North Bay Sports Hall of Fame chairman Bill Jacko made a pair of announcements connected with the annual induction and awards dinner April 17 at the Best Western.
“The hall board of directors have chosen Eva Leslie as the winner of the Friend of Sport Award for 2003,” Jacko said.
He also revealed that the award would henceforth be known as the Pete Handley Friend of Sport Award.
“Pam and her children approached the board with an offer to sponsor the award in honour of her husband, broadcaster and long time sports executive Peter,” Jacko said.
The award was first presented in 1998 and the rationale is to honour individuals who may never make the headlines or win an award, but who contribute in a meaningful way to amateur sport.
Leslie is the fourth such person to be honoured and the first under the new sponsorship.
She has boarded out of town hockey players in her home for over 25 years.
Leslie has been their den mother and provided a home away from home for some 75 young men over the years.
The young players, who played for the Ontario Hockey League North Bay Centennials and the Provincial Ontario Hockey Association North Trappers, were often away from home for the first time and Leslie gave them much needed stability and guidance.
Many of the players still keep in touch and she has been invited to and attended a number of their weddings.
She has no doubt played a significant role in the development of many of these young hockey players into mature, contributing adults.
Previous winners of the award have been Joe Taman, Tom White and Jack Burrows.