Recent History – 1998
Dec. 10, 1998
By Alethea Wiesner, Daily News Staff
The Wall of Fame at South Peace Secondary School has a new face: Olympic competitor and national speed skating champion Tom Overend.
Originally hailing from Dawson Creek, Overend was on the Canadian National Speed Skating Team from 1971 to 1978, was the National Senior Champion in 1974 and 1976, and placed 11th in the 1976 Olympic Winter Games.
The internationally-acclaimed skater found out he was added to the wall through long-time SPSS teacher Bob Currie, one of the teachers who started the Wall and tracked him down.
“I think the Wall is a wonderful idea and I am very honoured to be given a place on it,” Overend said. “I think speed skating is a wonderful sport and maybe the best thing about being on the wall is that it helps promote the sport.”
He also had advice for speed skaters hoping to break into the competitive world: “Keep some perspective,” he said. “Winning doesn’t make you a good person; losing doesn’t make you a bad person.” In fact, the worst thing Overend could think about in the speed skating world didn’t even have to do with the sport itself, but the administration behind it.
Speed skating coach Ron Cartier said he didn’t want to place any pressure on the current team by calling them potential Olympic caliber, but said “we’ve got some good shots.” “It’s a long process,” he explained. ‘A lot of the skaters have been skating for 12 or 13 years.”
That they’re able to skate so long is one of the benefits of being so far north. Aside from Fort St. John, Dawson Creek has the only Olympic-sized outdoor rink in the province, courtesy of the steadily cold weather. Some graduates of the speed skating team are now going on to Calgary, which has ice 11 months out of the year and the best speed skating facilities in the world, which Cartier said “makes a huge difference in a skater’s career,”
After his bid at the Olympics, Overend became a colour commentator with CTV for the Olympics in 1980, 1984 and 1988. It’s that kind of recognition that gets people on the Wall, said Cartier.
Already on the wall are former SPSS students opera tenor Ben Heppner, physician Dr. Roderick Calverley, singer/songwriter Roy Forbes and model Pam Piper.
For Overend, being on the Wall is nice for personal recognition, and when people see his picture he wants them to take one thing away. “Nice legs,” he joked, looking at action photo. On a more serious note, Overend said he’d like people to realize he went to that school and went on to do well in the sport he loved. If he can do it, anyone can.