Up Play The Game….
Often overlooked among prominent alumni are the men and women who embody the true spirit of Up Play The Game – the champion Byng athletes!
Physical Education was always an essential part of the school curriculum. Buoyed by their teachers and team coaches, Byng athletes consistently won ribbons, medals and trophies for the school as well as achieving personal recognition in all levels of local, provincial and international competitions. Baron Byng excelled in basketball. Winning the H.B. Parker trophy in the Inter-School Junior Basketball Championship became a tradition throughout the 20s, 30s and 40s.
Although they honed and practiced their basketball and volleyball techniques within the confines of the school gymnasium, other venues such as Fletcher’s Field (today Parc Jeanne-Mance), the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Y.M.H.A, and Schubert’s Bath House were important training centres for the development of soccer, football, wrestling and water polo skills.
Basketball teams and superb athletes such as Harry Hus (BBHS ‘60), Sol Apel, Robert Habert (BBHS ’60), William Epstein (BBHS ‘57), and Irving Beloff (BBHS ‘55) truly exemplified sportsmanship on and off the court. In short, they were role models for every generation.
Upon graduation, several students moved on to international and professional competition. Mendel “Mendy” Morein (BBHS ‘43), Sidney “Cy” Strulovitch (BBHS ‘42), and Murray Waxman (BBHS ‘42), competed in the 1948 Olympics in London for Canada’s basketball team as well as the 1950 Maccabiah Games in Israel. William Novick (BBHS ’40) was a competitive tennis player and participated in three Maccabi Games representing Canada and winning two bronze medals. Novick has also run in three marathons. He has been involved in fundraising for Maccabi Canada and recruiting young people to experience the Games.
In other disciplines, Phillip Slabotsky was a medalist and coach in numerous amateur wrestling competitions, while Samuel Burke (Sammy Berg) (BBHS ’46) who was a professional wrestler and body building champion, starred in several feature films.
Joe Stracina, (BBHS ’48), scouted by professional baseball and football teams opted for football as his preferred sport. Stracina was an all-star offensive lineman who played twelve seasons in the Canadian Football League, (CFL) for three teams; Saskatchewan Roughriders, Ottawa Rough Riders and Montreal Alouettes. He died in 1996.
In the world of professional baseball, George Wegerek (BBHS ’50), and Steve Oleschuk (BBHS ’57), spent their respective summers on Fletcher’s Field learning to field grounders, chase down fly balls and develop their batting skills before moving on to the professional ranks.
Wegeruk, played with the class B Abilene Club of the Texas League in 1956 as a shortstop with the Buffalo Bisons of the International League in 1957. He passed away in 2005.
Oleschuk also played shortstop at the Triple A level, but soon after became a major league scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1970-1995) and later the Arizona Diamondbacks. He sports a Pirates World Series ring and watch and in 2013 managed the Sherbrooke Expos of the provincial league.
Joey Richman, an all-round Canadian athlete who attended BBHS from 19xx to 19xx, was involved in sports as a amateur and professional player (he played for the Montreal Alouetes in 1946) , a coach of many sports teams, and an owner of a sporting goods business. Not only did athletes make their mark in and out of BBHS but celebrated Montreal sports writer Mike Boone (BBHS ’65) is an alumni. He wrote for The Gazette from 1985 to 2012 and The Star prior to that. He currently blogs Canadiens games for Hockey Inside/Out.