Ceremony will honour inductees from 2020 & 2022
The Town of Sackville will soon add five new portraits to its prestigious Sports Wall of Fame.
The latest inductees – the outstanding 1980-1982 Titans football squads, long-time hockey coach and mentor David Wheaton, and versatile athlete Eric ‘Moose’ Sloan – will be honoured during a ceremony next month.
They will also be joined by the 2020 inductees, accomplished golf star Ruthie Maxwell and national Taekwondo champion Alan Snowdon, who have yet to be officially recognized during a ceremony due to restrictions throughout the pandemic.
Wheaton will be honoured under the builder category, while the other four will receive accolades under the athlete category. The ceremony will take place June 23 at 6:30 pm at the Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre.
TRHS Titans Football 1980-82
It’s been more than 40 years, but many area residents still have vivid memories of the days when the 1980 Tantramar Titans football team first brought the provincial championship home.
“The win was historical,” writes local football aficionado David Burns in his nomination letter for the 1980 team. “It inspired the many generations of Titans afterwards to want to play football and experience the same success.”
And it didn’t take long for the Titans to find success again – the 1981 and ’82 teams continued to build upon that first victory and went back-to-back-to-back to nab provincial titles for three years running.
The 1980-’82 squads certainly put Sackville on the map as a football town, which had primarily been known before those years for its prowess in the hockey arena.
“(It) changed the culture of sport in the greater Tantramar area,” states Burns.
Tantramar, who had joined the league in 1972, had gone from being “blown off the field” in its first few seasons to provincial champions, the first non-Moncton area team to do so since the league was formed in 1961.
“These three teams were beaten only twice over the three-year period with two of the seasons seeing them go undefeated,” writes former Titan Peter Hess, who nominated the 1982 team for the honour.
Coached in those early days by the likes of Bruce McMillan, Chris Porter, Dave Jardine, Peter Estabrooks, Pat Lafford and Mark Bohan, and led by an outstanding group of standout players, many of whom moved on to play at the university level, the Titans of 1980, ‘81 and ‘82 dominated their opposition and were a serious force within the New Brunswick High School Football League.
Rev. Phil Wheaton, a former member of the 1980 team who sent a letter of support for the Wall of Fame nomination, says he has fond memories of the commitment and dedication that was shown by an entire community in helping to bring a group of “ragtag kids” to being the best team in the province.
“This event, although now many years in the rear-view mirror, made a great impact on our lives as well as the community,” writes Wheaton.
He has been inspiring and mentoring youth of the Sackville area for the better part of three decades; and now this behind-the-scenes hockey volunteer will be honoured for those significant contributions as he gets inducted into the Sports Wall of Fame as a builder.
David Wheaton has been a coach, manager, referee, tournament director, executive board member, and a jack-of-all-trades for minor hockey since the early 90s – all with selfless determination and commitment.
“David is always willing to lend a helping hand and going above and beyond for the kids and parents of Sackville Minor Hockey, even when is not “on duty”,” writes Katie Slauenwhite in her nomination for Wheaton.
From answering emails and taking phone calls, to scheduling ice times and running the clock, Wheaton has volunteered countless hours “to help wherever he is needed.” He has dedicated the last 30 years to helping the Sackville Minor Hockey program thrive.
Wheaton has coached various levels of competitive teams over the years and served as a manager for the PeeWee A Macs when they won the New Brunswick provincial championship. He was a chief referee from 1999-2016 and served several terms as president and vice president of minor hockey. Wheaton was also a member of the committee dedicated to getting the Tantramar Memorial Civic Centre up and running.
Wheaton’s significant contributions have not gone unnoticed – he has earned several accolades over the years, including the Skip McPhee Memorial Award, the Edmund LeBlanc Award, the State Farm Volunteer of the Year Award, and the RBC Local Hockey Leader award, which came with a $10,000 boost for minor hockey in Sackville. In 2017, a local hockey tournament was also named in his honour, the Dave Wheaton Invitational.
“Dave loves passing on his knowledge and love of the game and helping someone else,” writes Lisa Doncaster in her letter of support for Wheaton’s nomination.
She says Wheaton’s efforts deserve to be widely recognized, even though he would modestly say it’s not necessary.
“I think as a community it’s important to recognize Dave and all he has done to shape and grow the sport of hockey in our little town.”
Kenneth Hicks, who also wrote a letter of support for the nomination and is a past-president of SMHA, would wholeheartedly agree.
“Suffice to say, Dave Wheaton is Sackville Minor Hockey!”
Eric ‘Moose’ Sloan
A talented athlete known for his leadership qualities, his defensive abilities, and his dedication to sport, it’s no wonder Eric Sloan had an amateur sporting career in New Brunswick that spanned nearly a decade.
From hockey to football to lacrosse, Sloan adapted to each sport he took on seamlessly and was highly respected by his teammates and coaches for his commitment to the game.
“At every level Eric played, he was an exceptional player and was either captain or assistant on almost every team he played for,” states Randy Cunningham and Robert Wilkin in their nomination for Sloan.
Sloan, having first picked up a hockey stick at the age of six, earned a number of accolades and awards as he moved up through the minor hockey ranks, even helping the Titans team earn a provincial title in his final year of high school as the team captain.
Sloan also excelled at lacrosse during his school-aged years, helping the Sackville team win a provincial championship several times throughout the mid-1970s. He was later selected to the provincial all-star team that traveled to the Founders Cup Championships for Canadian Junior “B” Lacrosse. He also played high school football as a running back for two seasons.
