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Could our sports history be … history?


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Could our sports history be … history?

What began as a simple question was turned suddenly into a discouraging truth. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has not received any support from the provincial government this year and no discussions have been held about when – or if – the money might arrive.

The question was: “What chance is there that the annual banquet (postponed because of COVID-19) will be staged before the end of 2020?” Tracey Kinsella, who became executive director of the Hall last summer, responded that many existing lockdown issues would have to be cleared up, and some funding would be required. Then she pointed out that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, has been operating without funds. And she also pointed out that she has had little communication to date with any government representative about the cost of staying in business.

Given those simple facts, it takes no large dose of imagination to see the possibility that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, will not exist much longer. Alberta’s annual contribution is a mere $302,000,  peanuts in the budget of any provincial government.

Of course, this is not just ANY government. It has bigger problems than most. The United Progressive Conservative government is locked in vital struggles over billions of resource revenue and thousands of jobs. Before the coronavirus interfered, facing a debt level already out of control, the UPC dismantled the Alberta Sports Connection board of governors, which provided years of experience in administration, public service and fund-raising, then oversaw the dismissal of at least one high-ranked staff member who served ASC with integrity for more than 25 years.

Moves to fill those gaps, if any, have been made in silence.

To put the record straight, this reporter spent five years as chair of ASC, the last two under control of an NDP  minister so disinterested he once told hundreds of Leduc residents, “you know, of course, that I’m not in politics because I care about sports.” My term ended on schedule, before the UPC was elected.

In times like these, where major issues such as COVID-19 collect almost every available ounce of governmental focus, it is easy to look beyond issues that supposedly don’t matter. But, if provincial history and recognition of many who have contributed is important, some attention must be paid soon.

Kinsella, who has been involved in sport as an administrator and unpaid supporter for years, replaced veteran Donna Hately. She entered with enthusiastic ideas about “investments in the Hall.” Her concept would provide entertainment and education for youngsters while also upgrading the building, completed in 1997.

In recent years, she said, attendance at the annual induction banquet had not been “any kind of money-maker.” Other funds were raised in the annual Hall of Fame golf tournament. “Now, we’re doing whatever is necessary” as she looks toward the future. “I think we can get by at this level for about a year and a half, but it won’t be easy.”

Initially, the Hall of Fame induction banquet was scheduled for May 29. To be recognized whenever a date can be set are four athletes, three builders and two to share the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence, as well as individual Achievement, Pioneer and Legacy Award winners. Click for this year’s inductee’s. 

Click here to make a donation to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Editor’s note:  John is an Alberta Hall of Fame member, inducted in 1988 with the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence. 

Click to read more of John’s stories.

Todayville has a many stories about the inductees over the past few years.  Since 2017, we have produced a video of each inductee.  Click here to find some amazing stories. 


Central Alberta man sentenced to 18 years on 26 charges following child porn bust

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RED DEER, Alta. — A central Alberta man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison following what is being called one of the largest child pornography busts in the province.

The man can’t be named due to a publication ban to protect the identity of his victims, some of whom were sexually assaulted by him.

He pleaded guilty in October 2019 to 26 charges, while more than 50 counts were dropped.

Court in Red Deer, Alta., heard that the man’s victims were between two and 10 years old.

During the police investigation, members of Alberta’s internet Child Exploitation Unit seized more than 180,000 images of child pornography from the man’s digital devices and more than 27,000 videos.

During sentencing, provincial court Judge Jim Hunter called the 36-year-old man’s actions deplorable.

“The offences are extremely grave. Each time the files are viewed, the child is revictimized. The potential for revictimizations are immense,” Hunter said Tuesday.

“His moral culpability is very high. His collection was vast and extremely well organized — close to the highest numbers ever dealt with in Alberta.”

The man was initially charged in January 2019 following a tip from the Queensland Police Service in Australia.

Hunter said the man knew the legal and moral wrongfulness of his actions.

“He not only made child pornography, he traded and distributed it. I acknowledge (the accused) has a number of mental illnesses including pedophilia disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but not enough to mitigate the sentence.”

The man was also given a 10-year long-term supervision order and banned for life from owning weapons and firearms. He must also register as a sex offender and submit his DNA.

