It was an evening full of thank you’s and appreciation at the Davedi Club on Saturday night for the 39th annual induction and awards dinner.
While the classy, ageless and articulate Peter Handley humbled all the winners sharing their accolades with the crowd, the primary theme from all the winners was the same.
A whole lot of thank you’s.
Mike Yeo, the former NHL head coach who was named a new assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, was one of the four inductees introduced into the Hall on this night.
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Yeo, who lost his job with the Blues before Christmas, says he does not get home too often. But when he does, he cherishes his time here.
“I have lived in a lot of places throughout my career but I will always call North Bay home,” he said during his acceptance speech.
Yeo, was one of the last inductees, and he was amazed to hear all the stories about athletes and especially the volunteer coaches and managers recognized on this night.
“What I have taken from all this is not many people are getting paid for doing this and I want to say thank you because it is so inspirational. You guys are doing that out of the bottom of your hearts, you are helping people and that is a really amazing thing so thank you,” said Yeo, who of course has been well compensated for his work as a coach.
Like many of the speakers before him, Yeo did not brag about what he has accomplished.
Instead he thanked those that helped him get to where he is today.
In particular the Widdifield alum thanked teachers and coaches for helping him get through including the likes of Butch Turcotte, Bruce Cazabon, and Larry Keenan.
“I had so many amazing coaches and teachers here in North Bay who were a huge influence on me and I just want to say thank you to all of you, and my family - I’m not going to do it because I will choke up - you guys are amazing,” said Yeo.
John Whittet, winner of the Al Brennan Memorial and John Weber, winner of the Harry Reynolds Memorial, were both thankful for having an opportunity to coach their sons and daughters.
Rick Taylor, winner of the Pete Palangio Award, was thankful for what the young athletes that participate in the Nipissing Trackers program do for him.
“I get so much more out of this than I give,” Taylor says about the satisfaction he gets from the participants.
Joey Puddister, winner of the George Martyn Memorial (for basketball), even took the time to thank the custodians at West Ferris who allowed him extra time to shoot buckets in the gymnasium when he played high school basketball there.
Erin Grigg, inducted for her success in gymnastics, even read a poem with the hopes of seeing more North Bay gymnasts like her recognized by the Hall.
John McClelland, inducted in the sport of curling, thanked his dad for taking him to curling practice early in the morning.
“Thank you, you knew when to push me, you knew when to leave me alone and make a fool of myself but in all those times I learned so thank you because this is just as much you as it is me and I really appreciate everything,” said the two-time Northern Ontario men’s curling champion with the Patterson rink.
It was an amazing night of appreciation for what sport can do and how much of a tremendous impact it can have on the lives of athletes, coaches, managers and of course families.
The HOF board of directors are likely already starting to plan for what will be ahead for the 40th annual event in the spring of 2020. Get ready for more sincere thank you’s then.