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  Prairie Gold:
Sports Heroes From Saskatchewan
 
 
Photo 1 of 7. | | |

Gail Bakker

Born April 5th, 1946 Gail was one of Saskatoon's finest gymnasts. At age eleven, she took part in a tumbling program at St. Mary's hall. Mike Matich noticed her working out, and introduced her to the gymnastic program. Chuck Sebestyen also entered the scene and before long Gail was winning medals and ribbons. In 1959, she was Saskatchewan's junior champion, then became Alberta and Western Canadian junior champion in 1960 and 1961. In 1962, she really progressed and after winning the Canadian championship was on the World Games team and competed in an England/Canada meet and the U.S. championships.

The competition in 1963 was tougher but she added the Canadian senior championship to her credit and was on the Pan-American Games team. In 1964 Gail was the only female to go to the Tokyo Games. Because of her excellent showing all year she was awarded the Federation of International Gymnastics Pin and was named Canadian Female Athlete of the Year. After moving to the U.S. she won several collegiate titles and when she left competition she found time to coach, train and officiate.

In 1990 she was named to the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.

Text courtesy of Ned Powers

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Photo 2 of 7. | | |

Glenna Fairbrother / Glenna Sebestyen

When the name of Sebestyen is mentioned one automatically thinks of gymnastics. With father Chuck Sebestyen providing the leadership and coaching, daughter Glenna achieved success ear1y in life. At the age of ten she had amassed a score high enough to qualify for the Pan-American Games. Since the minimum age for qualification was 16, Glenna was unable to go. Glenna continued her winning ways and captured the Canadian Junior championship in 1962, 1964, 1965 and 1966.

She represented Canada at the North American championships three times, Chicago in 1967, Vancouver in 1968 and in Mexico in 1969. She was also a member of the 1967 Pan-American team - a spot that eluded her in the past. In (a) University competition, she was the runner-up in 1970, but the following year won the Canadian university champion ship. Glenna retired from competition in 1972 and went into coaching. She is the head coach for the Saskatoon Marion Gymnastic club and has served as provincial coach every year since 1972.

She was named to the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.

Text courtesy of Ned Powers

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Photo 3 of 7. | | |

Irene Haworth Lacy

Irene Haworth Lacy was born in Nipawin, Saskatchewan and moved with her family to Saskatoon at the age of one month. She began her gymnastics career with the Saskatoon Y.M.C.A. Gymnastics Club and at the height of that career, was one of the top gymnasts in North America.

Irene's first success came in 1960 when she won five gold medals at the Western Canada Gymnastic Championship in Calgary, Alberta. In 1961 Irene competed in her first Canadian Gymnastic Championship, winning two bronze medals in the Junior Division. In 1962 Irene moved up to the Senior Division, and quickly became one of Canada's top ranked gymnasts. At the Canadian National Championships she placed sixth all around and was a member of the Saskatchewan Team that won the national championship. Later that same year, Irene competed in the World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia as a member of the Canadian Gymnastics Team.

Irene was named to the 1963 Canadian Gymnastic Team that competed at the Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Canadian team captured the silver medal, and Irene also achieved personal success by winning a silver medal for her performance on the balance beam. In 1964 Irene qualified for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, but the Canadian women's gymnastic team was not sent to those Games.

Irene's outstanding performance in 1964 resulted in her receiving a scholarship to attend Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. From 1964-1967 she represented both Canada and the University of Southern Illinois in various competitions. During her university career, Irene was on gymnastic teams that won six US national championship, and co-captained the team in 1965. She closed her career in 1966, at the Canadian Gymnastics Championships, where she won individual gold medals for balance beam, uneven bars, and floor exercises and was named the competition's top Canadian Senior Women's Gymnast.

Irene's performance on the American Collegiate scene resulted in her being named to the 1966 All American Gymnastics Team, and her receiving Sports Illustrated magazine's Award of Merit.

In 1983 Irene was inducted into the University of Southern Illinois Sports Hall of Fame.

Installed in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum on June 15, 1996.

Text courtesy of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame

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Photo 4 of 7. | | |


James Rozon

James Rozon

James started his gymnastic career as a member of the Marion Gymnastic club under the watchful eye of Chuck Sebestyen. Later he joined the Taiso Gym club at the University of Saskatchewan coached by Keith Russell. His first big competition took place in 1983 when he captured 3 gold and 2 silver medals at the Canada Winter Games. That same year he was the Canadian Junior champion and helped gain a bronze medal for Canada at the Pan-American Games in Caracas, Venezuela.