After seeking a sentence of 20 years, Crown prosecutor Carolyn Ayre said she is satisfied with the judge’s ruling. (rdnewsNow)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 

The Canadian Press

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Team Harty disappointed with Curling Alberta decision, wild-card chances slim

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There was a clear but unusual path for three Alberta-based teams to play in the Tim Hortons Brier this season. Curling Alberta made a difficult choice that will send two rinks to the Calgary event and leave that third team on the outside looking in. 

Jeremy Harty’s team issued a statement Monday night that congratulated the provincial representatives while expressing disappointment that only two Alberta-based men’s teams would go to nationals.

“Alberta men were fortunate enough to have a Tour this year with three very well-run events and all competitive teams in attendance,” the team said on Twitter. “We were No. 1 on the Alberta Tour both this season and last season and felt we had the merit to be named Team Alberta knowing that (Kevin) Koe and (Brendan) Bottcher would be guaranteed the wild-card spots.

“We understand that it was a tough decision and we appreciate all of Curling Alberta’s efforts this year.”

The association decided to invite last season’s champions — Brendan Bottcher and Laura Walker — to wear Alberta colours again, dropping Koe into a wild-card spot. Curling Alberta waited 10 days after cancelling its championships before announcing its picks. 

Bottcher, ranked fourth in the country and a Brier finalist last year, was obviously a worthy selection. But Curling Alberta also had to consider Koe, since his team didn’t compete in provincial playdowns thanks to its automatic Brier entry as Team Canada.

Further muddying the waters was Harty, a young team that had a slight edge on the second-place Koe in the Alberta Tour points race.

Bottcher and the sixth-ranked Koe were essentially Brier-bound no matter what. But picking Harty — ranked a respectable 15th in Canada — as the provincial rep would have meant all three could go.

“We think Team Bottcher are going to be great reps,” Harty third Kyler Kleibrink said Tuesday. “They’re good guys and they’re good mentors to us. Team Koe will be great as well. 

“We’re not saying we’re better than these teams or that we deserve it more than these teams. We just think Alberta had a good chance to send three reps.”

Helping ease the disappointment was a phone call from Bottcher third Darren Moulding, who Kleibrink said reached out to voice his support and say he thought the team’s time would soon come.

“Lifted the spirits for sure,” Kleibrink said. “His words of encouragement and telling me his story and path was great.” 

Curling Alberta’s decision to send reigning champions to the so-called curling bubble was one that other provinces have used in recent weeks. The Walker pick for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was expected but the men’s selection for the Brier was the subject of more debate. 

Harty’s teammates were buoyed by recent decisions from Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia to consider results beyond 2020 provincial championships for their picks, Kleibrink said. 

Before the pandemic, many elite Alberta-based teams were focused on top-flight events around the country rather than just provincial bonspiels. The association also had to consider that the 2020-21 women’s Alberta schedule had to be cancelled.

It all left Curling Alberta board members with plenty to think about before selections were made. 

The decision left Koe to join Manitoba’s Mike McEwen in a secure wild-card position based on the 2019-20 Canadian rankings. A Harty pick as Team Alberta would have given Bottcher and McEwen wild-card spots and Koe would have been a slam dunk for the third.

“I think that it’s good for Alberta that there is a discussion over situations like this because it just shows the depth that we have,” said Koe lead Ben Hebert. “What we’ve created here in Alberta is a good curling culture. 

“I think that’s how young teams get good is they have good competition to play against and there’s a couple good, young, up-and-coming teams in Alberta here as well that are going to be around for a while.”

Ontario’s Glenn Howard, a four-time Brier champion, is a favourite for the final wild-card entry as the highest-ranked team without a berth. 

Harty is a longshot to get the entry as he’s in the mix with other underdog teams that may be considered by Curling Canada. The federation is expected to make its selection next month.

For the Scotties, it’s possible there could be a whopping five Manitoba-based teams in the 18-team draw depending on how the wild-card picture plays out.

Tracy Fleury is a lock for one of the three wild-card spots, so her team will join Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones and Team Canada’s Kerri Einarson in the field. 

Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the Prince Edward Island title this month but she’d get the second wild-card spot with a loss. Mackenzie Zacharias would be next among eligible teams on the rankings list, a whisker ahead of fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson. 

The criteria for the third wild-card pick in both draws has not been finalized. 

As a result, it remains possible that higher-ranked teams skipped by Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque and Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan could be considered. Both teams have two returning players, one short of the normal required minimum. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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