The sporting heroes of Haliburton County were recognized at the first-ever Haliburton Highlands Sports Hall of Fame (HHSHF) induction ceremony June 18.
More than 200 people crowded into the A.J. LaRue Arena to celebrate people whose achievements in sports will now be on public display.
The hall of fame occupies a nook in the top level of the arena, with each inductee’s history described on a commemorative plaque.
As each name was read by HHSHF chair Roger Trull, videos celebrating each person or team’s sporting contributions rolled across a large screen.
A community member gifted each inductee a personalized glass award officially marking their status as a Highlands legend.
“We are going to celebrate athletes who have worked so hard to perform at a high level in their given sport… athletes who have dedicated themselves to being the very best they can be,” Trull told the crowd.
He went on to explain how the hall of fame also celebrates “builders (coaches and organizers) “who have given their time and expertise in order that others might succeed.”
Lastly, Trull said the event celebrated the County’s famous teams, “that have experienced incredible success.” A board of community members, previously led by Scott LaRue, has been preparing the hall of fame for nearly five years, with the induction ceremony postponed multiple times due to COVID-19.
At the long-awaited ceremony, high school students Brooke Stover and Jackson Wilson told the crowd how sports have impacted their lives. “Sports have a wonderful way of connecting people and creating a safe place,” Stover said.
Wilson said COVID-19 has made him appreciate the chance to compete even more, and that the hall of fame indicates how athletics “unite us to a common goal.”
Sheila Popple, who accepted an award on behalf of her father, a player on the 1934 Haliburton Huskies team, said the hall of fame is also a way to showcase local pride.
“This is a little town, and it has always been pretty mighty, especially with sports,” she said. After the ceremony, inductees mingled with their families and community members at a reception hosted by the HHSHF at the Haliburton Legion.
Trull said the event, “went exactly as we hoped it would. We honoured the inductees, we gave them a good experience and that was our goal.”