Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Jim Donlevy passes away
As a football coach he was a national champ and an absolute institution at the University of Alberta. But it’s likely that Jim Donlevy may actually have made an even bigger impact in hockey where he was instrumental in the formation of the post secondary scholarship system in Junior Hockey. Jim was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame just a few months ago.
His brother Michael is a long time Red Deer resident and recently retired from a brilliant career of his own at Red Deer College. Here’s what Michael shared with friends after the death of his oldest brother:
Early Sunday, we lost an amazing individual in Jim Donlevy. A great husband, father, uncle and Grandpa – and my oldest brother. He was a friend and mentor to me over many years in my career and in life, who encouraged all of what I did. I was and remain deeply proud of what he accomplished, benefiting so many people and am very grateful that Jim was properly recognized this year, with his induction into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Jim was a coach and dedicated educator, totally committed to teaching, learning and student athletes. He leaves an incredible legacy and all of us will miss him dearly.
Here’s Jim Donlevy’s Alberta Sports Hall of Fame induction video.
‘Jim’ Donlevy devoted his professional career to more than 50 years of coaching, teaching and administrative leadership. His career in football began in 1954 coaching Bantam and High School Football teams. He joined the Edmonton Huskies from 1961 to 1963 and won two Canadian titles. At the University of Alberta, he led the Golden Bears to four National Championship games and brought home the Vanier Cup in 1972 and 1980. He had the most wins of any Golden Bears football coach with 89 wins, 69 losses and 3 ties. From 1993 to 2015, Jim was the Western Hockey League’s Education Consultant. He built a formal education and scholarship program for the student athletes playing in the league. It is now considered one of the most comprehensive education programs for hockey in the world today.
Please consider sharing this inspirational story on your own social media channels so others can learn about and enjoy Alberta’s rich sports history. Click here for more inspirational stories from the Class of 2019.
A Small, Important Opening
A Small, Important Opening
Chances are pretty good that all major-league sports and some of the lower-profile ones will manage to complete partial 2020 seasons despite growing signs that COVID-19 will not give up without a long and continuing fight for dominance over sports and all else in today’s world.
Experts and observers of all athletic and public disciplines agree, however, that nothing is certain: baseball players are opting to stay home; basketball players express discontent and confusion every day; the NHL waffles over naming so-called hub cities for a wacky playoff proposal that continues to raise more questions than answers.
In the midst of all this uncertainty comes one simple burst of optimism: the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame will welcome the public on Thursday, 98 days after the rampaging coronavirus pandemic forced closure of the building on the edge of Red Deer on March 16. It is fair to concede that reopening a small-city building warrants little public interest when compared with the billions involved in professional sports, but it’s also reasonable to accept that every step of progress in this deadly world-wide struggle is worth recording.
Although none of the $302,000 committed to the Hall in the current provincial budget has been received – a $75,000 commitment has been made but no cash has appeared and a review is already promised for later this year – executive director Tracey Kinsella said some pleasant things have been achieved during the lockdown.
“We have been extremely busy giving our Hall of Fame an update,” she smiled. “Our goal is to improve the entire experience for our visitors from the moment they walk in the door.”
Cleanliness was, and is, essential in the reopening. Sanitizers, directional signs and plenty of obvious messaging are part of the opening, of course. There is no plan for an opening ceremony, Kinsells said. “We would like to do something of a celebration, maybe later in July.”
At one time, fingers were crossed that induction of the 14 members selected several months ago but “we had to decide (last week) that there will be no induction banquet in 2020. We’ve had to tell all the inductees that we’re having to wait until next year.”
The list includes four athletes: skier Deirdra Dionne, hockey player Chris Phillips, chuck-wagon racer Kelly Sutherland and snowboard-cross star Michael Robertson. Five builders – Jan Ullmark, figure skating; Terry Morris, curling; Ken Babey, hockey; Derek Douglas, soccer – were selected along with five Hall of Fame Award winners Nancy Southern and Ian Allison (equestrian broadcasters, Bell Memorial Award), John Currie (Western Canada Summer Games 1983, Achievement Award); Stan Wakelyn (1922 Canadian soccer champions 1922, Pioneer Award); Dennis Kadatz (coach of Edmonton Huskies national junior football champions 1962-64).
