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2007 Inductees
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 INDUCTEE 2007 - SPECIAL AWARD - Vern Henry

Volunteer Extraordinaire


 


Most who knew Vern Henry knew him as  “Grumpy” because of the sour expression that he always had on his face.  However, “grumpy” wasn’t who he was.  Vern Henry was a people person.  Kids and sport were his priorities in life and he  loved both.  So much so that Vern was known and liked by all, parents and children alike, that frequented the Wetaskiwin arena and recreation grounds.  

Coach of young Wetaskiwin
fastball and hockey players

Vern Henry’s participation in sport began when he was a child.  He enjoyed all sports but his real loves were hockey, fastball and curling.  As a young man in Winnipeg, Vern committed his time to playing his favourite sports and he took an active role in organizing many events. 

It was his love of sport and involvement with community that started Vern in his coaching career. Vern's other love was children and he enjoyed kids of all ages.  He had an uncanny ability to communicate with them at their level.  He saw all children as "little people: that should be treated with respect.  To Vern, their thoughts and opinions had real value. 

Vern started coaching girl’s fastball and boy’s hockey.  His commitment to coaching kids became so engrained that as his wife Joan puts it, “He was never home.  He always had a practice or a game.”  Vern and Joan moved to Wetaskiwin in 1976 and as Joan remembers it, we hadn’t even been living here two weeks and Vern came home one night and said “Well, Honey, I’m coaching again.”

“Teach them the game so they can enjoy it,
they will decide if they want to win or lose.”

For the next twenty years Vern committed himself to coaching different minor softball, fastball, and hockey programs in Wetaskiwin for boys and girls.  Vern coached from Peewee up to Bantam and then later on he coached Midget fastball.  Vern had a reputation for knowing every rule of fastball and hockey.  Because of this he was often referred to as a "walking rulebook’".

Vern’s philosophy about coaching was simple “teach them the game so they can enjoy it, they will decide if they want to win or lose”.  For Vern it was all about the kids and it was about having fun.  Vern used to say, “If they didn’t have fun they wouldn’t stay, and then what would be the point of that?”  Vern wasn’t just a coach.  He cared about each and every one of his players and their personal well being.

When coaching Vern’s had "Three Trademark Rules” for his teams:

  • NO BOYS!  (if he was coaching a girls team)  and NO GIRLS! (if he was coaching a boys team)

  • No foul language!

  • I’m not your babysitter!

Vern instilled a quality of respect in all his players.  He had no tolerance for disrespectful people or players that criticized their teammates or friends.  Vern was a strong believer in positive reinforcement and this showed in the kids he coached.  Vern used to say that “People know when they have made a mistake, there is no need to remind them.”  The qualities, character and moral fibre that Vern instilled in his players, by their own admission, changed the lives of many for the better. 

Lifetime of active involvement
with sports in his community.

Vern was a supporter and defender of anything that had to do with Wetaskiwin sports or community events.  He would always find a way to get involved whether it be as a coach, a manager, a driver to shuttle kids to and from games and practices, or, at the community level, raising money and awareness for an event.  Vern committed his help in whatever way he could.  In 1993 Vern volunteered his time to helping to organizing the fastball competition for the Alberta Summer Games in Wetaskiwin and to also assist with coaching duties for the local team.  Until he passed away Vern was a volunteer with the Wetaskiwin Curling Club.

Those that knew Vern Henry knew him as this outwardly gruff and very outspoken man with a hidden soft spot for kids.  We can recall a scene that sums up who Vern Henry was"

At a local girl’s fastball game where Vern was coaching, a fan in the crowd yelled out at Vern, “Hey why don’t you smile once in a while?" To which Vern replied in his gruff adamant tone, “They don’t pay me to smile!” as he turned and cracked a wink to his team sitting in the dugout.
 

 





 
 

 

 

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Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame
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