Jim Nay (left) and Gord Wooley were inducted into the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame's builders category Saturday night at the Keystone Centre’s UCT Pavilion. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
Members of the Boissevain Border Queens softball team from 1963-68 were inducted into the Manitoba Softball’s Hall of Fame Saturday night at the Keystone Centre. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
Neta Mains had been waiting for Saturday night for a long time.
For the last few years, Mains nominated the Boissevain Border Queens women’s team to be inducted into the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame and Museum. They never got in, and she got to the point where she felt like giving up.
On Saturday, however, her dream came true as the Queens teams from 1963-68 were inducted into the Hall of Fame’s team category at a banquet held at the Keystone Centre’s UCT Pavilion.
"It was very exciting when I heard we had (gotten in) and we did win the Manitoba championship in 1968," Mains said.
"That was the highlight of our six-year span that our award was for."
Mains joined the team in 1960 when it was based out of Margaret.
They moved to Boissevain in 1962 and quickly became a tough team to beat.
In 1966, the Border Queens won 11 of 12 games in a league that featured Deloraine, Killarney and Boissevain.
The Border Queens won eight of 11 tournaments they played in during the 1967 season and went on to win a provincial title in 1968 by beating a team from Portage la Prairie.
Winning the provincial title is the favourite memory for catcher Betty Challner, who played with the Border Queens from 1963 until 1980.
"There weren’t any ladies teams (from southwest Manitoba) that had tried (to win provincials) because everybody thought all the Winnipeg teams would be too tough and our coach thought the same thing," Challner said. "We went and we won it and we were jumping high. That was quite a feat."
The Border Queens’ success didn’t come without a lot of work.
The team played tournaments on weekends and practised and played league games during the week. All the while, Challner was raising a family and is proud that she managed to do both.
"Now that I’m over 65 and I look back, I’m glad I did it," she said. "Getting this honour made it even more special. That was sort of how I felt. I’m glad I stuck in there all those years and now look. We’re getting in (the Hall of Fame)."
All 27 living members of the Border Queens — one is deceased — came to Brandon for the induction ceremony. They got together Friday at the Boissevain Curling Club to reminisce and had a great time.
"We had an enjoyable evening, and everyone seems to be enjoying the whole weekend," said Mains, a former pitcher and second baseman. "It’s great."
Meanwhile, Minto’s Gord Wooley and Brandon’s Jim Nay were also inducted in the builders category.
Wooley — a former convener, director and governor of the Manitoba Softball Association who also coached numerous softball teams in the last 30 years and worked as an umpire and pitching technician — was honoured by the induction.
"This is special to be inducted into the Hall of Fame," he said. "When you do this as a builder, you do that over many years and you don’t think about what you’re doing, but it’s very nice to be recognized and be in the Hall of Fame."
Nay served as a player, coach, manager, instructor, committee member, delegate, advisor and co-ordinator in softball between 1974 and 2009. He is appreciative of the induction, but said he isn’t done giving back to the sport.
"I’m still on a committee for Softball Manitoba, and this is my seventh year coaching the high school girls team at Massey," he said.
Edna Johnston (Calver), Beverley Sawchuk and Mae Toogood were inducted in the players’ category, with Donald Thom going in the coaches’ category and Steve Bergson in the all-around category.
The Melita-based Brown’s Fastball Club from 1959-64 were also inducted in the team category. See Tuesday’s Brandon Sun for their story.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 7, 2012