BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
Sports are a vital component of Sudbury lifestyle and this is a fact not lost on the leading candidates to become mayor of the City of Greater Sudbury.
The Sudbury area has been a hockey factory, producing current NHL stars such as Todd Bertuzzi, Andrew Brunette and, over the years, other men like Dave Taylor, Toe Blake, Eddie Shack and Randy Carlyle.
This community has produced some high-profile figure skaters such as Jeffrey Buttle, who is now ranked in the top 10 in the world.
Sudbury can also lay claim to one of the greatest cyclists in the world in Eric Wohlberg of Levack.
Our city is fortunate enough to be home to the centre of national boxing activity in this country, with the Ontario National Training Centre in Azilda, one of the finest facilities of its kind anywhere in the country.
The ONTC is headed by Gord Apolloni, Canada?s national men?s team boxing coach and former eight-time national champion amateur fighter.
Our university and college teams have captured national glory in everything from hockey to soccer to basketball.
Our town has tasted Olympic gold fever, when Alex Baumann hoisted a gold medal in swimming in the 1984 Olympics.
Sprinter Robert Esmie called Sudbury home when he captured Olympic gold as part of the Canadian national men?s 4 x 100 metre relay team at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.
Sudbury is also host to one of the biggest amateur hockey tournaments in the province and country?The Big Nickel Hockey Tournament.
Sudbury athletes have done a tremendous job over the years of improving our city?s image.
Our high school athletes have gone on to prestigious colleges and universities across North America and helped athletic programs excel.
Our town was built on mining, and continues to be driven by mining, but sports have played an incredible role in developing community spirit. It gives our children a place to develop social and physical skills, along with giving them a chance to get an education.
Several mayoral candidates are outspoken about sports in our community and view athletics as an integral component to maintaining a healthy community.
John Caruso, a veteran hockey coach, has been involved in the Sudbury sports scene for a long time and he wants to see the continued advancement of athletics in Sudbury.
?Community sports is important because they define a community,? said Caruso. ?We all love to brag about the hockey team from a local high school that wins at NOSSA, or we love to read about the high school athlete that gets a scholarship to a university. It all starts at the ground level with community sports.?
Tommy Boyuk knows sports offer a great financial boost to the city.
?Sports teams bring outside dollars into the city when they come here to play in our tournaments,? said Boyuk. We need arenas, pools and ski hills to keep our kids off the streets.?
Brian Gatien has supported sports teams as a private citizen over the years and is committed to developing athletics for children and young adults.
?It?s important to support those kind of activities because that?s what kids remember,? said Gatien. If I become mayor, sports will have a sympathetic ear at City Hall, no question.?
Colin Firth, another minor hockey coach, played hockey growing up and knows the value of sports.
?I personally know how important it is for kids to have something to do in this city,? said Firth. ?With sports,
kids learn about life and it gives them an opportunity to grow and mature.?
David Courtemache, who was drafted in the NHL, wants Sudbury?s rich sports heritage to continue.
?Sports represents an important part of a healthy community,? said Courtemache. ?Into the future, there?s a lot more we can do. We need to use resources to attract more major sporting events here.?
Louise Portelance has sports high on her agenda.
?It all boils down to quality of life,? said Portelance. ?Sports is a part of it. If we?re going to be attracting professionals and health and mining researchers, they?re going to want to know their children are going to have a place to develop physically and play sports.?
Paul Marleau knows sports is the heart and soul of any community and wants to see athletics thrive in Sudbury and has a new policy for recreational facilities.
?The new policy will be to not only reopen all the facilities that were closed, but provide additional sports venues
for the kids, so we can improve the quality of life for all Sudburians,? said Marleau. ?It will lead to more jobs.?