Inductees named to local sports hall of fame 0
COLLINGWOOD — Five local residents and two teams have found local sports immortality.
The Collingwood Sports Hall of Fame will induct five individuals and two teams when it holds its biennial induction ceremony in October.
Golfers Brian French and Mike Jackson, sailor Adrian Vandenhoven, swimmer David MacKechnie, and Collingwood Sailing School director Brian Bailey received the nod by the hall of fame selection committee.
The Collingwood Collegiate junior football team, which went undefeated last season on its way to a Central Ontario bowl championship, and the Collingwood Blackhawk Atom A squad, which earned OMHA and OFA championships as well as an International Silver Stick title, have also been named to the hall of fame.
"This is a great end to a very special season for the team to be named into the Sports Hall of Fame," said the Atoms' head coach, Chris Sproule. "We are honoured to be entering the hall with the other inductees, it is a great group of athletes.
"It is nice to see that all of the hard work and commitment by our players and coaches will be recognized in the history of Collingwood sports, I’m very happy for the players that their unbelievable season will never be forgotten, they deserve it."
French, the head pro at Mad River Golf Course south of Stayner, sees his induction as "validation" for his efforts to promote the sport in the area.
"It makes me feel good about my career," said French, who is a five-time member of the Ontario Titleist team, and a 10-time winner on the provincial professional tour. "It is a validation, and proves people appreciate what I've done for golf in the area."
French is also pleased to be inducted with long-time friend Jackson.
"We've had a lot of years playing golf," said French, noting the pair used to play golf on the course that was once across the road from the high school — "you had to be tough to play there," he said with a laugh — before becoming members of what was then the nine-hole Blue Mountain Golf & Country Club.
"We took different paths — he plays amateur, and I'm a professional — and it's nice to be thought of; I'm happy for both of us," said French.
Jackson is the top-ranked senior male amateur golfer in the province, was the 2003 mid-amateur provincial champion, and has numerous club championships for Blue Mountain Golf & Country Club, the Midland Golf & Country Club, and the Georgian Bay Club.
Jackson noted it cost him $15 a season at the Collingwood golf course developed by Roy Brock, and he and his brother Paul would often play 45 holes in a day.
"It was great to develop through that," said Jackson, who joins his dad, Ken Jackson in the hall of fame.
The senior Jackson — 'Jeep' — was inducted in 1984 as a hockey player and builder.
"I feel real humbled to get in with him, and the many others," said Jackson. "Plus, there's the support of my family — they know what I love doing."
"You start playing golf, and you enjoy it… you work at it, you get better at it," he said.
Jackson will be playing in the Ontario Senior Championship in Midland next week — he still holds the course record, a 63 he shot in 1979 in the final round of the club championship. He'll be headed off for the Canadian Senior Championship later in the month, and will also try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Amateur.
Brian Bailey is the lone inductee in the 'builder' category, for his work to revitalize the Collingwood Sailing School. Bailey took over the school in 2001, after his son, Kyle, took part in the program and signed on as an instructor.
Bailey saw that his son was the lone instructor, managing four boats, and decided to get involved to improve the school. In 2004, Bailey formally incorporated the school as a not-for-profit organization.
Today, about 120 kids go through the program each summer, under the direction of four or five instructors — most of whom have risen through the ranks as students, and then student-instructors.
The school offers Canadian Yachting Association White Sail I, II, III and Bronze IV & V courses from early July through mid-August.
"It's given me a great deal of pleasure seeing these kids learn how to sail," said Bailey. "It's been a lot of fun seeing these people develop."
Vandenhoven was the first Canadian to complete a solo race in all five Great Lakes, and was the 2000, 2001, and 2008 Georgian Bay Sailing Regatta champion.
MacKechnie is one of the most accomplished swimmers to graduate from the Collingwood Clippers. He holds 60 short- and long-course club records, was a member of the 2003 Ontario swim team, was first in the 100 metre and second in the 200 metre breaststroke at the British Youth National and Open Championship, and was a five-time Ivy League breaststroke champion in 100 and 200 metre as a member of the Cornell University swim team.