For years his was a household name in Fort Frances—at least when the subject of local hockey came up.
Dave Allison is well-known here for his contributions to sports, both locally and at higher levels.
Now he’s being honoured for those years of contributing by being inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame next month as a “builder.”
“It’s really a humbling experience because it’s not something that you set out to do,” Allison said.
“But you know, as you look at it and you see the people that are in there, you’re very humbled, you’re very honoured,” he added.
Allison said he was surprised when he found out about the honour because it wasn’t something he’d ever really thought about.
“I’ve always enjoyed teaching and I’ve always enjoyed coaching,” he remarked.
“I’ve coached at the highest levels [with the Ottawa Senators of the NHL] and I’ve coached at the not-so-highest levels . . . and each and every experience has been a positive experience.”
Allison said that for him, being a “builder” means doing more than simply teaching skating and shooting.
If one is a builder, he said, “I hope that you’ve given kids direction and you’ve treated kids with honesty and you’ve helped them get closer to their goals, and it’s not only on the ice but you’ve tried to translate that to things off the ice.
“It’s just really all about nurturing, and having people fulfill their dreams and doing the best they can,” he reasoned.
Allison comes from an athletic background. His brother, Mike, was inducted into the NWO Hall of Fame back in 2003 as an athlete, his mother, Joan, is in the Manitoba basketball hall of fame, and his late father, Bill, is in the Manitoba hockey hall of fame as a member of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“It’s not something that I don’t think any of us set out to do, but we just followed our passions,” he said.
“And it’s great to be acknowledged, and to be acknowledged with my brother, in something you love to do.”
Allison said a lot of people have had an influence on his life—and each one taught him lessons that he wants to be able to pass on.
“You’re fortunate, if you do get to coach, that you are allowed to pass some of those lessons on and you just hope that it sinks in with people,” he remarked.
“I just think it’s been a wonderful journey and I look forward to being in the game for another 10 years,” Allison added.
“I don’t look forward to retirement,” he stressed. “I love what I do. I love being involved with athletics and young kids and being part of something that you build.
“Some of the most fun I had was when I coached in the SIJHL [with the now defunct Borderland Thunder]. . . I still keep in touch with some of those kids and they’ve gone on and some are still playing. . . .
“And they’re still doing something that they love and they’re still role models within the community, and they’ve still got a lot to offer and they can’t take that lightly.
“I just have enjoyed every aspect of coaching and playing, and humbled to continue to be involved,” Allison said.
The next chapter of Allison’s career is a scouting job with the Pittsburgh Penguins that he’ll be starting this coming season, but he won’t soon be forgotten for the work he did locally.
“I’ve been involved in coaching for 20 years at most every level and I’ll always come home to Northwestern Ontario,” he said. “It’ll always be home.”
Also being inducted into the hall of fame this year in the “Builder” category is longtime curling coach and volunteer Don Main of Thunder Bay.
Joining the hall in the “Athlete” category are international ski jumper John Lockyer and stock car racing legend Tom Nesbitt, both of Thunder Bay, with Dryden being represented by NHL hockey player Sean Pronger (brother of Chris Pronger).
The “Team” category will welcome the members of the 1994-95 Thunder Bay Kings ‘AAA’ Midget squad which claimed the Air Canada Cup as Canadian Midget champions.
The 28th-annual induction dinner and ceremony will be held Sept. 26 at the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay.
Tickets cost $75 each, which can be ordered by calling 1-807-622-2852 or dropping by the hall of fame at 219 May St. S. in Thunder Bay.