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Curling Canada honours 2019 Hall of Fame inductees, annual award-winners

Canada’s Curling Hall of Fame will welcome six new inductees, while some of this sport’s finest and most dedicated volunteers and supporters will be honoured with prestigious Curling Canada awards, it was announced today.

One curler (Dennis Thiessen), one coach (Jules Owchar), two umpires (Dave Petursson and Rae Kells), one builder (Dave Parkes) and one media member (Terry Jones) are members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Meanwhile, the Ray Kingsmith Award for dedication to curling will go to Terry Vandale; the Curling Canada Award of Achievement will go to Jack Crombie and the organizers of the Pacific International Cup; the Board of Governors Special Recognition Award will go to Chad McMullan, and the Curling Canada Volunteer of the Year Award will go to Catherine MacCallum.

Here’s a look at each of the honourees:

HALL of FAME

Dennis Thiessen (Athlete)

Dennis Thiessen

Thiessen, of Sanford, Man., is one of the rare curlers who can lay claim to a triple crown of wheelchair curling.

In addition to being a three-time Canadian champion (as a vice-skip in 2011, and skip of Team Manitoba in 2014 and 2017), Thiessen is also a Paralympic gold-medallist (he was the vice-skip for Canada’s winning team in 2014 at Sochi) and a world champion (vice-skip for Team Canada in 2013, also at Sochi). He added a Paralympic bronze medal in 2018 at Pyeongchang, South Korea, as the second for Team Canada.

“When I got the phone call for this, I was just absolutely speechless; I had to ask if they had the right Dennis Thiessen. I’m thrilled beyond belief,” said Thiessen. “But as I think back over the years, I really I have to say that this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of some amazing people, beginning with my family, who allowed me to chase these dreams. As well, I’ve had amazing teammates and coaches, and I’m proud to share this honour with them.”

Thiessen will be inducted during an on-ice ceremony during the Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon.

Jules Owchar (Coach)

Jules Owchar

Owchar’s coaching career can be defined in a single word: success. At the collegiate level, as the longtime coach at Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, he has guided school teams to a stunning 34 conference championship gold medals, and two more at the national level.

In men’s play, he coached Kevin Martin’s Edmonton foursome to 12 provincial titles and four Tim Hortons Brier championships, as well as three Olympic appearances, with gold in 2010 and silver in 2002 to go with world championship gold and silver medals.

And of late, he has worked with the Brad Gushue team, winning the past two editions of the Tim Hortons Brier, and world championship gold in 2017 and silver last year.

Additionally, teams he has coached have claimed a mind-boggling 24 Grand Slam of Curling titles.

“This truly is surprising and humbling, because as a coach, I’ve always considered my job to be simply about giving those players the support behind the scenes, but when the game starts, they’re doing the heavy lifting,” said Owchar. “This really is a tribute to the teams and players I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years. I’m truly grateful for this honour, and truly thankful to those players who made it possible over the years.”

Owchar will be inducted during an on-ice ceremony during the Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon.

Dave Parkes (Builder)

Dave Parkes

Parkes joined what was then known as the Canadian Curling Association in 1988, first as its general manager and then as its Chief Executive Officer, a position he held until his retirement in 2007.

During that time, his impact on the organization, and the sport was profound; he was part of the process that merged three separate organizations — the CCA, the Canadian Ladies Curling Association and Curl Canada — into the NSO that today is known as Curling Canada.

Also during his time as CEO, the marketing juggernaut known as the Season of Champions was formed and curling became a medal sport in the Olympics, among other achievements.

“After receiving the wonderful news that I am being inducted into the Hall as a Builder, I began to reflect upon my time with the Association,” said Parkes. “All of the development we realized as a sport over those years — amalgamation, the creation of the Season of Champions, achieving Olympic status, the implementation of the Business of Curling initiative, expansion of the sport to include wheelchair, stick, Special Olympics and mixed doubles curling, the establishment of the Schmirler Foundation — all required support and cooperation from many outside partners, dedicated Board members and an extremely talented, hard working and visionary national staff.   

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead our sport through that time.  I am, also, sincerely appreciative of being  recognized as a Builder and will be honoured to join others in the Hall who have helped to shape our sport over the years.”

Parkes will be inducted at Curling Canada’s annual meetings next fall in Ottawa.

