Categories: Local Sports

Racquetball man initiates hall of fame project


Preserving the past for the present is now a reality for Jack McBride with the launch of the Racquetball Canada Hall of Fame.

The St. Albert resident was the driving force behind the project to honour the outstanding accomplishments of individuals who were instrumental in the growth and development of the sport.

“If we don’t do something to make sure that these people are remembered and get what they deserve as far as the accolades that go with the way they represented the sport then it’s going to go by the wayside and before you know it they’re going to be forgotten so that was one of the main reasons that I felt that we needed a hall of fame for Racquetball Canada,” said McBride, past president and current member at large on the Racquetball Canada board of directors after serving four years as president.

McBride noted some individuals have already been nominated for the International Racquetball Federation Hall of Fame.

“As president you’re always looking to see how you can improve your sport. I’ve been playing now for something like 33 years and I’ve seen an awful lot of good players and I’ve heard stories about good players before my time and one of them being a young lady named Heather Stupp, who was quite dominant in her day and a big star at that time,” McBride said. “Here is a worthy individual that has represented Canada internationally and I think she’s won the Canadian championship something like nine times. I just thought some of these people that are playing now don’t even know who Heather Stupp was and the same with Lindsay Myers and Sherman Greenfeld. There are lots of them.”

McBride, a spry 79-year-old who still plays at a high level, got the ball rolling last year and Racquetball Canada gave the hall of fame its stamp of approval this month.

“I drew up, I call it the bones of the hall of fame, and then I took a committee of three, which was myself and Jan Hanson (Racquetball Canada director of communications and marketing) from Saskatchewan and Barb May (of St. Albert), who was at that time the executive director of Racquetball Alberta, and I said OK, have a look at this and tell me what you think. Make any changes, deletions, additions and we’ll discuss it, which we did. Then we presented it to the board. They thought it was a great idea and approved it and now we’re underway,” said the North American vice-president on the International Racquetball Federation executive committee.

The Racquetball Canada website, www.racquetball.ca, will serve as the hall of fame location.

“It’s the best place for the racquetball people to see who is in the hall of fame,” McBride said. “If it ever got to the point where there was a facility somewhere in Canada that we could apply to include racquetball in it then that would probably take place and I hope if that ever happens it happens in my day because I’d be very, very happy to see that.”

The deadline for nominations is Jan. 31 and the inaugural hall of fame induction ceremony is May 27 at Brossard, Quebec during Racquetball Canada’s awards banquet held in conjunction with the national championships.

Nomination forms are available through the Racquetball Canada website.

“If you nominate somebody it asks you all the questions that the selection committee needs to know to say ‘all right, this person should be nominated’ or ‘this person is not ready’,” said McBride, a member of the selection committee. “We’ve got five people from across the country that will be sitting on the selection committee to go over the nominations and then see who should be inducted.”

Up to six nominees will be selected for induction the first year before the quota of two athletes and one builder per year becomes the standard.

“There are so many in the past that are eligible for nomination or should be nominated so the first year is to kind of catch up,” McBride said. “It’s not just for racquetball players, it’s for coaches and it’s for referees and it’s for builders and administrators so it’s kind of the full gambit.”

The task at hand now is to declare the first wave of inductees.

“There is a criteria obviously, a protocol for nominating somebody, and they pretty well have to be retired from major tournaments for three years and stuff like that,” said McBride, who completed the triple crown of racquetball at age 75 by winning the 75-plus singles’ championship at the U.S. Open in Minnesota, captured the 75-plus singles’ title at the IRF World Senior Championships and was victorious in the 70-plus and 75-plus singles at nationals.

“There are past athletes that have represented Canada so well, not only nationally but internationally, and that makes it’s really easy. It’s not going to be too, too difficult to fill the void in the first couple of years but I would say four, five years down the road that it will be a little more difficult to make selections.”

Jeff Hansen: Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.