nick Springer. Springer is an inductee from 1992 for his achievements in soccer.
Springer is a Hungarian native who arrived in Oshawa in 1958. He is the founder of the Oshawa Turul Soccer Club, which has over 3,000 members. Thanks to his work in founding the club with his organizational abilities, Springer was granted three outstanding National Achievement Awards.
Once the Hall opened in 1986, Springer always thought of being inducted as a dream. What helped him achieve his induction was his contribution to local soccer, along with his success. Springer led the Oshawa Turul under 19 team to gold at the Sao Paulo Cup in 1985. He was recognized with the 1987 Olympic Celebration Medal as a coach.
Springer was always a very modest guy. “I don’t know if I deserve to be here,” he said in an Oshawa This Week article after his induction in 1992.
The history of the Hall of Fame will continue to grow and become richer every year as new athletes get inducted. The next induction will take place Wednesday, May 30, 2018.
The land where we stand is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.
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