Rae Kells (Official)

Rae Kells

A Calgarian who started officiating at the national level in 1992, Kells would spend nearly three decades as an umpire at national and international events, establishing a reputation for level-headedness and poise under the most trying of circumstances.

She worked at four Olympic Winter Games, and was Chief Umpire at two of them — 2010 in Vancouver, 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea — and Deputy Chief in 2014 at Sochi, Russia.

Additionally she officiated at 21 Canadian championships, 17 World championships (11 as Chief Umpire), two Canadian Curling Trials, a European Championship and the first World Olympic Qualifier.

“I am honoured and humbled to be recognized in this way,” said Kells. “I would like to thank Curling Canada for the many opportunities and support  I was given as an official, and especially to Danny Lamoureux and his predecessor Neil Houston, who were tasked with assigning officials to the various national championships over the years I was involved. I have many fond memories of those years and events and can honestly say this: it was the BEST volunteer job I ever had!”

Kells will be inducted later this year. Details will be announced when they are confirmed.

Dave Petursson (Official)

Dave Petursson

Petursson’s career as an off-ice official goes back to the what is considered the first edition of the modern-day Brier, in 1980 at Calgary when playoffs, and on-officials, were introduced.

Over a 40-year career that wraps up with the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon, Petursson would work at approximately 60 major championships, 24 Briers, seven Scotties, six world men’s championships and two Olympics; he was the Chief Umpire at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, where curling was a demonstration sport.

He also played a significant role in helping develop the original officiating manual in the early 1980s.

“For umpiring in curling, I believe in cooperative compliance, where we work with the athletes toward a mutual goal of having a fair competition with intervention only when necessary,” said Petursson. “From its origin in 1980, umpiring has grown and developed with dedicated volunteers, strong administration from Curling Canada, and the vision of Warren Hansen.”

Petursson will be inducted during an on-ice ceremony during the Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon.

Terry Jones (Media)

Terry Jones

Jones has been a fixture on the Edmonton media scene for more than 50 years, and has spent much of that time chronicling that city’s curling heroes and major championships for the Edmonton Sun and Edmonton Journal.

He has covered dozens of Tim Hortons Briers, and also wrote a well-received book about the Randy Ferbey team’s run of success in the early 2000s, entitled The Ferbey Four: Kings of Canadian Curling.

“For a sports columnist to get elected to any sports hall of fame is an exceptional honour because we typically cover so many different sports,” said Jones. “When you get elected to one where you are enshrined in the Hall of Fame itself, not a media wing, makes it extraordinary. “It’s not lost on me that the only full-time curling writers who have been inducted are Jack Matheson, Don ‘Buckets’ Fleming, Scotty Harper and Larry Wood.

“As a kid who grew up across the street from the old six-sheeter in Lacombe and was often called across the street to substitute and went on to cover farmers bonspiels for the Lacombe Globe while attending school, trust me, it never crossed my mind that one day I would be inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.”

Jones will be inducted later this year. Details will be announced when they are confirmed.

BOARD OF GOVERNORS SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD

The Board of Governors Special Recognition Award is awarded to an individual or organization whose unique contribution(s) or achievement(s) significantly impact the sport of curling in Canada. 

Chad  McMullan

Chad McMullan

McMullan’s achievements in the sport of curling are profound, but ironically, most of them have taken place in school gymnasiums. As the creator of the wildly successful Egg Farmers Rocks & Rings, presented by Curling Canada, McMullan and his company, Rock Solid Productions, have introduced curling to more than a million Canadian elementary schoolchildren since the program was unveiled in 2009, using equipment that can simulate on-ice curling on gymnasium floors.

But McMullan’s influence on the game hasn’t ended there; his company also produces Street Curling sets, which can be set up outdoors at festivals, sporting events (it’s been used at Grey Cups and Super Bowls) or anywhere with a flat surface, allowing participants to try the sport. It’s been proven an ideal way to market and present curling in non-traditional locations

Egg Farms Rocks & Rings recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and is on its way to the 2-million-participant plateau.

RAY KINGSMITH AWARD

The Ray Kingsmith Award is named after the man who played a leading role in bringing curling to the Winter Olympic family. He was a tireless volunteer in administration and management roles in the sport of curling. The award honours individuals who best demonstrate a similar commitment and dedication to our sport that made Kingsmith the consummate sport executive.

