By Woodard, Dale on February 22, 2020.
The Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame is celebrating its 35th anniversary by announcing six new inductees.
One athlete, one team and four builders who have contributed significantly to the athletics history of Lethbridge and southern Alberta will join the ranks of more than 320 past inductees at the 2020 induction ceremony on May 1 at the Canadian Western Bank Lounge in the Enmax Centre.
This year’s inductees are:
Jolene Watson (Schweitzer) – soccer
Jolene Watson’s fierce efforts on the soccer pitch carried her all the way from Lethbridge to Oklahoma, where she carved out a record-breaking university career. Growing up in Lethbridge as Jolene Schweitzer, she played her minor soccer in her hometown and led the 82 Chargers program to a combined seven indoor and outdoor provincial championships between 1996 and 2000. Her skill carried her even higher, as Schweitzer made Alberta provincial teams in 1998 and 1999 and won a national U-17 gold medal in 1999. She was invited to Canada’s women’s national team training camp in 2000. Her efforts led her to NCAA Division I play, where her offensive skills were on full display over four memorable campaigns for Oklahoma State University. She graduated as Big 12 Conference’s all-time leader in goals, points and shots, in addition to holding many school records. She made the All-Big 12 first team in 2003 and second team in 2004, while also earning conference academic honours in both years. She was Big 12 Player of the Week four times and was named OSU Offensive Player of the Year in three of her four seasons. Following her university career, Watson returned to Lethbridge where she continued to contribute to the city’s soccer scene, suiting up for Lethbridge FC of the Alberta Major Soccer League.
1983 Schwartz Angels – Canadian slo-pitch champions
In the summer of 1983, Lethbridge’s Schwartz Angels slo-pitch team rose to the heavens as the best team in the country. The Angels, a colourful collection of offensive and defensive dynamos, won the Alberta senior men’s championship to qualify for the national championship tournament in Kentville, N.S. Early in the national championships, the Angels met their match in the Ontario reps from Windsor, who beat the Angels 10-7. But it would be the only setback of the round robin for the Angels who rolled to wins over Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Yukon to qualify for the playoffs with a 3-1 record. That set up a rematch with Ontario to begin the double elimination playoff, and again the Ontario team came out on top, 9-1. The Angels redeemed themselves through the B-side, with wins over Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and B.C. to advance to the final against their nemesis from Ontario. The third time was the charm as the Angels finally outdueled Ontario 6-1, setting up a winner-take-all showdown between the teams. Pitching his third game of the day, Bob Lanman was excellent on the mound and went 3-for-3 at the plate. He was supported by four homeruns, including a three-run shot by Doug Roberts as the Angels won 8-5 to collect the Canadian championship. Harvey Pocza was named tournament MVP, while Dave Snopek and Bill Henderson earned spots on the all-tournament team.
Eunice David – figure skating
For nearly half a century Eunice David has been the face of figure skating in Lethbridge. She is a hands-on volunteer, literally, as her introduction to the sport was helping to sew costumes when her children joined the Lethbridge Skating Club in the early 1970s. Within two years she was elected to the club’s board of directors where her passion for helping young skaters could flourish. From 1974 through 2011, David served a multiple terms on the board, holding a variety of roles including President and treasurer. In 1983 she received her judging certification and served 36 years in the judge’s box at hundreds of competitions across western Canada. She had a special skill for making skaters feel comfortable and even their toughest days on the ice were met with a smile and kind words from Eunice who has a knack for finding a positive in any performance. David founded the Chinook Open Skating Competition in 1992 and chaired the event for more than a decade. She volunteered at the Canada Winter Games in 1975 as well as at Skate Canada International events in 1990 and 2015. She has held a variety of other roles too numerous to list, and has earned multiple volunteer awards from Skate Canada. After nearly 50 years involved in figure skating in southern Alberta, David is finally slowing down on the volunteering front, having had a positive influence on the lives of thousands of young skaters.
Mary Dyck – soccer, volleyball and wheelchair basketball
Mary Dyck’s own passion for sports has spurred her to make sure athletics are as accessible for as many others as possible. A university volleyball player, Dyck transferred to the University of Lethbridge in 1980, but had to sit out a year because of transfer regulations. She assumed a spot on the sidelines as an assistant coach, which ignited a passion for coaching that has carried her throughout nearly 40 years of coaching, organizing and mentoring. After her time with the Pronghorns volleyball team, she became the first coach of the U of L women’s soccer program in 1986 and led the team for the next four seasons. She returned to B.C. as head coach of the Trinity Western University women’s volleyball team where she won a conference championship in 1991 and led her team to seventh place at nationals. Returning to southern Alberta, Dyck spent the next three decades coaching soccer and volleyball at the high school, club and provincial team levels, guiding hundreds of young athletes. An advocate for inclusivity in sports, she revived the Lethbridge Wheelchair Basketball Association in 2013 and has managed the competitive Lethbridge Steamers wheelchair basketball team. She planned and facilitated a women’s soccer symposium at the Women’s World Cup in Edmonton in 2015. And, since 2015, she has managed Canada’s men’s and women’s deaf volleyball national teams, continuing her long tradition of making sure everyone can be involved in sports.
Cliff Nelson – multi-sport
There are few individuals who have contributed to so many different organizations in Lethbridge for as long as Cliff Nelson has. Among the sports and organizations where he has contributed his time and expertise are hockey, curling, golf, slo-pitch, the Alberta Summer and Winter Games, the Hockey Hounds, the Lethbridge Oldtimers Sports Association, and the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame. Nelson is credited as one of the leaders behind Oldtimers Hockey in Lethbridge, as he created the Silver Streaks team and later became chair of the Lethbridge Oldtimers Hockey Tournament committee. He has served as president of both the Lethbridge Oldtimers Sports Association and the Lethbridge Hockey Hounds, helping both groups connect with local organizations throughout the city, supporting a variety of young athletes, teams and not-for-profit groups. Known as a volunteer who takes on jobs to make sure they are done to completion was on display as construction committee head for the 2007 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and a volunteer for the 2012 Alberta Summer Games. Nelson’s legacy is also tied directly to the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, as he served as president and helped to reinvigorate interest in the hall at a time where it was lagging. Nelson is the definition of a true multi-sport builder.
Howard Rasmussen – volleyball
Howard Rasmussen is as close to a resident expert in southern Alberta volleyball as one will find. His coaching career started in Drumheller in 1972 when he took off the fall semester from university. He coached the high school boys’ volleyball team to a provincial championship, and he was hooked on coaching from that point on. Stops in Edmonton to coach club teams and a return to Drumheller to continue his high school coaching career led to Rasmussen’s appointment as head coach of the men’s volleyball team at the University of Lethbridge in 1983. He coached the Pronghorns for three seasons before turning his focus to teaching younger athletes. He coached at Hamilton Junior High School and then at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. Rasmussen coached the Rams from 1989 to 2000 and developed the Rams into a powerhouse on the local and provincial scenes. He had impressive recruitment skills, as he attracted football, basketball, baseball and track athletes to join the volleyball program. In 2000, he moved to Japan to teach English and coach volleyball, before returning to Lethbridge. He is now retired from coaching, and was inducted into the Alberta Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2009. He continues to be an avid fan and supporter of the sport he loves.
The Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame has inducted more than 320 members since its formation in 1985 as part of the City of Lethbridge’s Centennial celebrations. The mandate of the hall is to identify and honour not only contemporary individuals, but also those who have excelled in sport at some time since the founding of Lethbridge.