SUDBURY – A lifetime dedicated to enjoying sports and encouraging athletic activities as a route to positive character building among youth will be officially recognized on June 12 as Honora Bay’s Don Prescott is officially inducted into the Builder category at the Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame.
Mr. Prescott was born in North Bay in 1932 as the eldest of Harold and Esther Prescott’s 12 children. Throughout his life he personally excelled in sports, leading his teams to championships throughout his scholastic career in Gatchell and later as team captain at Sudbury Tech High School. Mr. Prescott played hockey, basketball and football.
Sudbury’s redoubtable Max Silverman, a Northern Ontario sports legend, personally recruited Mr. Prescott to play for his new Junior Sudbury Wolves and even signed a tryout agreement with the Boston Bruins. His outstanding career in sports continued on in college, were he was the Ryerson hockey team’s captain. After school he continued playing sports and it was when he moved to Capreol where he became the playing coach for the Capreol Chiefs—it was there that he began what was to become a lifelong affiliation with fastball.
He began umpiring at Sudbury’s Queen’s Athletic Field, a role he continued for the next five decades, going on to call many All Ontario and league playoff games across the province. But it was his involvement in hockey that was to lead indirectly to a 30-year career in teaching when, after leaving the Chief’s dressing room one evening, Mr. Prescott was approached by the Lo-Ellen High School principal asking if he had ever considered teaching. Mr. Prescott’s Lo-Ellen team would remain undefeated at the Northern Ontario Secondary School Association championships.
In 1963 Mr. Prescott was elected to the Ontario Amatuer Softball Association and found himself often as the sole Northern Ontario voice at that table, according to his son Delroy Prescott. “He had to work his way up the ladder through three vice president stints before becoming only the second person from the North to be elected president in 1979,” said Delroy Prescott. “One of the highlights of his amateur sports administration career was being the chef de mission (manager) of the gold medal winning Team Canada at the Pan Am Games in Puerto Rico.”
He went on to be elected chairman of Softball Ontario for several years. In 1984 Mr. Prescott was awarded for his efforts with the prestigious F. R. Feaver Award, which recognizes an individual who, through their dedication, service and devotion has played a major role in the development of softball. The Ontario government awarded him the Corps d’Elite Provincial Award for Volunteerism in Sport and Fitness.
The testimonials for Mr. Prescott were as unanimous as they were effusive in their praise.
“Some of the most memorable moments in Capreol sports took place on the softball diamond,” said Jim Cappodocia. “In those years the Town of Capreol produced many championship teams competing in both the Sudbury League and the All Ontario Junior C and Intermediate B and C categories. Don Prescott played a key role in all of this.”
But all the personal accolades came secondary to Mr. Prescott.
“As a 16-year-old I was fortunate to play for Don,” said Stu Thomas. “He taught us to play competitively, but also stressed fair play and sportsmanship. He was a role model for all the young men who played for him. Don was always there as a community leader and a volunteer.”
Son Delroy recalled asking his father how he felt about his long career as a coach, umpire and sports administrator. His reaction was that the accolades were all well and good, but he was much more proud of how many of the young men he had coached through the years had turned out.
“It’s fantastic news, his recognition for Don Prescott is long overdue,” said local sports organizer Greg Lockeyer. Mr. Lockeyer credits Mr. Prescott’s example with inspiring his own involvement in organizing sports for youth and he recalled the many long hours Mr. Prescott and his wife, the late Naida Prescott spent preparing for the weekend ball tournaments on the Island. Delroy Prescott has also caught his father’s dedication to sports, umpiring countless numbers of games each year in the still quite healthy Island league.
“My dad had a great advantage in organizing sports on the Island,” laughed Delroy Prescott. “As a teacher at Manitoulin Secondary School he would go out to the buses at the end of the day to hand out brown envelopes for each of the Island communities; this one’s for Mindemoya, this one is for Wiky, this one is for Manitowaning. He had it all lined up.”
Even as the couple got older they were a familiar sight at Island games. “Naida could be seen at baseball games with her pad of paper keeping score,” Mr. Lockeyer recalled fondly. “At the Mindemoya Youth Ball Tournament last year one of the division champs took home the newly created Prescott Family Trophy in their honour.”
At a June 12 ceremony Don Prescott, now a resident of Manitoulin Centennial Manor, will be inducted into the Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame in the Builder category—a place he holds in the hearts of many Manitoulin sports players and fans.