Orillia Sports Hall of Fame announces 2023 inductees
Alan Brahmst, John French, and Dave Dunn will enter the city’s sports shrine at an event on May 13
News release – Orillia Sports Hall of Fame
A former Olympian, a high-scoring World Hockey Association (WHA) star and a passionate volunteer will be inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame later this year.
Alan Brahmst, John French and Dave Dunn will enter the city’s sports shrine at a gala dinner to be held May 13 at the Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club.
Brahmst is one of Canada’s most decorated field hockey players and coaches. After he moved to Orillia from Hamburg as a youth, he travelled weekly — for years — to Toronto to chase his dreams.
He climbed the ranks quickly, making first the Junior National Team and then the National Team.
As a player and coach, he represented Canada at four Olympic Games and multiple World Cups.
Brahmst “was a key leader and outstanding athlete in a golden generation of Canadian field hockey players,” said Susan Ahrens, the CEO of Field Hockey Canada, who wrote a letter supporting his nomination.
Brahmst, in 1999, helped Canada win gold at the Pan American Games “to put his name in the history books,” said Ahrens, adding the talented athlete also played for Team Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He continues to pursue his passion; he is the high performance director for both Field Hockey Canada and Archery Canada.
John French started playing hockey not long after he learned to walk and was one of the top players in Orillia, where he helped his team win a squirt title in 1961.
A year later, he won Orillia Minor Hockey’s Doc McKinnon Memorial Trophy for his ability, leadership and sportsmanship.
He would earn the MVP award at the Don Mills major midget tournament, where he caught the eyes of pro scouts and was drafted 52nd overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1969-70 draft.
After two years with the Toronto Marlboros, he played two seasons in the AHL before going on to a stellar career in the WHA. He amassed 300 points in 420 games, having his best years with the Hartford Whalers, where he set many team scoring records and helped the squad win the Avco Cup in 1972-73.
“John French is one of the best hockey players to ever come out of Orillia,” said Mel St. Onge, a member of the selection committee.
Dave Dunn is synonymous with hockey in Orillia and has been a dedicated volunteer at various levels for more than four decades. He is being inducted in the builder’s category.
He started coaching his son’s team and then joined the Orillia Minor Hockey Association executive, where he served in various capacities — including president in the late 1980s.
He then volunteered with the city’s junior hockey teams in its various iterations — the Orillia Laidlaws, the Orillia Terriers and the Couchiching Terriers — serving in roles from president to OMHA delegate. He was a familiar face at local rinks during those years.
“He would spend game nights doing anything from loading beer for the booster club, to organizing and selling 50/50 tickets, making sure the refs got paid and was security when fights broke out in the stands,” said Roger Crandell, who nominated Dunn.
“Junior hockey wouldn’t happen without guys like (Dunn),” said Bill Smith, who owned the team in the 1990s. “He was always there and always did whatever needed to be done.”
Dunn went on to volunteer for the North Central Predators AAA hockey program and continues to lend a hand when needed.
This will be the eighth class of inductees since a grassroots volunteer group — the Orillia Sports Council — started the Hall of Fame in 2015. Past inductees are honoured in the Hall of Fame Lounge at the Orillia Recreation Centre.
The new honourees will be officially inducted at the 2023 Orillia Sports Hall of Fame Gala, which will be held May 13 at Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club.
For more information, visit sportorillia.ca.
Banner image – Orillia Sports Hall of Fame – (L-R) Dave Dunn, Alan Brahmst and John French will be inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame on May 13