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Sports Scene: Elks to pay tribute to former player

The Brookfield Athletic Association will host a special event Saturday, March 5, to honour former Elks catcher Jason Sanford.

Jason Sanford at the recent world softball championships in Saskatoon. SUBMITTED

The meet and greet, with food and beverage service provided, will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Brookfield Curling Club at the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex. Former teammates, players, relatives and fans are invited to stop by and congratulate Sanford who is coming off a season of a lifetime.

During the past year, Sanford enjoyed something next to unbelievable, playing on four gold medal-winning teams in major national and world stage fastpitch competition. They included the Pan Am Games, the ISC North American Club Tournament, the ASA (U.S. national) Championships and the World Baseball Softball Championship with Team Canada.

Besides playing a key part in four 2015 gold medals, Sanford has been named to the ISC All-Tournament Team twice. He was the All-Canadian catcher in national play in St John’s, N.L. in 2007 as a member of Brookfield Elks.

“I don’t know if the past season has really sank in yet,” Sanford, 38, of Durham, Pictou County, told me earlier this week. “I feel really fortunate to have been part of it all… It was absolutely the year of my lifetime. It was all so exciting, the summer kind of went by like a blur.”

Sanford said that he and his wife, Jenny, are happy about the Brookfield event.

“I’m really looking forward to the night. I always look forward to getting back to Brookfield and seeing the guys. It’ll be nice to talk to former teammates and people from the community as well. It looks like it’s going to be quite an occasion.”

Late last summer, Sanford and the East Hants Mastodons, playing in the Canadian Men’s Senior Fastpitch Championship in Quebec, had to settle for a silver medal losing 4-3 to N.L. in the gold medal game.

Donald Henderson coached the Elks for 10 years including the six seasons Sanford suited up during the early 2000s. He described him as a quiet, intense player at all positions.

“He was very committed,” Henderson said. “Jason was fun and you could count on him to come up with the big hit and the big play.”

He was strongest as an asset behind the plate, Henderson said.

“Jason Sanford had one of the strongest arms I’ve ever seen in a catcher. Jason was nearly impossible to steal on.”

The organizing committee, spearheaded by Dawn Carter Henderson, Nancy Vantassell and Lori Vantassell, report that interest is high for the event.

Newfoundland connections

Taking in a junior A hockey game at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre makes for one heck of a Saturday night out.

Receiving a telephone call earlier this week from former Newfoundland Senior Hockey League defenceman Doug Sheppard, added to the upcoming occasion. Sheppard, who I knew from his playing days with the Corner Brook Royals and from attending a Montreal Canadiens training camp together, voiced an interest in seeing tonight’s game between the Truro Bearcats and Amherst Ramblers.

The Bearcats fine young defenceman Jamie Penny is from Corner Brook, as is Amherst’s outstanding forward Jordan King. Sheppard knows both player’s families. A retired successful businessman, Sheppard is spending a couple months living in Hammonds Plains and supporting grandsons Cole Vardy and Luke Vardy who play with Bedford Barons in bantam AAA and peewee AAA hockey respectively.

To add to a ‘Newfoundland Night,’ Tony Head, a former teammate of mine with the Buchans Miners, will drive over from Wallace with his wife Lorna to watch the game. Head, a Buchans native, has a connection to the Bearcats Penny as well. Tony’s nephew, Angus Head, coached the exciting young defenceman when he starred in NL major midget hockey.

Note: Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.

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