2017 Chatham Sports Hall of Fame Inductees Announced
The Board of Directors of the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame is proud to announce the 2017 inductees into the Hall.
Voting was done by the volunteer, twelve member, Selection Committee made up of Honoured Members and former Voting Members of the Hall. As a result of the voting, the following will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Athlete – Modern – John Comiskey – football player
Athlete – Legend – Brian Hind – hockey player
Builder – Mike Bennett – reporter
Team – 2001-02 JMSS Boys Basketball team
Dan Comiskey will also be inducted in the Athlete – Modern category. Dan’s nomination was not required to go through our voting process. When the Nomination Committee evaluated his nomination his rating was at such a high that he became a “Directors’ Choice Induction for Outstanding Achievement” and became an automatic inductee. This allowed other nominees to have a chance of being voted into the Hall. This is the first year that this policy has been in effect.
The Annual Dinner and Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, September 14, 2017 at the WISH Centre.
Tickets for the dinner will go on sale on August 1st and may be purchased from any of the directors, specifically Jay Teetzel (519-354-2333), or at the WISH Centre. The cost is $40.00 for adults and $20.00 for children under 10.
The Board congratulates all five of these new inductees as well as the other individuals and teams who were nominated. All unsuccessful nominations will remain on file and will automatically be considered in succeeding years. New nominations must be submitted by May 1, 2018 to be eligible for next year’s voting. Nomination forms are available from Mike Murphy (519-352-8698) or online.
High School – after moving to Chatham, John spent grades 7 and 8 at Chatham St. Joe’s and his high school years at Chatham Collegiate. ln 1997-98 John was captain of the senior football team that won the Kent County championship.
ln the fall of 1999 John played for the Windsor AKO Fratmen of the Canadian Junior Football League where he was an all-star at defensive end on the Canadian Junior Championship team.
University – John spent the school year 2000-01 on football scholarship at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, a Division 1 school. He started all 11 games that season as a true freshman on special teams as the long snapper. That year he played at defensive end against the National Champion Miami Hurricanes and at outside linebacker against Notre Dame Universitv. He earned a 3.67 GPA and was honoured as an Academic All-American that vear.
After sitting out a transfer year he played two seasons at the University of Windsor, 2002-03 and 2003-04. John was voted team captain and started every game for Windsor at right or left tackle. ln 2003 the Lancers made the playoffs and had a first round playoff win against Western.
Professional – John played 5 years in the Canadian Football League (CFL), 3 years (2005-2007) in Calgary and 2 years (2008 & 2009) in Edmonton
ln 2005 he was drafted in the third round of the CFL with the 19th pick overall by the Calgary Stampeders. As the 1’t pick in the third round he became the highest CFL draft choice ever selected from the University of Windsor. ln his rookie season he played seven games at fullback on short yardage and goal line formations.
ln his second season, 2006, John became the starting centre during the preseason and played all 18 regular season games at this position. His team made the playoffs but lost to his brother, Dan’s team, Edmonton, in the first round. John allowed zero sacks the entire season at centre and his offensive line was recognized as having the lowest number of sacks allowed in the CFL that year.
ln his third season in 2007 John started the first thirteen games at centre but a shoulder injury ended his season.
During the offseason John was traded to Edmonton where he would go on to start all eighteen games (2008) at centre where he played on the offensive line, side by side, with his brother, Dan, who played left guard. That season John was Edmonton’s nominee for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Linesman Award, but he did not win.
ln 2009 John dressed for all 18 games but saw limited action due to two separate knee injuries suffered in the pre-season and again in week five. After the season John was released by Edmonton and re-signed by the Calgary Stampeders but continued knee injuries forced him to retire in May of 2010 so he did not play for Calgary.
Awards and Recognitions – In 2008, John was named Edmonton Eskimos’ Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
Early Years – Brian was born in Chatham, attended elementary school in Dover township, attended John McGregor S.S. and competed in football, basketball, volleyball, golf, track, cross-country and badminton. He was two-time Athlete of the Year at John McGregor S.S.
At 16 yrs of age Brian made the Jr. Maroons (1963-64) and was named their Rookie of the Year. The Maroons won the Border Cities League. ln 1954-55 Brian won the juvenile league scoring title and also spent time with the Jr. Maroons. The following year Brian played junior for the Wallaceburg Hornets where he led the team in scoring and made the all-star team. ln 1966-67 he played his last year of junior hockey for the Jr. Maroons where he was second in team scoring chosen-league most sportsmanlike player and again made all-star.
University – Brian earned a hockey scholarship to Division 1St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. (1967-68 to 1970-71). SLU played in the Ivy League. All freshmen were ineligible in their first year. ln his third and fourth years at SLU Brian was the team MVP and scoring leader. Brian graduated with a BA majoring in Economics.
Senior Hockey – After graduation Brian returned to Chatham and in his first year back led two local men’s hockey leagues in scoring. For the next eleven years Brian played either senior or intermediate hockey and excelled. He played for the Bothwell Barons, the London Kings, Petrolia Squires, Dresden Lumberkings and Chatham Maroons.
Three times he led the league in scoring, 1973-74 with the Bothwell Barons, 1975-76 with the Dresden Lumberkings and in 1977-78 with the Petrolia Squires. When Brian retired he did so as the all-time leading scorer in the Continental Hockey League (CHL). ln 1980 he received an award for being the first player to score 500 points in the league.
Local teams did well in Brian’s era. Petrolia won the Allan Cup (best senior men’s team in Canada) in ’78-’79, Cambridge in’79-’80 and Petrolia the next two years. When the CHL became a Senior ‘A’ league, Brian played two different seasons for the Dresden Lumberkings, losing in the provincial final (Intermediate ‘C) in 1975-76 and winning the Intermediate ‘C provincial title in 1982-83 his last year of competitive hockey.
While still in high school (1973-74 and 1974-75) Mike served as a paid sports correspondent for the London Free Press to cover Chatham high school sports and the Chatham Junior Maroons hockey team. His fine work for the Free Press was recognized when he was hired right out of high school by the Chatham Daily News in December of 1975 where he worked until May of 2007, a period of 31.5 years.
Since 2010 Mike has been employed by the Blenheim News Tribune where he continues to report on sports and other events. From 2007 to 2016 Mike was employed by the South Buxton raceway to report to several newspapers on stock car racing. Overall, going back to his job at the London Free Press, Mike has been reporting on sports for 44 years.
From 1975 to 1980 Mike served as a sports reporter at the News. In 1980 he was named sports editor, a position he held until he retired from the News in 2007. In Mike’s words he just “continued the fine work that the previous sports editor, Bill Saunders, had started.”
Mike’s Columns – In Mike’s early years his columns simply read ‘by Mike Bennett’ accompanied by a picture of Mike. It later became “Sports Spinnerama” by Mike Bennett and finally “Ben’s Den”.
Mike liked to recognize those who contributed to sports in a ‘behind the scenes’capacity. He felt that it was important to build relationships and when he received ‘off the record’ comments he kept them quiet. Mike was happy to put in a picture or write a column because he knew how proud it would make the family and friends. He very often wrote an article when local sports figures passed away.
Honours Received – In 1991 Mike and Andy Johnston won the Ontario Hockey Association media award.
In 2000 Mike was inducted into the CCI Athletic Alumni Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2007 he received at the JMSS athletic banquet the Robinson-Bruette
Contribution Award for his contribution to local high school sports. In the same week CKSS honoured Mike again for his service to high school sports.
In December of 2010 Mike and Bill Saunders were inducted into the Maroon
Alumni Association Heart and Soul Volunteer Wall of Fame at Memorial Arena.
Committees Served – In the late 1970s, Mike served on the executive of Chatham Minor Baseball.
He was an original member of the selection committee for the Public General (today the Jack Parry awards) Hospital Recognition Awards (1994-1996).
Mike as a coach – For approximately 15 years Mike coached Chatham minor baseball teams. His most successful team was the 1979 midget team (enshrined in the CSHOF in 2011), only the second Chatham team to qualify for the Canadian championships.
For approximately 12 years Mike served as a goalie coach in minor hockey.
