It turns out that Joe Eppele wasn’t the only local football personality to walk out of Grey Cup Sunday with some hardware.
Longtime local football coaches Rob Ryan and Jim Errington were also honoured on Nov. 25 with the Sports Builder of the Year award from the Squamish Rotary Club (SRC) at the group’s Grey Cup fundraiser party.
It’s the first time since 1994 that the award has been given out. Longtime member and past president of the SRC Don Patrick said it seemed like the perfect time to honour two important figures in the local football scene.
“When the idea of a Grey Cup Party for the 100th CFL year was introduced, the Rotary decided to honour builders of football in the valley,” he said. “And after the request for information was completed, the committee had a list of all those that made the sport possible in the valley since the early 1960’s and there were many. But the short list always came back to Rob Ryan and Jim Errington as the prominent builders in the last couple of decades.”
Patrick said Ryan and Errington have gone above and beyond to help the sport thrive in Squamish.
“They’re sort of like the glue that held everything together and not without their own trials and tribulations,” he said. “Over the years many parents have assisted but primarily while their kids were in the program, these two fellows were above and beyond the expected family inputs.”
Squamish resident John Dodd said Ryan has been instrumental to the sport of football locally.
“Rob Ryan was my coach when I played football 30 years ago and also has coached my son,” he told The Chief in an email. “I was surprised how many people at the fundraiser mentioned that Rob had coached their kids, and I don’t know how many times I overheard people say that if it wasn't for Rob Ryan there would not be football in Squamish.”
Dodd noted that Ryan has been volunteering in Squamish for more than 35 years and said he thinks the recognition for Ryan’s contributions is long overdue.
Ryan said he was humbled by the award.
“It was an honour to receive the award,” he said. “It is something I don’t take lightly and appreciated very much.”
Ryan said he was pleased to be included among past builders award winners like Merv Foote, Bud Butterworth and John Wilgress.
“Merv was Mr. Football in Squamish for a number of years, Bud was one of the people that helped bring football to Squamish and John was very involved in lacrosse, among other things,” he said. “All three were very important to sports back in my day.”
Patrick said the Builders Awards program ceased to exist in the mid-’90s because of a lack of interest but said he hopes it can return again next year.
“There’s definitely a feeling that it will return,” he said. “We had a fairly good reception and I think there’s a very good chance it will carry on.”
A few past winners of the sports builder awards included: Richard Cudmore (1994, Brennan Park Community Centre, swimming), Doug Horth (1992, baseball), Rae Drenka (1990, swimming) and Anne Martin (1989, soccer).
For more information on the SRC, visit www.squamishrotary.com.