In two weeks, the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame will host our Class of 2022 at the 39th Annual Induction Dinner and Ceremonies taking place at the Valhalla Inn on September 27th.

That evening, three athletes, two builders and a national championship team will be honored for their contributions to the region’s rich and proud sporting history. I’ve already looked at the careers of our builders, Patti Kitler and Ken Slater, so in this column I thought I’d celebrate one of our athletes, Gerry Cizmar, who will be honored posthumously for his exceptionally versatile amateur career.

Growing up in Port Arthur in the 1960s, it didn’t take long for this versatile athlete’s strong athletic abilities to shine through.

By the age of 10, he had already made his way into the local paper with a report of his brace that helped the 1965 Port Arthur Nationals advance to the local Little League Final. Seeing the Cizmar name grace the headlines of sports pages would become a regular occurrence over the next four decades, in a variety of sports.

Resounding success followed in hockey, with Cizmar’s 31 goals and 10 assists placing him at the top of the Bantam B list for the Port Arthur Minor Hockey Association’s 1968–69 season.

The following season he was the bantam A scoring champion and earned MVP honors, which he also earned for the 1971-72 season after helping the West End Bearcats midget team win the league championship. town.

Unsurprisingly, Cizmar’s talents caught the eye of local junior teams, with the CASE Eagles adding him to their roster. By the end of his 1972-73 rookie season, Cizmar was at the top of the teams’ scoring list, rising to the top of Thunder Bay’s Junior A list in 1973-74, leading the league in goals (43) and aids (45).

After a short stint with the Kamloop Chiefs of the Western Canada Hockey League and a tryout with the Detroit Red Wings, Cizmar found himself on the Thunder Bay Twins senior hockey team early in the season. 1978-1979.

Cizmar was named Rookie of the Year and would enjoy a 13-season career with the club, the most ever by a player, serving as a performer at center ice and a fan favourite, and amassing a number of awards , records and titles.

Cizmar had two true hat tricks, scoring six goals in the team’s 10-3 win over the St. Boniface Mohawks.

A five-time team and two-time Central Amateur Senior Hockey League scoring champion, Cizmar holds the CASH League’s all-time leading scorer record and the Twins’ record for most goals (270), assists (388 ) and points (658). ). His scoring abilities helped the Twins dominate senior hockey in Canada in the 1980s, contributing to their four Allan Cup titles in 1984, 1985, 1988 and 1989.

During the summer months, this dedicated athlete was making a name for himself on the tennis courts competing in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Cizmar’s early successes included not one but two titles at the 1970 Thunder Bay Junior Tennis Championships, including the boys 16 and under title and the doubles crown alongside Doug Adamson. It was a sign of things to come.

Cizmar went on to win several singles honors, including 11 Thunder Bay Tennis Club and City singles crowns. Teaming up with his longtime doubles partner, Bill McCallum, he added many more TBTC titles to his track record of success and won honors at the Mid-Canada Tennis Classic and a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Ontario summer of 1983.

In mixed doubles, Cizmar has also been successful, sometimes returning from tournaments having won titles in all three disciplines. Just as he did in hockey, his name was often at the top of ranking lists, where he was in 2003 as the top men’s singles player on the North’s preliminary adult ranking list.

He is the only Ontario player to make the roster along with others from Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

Cizmar was not content to limit his contribution to the sport to his athletic skills. He also dedicated himself to passing on his knowledge to others and to the next generation, serving in a number of capacities off the playing field.

With the Thunder Bay Tennis Club, Cizmar served as assistant manager and manager/pro, and helped develop their junior program. Cizmar was also found coaching minor hockey and soccer teams. He also watched his son Darren embrace his passion for the sport, seeing him proudly drafted into the OHL in 2006.

Sadly, Gerry Cizmar passed away in July of the same year, aged just 51, shortly after this milestone in his son’s life.

In addition to his talents as an athlete and builder, the other thing that stands out when you mention Gerry Cizmar’s name to his many fans, teammates, competitors and people he has coached is how many of them remember not only his athletic talent, but his kindness and positive attitude.

As one of the youngsters he coached noted, Cizmar was more than a coach, an athlete or even a mentor, he was someone you wanted to associate with, someone you wanted in your life.

The legacy of this exceptional athlete who dedicated his life to sport from the 1960s to the 2000s will live on when his name is added to the list of athletes of the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2022 also includes athletes Jason Napper and Taylor Pyatt; builders Patti Kitler and Ken Slater and 2017 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship and World Silver Medalist Rink members Trevor Bonot (captain), Jackie McCormick (third), Kory Carr (second) and Megan Carr (first) .

Tickets for the 39th Induction Dinner and Ceremonies taking place Sept. 17 at the Valhalla Inn are $100 each and can be ordered by calling 622-2852 or emailing nwosport@tbaytel.net.

You can also go to the venue at 219 May Street South. (next to the Hôtel de Ville), Tuesday to Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Until next time, keep this pride of sporting heritage alive.

Diane Imrie is the Executive Director of the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.