Praise for Mike – According to a high school coach, “Mike was very passionate about promoting local Chatham sports and for three decades he covered all sports with depth and understanding. He wrote countless human interest articles, in a positive way, about people who impacted sports locally, provincially and nationally. Mike worked the phone late into the night making sure the information, scores and highlights were correct. He is a walking encyclopedia about the history of sport in and around Chatham.”
2001-02 JMSS Boys Basketball Team
The John McGregor Secondary School senior boys’ basketball team of 2001-20O2 was arguably the best boys basketball team ever to represent Chatham and certainly the best offensive team ever. Twelve times they scored more than 90 points, unheard of in high school, and once they scored over 100. They won their first three games at OFSAA 4A before losing in the semi-finals (85-73) to Toronto Eastern Commerce, the eventual champions. In fact Eastern Commerce were so good that they would go on to win OFSAA 4A the next three years. The McGregor Panthers finished 4th narrowly losing to Burlington Nelson 64-62 in the bronze medal game.
The panthers finished the season with an overall record of 50 – 8 and won 25 consecutive games before losing in the OFSAA 4A semi-finals. They lost eight games but only lost to five different high schools, two games to Burlington Nelson (by one and two points) and three games to Eastern Commerce. Six players from this Eastern Commerce team would later play basketball in the U.S. on scholarship and four others would play on Canadian college teams.
1. They won 50 games, more than any other Chatham high school team has ever won in a season.
2. They could easily have won OFSAA 2A as they had done the previous two years but moved up to the top category (4A) where they placed fourth at OFSAA. They were better than the previous two teams as virtually the whole team returned and they were a year older.
3. The team won a Christmas university tournament which is quite an accomplishment that had been done only twice prior and not since by any Chatham team. Universities use their invitational tournaments as a recruiting tool and normally invite teams that have one or more outstanding players so it’s difficult for a Chatham school to get invited let alone win. The 2001-02 team received invitations to two university tournaments, Windsor and Western, winning the former.
4. The team was composed of several exceptional ‘all-round’ athletes.
5. The team went undefeated (10-0) in league play, won two Kent playoff games to become local champions. They then won two more games to become SWOSSAA champions.
Team Members were Mike Bean, Allan Cattrysse, Scott Currie, Jeremy Derksen, Andy Fantuz, Matt Handsor, P.J. Hamilton, Kevin Kloostra, Ryan Morrison, Mark Oulds, Kyle Robbins, Rob Shaw, Ron Debusschere (Manager), Dave Kent (Assistant Coach), Dan Lewis (Head Coach)
High School – Dan started his football career in grade 10 in 1983 at Dr. Martin LeBoldus Cathotic High School in Regina where his team won the provincial championship and he was an all-star.
Dan returned to Chatham and attended CCI for his last three years of high school where he was a Kent defensive all-star all three years (1989, 1990 and 1991).
University – Dan played on the offensive line at the University of Windsor where he was an OUAA all-star in 1994,1995 and 1996. He was First Team All-Canadian in 1995 and 1996. one of onlv four, from Chatham to be so honoured. The others are Chris Church. Derek Krete and Andv Fantuz.
In 1995 he was nominated for Athlete of the Year for the University of Windsor but did not win.
At Windsor’s 40th anniversary (first team was in 1968) held in 2008, Dan was named to the All-Time Lancer football team.
Professional – Dan played for 13 years in Canadian Football League, from 1997 to 2001 with Saskatchewan and from 2002 to 2008 with Edmonton , except for a 13 game stint with Hamilton in 2005.
Dan played in a total of 4 Grey Cup games, 3 with Edmonton, helping them win the CFL Championship in 2003 and 2005 but losing to Montreal in 2002. In 1997, he was a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders who lost the Cup to Toronto.
In his last year, 2008, he got to play beside his younger brother, John, on the offensive line in Edmonton where they lost to Montreal in the Eastern Conference finals.
Awards and Recognitions – CFL West All Star 2003 and 2006 & Edmonton Eskimos Most Outstanding Canadian Player 2006.
Submitted by: Jay Teetzel, Secretary, Chatham Sports Hall of Fame