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Mike Hennessy, Lawyer
Caruso Club
Wednesday, Jun. 28, 2017
Hall of Famers gather for breakfast
2017-05-09
by Randy Pascal

With just over a month to go before their special night, some members of the Sudbury Sports of Fame Class of 2017 gathered for the traditional media reception breakfast at Eddie's Restaurant last week, sharing memories throughout the room.

There is no doubt the group is a varied one, ranging from lifelong Sudburians, to those who were born here and pursued their sporting passions elsewhere, and finally those who moved to this area and completely engrained themselves in the sporting fabric of the Nickel City.

Long-time Laurentian University School of Human Kinetics professor Pat Pickard is certainly in that final classification. "I was a maritimer, but I have considered for a long time now Sudbury to be my home," she said. "I came here in 1967 to stay for one year, and that was 49 and a half years ago."

The only coach the women's field hockey program at Laurentian ever knew, Pickard also served as the university Athletic Director for a stint, though her strongest ties to the community lie through her teaching career.

"The connection I probably have most with Sudbury is with the high school teachers and coaches that I taught that are still in the system," she said. "I am so proud of the fact that so many of them stayed in Sudbury and made a contribution to Sudbury."

And while Laurentian might sometimes be viewed as a stand-alone institution, Pickard is adament about the role that it must play within our city. "I think the university always needs to be tied to the Sudbury community," she said. "I think that's really, really important."

That same sense of belonging was reflected in a conversation with Noreen Barbe, widowed sister-in-law to posthumous inductee Andy Barbe (1923-2004). The eldest of eight children in a naturally athletic family, Barbe would leave this area to pursue his hockey career, but not without regrets.

"Andy left at a young age, but he loved Coniston, he really, really loved his hometown," stated Noreen. "When he came back to Coniston, he always remembered the people." His hockey journey would take him initially to the west coast, dressing with both the Oakland Oaks (1945-46) and the Los Angeles Monarchs (1946-49).

He moved east in the fall of 1949, spending six seasons with the Pittsburgh Hornets, a stretch that included a singular NHL game with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1950-51), and eventually settled in Pennsylvania, pursuing a 32 year career as a mason.

"Andy was also a really good baseball player," Noreen continued. "Joe (her late husband and Andy's youngest brother) would always say that "my brother could run like a deer". I don't even know hockey, but Andy was Joe's idol."

Bill McKetsy is also a man of many sports, though moreso as a coach, official and administrator. Yet it is in the role that he continues to perform to this day, a mainstay at the Rainbow Board series of elementary track meets, where he finds his true identity.

"Track and field means the most to me," said McKetsy. "Starting with Errol Gibson in the sixties and organizing the Sudbury Track & Field Club. Really, that's where it all started."

A strong advocate of sports tourism over the years, McKetsy believes a message needs to be sent to those who continually oppose pursuing top-end sport competitions. "Sudbury has to look forward, I think, in terms of what is going on around the province and in the rest of the country," he said.

"There are things that we need to advance in this City, for our kids, our young athletes." This trio will join five other individual inductees - Mary Waddell, Bob Rogers, Ron Didone, Mike Derks and Mario Anselmo - as well as the 1999-2000 Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats come June 14th at the Caruso Club, site of the 49th Annual Sports Celebrity Dinner.

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