Some memorable words from this year's Wall of Fame class

By Bruce Hallihan

The Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame's annual dinner and induction ceremony was, as usual, a fine affair.

Everyone's in a good mood, everyone who's there wants to be there. And you can't walk five feet without bumping into somebody you know.

The 20th annual gala at the Delta Hotel lasted well into the night, although I don't believe the night owls in the hospitality suite partied from Delta dusk to Delta dawn.

The formal portion of the evening, of course, is highlighted by the inductees and other award recipients getting to say a few - actually, more than a few - words.

We try to do them justice in the followup story but, of course, we run out of space before they run out of words.

So here are some leftovers from Saturday's speeches:

* Kim Hepditch, Bill MacGillivary volunteer of the year award recipient, teared up when she spoke about a young boy the Brendon Oreto Needy Kids Fund helped outfit for hockey. The grateful boy came up to her at Nashwaaksis Middle School.

"He said, 'Mrs. Hepditch, this is the greatest day of my life.' I said, 'Why's that?' He said, 'It's my birthday and I get to play ice hockey.' To me, that's what volunteering is all about. To get to give kids that opportunity."

* Myer and Jack Budovitch winner as Fredericton's athlete of the year, Dan McCullough of the CFL's B.C. Lions had many thank yous, including one for "my beautiful, wonderful fiance (Tara Gass of McAdam). She's very understanding. With all the training I put in and all the travelling in season, it's hard. I asked her the other night (to marry me) and she said 'yes.' "

* Multi-sport athlete Pat Dobie was "flattered to still be considered a Frederictonian" since she's been away for so many years. But she's been lots of places. She's travelled to more than 100 countries "and I have all the photographs to prove it," she said.

* Terry McIntyre, the Godfather of the Gridiron, said he "ruffled a lot of feathers" over the years, "but people eventually got used to me. I became an icon of sorts and I think it's just the passage of time that did so. Simply by growing old, all the people forgot all the bad things that I'd done. Had I known that was going to happen, I would have grown old sooner."

Terry and Marion McIntyre will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. "Marion, you're the love of my life," he said, "and, without a doubt, the greatest thing that ever happened to me."

* Steve O'Rourke, who coached girls for 30 of his 34 years in basketball, "came with an A speech and a B speech. "I've had three glasses of wine, we're going B."

O'Rourke, then a 23-year-old coach, recalled putting his foot in his mouth when he tried to delicately tell a 15-year-old student she could use some, um, support.

"I couldn't help but notice..." O'Rourke addressed her before turning red-faced after realizing his poor choice of words.

* Ecole Sainte-Anne volleyball coach Mike LeBlanc used O'Rourke's anecdote to begin, "This isn't a sports bra, it's my speech," he quipped.

LeBlanc, who coached the ESA girls to A, A and AAA championships in consecutive years, still gets invited to team functions 28 years later - dinners, weddings, even three baby showers. At one, the lady who opened the door didn't know who he was.

"I don't think she had me mistaken for a Chippendale's dancer," LeBlanc said. "After I explained to her what I was there for, and I had a little present with me, I was able to get in."

* Brian McKenna, ECHL commissioner, told St. Thomas Tommies hockey fans to hold out hope. In 1985-86, he was an assistant coach to Larry Wood.

"We were 14-10, we made the playoffs and we were 4-0 against UNB, who was coached by Doug MacLean and Gary Agnew," McKenna said of the 9-15 Red Devils. "I love what UNB's done with their program but it would be great to get that old rivalry back."

* Shawn Kitchen said of his late father Roy (Hammy) Kitchen, "You could see the love of sport on his face. Dad would never like to talk about himself, but ask him about one of his grandkids and he would talk your ears off."