Those awards show clearly how broad is the effect of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Every winner spent years working and practicing toward the world’s most elusive goal: perfection. There is no suggestion that it was reached, just as there can be no hint that they have inspired thousands to follow them.
Discussing the government’s failure to live up to its contracted financial commitment, Kinsella was not especially critical: “We’re sad, disappointed, maybe a little alarmed.” During a lengthy discussion, she finally confirmed receipt of the government’s letter providing the limited amount and mentioned “I’ve asked for meetings, have not had a direct, face-to-face conversation with anyone in the area of culture.”
My unsolicited opinion: this is unreasonable. As the Hall opens its doors, perhaps a government department should also open up.
Learn more about the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
Our sports history has value
Simple confirmation that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has been operating without its standard financial aid from the provincial government prompted some interesting response during the last few days.
In a casual conversation, executive director Tracey Kinsella mentioned last week that COVID-19 made it necessary to cancel at least two annual fund-raisers – the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and its annual invitational golf tournament in Red Deer – and she was concerned about meeting routine expenses.
Consistently, the government’s contribution of $302,000 a year has been in the hands of Hall of Fame officials before the middle of the year. She expressed only mild frustration,, understanding that the coronavirus pandemic and other major financial issues have created major problems far from the world of sports. She did state that government staff members, working below the level of elected or appointed officials, have told her of their efforts to have the money forwarded as quickly as possible.
Perhaps this delay must be seen as part of a long and ongoing drop in Alberta’s financial support to amateur sports at all levels. In the 10-year period ending in 2019, the reduction reached $5.1 million – an average of $500,000 per year. We should hope not.
Some comparative figures seem to be well worth serious study:
* The economic impact of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer was $110 million; impact of the 2018 Alberta Winter Games was $3.4 million for the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo area and $5.6 million for this host province;
* In 2018-19, Alberta Sport Connection, a sport delivery system disbanded months ago by the UPC, provided $7.2 million to be shared among 80 provincial sport organizations that delivered programming to more than 788,000 Albertans;
* Leduc hosted the 2016 Alberta Summer Games with an economic impact of $3.6 million for the area and $4.9 million for the province.
Still, government aid has dropped. Some citizens suggest minor and amateur sports should not receive government support during troubled times. Today it might be wise to ask Fort McMurray if that community will value the 2022 Arctic Winter Games? The record shows that numerous small- and mid-sized business stepped up during the 2018 Games, a difficult time for fire victims and petroleum companies that have served as a backstop to countless community and area projects.
After the severe floods earlier this year, it’s safe to guess that any international program that will improve community morale while adding some vital dollars to the public purse will be welcome. Incidentally, they’re headed to Wood Buffalo because COVID-19 forced cancellation of the scheduled 2020 event in Whitehorse. Fortunately, some of the dollars set aside and unused in the Northwest Territories have already arrived in Fort McMurray.
These days, surrounded by a crippled economy, I wonder if Alberta now wishes the 2026 Commonwealth Games were headed for Edmonton and 2026 Winter Olympics were coming to Calgary. Both possibilities were seriously discussed before being nixed.
During my five-year term as chair of Alberta Sport Connection, the organization received steady criticism for finishing third of fourth – usually in the rear of Quebec and Ontario – in provincial medal counts. I tried regularly to help almost any government official to focus on the cost of doing business.
It made no impact to point out that Alberta’s per-capita investment in sport programs is (or was) the second-lowest in Canada. Sorry, I can’t remember which province spent less, but I am sure that Saskatchewan receives $24.39 per capita and Newfoundland gets $8.36 per capita.
Alberta receives $3.85 per capita although 82 per cent of Albertans say in polls that they believe sport contributes to quality of life. And those I have spoken to say clearly that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has value.
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