Terry Vandale

Terry Vandale

Vandale has never let a disability get in the way of her passion for curling. Despite dealing with the effects of multiple sclerosis, Vandale has contributed to curling in British Columbia as a coach, administrator, board member (at the club and provincial levels) and as president of Curl BC.

She played a significant role in the amalgamation of the B.C. Ladies Curling Association with two regional men’s associations to form what is now Curl BC. With the new association, she championed both wheelchair curling and the use of delivery sticks to open doors to more curlers. She also raised awareness of mobility issues in curling centres, prompting many facilities to upgrade their buildings to include elevators, ramps and accessible washrooms.

As Curl BC president, she was highly active at the national level, working with her Member Association peers on various committees — all with that familiar positive attitude and desire to make the sport better for all.

AWARD OF ACHIEVEMENT

Presented annually, Curling Canada’s Award of Achievement recognize individuals who have contributed significantly to curling in one of four areas — builder, technical development (instructor, coach, official, ice technician), marketing and media.

Organizers of Pacific International Cup

Organizers of the Pacific International Cup.

For two decades, the Pacific International Cup has championed grassroots curling with its annual championship for club teams at the Richmond Curling Club in Richmond, B.C.

Celebrating its 20th edition in April, the Pacific International Cup has grown from a B.C.-centric event into a wildly popular international events, with entries from all over the United States, China, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. In fact, future world champion Bingyu (Betty) Wang’s first significant curling victory took place at the Pacific International Cup.

They all come to compete, but also to share in the spirit and fellowship of club curling, thanks to an exception group of volunteers who’ve taken on the task of organizing the Pacific International Cup.

The core of that group is the executive committee that has been in place since Day 1, and is certainly worthy of the Curling Canada Award of Achievement:

  • Jim Schuman, Chair
  • Jim Mann, Vice-chair
  • Wayne Braun, Director of On-Ice Operations
  • Howie Larke, Sponsorship Director
  • Ettie O’Connell, Drawmaster/Historian/Webmaster

Jack Crombie

Jack Crombie

If something significant in the sport of curling in Quebec has taken place over the years, chances are that Jack Crombie has been involved.

The resident of Hudson, Que., has spent more than 30 years giving his time to the sport of curling as a volunteer, administrator, organizer, draw-master and host committee chair.

He was also a key player in the merger of the various Quebec curling organizations in 2001 into what is known today as Curling Quebec — an organization for which he would serve as president for two years, prior to being presented with the Curling Quebec Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

He also volunteered his time at the national level, including attending five Canadian Curling Association annual meetings as a member of the Quebec delegation.

CURLING CANADA VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

The Curling Canada Volunteer of the Year Award is based on the nominee’s contributions from the previous curling season, in any number of areas.

Cathy MacCallum

Cathy MacCallum

The Lacolle Curling Club in Lacolle, Que., was showing its age during the 2017-18 season; seven decades with little in the way of upgrades, and the ice conditions were suffering as a result.

That’s when Cathy MacCallum decided it was time to take action to replace the outdated cooling system and upgrade the club infrastructure, and that action consisted of countless hours of research into what grants could be available, writing the grant applications, and then when a government grant was awarded that required matching funds from the club, she galvanized the community to make it happen.

But that’s when the work REALLY began — the money was in place, but heavy labour would still be required, and MacCallum was in the trenches with her fellow members, pushing wheelbarrow loads of sand, cutting pipes, removing sidewalk boards, and on top of that, providing snacks to her fellow volunteers that she had prepared herself.

The hard work finally came to fruition in late December, and members were back curling on superb ice in January.

MacCallum will be honoured during an on-ice ceremony at the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon.

Curling Canada’s 14 Member Associations submitted applications for the Curling Canada Volunteer of the Year Award, and among some amazing submissions, it was narrowed down eight finalists, including MacCallum.

The other National Finalists were as follows:

  • Ken Weseen (Alberta)
  • Gwen Farnsworth (Alberta)
  • Joanna Smorhay (Ontario)
  • Dawn Gavin (Alberta)
  • Larry Legault (British Columbia)
  • Robin Keith (Nova Scotia)
  • Alex Sutherland (Manitoba)