Canby wrestling legacy set to be honored
To say there's a rich and successful history of wrestling in Canby would be an understatement. To say that there is a small group of former Cougar grapplers who want to honor that history and bring it back into the light once again would be spot on.
And to that end, a cadre of former Cougars have made some big plans, plans they can't wait to unveil on Aug. 6.
That's when the Canby High School Wrestling Hall of Fame will officially induct its first members into its ranks. This event celebrates decades of success within the Canby High wrestling program. The occasion will induct 131 individual state placers, and 21 state trophy teams from 1948 to 2022, into the Hall. And the men who have poured their hearts into this project are excited to get this thing rolling.
But the creation of the Hall goes beyond simply honoring great teams and individuals. It is about reigniting passion and community support for a program that used to fill the gym with fans.
"We have a great tradition here," explained Norm Berney, a state champion for the Cougars at 136 pounds in 1963. "I'd come back to a Canby wrestling match not long ago and I kind of decided that I'd like to recreate the enthusiasm for wrestling in Canby. I knew a lot of people had lost that enthusiasm and I wanted to find a way to recreate what I'd experienced here."
Turns out, he wasn't alone. The past was excited to contribute to the present — and the future.
Once word got out that Berney, Bill Scott, Jim Gadberry and others were ready to move, former Cougar wrestlers started coming out of the woodwork. Passion for the program was still there. It just needed something to ignite it. The creation of a Hall of Fame would appear to be just that spark.
"The enthusiasm for this has been amazing," Berney said. "We always felt we had the fan base, but people weren't coming (to matches). So, I started talking with these guys about the Hall of Fame and then we came up with the idea of a scholarship, too. The Canby High coaches have gotten involved and (Canby AD) Ben Winegar has been enthusiastic, so here we are. The goal is to get the community support back for wrestling like the old days."
It will all culminate on Saturday, Aug. 6, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at the Canby High cafeteria and wrestling room.
Gadberry noted that that template they use for the wrestling Hall of Fame could be the template Winegar uses for an all-encompassing Canby High sports Hall of Fame down the road.
And while the prospect of highlighting a sport these men clearly love — Scott was a state champion in 1971, wrestled at Clackamas Community College and then Portland State University and still holds the record for least time spent on the mat at the junior college level after recording five pins in seven matches at nationals — seeing old friends and teammates has been a meaningful benefit as well.
"I don't know if I can put into words what it has meant, the reconnecting with these guys," Scott said. "We've kind of lost that historical value of wrestling in Canby, so it has been nice to get everyone together and reconnect and see that enthusiasm again."
Everyone connected with the project has lauded the help that has come from the school district, high school and Canby wrestling program coaches, with the district helping to fund the display that will be the centerpiece of the hall of fame.
"The enthusiasm for this has been great and we can't wait to see it all come together on Aug. 6," Berney noted.
In addition to the Hall of Fame creation, a new scholarship will be offered as well. Open to anyone who has wrestled at least a year for the CHS program, the scholarship will start out as a $500 gift, but everyone involved sees this new tradition growing in both size and resources. Again, it's a chance to help turn a spark into a flame for wrestling in Canby.
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