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Wide range of talent inducted into CBS Sports Hall of Fame

By Craig Westcott/March 24, 2023

Three great athletes and an organization builder and athlete in his own right are the latest inductees to the CBS Sports Hall of Fame.

Wayne LeDrew, Mark Duff, Russ Parsons and Rene Perrin were inducted during a ceremony held at the Manuels River Centre March 9.

“Wayne LeDrew has been a familiar face to many in Conception Bay South, as he has been heavily involved in local sports since 1980,” said emcee Rex Hillier, now a CBS councillor and also the first Senior Male Athlete of the Year ever recognized by the Town in 1974, a year after its incorporation. “More specifically, Wayne has made significant contributions as a referee for hockey and ball hockey. He joined the Conception Bay South Referees Association in 1980, and has been officiating ice hockey games ever since. From 1984-2007, Wayne has been the president, assigner, treasurer and Referee-in-Chief for the association, always volunteering his time for each. Since 2007, he has held the role of past president. From 1997-2006, he was referee with the CBS Ball Hockey Association, as well as the assigner and treasurer. Wayne has refereed all levels of hockey, and still refs anywhere from two to six games a week. His contributions have also included mentoring and training younger officials, to keep the Referees Association growing, and give back to youth who have an interest in volunteering.”

Off the ice, Hillier added. LeDrew helped start the Foxtrap Minor Baseball Association, now known as CBS Minor Baseball. “He was involved with everything from coaching to groundskeeping, sometimes even using his own equipment to groom the field and cut the grass,” said Hillier.

LeDrew admitted it felt like a great honour to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

“It certainly is. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s definitely a privilege,” he said. 

LeDrew complimented his fellow inductees as “people who put their time in and absolutely deserve it.”

Why so much time in his case to officiating?

“I’d like to say it’s for the love of the game,” LeDrew said. “To participate, to put your time in, to be out in the public – that part of it has its good points and its bad points. But being active is a big thing too. You get on the ice and you’re active and participating and I do enjoy it.”

LeDrew agreed there are no fair games without fair officials. “And I’ve got to say, throughout my career I never took sides, I always stay neutral and make the calls when they are necessary and live with them,” he said.

Mark Duff was nominated by former teammate and well-known athlete and coach Dave Tilley.

Hillier said Duff’s achievements stretch across a multitude of sports.

“His career in fast pitch softball started in 1972, when he joined the CBS Minor Softball as a Pee Wee player,” said Hillier. “With this association, he won the provincial bantam championship in 1974, and the midget championship in 1976. Mark went on to play with Senior Softball from 1976-1988 as a member of the 76ers softball club, where his team were the league champions in 79, 82, 86, 87, and 88. They also captured the provincial senior B championship in 1988. During this time, he received many personal awards including most Home Runs and Top Batter. He played with the Mercantile Senior Softball league from 1989-1996, during which time his team won the Provincial Sr. B Championship for 1989, and were the League champions for 1991.”

But Duff was probably better known for his basketball prowess, playing with Holy Spirit and later Memorial University as well as Newfoundland’s entry to the Canada Games. “He won a silver medal in Canadian junior men’s basketball in 1978, and was named Team Captain of the Canada Games team for the province from 1980-81,” Hillier said.

Duff also excelled in hockey, playing on many all star teams in his youth including a CBS squad that captured a provincial midget hockey championship in St. John’s.

Duff said it was great to be inducted among such “great people.”

“I was saying to my wife (Rosemary) that I didn’t know whether I had to make a speech tonight,” he said. “But I said, if I did, I was going to thank all the coaches and volunteers, assistants, managers, parents, and family – they all did their thing so I could have fun. That’s what it was.”

Duff doesn’t subscribe to the notion of young people specializing in just one sport, which has become a trend in recent years. “I’m in the Wayne Gretzky school of thought,” he said. “Play all the sports you can, that you enjoy, and take time off in the summertime to play other sports or take the winter off and play curling or something. You’re a more rounded athlete and a more rounded person by doing different things.”

