High school wall of fame inspired local Olympian
Having his name immortalized on the ADSS Wall Of Fame means as much, if not more, to wrestler Travis Cross than competing in the Olympic Games.
Cross was added to the wall during a ceremony at the Totem basketball tournament Jan. 11 at the Alberni District Secondary School gym. Nine other people were also inducted including former teachers Tom McEvay and Brian Laviolette, as well as former Port Alberni athletes such as Devin Timberlake (hockey), Steve Selva (hockey) and Brian Jillings (soccer).
Other inductees included Andrew Grieg (basketball); Ashlea McManus (wrestling); Kurtis Stolth (football); and Isaac Wing (wrestling).
“I’ve competed internationally but this is local. This brings me home and it is very special to me,” Cross said.
The ceremony was made all the more special because it happened just before the finals, Cross said. “Both the Armada boys and girls teams made it to the championship games so the atmosphere in the gym was electric.”
The Wall of Fame started in 1998 with the induction of several alumni athletes at a sportsman’s banquet, ADSS athletic director Mike Roberts said.
More than 50 athlete’s names and pictures hung on the old wall until 2011 when the practice of adding them was stopped.
“We knew the old school was coming down and we weren’t sure how the new one would look yet so we postponed it,” Roberts said.
Officials weren’t ready yet to induct more people at last years Totem so they waited a year. “It was a good call in the end because everything turned out just right at this one.”
When Laviolette’s name was called the applause was louder and longer than any other inductee, something that didn’t surprise Roberts.
“He’s like Tom McEvay - he’s a mentor and he gives his time,” Roberts said.
“A lot of staff and students bent his ear over the years — mine included. I try to model myself after him.”
Seeing pictures of alumni athletes can be inspiring, Cross said.
He remembers meandering about the old ADSS gym and seeing the pictures and biographies of former athletes. “I saw that someone from my hometown accomplished and knew
that it is possible for me to do the same,” he said.
Having his name added onto the wall of fame never occurred to Cross when he was a student at ADSS.
“I never competed for notoriety or medals. But I had an idea that if I achieved my goals that maybe one day I’d be on there.”
One thing that the 10 inductees have in common is that they still possess a competitive nature. “It’s still in me. It never leaves you,” Cross said.
“But the challenge is to find it in other areas of your life now.”
Cross said he sensed another trait the group had in common: giving back.
“I help coach today. I put back into the program that built me.”
The new wall of fame includes an old twist. A large piece of the old floor depicting a ship is the centre-piece.
The pictures that once adorned the old gymnasium wall on Burde Street are to be digitized and will be available in a digital album display in the near future, Roberts said.