Last night was just a wonderful night to be a Huskie. We had our wind-up banquet at the Sawmill Banquet Centre to a huge crowd of players, parents., coaches, support staff and various assorted people associated with the team.
I am going to leave graduating players and award winners to a follow-up email next week. Today I would like to focus on the part that you, the alumni, made happen – The Alumni Scholarship Program.
Through your generous support the scholarship program was initiated last year. This year the alumni executive not only continued that program they have begun a second program – The Alumni Endowment Program. In addition to the scholarships, additional monies are being put into a endowment fund, hopefully to eventually grow to the point that it can generate its own income to support the scholarship and perhaps other programs benefitting the club as well.
When the scholarship program was initiated last year it was felt that each scholarship would recognize someone who contributed to the club and/or amateur football in general. The nominations last year came from the alumni Board. This year we attempted to expand this and called for nominees from you, the alumni.
In all we had 18 nominees. Using a weighted vote (1st choice, 2nd, etc.) each Board member then voted on the selections. Following you will find the alumni and/or builder honored by having one of this year’s scholarships named after him/her and who it was presented to. A brief resume follows each name identifying the contributions made to the Huskies program. Following each resume a very brief summary of the recipient.
Incidentally, these individuals have not been informed that they were chosen, they probably weren’t even aware they had been nominated. So at the same time you are reading this the honored alumni are likewise reading it for the first time. Congratulations go out to these five.
So, without further ado, this year’s scholarships recognized:
Sitting quietly in the stands while her son, Mike Assaly (1971 – 73), wore the Huskie colours the late Grace Assaly was always a “behind the scenes” supporter of the team. Never looking for recognition her love for the team came to the fore years later when it came time to build the new clubhouse. Without being approached she stepped up and became one of the major financial contributors, making construction of Huskie House possible. Grace Assaly is one of the major reasons that today we all enjoy one of the best junior football clubhouses in Canada.
Recipient – TJ Sloboda. A 6’5” 290 lb. rookie lineman out of the H.J. Cody Lakers team from Sylvan Lake in central Alberta. TJ was a starter and selected as the outstanding rookie offensive lineman in the PFC this year.
“The Merc” is a Huskies legend. Initially he was the trainer for the Edmonton Mercurys hockey team 1950 World and 1952 Olympic Champions. Despite working full time at the Edmonton Airport he also helped out as the trainer for a women’s fastball team in the summer. He got into football as the trainer for the old Edmonton Oilers and stayed with the team when it became the Edmonton Huskies in 1954. He outlasted every coach and club director by staying with the club for 19 more years. Over those years his dislike for the “pussycats” from the north was only surpassed by his hatred for any official who dared make a call against his beloved Huskies. “Merc” himself was often recognized by those same officials with “bench” penalties for his colourful contributions from the sidelines.
Recipient – Gaetano Minto. Gaetano is a fourth year Huskie who came to us out of Athabasca. A defensive back he is highly ranked defensively in the PFC with 15 tackles, 2 knockdowns, 1 forced fumble and one interception over the season.
Tony joined the Huskies in 1961 after graduating from Ross Sheppard High School. By 1962 he was the team’s starting quarterback and he led the team to three consecutive Canadian championships. A fierce competitor he used to shut the “chirpers” from the opposing teams up with a simple “Check the scoreboard, Mac!” Tony rejoined the team as an assistant coach in 1968 and went on to be head coach in 1970 & 71 compiling a 15 – 7 – 1 record as the club went on to win two consecutive Alberta Championships under him.
Recipient – Brad Launhardt. It is only fitting that the scholarship named after Tony went to our graduating quarterback who has twice been named the outstanding offensive player in the PFC and the Canadian All-Star Quarterback both of those years.
Coming out of Strathcona High School Dennis played for us from 1956 through to 1958 at, according to the programs, guard initially switching to end for the last two years. In 1958 he was voted as the Most Valuable Lineman on the team. In 1961 at the ripe old age of 24 he stepped in as head coach and went on to make history. In 1961 the team was Alberta Champions losing in the Western Semi-Finals to the Vancouver Meralomas by 3 points. They came back determined not to let that happen again and in 1962 & 1963 he became the first coach in the Huskies history to win the Canadian Championship. A credible season record of 16 – 7 – 1 was followed by an incredible 13 – 2 playoff record. At the height of this remarkable run Dennis left the team which went on to win yet one more Championship becoming the first club in Canada to win three championships in a row.
Recipient – Justin Hodinsky. Another import, Justin is a third year player out of Cold Lake. Another defensive back he is ranked 6th defensively out of all defensive players in the PFC. Selected as a PFC and CJFL All-Star this year.
From 1957 – 60 Bob was a hard driving fullback for our club. A regular all-star Bob won the oldest Huskie trophy, the Oakie Jewelers Trophy, as the Most Valuable Offensive Back. But it was as President of the club, a position he held from 1989 – 1992, that he made what is probably the most important contribution to junior football in Edmonton. He, along with Paul McCann, made a presentation suggesting the Eskimos start a 50/50 program at all their games with half the proceeds going to junior football. It is an interesting piece of history that the Eskimos were not in favour of the 50/50 draws as they felt it would interfere with the games. It was Bob who finally convinced the Eskimos to initiate the program on a “trial” basis and the rest is history. It is safe to say that junior football in Edmonton owes its existence to Bob Lindberg.
Recipient – Zach Desiatnyk. A rookie receiver out of Lloydminster Zach battled the odds and beat out several more experienced receivers to make the team. He ended up with 17 receptions and 4 touchdowns despite being “the new kid on the block”.
So there you have it. The five alumni honored in 2017 by having a scholarship named after them and who were the recipients of those scholarships. It is hoped that, with your support, we can continue to grow this program recognizing both our own alumni and the current players.
In closing, for those individuals that donated I have been informed the tax receipts will be mailed to me at the end of November. Companies donating, of course, do not need tax receipts as they can charge donations off to advertising or promotions.