Scoring star Russ Parsons is probably best known as a talented hockey forward, but he was also a top-level athlete in many other sports including softball, and later, golf.

“He started off playing hockey in 1972 as a Pee Wee with the Holy Spirit Minor Hockey Association, and for many years was on the all start team at the All Newfoundland and Labrador championships,” said Hillier. “He won his first championship for All Newfoundland in 1975, when he was also named MVP and top scorer for the tournament. He played Juvenile all Star with the Clarenville Caribous in 1978 and then with the Long Pond Senior Hockey Team in 1979, where his team won the intermediate championship. From 1980-1986, he played with the CBS All Star team that competed in the Newfoundland and Labrador Intermediate Championship. Russ also started playing fastpitch softball in 1972 with the Topsail Aces under the CBS minor fastpitch organization, where he earned the title of Top Regional Batter in both 1975 and 1977. Then, in 1978, his team won the all-star All Newfoundland juvenile championships.”

As a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Golf Association, Parsons competed in the B division with a 5-10 handicap. In 1999, he placed 3rd for his division at the Bally Haly Invitational, then took 2nd the following year. At the Admirals Green Club Championship, he placed 1st in the B division in 2001, then went on to claim the A division championship in 2004, Hillier noted.

A man of few words when it comes to talking about himself, but well-known for his sense of humour among friends, Parsons allowed it was a great honour to be inducted.

“It’s very nice to be accepted into this Hall of Fame,” he said.

Parsons said he has many great teammates over the years and had a lot of fun. 

The final inductee was hockey goalie Rene Perrin, who was nominated by well known former senior hockey player and long time minor hockey coach Norm Simpson. 

Hillier said Perrin has a lengthy list of accomplishments.

“His hockey career started out as a young boy, playing goal on Abe’s Gully in Long Pond in the 1950s,” said the councillor. “Starting with CBS Minor Hockey, he played for the Gulls, and won the Top Goalie award in 1967. At the age of 16, he was asked for a tryout with the Ottawa 67’s Junior Hockey Team and went on to play for the Charlottetown Abbies in PEI. He then played as a goalie for the Long Pond team in Conception Bay South, where his team won numerous championships, and he received many individual awards, including MVP, and Top Goalie.”

After he joined the St. John’s Fire Department, Perrin played in the Civil Service League, where his team won the championships in 1977 and 1978. During his time with the league, he won four awards for best Goalie, four MVP awards, and was named Rookie of the Year in 1977, said Hillier. He was also the recipient of the Ray Kline Memorial Award in 1990.

“Rene was also a member of many other teams including Dawe’s Lumberjacks in the Mercantile League, and Woolworths Team in the Intercity league,” Hillier said. “Rene’s love of hockey is still strong, and he loves going to the rink to watch his grandchildren play hockey, and skate at the rink.”

How did he feel about being inducted to the Hall of Fame?

“It’s pretty awesome,” Perrin admitted. “It brings back a lot of memories. Like walking in the road to get to the bus stop and watching for Mr. Parson’s bus to come down and pick us all up, from Seal Cove, Upper Gullies and Long Pond. We would carry our hockey bags on the bus with us. Monday night was the big night and that was a big deal for us. We had a lot of good friendships. There were a lot of good players, and there are still many friendships today.”

Perrin’s many happy memories include time spent on the Parsons bus going to St. Bon’s or Prince of Wales Arena with fellow players as a boy and later with both players and fans during his CBS senior league days.

“The buses used to be chocked full, the fans used to stand up, and there were times you couldn’t get anyone else on the bus, Perrin recalled. “They came right from Holyrood. Holyrood had a team in the league, also Bell Island. It was the traditional community names – Long Pond, Topsail, Manuels, Kelligrews, Seal Cove, Upper Gullies. Everybody had their (favourite) star players, or their good friends playing, and they had their fans behind them. It was a community affair. It was fabulous. The Stanley Cup for us was the Richard Parsons Memorial Trophy. That was the big one… Then we went to the Feildian Gardens, and finally we got a rink in Conception Bay South, in Kelligrews.”

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