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Welcome to the hall of fame

On a night when sporting accomplishments galore were being celebrated, a man among the hundreds who make it all possible summed it up best.
Longtime hockey volunteer Leo Verrilli was presented with the Bill Roman Administration Award at the Sports Celebrity Dinner on June 11. He was one of 11 people inducted into the House of Kin Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame this year. Photo by Laurel Myers.
On a night when sporting accomplishments galore were being celebrated, a man among the hundreds who make it all possible summed it up best.

"As volunteers, we don't get into this for the recognition," said Bill Roman Administration Award-winner Leo Verrilli. "We get in to make a difference in whatever sports activity that we're involved with."

Verrilli was one of 11 individual award winners recognized on a night that also welcomed eight individuals, one team and one corporation as inductees into the House of Kin Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame on June 11.

A member of the Northeast House League executive for the past 12 years, including serving as NEHL president for the past decade, Verrilli has also toiled diligently as the house league director for the Copper Cliff Minor Hockey Association for 15 years or so.

"I have to give credit to my executive," said Verrilli of his stint with the NEHL. "With a league that size, I have a wonderful support staff, with Bruce Vaillancourt (vice-president), Sue Leon (secretary) and Lisa Anderson (secretary) — they make me look good."

Verrilli also singled out the experience of working alongside Copper Cliff Minor Hockey Association veterans Ken Creasey and Ron Didone as being key to his development as a minor hockey administrator.

And while hockey can often steel the show at this event, the 46th Annual Sports Celebrity Dinner might be remembered more for the diversity of award winners. Both curling and football shared the spotlight with hockey, with each sport boasting a pair of worthy recipients.

Reg Bonin, the man who guided the Lively District Secondary School Hawks to a city football title against a slew of larger schools, was presented with the Joe Drago Coach of the Year plaque.

"This championship, in my mind, is reflective of all of the kids who have been through that program," Bonin said. "They all had a part in it, even those kids who played when we weren't very successful. They were the building blocks that enabled this year's team to have success.

"I'm lucky to have a lot of really awesome people around me that make this possible," Bonin added. "My wife, my family, the staff at Lively Secondary, the principals here — and at the end of the day, the kids make my job so much easier."

Throughout the re-establishment of the football program at Lively Secondary, Bonin has maintained a tried and true approach he picked up early in his football playing days.

"Positivism," he declared without hesitation. "I've had great mentors. Guys like Paul Gauthier (who was inducted into the hall of fame this year), one of those guys who just gives you confidence by being positive with you. I learned a lot from him as a player.

"And other coaches that I've worked with, guys like Kevin Ellsworth, whose just exceptionally positive all the time, regardless of how poorly things are going."

Bonin's players later completed the sweep when the Lively Hawks senior boys football team was recognized as the Dr Fred W. Sheridan High School Team of the Year.

The Sudbury curling community had plenty to cheer about as both of the High School Athletes of the Year rank curling as their No. 1 sport, with Krysta Burns of Marymount earning the female accolades while Tanner Horgan of Lockerby picked up bragging rights for the boys.

Cambrian College's T.K. Rocca, OCAA Women's Soccer rookie of the year, was named Import Athlete of the Year, with Columbus Blue Jackets player Nick Foligno (Professional Athlete of the Year), Olympic hockey gold medallist Rebecca Johnston (Elite Athlete of the Year) and talented gymnast Kayla Folz (Amateur Female Athlete of the Year) also among the winners.

NOJHL goaltending star Joel Horodziejczyk has seen an interesting few weeks.

Besides recently being traded from the Soo Thunderbirds to the Pembroke Lumber Kings, he walked away with Amateur Male Athlete of the Year honours.

Finally, the Sudbury Midget AA Lady Wolves, who won the Ontario Women's Hockey Association provincials with back-to-back shutouts of the Whitby Wolves and the Stoney Creek Sabres before moving on to claim bronze at the 2014 Esso Cup National Midget Championships, closed the book on their season, named as the Sheridan Family Team of the Year.

The 2014 Class of Hall of Fame inductees included:

-Wayne Eadie (Administration Category) for his work with the Sudbury Lakers in both minor hockey circles and club basketball;

-Terry McKinty (Administration Category), founder of both the Northland Athletic Club and Sudbury Fitness Challenge and highly successful track and field coach with Lockerby Composite during the 1970s;

-Don Benoit (Builder Category), founder of Benoit's Martial Arts, a highly regarded competitor, official and coach of an organization that continues to produce elite competitors to this day;

-Polish White Eagles (Team Category, 1969 incarnation), the last local soccer team to capture the All-Ontario Football Association Championship;

-Mike Stewart (Player Category), a graduate of Lasalle Secondary, Stewart remains the last Canadian boxer to hold the World Junior Championship title, a belt that he claimed in October of 1992;

-John McCreedy (Player Category), a Memorial Cup, Allan Cup and Stanley Cup (Toronto Maple Leafs) winner, a member of the 1938 Team Canada world championship team, and a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame;

-Paul Gauthier (Player Category), a multi-time recipient of both Northern Football Conference regular season and championship game MVP, Gauthier led the Sudbury Spartans to six league titles during his career;

-Joyce Salo-McKenzie (Player Category), representing the Copper Cliff Skating Club, Salo earned a bronze medal at the 1949 Canadian Jr Championships, adding several titles as Northern Ontario senior skating champion and remaining actively involved in the sport as a coach and organizer for many years;

-Dr. Ricardo de la Riva (Builder Category), Spanish-born physician who helped birth the city's youth soccer leagues, as well as working diligently to obtain reasonable soccer fields for local children;

-Track & Wheels (Corporate Category), Connie and Sheila Houle grew a small family mining business into a key member of the Sudbury economy, using that success to help promote amateur athletics in Sudbury for many years.