What does it take to be a hall of famer?

Sports Advocate

By Lindsay Advocate

Lindsay hall of famer Denise Harris first laced up her skates in Woodville at the age of seven.

Amanda Tayles

What does it take to truly be considered excellent – so excellent, in fact, that a hall of fame might bestow recognition?

The Lindsay District Sports Hall of Fame, established in 1993, was created to do just that. It honours the legacy of local sports by highlighting area athletes, teams and “builders,” individuals who have made a significant contribution towards sport in the community.

On an annual basis, nominations are brought to the volunteer board for consideration. They evaluate submissions, including supporting letters of recommendation. To date there are over 130 inductees, with memorabilia proudly displayed on a rotating basis within the glass cases of the Lindsay Recreation Complex.

Though an inductee wins the invaluable recognition of their efforts, the hall of fame also provides monetary support to a couple students a year who are pursuing sports education at higher academic levels upon graduation from a local high school. Despite a pause in the hall’s activities during the pandemic, the bursary has rolled out more than $25,000 to more than 30 students in support since its inception in 2005.

For 2023, there were four nominees: Claus Andersen, Harrison Carter, Denise Harris and the Bobcaygeon Junior “D” Hockey Team 1965-66. Not to be overlooked, as without them sport doesn’t thrive, volunteers are recognized annually through the Kelly Doyle Long Term Community Volunteer Service Award. This year’s recipient was Wayne Hunt of Pontypool. Over the next few months, the inductees of 2023 will be profiled to highlight their extraordinary efforts, contributions and achievements in sports.

Denise Harris with former Councillor Pat O’Reilly.

Denise Harris

Denise Harris first laced up her skates in Woodville at the age of seven and has never looked back, the ice remaining a focal point of her life as a skater, coach, instructor and mentor to so many in the area. It’s hard to be a part of any figure skating club in the Kawarthas and surrounding communities and not know Denise’s smiling face.

After skating and competing with the Woodville Club through secondary school, the first from the area to win gold levels at many levels in single competitions, she continued to pursue her passion at Seneca College before returning to begin a career in coaching. Once finished, Denise first landed at Cannington and then expanded her reach across the area including at home in Woodville. Coaching brought more to Denise’s life than expected, as she sees it as “so much more than teaching the sport; it’s about helping and guiding these kids through life’s ups and downs, sharing in so many individual skater’s journeys.”

Denise has been incredibly active in the skating clubs, coaching at all levels and skills – from learn to skate to power skating for hockey; co-creating the Kawartha Competition Team; drawing in Olympic skaters for training sessions and performances; and mentoring and influencing the lives of so many skaters in the Kawartha Lakes.

Now she shares her knowledge with other coaches across the province through her role with Skate Ontario. Her commitment and impact was evident to the hall, who had never received such passionate testaments for an individual’s contributions to sport.

As a skater, Denise reflects on some of her fondest memories hitting the ice in Woodville when the manager would let her zip around solo on some early mornings. “He would tell me he was going to go to the local restaurant to get coffee. I was alone in the rink. Just me and the ice.” Those days are behind her, but her presence in Woodville remains strong as she continues to coach at the club.

“So often I think back to those days and I still find it hard to believe I continue to stand out there on the ice.” The figure skating community’s outpouring of support for Denise reflects her impact, and she hopes the sport continues to grow in the area across all ages, for “people young and old to have an opportunity to find the joy in skating.”

Follow-up: Central Ontario Wolves live to see another season

The AAA hockey association of the area, the Central Ontario Wolves, will remain in place for the 2024/25 season, after a motion from the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) AAA selection committee was struck down by the OMHA board of directors in early December.  The committee had proposed transitioning the organization from AAA to AA levels. Further details were not made available by the OMHA, though changes are expected in future seasons. The AAA committee is tasked to augment the competitiveness of hockey at the AAA level and expected to continue to reduce the number of teams across the eastern conference.

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