He has been to two world championships in 1985 and 1987. At the Canadian Nationals he placed 2nd in 1986 and 3rd in 1987.1988 was another banner year for Rozon and his coach , Ralph Ho. He was on the Olympic team that went to Seoul, won the University Cup for the U. of S. team and was named Sask Sport male athlete of the year. He has now retired from active competition, but since he holds a level one and level two coaching certification, and pre-national level one and two judging certification, he will not stay away from the sport.

James was inducted into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.

Text courtesy of Ned Powers.

Copyright information: University of Saskatchewan

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Photo 5 of 7. | | |

Chuck Sebestyen

Chuck began his gymnastic coaching career in 1958. He has spent many hours working with champion and amateur gymnasts. When Sao Paulo, Brazil hosted the Pan- American Games in 1963, Chuck was on the coaching staff of the Canadian team. He also coached Canadian teams at the North American Championships, and the Tokyo Olympics in 1964.

Closer to home he coached the Saskatchewan Men's gym team when Saskatoon hosted the Canada Winter Games in 1971. Sebestyen coached both the Men's and Women's teams at the University of Saskatchewan. One of his prime pupils, Gail Daley of Saskatoon was a member of the Canadian team that went to Tokyo. She was the only Canadian to gain a "9" or more in each event. As a nationally rated judge, Chuck has conducted many coaching and officiating clinics.

Chuck was named Kinsmen Sportsman of the Year in 1962, inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1977, and placed in the Saskatoon Hall in 1986.

Text courtesy of Ned Powers.


Charles (Chuck) Sebestyen, an Olympic gymnastic coach, has spent many hours working with both champion and amateur gymnasts. In 1958, he began coaching gymnastics in Saskatoon and from there went on to being the Canadian gymnastics coach at the Pan American games, Sao Paula, Brazil; the Northern American Gymnastic Championships, Pennsylvania; the Tokyo Olympics in Japan; the Saskatchewan Men's Gymnastic Team at Canada Games in Saskatoon; and coach of the University of Saskatchewan Men's and Women's Gymnastic teams.

Being a nationally rated judge, he conducted coaches and judges clinics at various places in Saskatchewan, as well as Winnipeg, Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.A. and at York University in Toronto.

He coached Miss Gail Daley at the 1964 Olympics, at which time, she became the only Canadian to be a member of the "9" Club, having gained a "9" or more in each event.

At time of installation citation read March 26, 1977.

Text courtesy of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.

Date: [ca. 1975]

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Photo 6 of 7. | | |

Patti Sebestyen

Patti Sebestyen was born in Saskatoon in 1949 and since her grandfather had helped build St. Mary's Hall and her dad was interested in gymnastics, it was no accident that Patti would follow the family tradition.

Although she also competed in track, basketball and volleyball, gymnastics was the natural attraction. She and her sister Glenna dominated the Canadian junior championships, unique because Glenna won the crown in 1962, Patti won in 1963 and Glenna in 1964, the only times that sisters had dethroned each other. With their dad as coach, the Marian club often travelled to national events and she shared in team victories while competing from 1961 until 1970. Patti was a silver medallist on Saskatchewan's team at the First Canada Winter Games in Quebec City in 1967 and also competed for the University of Saskatchewan.

Patti showed natural instincts towards coaching, traveling to North Battleford and Prince Albert and the Northwest Territories to teach their young as well as devoting 28 years to the Marian gymnastic club. She was technical chairperson for Saskatchewan women's gymnastics from 1967 until 1973, judging chairperson in Saskatchewan from 1976 until 1983; and was on the national committee from 1976 to 1988. She is the only Saskatchewan woman ever to attain an international brevet judging honor - the highest possible status - and she has been a judge or a guest coach in England, Hungary, United States, China, Romania and Yugoslavia.

All of her children, Marcie, Jeremy, Jason and Jordan, have been involved in gymnastics at one time or another and all are still active in sports.

Text courtesy of Ned Powers

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Photo 7 of 7. | | |

We hope that you have enjoyed reading about some of Saskatchewan's sports heroes.

If you have a photograph of someone or a team listed in Prairie Gold that we do not have a photo for and are willing to donate it, please contact us.

Due to their nature and sometimes ambiguous origin the photographs seen here and those on file at the Local History Room are continuously being updated with new information. Some of this information comes from dedicated research done by Local History staff. However some of the biggest 'breaks' have come from the public... Those that remember the people, places and events in the photo are our biggest informational resource and we ask that if you have any information about the photos to contact the Local History Room at lhstaff@saskatoonlibrary.ca or phone (306) 975-7578.

Come and visit the Local History Room the next time you are at the Frances Morrison Library.

Thank you.

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