The athletes don’t get all the glory

Two University of Calgary staff have made their mark in the sporting community in very different ways. Jack Neumann is slated to be inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum May 26 and Don Wilson will be the Chef de Mission at the 2007 Winter Universiade in Torino, Italy.

Neumann, the Dinos’ sports information director, will receive an Achievement Award for his accomplishments in promoting sports. Since signing on with the Dinos in 1978, Neumann has received countless awards from bodies all over North America.

“To be recognized in your own province is a great honour,” he said.

He finally became the first Canadian named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame in 2004 after receiving six publication awards from them and being the only Canadian ever to sit on their board of directors. He was honoured for his dedication to the U of C in 2005, receiving the Order of the U of C.

“You never know what to expect,” Neumann said of his job. “There’s no day that’s routine. But my biggest win is the relationships made over the years with athletes, coaches, students and the staff. A lot of them became friends.”

“I’ve been here through four presidents,” he recalled. “I’m so lucky to have been able to interact with them. Some people in my position don’t and I think that’s a crime.”

When Neumann started, all he had was a typewriter, pencil and pad of paper. As technology has improved, the fond memories have built up for Neumann. He recalled the Dinos football team winning their first ever Vanier Cup in 1983 as one of the great victories of his time.

But with victory comes defeat. A defeat to the University of British Columbia that the Dinos suffered in the national semi-final stood out in Neumann’s mind.

“We were up 4-2 in the third and lost 5-4 in overtime,” he reminisced.

Neumann will join current Hall of Famers along with late-1980s-early-1990s Dinos basketballer Jodi Evans and late 1980s Dinos track and field coach John Cannon, who will be recognized for their athletic and building contributions respectively.

“What’s really special is being inducted alongside a Dinos athlete,” Neumann said in reference to Evans. “Without the athletes, I wouldn’t be here.”

“To be on your second generation of athletes is truly special,” he explained. “A lot of their traits have been influenced by their parents and that’s really neat.”

Wilson, the U of C’s director of athletics, believes that after Canada’s Olympic success, choosing a Chef de Mission from the U of C makes sense. But what is a Chef de Mission?

“I’ll be the team leader from a management point of view,” explained Wilson.

“It’s a growth issue and growth opportunity for me,” he said. “Also, the U of C is looking at trying to host a Universiade, so it seems natural for me to go.”

The U of C’s bid to host the 2011 Universiade was unsuccessful, but Wilson feels the opportunity to observe the Torino Universiade should help them secure one in the near future.

The 2007 Winter Universiade marks the 23rd Winter World University Games and takes place Jan. 17-27. The 2005 Winter Universiade in Innsbruck, Austria saw competitors from universities in 47 countries competing in 13 sports.

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