SACKVILLE, N.B. – Watching Ethan Crossman display the Memorial Cup recently as a member of the national junior champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan sparked a conversation about the
vast number of athletes from this region who have proved to be among the elite and, in many cases, gone on to become household names well beyond the riding of Tantramar. One may go back generations and come up with the names of Bobby Copp and George Allen. These two great hockey players left their mark in the NHL, with Copp holding down a defensive position with the Maple Leafs and Allen having a long career with Chicago Blackhawks.
Of course, who could ever forget the name Bill Harris. The Dorchester resident showed diversity, leading the Sackville Eagles to victory after victory on the ice before signing with Brooklyn Dodgers and enjoyed a brief stay in the Major Leagues. He performed remarkably in AAA ball and holds the all-time ERA record of 0.83 while performing in D Ball with Mobile.
Bill (Ral) Tracy was a master of various sports, but brought attention to our town as he settled in Quebec and led that province to four Canadian curling finals and then coached junior teams to similar finishes.
Heather Smith skipped New Brunswick to the Canadian junior championship and kept her rink at .500 at the world championship in Germany. Her sister Krista was also a member with their dad, Alan, as coach.
Looking at the world of boxing, Bob Edgett created a remarkable record, both as a boxer and coach. He won various military and national titles, even taking the Maritime Golden Gloves crown at age 44.
Ted Doncaster, a protégé of Edgett, moved to the professional ranks and punched his way to the New England light-heavyweight crown.
And Mark Adams, the man who now heads up the local boxing club, became the Canadian professional champion in his weight class. Numerous local boys brought home Canadian amateur crowns.
Even before all this, it was Chester (King) Cole who put Sackville on the map 100 years ago by skating to the world junior speed skating championship. A testament to his greatness may be viewed near the ball park on Lorne Street.
In the world of golf, two ladies stand out. Sarah Meldrum was the leading member of the provincial junior team that performed with so much success and later received a golf scholarship to a U.S. university.
Perhaps Ruth Maxwell has the record for longevity at the elite level. She has accumulated more hardware than any Sackville golfer and continues to be a favourite in
Sue Seaborn, who continues to swing a hot driver at the local club, earlier chalked up something like 19 championships at the Amherst club.
While Fred Carter and Kevin Read seldom left the confines of the local club they were head and shoulders above the opposition for many years.
Football, a sport that has quickly become the favourite in this region, continues to develop fine performers.
A few years ago, two Titan grads moved on with Bruce Harper setting records in Quebec junior ball while Laurie Holmes took his talents to both Ontario and Quebec and earned a good deal of attention.
Even during the past year Titan players continue to shine, with 11 performing for Team N.B. in U18 and U16 levels. Actually, Lucas Cormier and Oliver Longpre brought home MVP awards from the Canadian tournament. On top of this, Scott O’Neal, Wray Perkin, Kent Johnson and Michael Bohan served as coaches.
Bohan was an all-conference performer with the Mounties while Titan grads continue to move into the university ranks with no fewer than a half dozen currently employed there.
We have also had a trio of local boys called by CFL teams for tryouts – Peter Hess, Derek Fury and Mark Bohan.
And who could ever forget the exploits of Gail LeBlanc as a top-scoring forward with the Mounties in both basketball and hockey and later leading Memramcook to titles in fastball.
Hockey has perhaps produced more quality players than any other sport. In addition to Harris, the first to go was Hartley Estabrooks, who was with Niagara Falls Flyers in major junior and later played professionally in the U.S. and with Moncton. Vince Estabrooks also showed well in provincial and regional hockey and ball circles.
Of course Ethan Crossman has been tops among recent successful players, with Kyle Ward having a fine resume and now suiting up with Ottawa GeeGees in USport.
And Abby Beale has been among the tops of women’s ranks and now Lauren Shaw is taking her place beside Beale with the Mounties.
Earlier veterans such as Hymie Hunter and Alonzo Legere set scoring marks in the strong APC League in Nova Scotia. More recently there has been a spate of Sackville grads in the Maritime Junior Hockey League, including Liam Conrad, Will Lafford, Julian Galloway and Thompson Phinney.
Latest rumblings have Titan goalie Sam Tower being wooed by the Truro Bearcats after anchoring the Titan defense as they marched to the provincial high school championship.
It’s also reported teams like Springhill have been attempting to lure several graduates of the championship team.
And the parade goes on. It was recently learned that two young lads – John O’Neal and Oliver Hicks - were selected to play AAA atom hockey in Moncton last season.
Of course soccer has enjoyed its fair amount of success and this season will see two ex-Titans – MacKenzie Allen and Kare Ollerhead – in the Mountie lineup.
Several fine athletes may have been overlooked in our discussion but this list will provide readers with plenty of things to discuss.