Some of the best moments in an athlete’s life are when he or she is recognized by their hometown for their contribution to sports. Yes, there are the pro halls of fame, but when the people where you grew up recognize you as making an important impact on sports, it’s quite meaningful. Recently, this recognition happened for former Nashville Predator Jamie Allison. Back in February, Allison received a call notifying him that he had been voted in to the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame.
“It felt really nice, actually,” said Allison. “A good friend of mine, a former coach in minor hockey, was the one that contacted me, and he’s on the board for the Hall of Fame. He said it was silly that I wasn’t in there yet, and he felt strongly that I should be. He recommended me and they voted me in. I don’t get to go back home very often, so to get a call like that was pretty special.”
What made the event so special for Allison, is that he was able to go back home to celebrate. Even in retirement, he doesn’t get to go back to where his hockey seeds were planted at an early age. While in Whitby, Allison won a bantam provincial championship, and was later on drafted by the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. Getting back home for the ceremony meant not only seeing family, but also close friends, former teammates and coaches.
“They made it a really special night,” said Allison. “They had a lot of people there and I got to see a lot of old friends and teammates and old coaches. Just being back home is a great feeling. It was an emotional and nostalgic night for me. My parents were there, so it just brought everything full circle.”
Allison was one of three inductees to the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame this past weekend. Erin McLean was a member of the Canadian National Softball Team and Steve Cardell is a former NHLer and longtime coach.
“There were three inductees,” said Allison. “Erin McLean, who was on the Canadian National Softball Team and Steve Cardwell who was a coach in the builder category and has been a coach for 40 years. They inducted each one of us and gave a 10-minute speech. They had our posters and lifted them up on stage. It was a really cool night and they did a really good job.”
With his induction, Allison joins a list of memorable hockey names. Some other former NHLers that are members of the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame include Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Adam Foote, as well as Keith and Wayne Primeau.
“I don’t pretend to be in the same class as Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts, but it’s nice,” said Allison on the honor. “I was fortunate when I was drafted to Calgary that both of those guys were there, so I got to know them a little bit, and they’re both great guys and phenomenal players. To be a part of that group is special. It’s a small town, or at least it was when I lived there, but it’s produced a lot of good hockey players and a lot of players that have gone on to have decent careers. It’s nice to be honored and recognized for what I was able to accomplish in hockey.”
During his NHL career, Allison saw time not only with the Flames and Predators, but also the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers. In his 372 NHL games, the big defenseman registered 30 points (7G-23A) along with 639 penalty minutes. With those stats, you can tell that Allison had a knack for dropping the gloves.
Life after hockey can sometimes be a challenge, but Allison had made an impact on the community in his life after being a professional athlete. Aside from coaching in the OHL with the Brampton Battalion for three season following retirement, Allison has been highly involved in the community.
“As of late, it’s been good,” said Allison. “It’s been eight years and I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been hard times. I’ve done a lot of anti-bullying presentations at schools, which has been great. Very recently, I just purchased a hockey training facility in Oakville, so that’s pretty exciting. We’re going to close here pretty soon on a deal. It’s a big facility. We have lots of plans and really excited about the future of that.
His new facility has two training rinks that are about 120’x50′. It also has two large goalie pads for training. Also included is about 17,000 square feet of off-ice training space. Needless to say, through his work with anti-bullying and now working on training the next generation of hockey players, Jamie Allison is leaving a legacy worthy of recognition.
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