St. Stephen Sports Wall of Fame returns to spring induction

(Submitted photo) Pictured is the first of nine provincial champion girls’ softball teams from Lawrence Station Regional High School between 1953 and 1966. The Greater St. Stephen Sports Wall of Fame is inducting the teams during its June 10 ceremony.

ST. STEPHEN – The induction ceremony for the Greater St. Stephen Sports Wall of Fame is reverting to its traditional spring timeline this year.

The 2022 induction was held last autumn after being delayed due to the COVID pandemic. This year, the committee will honour three inductees at the June 10 ceremony at the Garcelon Civic Center. Don Walker is going in as a builder, Beth Johnston is the athlete inductee, and the team is the 1953-1966 Lawrence Station Regional High School girls’ softball team.

Jamie Waycott is a founding member of the wall and said there were three or four nominations in each category, some new and some being holdovers from prior years.

He said the softball team that is being inducted was “just an extraordinary accomplishment.” The small school won nine provincial titles in 13 years.

According to Waycott, Johnston was “a tremendous athlete through high school and university.” She was part of the high school basketball team inducted in a prior ceremony and which holds the second-longest winning streak in women’s basketball in North America behind only the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies. Waycott said Johnston also played softball, hockey and volleyball, and was a track and field athlete.

“Donnie has mentored many young men and women over the years,” said Waycott of Walker’s selection. He coached provincial champion boys’ high school basketball teams and this season took the St. Stephen girls’ high school team to its first provincial championship game in 25 years.

There are 12 members on the selection committee. They go through an initial discussion of the nominees then hold a secret ballot for the selections.

Keay Halstead (née McCann) played on four of the title-winning teams at Lawrence Station Regional High School.

“We probably were the smallest regional school in the province and we won the provincial championship nine out of 13 years,” said Halstead, who was captain of the team in her final year at the school.

When she heard the committee was launching the wall of fame and that it was for the greater St. Stephen area, she inquired about eligibility for the Lawrence Station area. She was told it was and nominated the team.

She spoke of what it was like to go to some of the larger cities to play the title games, where some of the players had never been before, like Saint John and Fredericton.

“We didn’t have buses or anything in that little school. Parents and teachers took us to all the games.”

She said as soon as the snow was off the ground in spring, the girls would be out practicing.

“We probably practiced four nights a week,” she said. “We didn’t do Friday when it was good weather.”

Walker has been involved in basketball in St. Stephen since 1980, although he began refereeing in 1976. Walker checks most of the boxes required to be considered in the builder category. He was a physical educator, coach, referee and player.

“I’ve done a lot of those things, and I continue to do those things,” he said. “But I never strayed far away from coaching. Coaching was sort of my passion, my love.”

He has also hosted shooting clinics for boys and girls throughout Charlotte County and Saint John.

“I’ve always stayed connected with basketball and, in particular, the coaching aspect of it because I truly enjoyed it.”

Walker looks at the other members of the wall who have been nominated in the builder category and says it’s a special feeling to be included with the others who have done so much for sports in the community.

“I’m very grateful. It’s certainly a happy feeling for me and my family, because without their support, their involvement and enthusiasm, it certainly wouldn’t be possible.”

Editor’s note: The name of a founding member of the Greater St. Stephen Sports Wall of Fame was misspelled in our May 31 print edition. The correct spelling is Jamie Waycott.

Robert Fisher

Fisher is a writer/author, photographer and filmmaker. Itinerant observer of life. His dog, Lincoln, is a travel companion and has been coast-to-coast with him four times.