The night was filled with laughter and tears as veteran Niagara-on-the-Lake sportsmen Doug Garrett and Dave Wall were honoured for their sports achievement during an induction ceremony last Friday.
The Sports Wall of Fame induction ceremony at Meridian Credit Union Arena drew a big crowd of friends and families who came to support two winners.
Each year, the Sports Wall of Fame committee chooses two NOTL residents to recognize for their significant contributions in athletics.
Garrett was inducted in the athlete category and Wall was honoured in the builder category.
The 92-year-old Garrett has 16 championship titles at the NOTL Golf Club at men’s, senior and super senior levels, as well as a Senior Champion of Champions crown for the entire Niagara district.
“This is a wonderful experience and something I didn’t expect,” Garrett said about the ceremony. When he learned he was going to be inducted, he said he had tears in his eyes.
His granddaughter Dahlia Clarke was raised by Garrett who used to call her “Peanut.” Clarke, who now has “Papa’s peanut” tattooed on her forearm, said her grandfather is the best man she’s ever met.
“He definitely deserves this award,” Clarke told The Lake Report. “I’m happy to be here visiting from out of town … Ninety-two years old and he’s still golfing. Isn’t that incredible?”
Paul Dickson, who’s been playing golf with Garrett for 30 years, said his friend is the best putter around.
“He’s my mascot. And he calls me his leprechaun,” Dickson said.
The 91-year-old Wall was honoured for his behind-the-scenes contributions toward helping build the sports park, two arenas in Virgil and baseball diamonds.
He was also one of the creators of the Wallbangers hockey team in 1984. The team members still meet at 6:30 Sunday mornings to play hockey.
“(Wall) was involved right from the start. It’s good to see they recognize him,” said Vic Tee, who used to play on the Wallbangers team.
Coincidentally, when the second ice pad was opened in Virgil in 2003, it was three generations of the Wall family – Dave, Richard and Brandon – who were the first to step on the ice.
“It’s a great honour for my father and pride for our family,” Virgil Business Association president Richard Wall told The Lake Report.
Committee chair Ward Simpson hosted the ceremony. After the opening remarks from Lord Mayor Betty Disero and Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, both winners took the podium to make speeches.
Garrett reminisced about his life, thanked his friends and family as well as the committee for the nomination and ended his speech with some golf-related jokes.
Dave Wall read a poem, then his son Richard talked about his father’s achievements, describing him as a “visionary” and an “avid sports fan” who played golf, baseball and was a long-distance swimmer on top of that.
“His vision came from his understanding sports is an important part of the community,” Richard said.
After the speeches, two plaques featuring the inductees’ photos and a short biography were unveiled.