By Fred Sgambati (’83)
For many people, particularly athletes, the past always informs the present. Memories of glory days gone by never grow old and youthful accomplishments come to life as vividly as if they happened only yesterday.
Take 1971, for instance. Pierre Elliott Trudeau was Prime Minister, Richard Nixon was in the White House, Clint Eastwood starred in ‘Dirty Harry’, and Rod Stewart’s “Maggie Mae” was top of the pops.
Closer to home, Dr. James M. R. Beveridge was Acadia University President and the men’s varsity basketball team was ripping it up on the hardwood, winning 30 of 32 games that season and finishing league play as the only undefeated squad in the AUAA. Acadia also earned the right to host the CIAU national championship on home turf, in the then three-year-old, state-of-the-art War Memorial Gymnasium in Wolfville. Led by All-Canadian and tournament MVP Rick Eaton (’72) and all-stars Gary Folker (‘72), Peter Phipps (’71) and Steve Pound (’72), they didn’t disappoint.
The Axemen made it to the national final in convincing fashion, defeating the Loyola Warriors and Windsor Lancers by scores of 59-42 and 84-55 respectively. Led by Eaton’s 27-point performance in the championship match, Acadia prevailed over the University of Manitoba Bisons 72-48 to claim the second of the school’s three national championships in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd. The team was later inducted into both the Acadia and Nova Scotia Sport Halls of Fame. Glory days, indeed!
Kentville native Gary Folker spoke to John DeCoste (’77) in a spring 2011 Bulletin article that marked the team’s 40th reunion as part of the CIS Final Eight tournament in Halifax. “To my mind,” Folker said, “what that team had has never been duplicated. There have been other great Acadia teams over the years, but the rapport we had as a group, both on and off the court, was something special.” So special, in fact, that even after all this time, team members “are still close, and remain in touch with one another. I made good friends at Acadia 40 years ago who are still friends today.”
Eaton agrees. “Whenever we get together, we still talk about other things we could have done, or could have done differently.”
Pound recalls the time and his teammates fondly, saying, “it wasn’t necessarily the winning, though that part was nice. The emotional part for me is that we’ve all managed to remain friends for all these years, and that we’re all pretty talented and successful people in our own right.”
Motivated to give back
Talented, successful and motivated to give back in a meaningful way to their alma mater. Team members have come together to establish the 1971 Men’s Basketball Award at Acadia in honour of their national championship win.
The award will provide financial support to one or more men’s basketball student-athletes annually for five years starting with the 2020-21 season, and is in memory of Nancy (Sutherland) Logue (’59), who passed away in March 2020.
Members of the 1971 team have committed to supporting the award along with friends of the basketball Axemen. The names include: Steve Pound (’72); Rick Eaton (’72); Paul Talbot (’74); Tom Staines (’75); Jon Beausang (’74); Freeman Schofield (’74); Fred Moczulski (’74); Peter Phipps (’71); Gib Chapman (head coach); Bill Barrett (’74, manager); Terry Condon (’72); Gary Folker (’72); Valerie Evans (Class of ’72 Life Officer, cheerleader); and Dr. Jacquelyn Evans (’73, cheerleader). Several team members have passed away, including: Tom Farrington; Jerome ‘Bruiser’ McGee; Harvey Mills (trainer); and Willis Porter (manager).
Pound initiated the idea of the award in collaboration with Eaton and they are hopeful others that supported the team, including fans, will consider contributing to it.
“This team was made up of extremely talented student-athletes who wore Acadia colours proudly en route to a national championship in Wolfville in 1971,” said Development Officer Len Hawley. “What’s even more impressive is their connection to one another nearly 50 years after the fact, and how they have come together to create an award for members of the men’s basketball squad that celebrates the ’71 team’s remarkable achievement and supports Acadia’s student-athletes today.”
To learn more about Campaign for Acadia, please visit: campaign.acadiau.ca.