Sloan then moved on to play hockey in the Atlantic University Conference for four seasons with the Mount Allison Mounties. He was the only Sackville player to play for the hometown team during that time period, an era when Mount A hockey was at its pinnacle. He then went on to play with the Saint John Gulls in the NB Senior A League and the Riverview Trappers in the NB Intermediate A League, where the team won a provincial championship twice.
Sloan’s nomination says it all about why Sloan was regularly selected as team captain or assistant captain throughout his playing career: “Eric cared about people and was a leader on and off the ice.”
Former Mounties coach Jack Drover, in his letter of support for the nomination, agrees: “He provided tremendous leadership, was very respected, and was certainly a very capable player with the hockey Mounties.”
Mounties teammate Kevin Foran also submitted a letter of support, saying Sloan was one of the team’s more versatile players, seamlessly moving from playing forward to being one of their stalwarts on defence, where he really excelled.
“He was a strong penalty killer and was someone that you knew would be there for his teammates and to always give it his all, game in and game out,” Foran writes.
Ruthie Maxwell has been racking up awards and championships since she learned to swing a golf club at the age of 10.
From her first junior provincial competition in 1969 to her most recent senior nationals in 2019, Maxwell has earned various accolades at the provincial, national, and state level throughout her 50-year career and is said to be one of the best amateur golfers in Maritime history.
“She certainly does have an impressive list of accomplishments in golf and has been a tremendously positive representative for our small town,” writes Sue Seaborn in her nomination letter for Ruthie.
Ruthie’s passion for the game of golf and her drive to excel at it has been evident for the past five decades. Her highlights include winning both the New Brunswick Junior Provincial Championship and the Ontario Junior Amateur title in 1971, and the following year bringing home the New Brunswick banner again. In 1975, she was named the New Brunswick Ladies’ Amateur Champion.
Ruthie has won the Nova Scotia women’s Amateur Championships four times – in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2005 – and finished second three times. She has also earned provincial titles five times from the Nova Scotia Women’s Senior Championships – in 2005, 2006, 2014, 2015 and 2016. As a member of the Nova Scotia team, she has also competed at the Canadian Women’s Amateur Championships eight times and the Canadian Women’s Senior Championship seven times. Over the span of four decades, Ruthie has also won the Nova Scotia Two-Ball Championships a total of 10 times. She earned gold at the Canadian Super Senior in 2014.
In 2017, Ruthie brought home the gold from the Nevada State Championships and earned silver in the Northern Nevada Women’s Amateur Championships in 2018 and 2019. She was also a member of the four-person team that earned the win at the Nevada State Quad Championships in 2019.
Born and raised in Sackville, Ruthie moved to Nova Scotia to attend Saint Francis Xavier University, where she graduated in 1976. She then made Nova Scotia her home, with the exception of six years when she lived and worked in the US.
“I never realized that the young lady I knew as a golfer and later as a friend would ever turn out to be one of the finest lady golfers in Sackville, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and many United States and countries around the world,” writes Kevin Read, an honorary member and champion of the Sackville Golf Club, in his letter of support for Ruthie’s nomination.
Alan Snowdon was only five years old when he entered the world of martial arts with the local Sackville Taekwondo club. But his avid interest in the sport soon led to a multitude of athletic accomplishments, including competing at the provincial, maritime, national, and even international level.
At age 11, Alan earned his first-degree black belt in Taekwondo and went on to receive his second-degree black belt a year later. By this time, he had already competed at the Maritime Championships, bringing home gold medals for forms and sparring. This was after having received extensive training from not only local instructor Bill Crossman at the Sackville Club but also Grand Master Won Kap Chung of Moncton, who introduced him to various other martial arts techniques such as Haidong Gumdo and nunchuks.
Alan went on to add silver and bronze medals from the Atlantic Taekwondo Championships in 2007 in sparring, Gumdo and forms, and also captured a number of awards from the Maritime Open Taekwondo Championships the same year.
This was also the same year he competed at the Canadian Taekwondo Junior National Championships, where he was successful in bringing home gold for sparring in his division and weight class. He also earned his first-degree black belt in Gumdo.
In the summer of 2008, at the age of 13, Alan traveled to Korea with Grand Master Chung to compete at the World Haidong Gumdo Junior Championships.
He was also busy the following year, earning numerous medals and trophies at the regional, provincial, and national level. In May of 2009, he received his second-degree black belt in Gumdo and capped off the year by earning his third-degree black belt in Taekwondo.
Also, a committed football player, Alan trained five or six days a week throughout his middle and high school years, being named rookie of the year in Grade 11 and selected to compete with Team NB that summer. In his senior year, Alan was honoured as New Brunswick High School Football’s Eastern Conference defensive player of the year and was recruited to play for the Mount Allison Mounties the following season. He played one year before he moved on to join the Canadian Armed Forces in October of 2013. Now living in Edmonton, Alan plays in a men’s football league and coaches’ minor football at the Atom level.
Sackville has been giving recognition to local athletes, teams, and sports builders through its Sports Wall of Fame since 1989. Other inductees include such notable greats as Bob Edgett, George Chambers, Chester Cole, Wallie Sears, Wayne MacKay, Peter Hess, the 1952-53 Sackville Eagles, Gail LeBlanc, Bill Johnstone, David Burns, Bruce Harper, and many others.