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Emotional tributes as NWT hall-of-famers inducted

The NWT Sport Hall of Fame has welcomed its 2015 inductees at a ceremony in Yellowknife.

Alaskan high kick athlete and Arctic Winter Games champion Meika McDonald, the founders of Sport North and the 1979 Junior Merchants fastball team are this year’s entrants to the hall of fame, which is in its fourth year.

The Junior Merchants were nominated for entry by their former coach, Doug Bothamley, who passed away before the ceremony could take place.

“I only wish that Doug had made it long enough in life to be able to be here to enjoy this moment,” fellow coach Dennis Milligan told Moose FM after paying an on-stage tribute to Bothamley.

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“Doug and I didn’t get into it to be here tonight. We got into it to give something back and try to help some young people realize the potential they had.

“Physically, Doug has missed it, but emotionally and spiritually I know Doug is with us and hopefully he’s enjoying it as much as we are.”

Rod Stirling, who captained the 1979 team to silver at Canadian national finals, said the trip to that year’s championship – held in Richmond, BC – had been ‘foundational’ for the young players.

“It was something that gave us a focus on something to do. The coaches weren’t doing it for the trip or recognition or anything, it was just to help us and put a good bunch of athletes together to achieve something.”

Junior Merchants
Paul Gard, centre, takes part in the 1979 Junior Merchants’ first team huddle for 36 years.

More information: NWT Sport Hall of Fame

Dennis Crane, Peggy Curtis, Roland Gosselin, Dave Hurley and Jim France were admitted to the ‘builder’ category of the hall of fame for their work in establishing Sport North, the territory’s sports governing body, almost 40 years ago.

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In the ‘athlete’ category, McDonald – who set numerous Alaskan high kick records – joins prior inductees Robin Clegg, Sharon Firth, Shirley Firth-Larsson and Vic Mercredi.

Friday’s ceremony took place at the Yellowknife Elks Lodge, a day after the NWT’s Aboriginal Sport Circle had held its annual awards gala at the city’s Explorer Hotel.

Aboriginal Sport Circle award winners
Aboriginal Sport Circle award winners.

Fort Liard’s James Duntra picked up the Aboriginal Sport Circle’s sport award, with Fort Providence resident Adam Nadli winning the culture award and Norman Wells’ Kathleen T’Seleie taking the coaching award.

Orlena Modeste was named community builder of the year for her work in Deline, and RCMP Constable Sebastian Andrews was recognized for his work to form a ‘Tuk Power’ workout program for youth in Tuktoyaktuk.

Lastly, the Beck-McQueen family was given special recognition for its contribution to, and achievements in, the sport of dog mushing.

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