Tom McEvay receives an award from James Messenger before the BC Secondary School Wrestling Championships. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

EDITORIAL: Alberni’s wrestling legacy assured

At the crux of it all stood Tom McEvay

Watching the 2018 BC Secondary Schools Wrestling Championships come together at the AV Multiplex on the weekend was like watching stop action video of a Lego project assembly. Piece by piece, dozens of volunteers transformed a hockey rink at the AV Multiplex into six wrestling mats, then changed things again prior to the finals.

At the crux of it all stood Tom McEvay, supported by a strong team of co-chairs.

McEvay has been involved in numerous large-scale sporting events in the Alberni Valley over the past few decades, from five provincial wrestling championships to 35 Alberni Wrestling Invitationals, Commonwealth Games Wrestling Championships, two world championships, BC Games, and the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Championships in Port Alberni, among other accomplishments.

With Alberni Wrestling, he has seen more than 100 wrestlers medal at national championships, and sent one to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

Tournament co-chair James Messenger talked prior to the finals of McEvay’s “passion, charisma, character and leadership that has made Alberni Wrestling’s program the best wrestling program in the country.”

His influence in sport, we would agree with Messenger, has extended well beyond Port Alberni.

The news during the wrestling championships that this was the last large event that McEvay will chair was especially poignant. McEvay suffered a stroke in November, and has been working his way back to optimal health since then. It is a credit to the team he assembled that the event went off seamlessly, even while he recuperated.

Port Alberni didn’t get its ‘community with a heart’ nickname without reason. People like Tom McEvay, who wears his love for his community on his sleeve, have made it this way.

We as a community owe McEvay our thanks for all the time he has spent organizing Port Alberni sporting events and ensuring a generation of athletes from around the world know what kind of dedication we have to sport.

We can also be assured, because of his efforts, that his legacy will live on in the people who have worked alongside him—and are willing to take on the leadership role that has opened up.

We are also lucky that he is not retiring entirely—he will still be present to guide and mentor the next generation of leaders.

Alberni Valley News

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