Sports Hall of Fame hon­ours 2017 inductees, high school stars

The Glengarry News - - Sports In The Glens - News


Staff Five area sports greats were of­fi­cially in­ducted into the Glen­garry Sports Hall of Fame (GSHOF) last week at a ban­quet with some 375 peo­ple in at­ten­dance at the Maxville & District Sports Com­plex.

The new inductees are Ger­ald Blair, Ed­win Hay, An­dre Poirier, Jean-Guy Ractliffe, and Serge Vail­lan­court.

Ac­cept­ing on be­half of her late hus­band, Ger­ald M. Blair of Maxville, who died in 2002, were his wife, Lorna Blair, and their son, Ken, who flew in from Al­berta on the same flight as past GSHOF in­ductee and for­mer CFL place­kicker John “J.T.” Hay (1991) to at­tend the ban­quet.

Ger­ald Blair played for the Maxville Mil­lion­aires, in 1955 tak­ing on the man­tle of coach. He would con­tinue to coach lo­cal teams, and his many con­tri­bu­tions to the game in­cluded sup­port­ing trav­el­ling hockey teams.

Ken Blair de­scribed his fa­ther as “a large man, a quiet man, who liked to play with his big toys—his big bull­doz­ers—in the sum­mer, and in the win­ter, he loved im­mensely spend­ing al­most ev­ery day at the old Ju­bilee Area in Maxville.”

Ger­ald Blair, a dec­o­rated WWII vet­eran, ran a heavy equip­ment and con­struc­tion busi­ness for fifty years and helped build Maxville’s curling club, of which he was a char­ter mem­ber. He also con­structed lo­cal foot­ball fields and base­ball di­a­monds.

Ken Blair pointed out John Mor­ris at a ta­ble and said he re­called his fa­ther spend­ing many hours with Mr. Mor­ris’ late mother, mi­nor league coach and past GSHOF in­ductee Gwen tro­phy when he was 17, and won a schol­ar­ship to Can­ton Col­lege in New York State where he scored 27 goals over his two-year stint with the ATC Norse­men.

Later in Buf­falo, An­dré Poirier played at SUNY for the Bulls. He col­lected nu­mer­ous col­le­giate sports awards.

He con­tin­ued to play hockey through­out his life on many teams and in many leagues, in­clud­ing 15 years with the com­pet­i­tive Or­leans Old Com­forts. He was also in­stru­men­tal in find­ing spon­sors for the re­in­stated women’s hockey pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa where his daugh­ter Rox­anne played.

In her gra­cious ac­cep­tance speech, Suzanne put her­self in her late hus­band’s shoes to thank his fam­ily, friends, rel­a­tives, and neigh­bours who helped and en­cour­aged him. She also men­tioned by name the peo­ple who

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kindly picked up a young An­dré as he hitch­hiked to Alexan­dria to play hockey.

“He would have also thanked ev­ery­one who helped him grow stronger,” said Mrs. Poirier. “JeanYves Jeau­rond, Stan­ley Fraser, Gwen Mor­ris, Gary Shep­herd, Gerry Simp­son, Billy Urquhart— there were so many.”

“And oh, I for­got to men­tion Pierre Brunet who ran the can­teen at the arena,” she added, to ap­plause from the au­di­ence. “He would feed An­dré many, many Sat­ur­days.”

The next in­ductee at the podium to re­ceive his in­duc­tion plaque was Green­field res­i­dent Jean-Guy Ractliffe, an in­ter­na­tional side­car rac­ing cham­pion and a worl­drespected chas­sis de­signer and builder in the sport de­scribed as “the weird­est, most ter­ri­fy­ing mo­tor­sport there is.”

Mr. Ractliffe thanked the GSHOF for rec­og­niz­ing the sport of side­car rac­ing, his spon­sors, his friends, and es­pe­cially his wife, Chris­tine, and of­ten co-rider, ”for hang­ing in there.”

Hang­ing in there is right when you con­sider the physics of side­car rac­ing. As Jean-Guy’s co-rider, Chris­tine Ractliffe is re­quired to shift her weight pre­cisely to guar­an­tee that the bal­ance on the ve­hi­cle is per­fect for ev­ery turn. In the straight­aways, co-rid­ers tuck as down as far down as pos­si­ble to achieve aero­dy­namic ef­fi­ciency.

The last in­ductee of the evening was the ever-ef­fer­ves­cent Serge Vail­lan­court, who was in­tro­duced by his younger brother, Michel Vail­lan­court. He de­scribed his brother’s re­mark­able ca­reer which be­gan a left-fielder at age 14 with the Alexan­dria men’s league when he won rookie of the year. The next year Serge switched to pitch­ing, and over the 16 years that fol­lowed, he pitched an es­ti­mated 1,200 games, strik­ing out ap­prox­i­mately 15,000 op­po­nents.

Michel Vail­lan­court, a for­mer team­mate of his brother’s, de­scribed sev­eral high­lights of Serge’s ca­reer, in­clud­ing a cer­tain Moose Creek fast­ball tour­na­ment which in­cluded teams from the pow­er­ful Ot­tawa Metro League that showed up with two, three, and in some cases, four pitch­ers.

“That par­tic­u­lar week­end, after win­ning the first two games, we had to play three games on Sun­day,” he re­counted. “Serge pitched all three games, win­ning the quar­ters, the semis, and a 5-0 win in the fi­nal—all against Ot­tawa teams. An amaz­ing per­for­mance.”

Mr. Vail­lan­court con­cluded by in­tro­duc­ing “The great­est fast­ball pitcher ever de­vel­oped in the county of Glen­garry County, my brother Serge.”

Serge Vail­lan­court thanked his first coach, Mike Depratto, for his nom­i­na­tion, the GSHOF Board for con­sid­er­ing him wor­thy of the hon­our, and con­grat­u­lated the other inductees say­ing, “It’s truly a priv­i­lege to be join­ing the Hall with such an out­stand­ing group.”

He also passed on his con­grat­u­la­tions to the ju­nior ath­letes and con­cluded by thank­ing his for­mer team­mates for their spec­tac­u­lar play. “They made me look good.”

The ban­quet’s guest speaker was vet­eran hockey player, Green Val­ley na­tive, and Corn­wall Na­tion­als head coach Joel Trottier, who cap­tained the Nats early in their in­au­gu­ral sea­son, cap­ping off a pro ca­reer that saw him play­with 12 teams in the US and in Europe. In



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IN­DUCTED: Sit­ting on the dais in front of the in­ductee por­traits by GSHOF artist Deb­o­rah Kerr are, from left, Serge Vail­lan­court, Jean-Guy Ractliffe, Suzanne Poirier (ac­cept­ing for the late An­dré Poirier), Ed­win Hay, and Lorna Blair (ac­cept­ing on...


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