Milton's 2023 Sports Hall of Fame: A Night of Surprises, Triumphs, and Community Pride

On November 16, hundreds of Milton natives corralled into the humble theatre of Milton’s FirstOntario Arts Centre in commemoration of the 2023 Milton Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The night celebrated Milton’s athletic titans and organisations for their tenacious athletic prowess and their influence among the Milton community.

In 2014, The Milton Sports Hall of Fame Committee (MSHOF) - an independent community-led organisation arose with the vision to recognise the stardom of Milton’s athletes and builders through the Milton Sports Hall of Fame. Throughout the year, people nominate those who they think have earned a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame. As each of the nominees is counted, the MSHOF delegates five talented athletes, builders, and/or teams to represent Milton’s athletic scene in the Wall of Fame.

This year’s Milton Sports Hall of Fame honours: Leigh Armstrong, Mildred “Millie” Evans (posthumously), Dan Loiselle, David Anderson, and The Milton Old Stars Hockey Club.

To celebrate their achievements, the MSHOF coordinates the annual Milton Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. To commemorate the ceremony, Milton’s Mayor Gordon Krantz gave a few words of encouragement to the audience and those who would soon take centre stage. After that, each inductee made their way over to the big stage where they would be officially recognised by the MSHOF president Joe Yaworski.

Each inductee was met with surprise upon hearing their induction. Milton Old Stars Hockey Club president Dave Del Papa reminisces about their members’ shocked reactions. “We were totally shocked. We're kind of different than most. I mean, the game we play has got nothing to do with being elected to a hall like this. But the fundraising we do is pretty unique. We found out that what we started doing many years ago had become a benchmark for a number of other old-timer teams that are starting to do fundraising as well. [We are] so proud of that as well,” Del Papa describes.

The Milton Sports Hall of Fame has been a groundbreaking milestone for every inductee in more ways than one. This year’s ceremony was the second time in two years that saw two women inducted into the Milton Sports Hall of Fame with curling star Leigh Armstrong and renowned bowling champion Millie Evans. When speaking to women's empowerment in the midst of a male-dominated environment, Armstrong says, “Being inducted as a woman is a huge honour. I think that women in sports, we've always tried to be equal to men. And we've really worked hard for that equality. And I think we're there and we're getting even stronger in that space.”

“And my hope is really just to inspire young females to curl to take it on to try throwing rocks at houses and have a little fun and the sport is open to young curlers, and we hope that you know, it continues to flourish.” With Armstrong’s inspirational message, the future for women in Milton’s athletic scene is looking bright.

Dan Loiselle has acted as Woodbine’s booming voice for Canadian horse racing for 29 years, calling 55,000 Thoroughbred races. His accomplishments in the broadcasting industry have earned him a spot on the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 and in 2018 he joined the esteemed class of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. This year he has been recognised in Milton’s Sports Hall of Fame, which has had a deeper meaning as Milton is the place he calls “home”.

Milton has also been the home for the late Midred “Millie” Evans - a world-class bowling champion. Having won 13 Mastersters Tournament titles, she has rightfully earned her place in the 2023 Milton Sports Hall of Fame. Her nephew Danny Evans shared some wondrous stories in honour of Millie’s legacy. He gave the audience a glimpse into what it was like to have “Aunt Millie” in his life. Danny spoke not just about her tenacious bowling skills, but he also underlined how wonderful Millie was to the Milton community and how they will continue to preserve her legacy.

Honouring all these brilliant individuals is a vision that the MSHOFC has brought forth through the Wall of Fame at the Milton Sports Centre. With the signs lining the hallway, people can see the faces of those who have shaped this town. Each image is paired with a detailed biography chronicling all their thrilling careers and charitable work among Milton. From Anderson and Evans’ bowling prowess to Armstrong’s curling journey, or hearing about Loiselle’s high-spirited persona and the Milton Old Stars Hockey Club’s philanthropic work within Milton’s hockey scene, the MSHOF has greatly highlighted these accomplishments in writing.

The importance of the Milton Sports Hall of Fame is imminent. And honouring these skillful athletes and organisations has been unifying for the Miltonians each year. To conclude the memorable evening, 2016 MSHOF inductee martial arts competitor Scott Hogarth graced the podium to give the final words of the night. But before he delved into his speech he encouraged all inductees in attendance - both past and present - to travel to the front of the stage. The audience marvelled at the accomplished and hard-working people that have transformed Milton's athletics.

Hogarth spoke to how the Milton Sports Hall of Fame is a symbol of hope for the new generation of sports phenoms. To capture this joyous essence, Hogarth summed it up perfectly: “I’m proud to be from Milton”.

Eunice V. Soriano, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter, Milton Reporter