Cobourg Sports Hall of Fame debuts Sunday

By Cecilia Nasmith

Cobourg's love of sports is long-standing and strong – and will be celebrated Sunday with the debut of the Cobourg Sports Hall of Fame.

The Town of Cobourg has issued a press release inviting everyone to the event at the Cobourg Community Centre (750 D'Arcy St.) this Sunday, March 3.

It will be an opportunity to see some amazing memorabilia dating back decades, Cobourg and District Sports Hall of Fame fundraising director John Ovens said, as well as an announcement of the initial eight inductees into the hall of fame.

It will be a long-awaited day, as a dedicated group of volunteers has been collecting and cataloguing hundreds of items of sports memorabilia since March 2017, as well as researching the history of sports in the community and the rich legacy that has resulted.

The effort is supported financially through donations of materials and services from local individuals, businesses and community groups.

Eight tall display cabinets already stand in the Grand Hall of the Cobourg Community Centre, custom-built and donated by Frank Bouwmans Cabinetry, with glass donated by John and Darlene Lammers of Northumberland Glass. Technically, Ovens said they should be considered four pairs of cabinets as two are allotted to each of the four displays – the astounding Galloping Ghosts football team, the Cobourg Cougars home-town hockey team, and two accomplished softball teams, the Cobourg Angels and the Cold Springs Cats.

These displays will be rotated every few weeks, Ovens said, the better to show off more of the memorabilia that tell the town's story in sports.

In addition, they are readying exhibits in a number of display cases donated by Cortesis Jewellers, each holding items of interest along a different sports theme.

Collecting, preserving, researching, exhibiting and promoting objects deemed to be significant to the area's sports history has been a key function of their committee, he said. As well, they strive to honour the names of those who make the local sports scene a stellar one – those whose athletic prowess brought fame to their community (and to themselves), as well as those whose interest in and work for sports benefited the larger community.

As far as the nuts-and-bolts of organizing things, they took their lead from the Peterborough Sports Hall of Fame, which has been around for some 30 years.

This guidance was especially helpful in its procedures for choosing inductees into the hall of fame – they must be retired for at least five years from their sport, for example, and their accomplishments must centre around the Cobourg area.

Ovens said they have identified 85 sports for which they would take nominations, from curling to pigeon racing and target shooting.

An anonymous committee of eight judges assessed 15 nominations on the basis of their own knowledge and judgment as well as the presentations made. Selections also reflect a variety of sports and, when nominations allow, the judges hope to take gender equity into account.

The announcement of their selections will be made March 3, Ovens said. An actual induction ceremony will be part of a special June 22 dinner at the Best Western, which will be open to members of the public.

The unveiling is just a first step, Ovens said. They are hoping for donations and sponsorships to let them go further (setting up a website, for example, and purchasing such equipment as a computer, scanner and printer).

Meanwhile, come be inspired at the Sunday celebration at the Cobourg Community Centre from 3 to 5 p.m., with refreshments and a cash bar.