Friday, October 12, 2012

Remembering Chris Pickard (1931-2012)

The following was based on my induction for Chris at the NL Athletics Hall of Fame in the summer of 2011.  I felt it was fitting to share with a broader group on Chris’ passing.

That evening it was my pleasure to speak about Chris.  And as I thought of what to say, I remembered the impact that Chris has had on my love of running and Track and Field.  Chris introduced me to the athletics as he did so many others.  Chris taught us that we could be as good as any athlete in the country – a great lesson that for many has come true – both in sport and in life.

Chris loved the sport – his technical knowledge – his vision – and his hard work along with others brought track and field and road racing to a new level in the 1980’s.  He had such a positive impact on the growth and development of Track and Field, Cross Country Running and Road Running in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He had such attention to detail – he was so thorough with statistics, and kept impeccable records.  There would be an event – track meet or road race – and this is in days before Internet and computerized timing and by the end of the week in the mail you would receive the complete results – all typed (on a typewriter) and complied by Chris.

Many may not be aware of Chris’ many achievements, since moving to Canada in the 1950’s
  • He coached and trained with notable National Champions like Bruce Kidd and Bill Crothers in the 1960’s.
  • Did you know Chris was a runner?  He finished 47th in the 1961 Boston Marathon – is was a Windy day with cool temperatures around 39 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In 1976, Chris was an official during the Olympic Games in Montreal.
  • He moved to Newfoundland in preparation for the 1977 Canada Games, as Technical Director for Track and Field in our province.
  • Up until 2005 Chris was the head coach for Memorial University’s Track and Field and Cross Country teams.  Which is really where I got to know Chris.
  • At least 9 times Chris was named Atlantic University Athletic Association’s Coach of the Year.
  • And besides myself there were many champion athletes who were part of these Memorial teams including: Paul McCloy, Dave Whittle, Sheldon Curnew, Dieter Hauschildt, Mark Stender, Gerard Farrell, Scott Young, Trevor O’Brien, Sandra Harbin, Libby Wadland (Dyer), Mark Baldwin, Mark Pollett, Keith Pittman, and Colin Fewer.
  • Chris was the head coach for several teams that went to the Legion National Championships, and the Canada Games.
  • Chris was for many years head coach of Memorial Varsity Athletics Club
  • In 2001 was elected to the NLAA Board of Directors as a Secretary.
  • For many years, the Telegram sought out Chris’s predictions for the Tely Ten, with a recurring article entitled Pickard’s Picks.

As I finished off the induction…

“Tonight is about the impact Chris has had on the development of a sport but more importantly on a life long love of running and physical activity.  Chris planted that seed for me and for so many others.”

Today, I again reflect on the impact Chris had, planting that seed that you can be the best and compete with the world.  Many happy memories and my thoughts and prayers are with Chris’ family, I extend my deepest condolences.

Jeff Collingwood