Hugh McPherson has played a major role in the development of sports in Red Deer for close to 40 years, and has been happy to volunteer for whatever sporting event comes to the city.
On Friday, McPherson was among a select few who stood front and centre as he was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame at induction ceremonies at the Sheraton Red Deer.
“It’s special to be from Red Deer and to be honoured by the Hall of Fame,” said McPherson during a press conference at the hall on Friday afternoon. “The important thing is how pleased I am to see the selection committee has found a way to honour the volunteers who work for sport, and have been for a lot of years.
“That’s why I’m thrilled to be here representing all those volunteers, who have done so much over the years.”
McPherson was born and raised in Red Deer and played basketball for the RDC Kings in the late 1960s. He went on to get his education degree and returned to Red Deer in 1981. He taught junior and senior high school, as well as coached.
“When you’re coaching, it’s a volunteer job, so I guess I’ve been volunteering since I got out of high school,” he said.
McPherson was talked into joining the City of Red Deer recreation board and never looked back.
“Once involved, it was a springboard for everything else,” he said.
McPherson worked with a number of boards and committees in Red Deer, as well as with the Alberta Games programs. In Red Deer, he served with the Games Foundation, the Games Society, the RDC Athletic Advisory Board, the Red Deer Parks, Recreation and Culture Board, the Waskasoo Park Policy Committee and will work with the 2019 Canada Winter Games board of directors.
McPherson also was instrumental in the relocation and development of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum to its present location on the west side of the city. He served on both the building and fundraising committees, and was vice-chairman of the hall board from 1994 to 1999.
“The province of Alberta does a great job of supporting all the events that go on in the province,” said McPherson. “Being committed to building communities is an important thing.
“So for the hall of recognize me for the efforts I put in throughout the years verifies the importance of that concept. That’s what it’s all about, staying committed to building the community.”
True to form, when the 66-year-old was asked what stands out during his career, McPherson was quick to turn the attention away from himself.
“The thing most important to me is to see the development of the youth. You see them come in when they are 12 or 13 and by the time they leave, they’re sport volunteers in their own right. That development is the fun thing for me to watch.
“And, of course, working with a whole lot of other people who give back as well.”
McPherson believes Red Deer has as good a volunteer base as anywhere in the province.
“You could see it in the rally they held to get the 2019 Canada Winter Games,” he said. “You could see the support and the pride of the citizens of this city. And we bring that to every event we support, it doesn’t matter if it’s cycling or the marathon. Our citizens are behind it. That makes this such a great place to live and a great place to be involved. That’s part of our culture and an important one.”
McPherson was one of 11 individuals and the 2007-09 University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team to be inducted into the hall.
Bill Warren, who played an instrumental role in 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic bid, joined McPherson as a multisport builder. Former Calgary Flames trainer Jim “Bearcat” Murray was honoured as a hockey builder. Badminton builder and athlete David and Jean Folinsbee received the Pioneer Award.
Long-time Calgary Flames radio announcer Peter Maher was presented with the Bell Memorial Award. Chris Koch, who was born without arms or legs, and Joey Moss, who has worked for years in the dressing rooms of the Edmonton Oilers and Eskimos, received Achievement Awards.
Former member of the Canadian women’s hockey team Carla MacLeod, curling great Kevin Martin and former hockey star Bruce MacGregor were also honoured.
The Pronghorns had a local flavour as Red Deer’s Shannon Court was a member of the three-time CIS champions with Red Deer’s Norm MacDougall on the coaching staff.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog