It was a big day for the Moose Jaw and District Sports Hall of Fame, as they announced their 2022 class of inductees on Thursday morning.
The three inductees are Ned Andreoni in the Athlete/Builder category for baseball and athletics, John Graham as an athlete in track & field and bobsleigh, and Rocky Nickle a builder in baseball.
All three have been a part of Moose Jaw athletics or represented the city at provincial, national, or world stages for a number of years.
Andreoni’s wife Lynn was in attendance on behalf of her husband who passed away, and she says she felt very honoured, as Ned has worked hard for everything he has gotten.
“He deserves it, he was an outgoing guy and I’m quite shy, for him I’m happy,” says Andreoni. “He loved every minute of it and loves Moose Jaw, and I’m sure he would be honoured as I am.”
Andreoni moved to Moose Jaw in 1967 from Fresno State University, to play baseball for the local Regals team in the Saskatchewan Southern Baseball League.
He was an instant success leading the Regals in batting average (.337), home runs, and stolen bases winning the team’s MVP and league All-Star Awards.
In his second year with the Regals, the team convinced Andreoni to stay in Moose Jaw and accept a teaching position.
He taught and coached for 37 years at Vanier Collegiate in Moose Jaw, before his retirement back in 2006. Andreoni led the boys’ and girls' basketball and golf teams to district and provincial championships. Before his retirement, the Vanier gymnasium where he had spent so many years was named after him. In 2008 the school initiated the “Ned Andreoni Memorial Scholarship” for deserving high school students.
Throughout his coaching and teaching career, Andreoni became an “A” rated provincial basketball official working games from elementary to junior colleges for over 25 years.
For his exceptional athletic skills and service to the local community, he has received the following awards: SHSAA Service (1989) and Merit (2005), Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame (2010), and Moose Jaw Express Sports Builder (2019).
Rocky Nickel has been in the Moose Jaw baseball, football, basketball, and hockey scene since 1967 when he moved to the city.
Nickel played high school football and basketball but then switched to hockey playing for the Moose Jaw Junior “A” Canucks and the North Battleford Barons. During his hockey career, he also played baseball for 15 years with the Rowletta Lakers.
He was inducted for his life-long officiating career in baseball, which he says is a nice feeling for an umpire to be recognized.
“Officials tend not to be awarded that much, so it is very pleasurable that way,” explains Nickel. “It’s an accumulation of a long-time life process of refereeing and recognition of years of service.”
Rocky refereed junior hockey for 4 years and minor hockey for 15 years. Later he turned his efforts to baseball, volleyball and basketball officiating. Nickel has umpired at all levels for over 30 years: local leagues, Independent Professional Leagues, the Western Major Baseball League, National Club and Select tournaments, World Youth Games in Quebec (2002) and World Qualifier in Florida (2005).
Nickle is a 5A umpire, which is the highest amateur level attainable in the world, a level 3 Regional volleyball official and an “A” provincial level basketball official.
As an administrator, Rocky was a provincial clinician in both volleyball and baseball. He served on the provincial volleyball referee committee (2004-2015) and for over 30 years on the Saskatchewan Baseball Association board in many capacities.
He contributed to standardizing training and instruction, umpire recruitment and mentorship programs. Nickel also served for over 20 years on Baseball Canada’s Umpire Committee. He was instrumental in adapting professional rules to the Canadian amateur game, revising the umpire positioning manual, and developing a grassroots program to standardize national level 1, 2 and 3 umpire clinics, testing and evaluation.
Like Andreoni, Nickle is a well-decorated official for his outstanding service.
These include Baseball Canada Dick Willis Umpire of the year (2007), and Baseball Sask. Umpire of the Year (2011), Baseball Sask. Builder of the year (2014), SHSAA Outstanding Official (2015), Sask. Sport Official of the Year (2016), Baseball Canada Lifetime Achievement (2019), Baseball Sask. Lifetime Achievement (2019), Baseball Sask. Hall of Fame (2021) and Moose Jaw Basketball Officials Referee of the Year (2022).
The last 2022 inductee is John Graham who was born and raised in Moose Jaw and began his athletic career as a member of the Rotary Track Club.
Graham’s family later moved to Calgary in 1980 where he was a part of the Calgary Spartans Track program.
His track career began to take off at the University of Calgary, taking home the U of C Athlete of the Year in 1985. He won the 300M, 600M, 4X200M, and 4X400M races at Canada West and the National Collegiate Championships claiming the athlete of the meet. He repeated those successes in 1989 at the National Championships.
His university career propelled him to join the Canadian National Track team from 1985 to 1991. Graham competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the 400M and 400M hurdle events. He also went on to win three bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games in 1986 and 1990 and he placed fourth in the 400M hurdles at the 1987 Pan American Games. John set numerous Canadian records both indoors and outdoors while capturing 11 national championships during his career.
If a summer sport wasn’t enough, Graham picked up a winter sport in 1988, joining the Canadian Olympic Bobsleigh team and competing in the Calgary Winter Olympics.
He was the third Canadian athlete to compete in both summer and winter Olympics in the same year. Graham was the brakeman for Canada I that captured the 1990 World Cup 4-man bobsleigh championship. They set several push records and won 3 national titles over his four years with the team.
Graham got his third taste of the Olympic stage in 1992, competing for Canada at the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France a part of the bobsleigh team.
Graham has given back to his sport by providing the “John Graham Track & Field” awards for worthy students who contribute to the University of Calgary Dinos track and field program. John Graham was inducted into the Calgary Spartans Track & Field Hall of Fame.
This year’s ceremony will be held on October 1 at the Moose Jaw Events Centre and will be inducting 2020, 2021, and 2022 inductees at the same event.
Tickets are available for $60.00 each (plus applicable fees) at the Moose Jaw Events Centre Box Office or online at sasktix.ca or by phone at 306-624-2050.
Tickets will be available to purchase until Sept. 24 at 6:00 p.m.