John George, who taught at St. Joseph’s in Harbour Breton from 1972 to 2003, was recently rewarded for his many years of dedication to high school sports as he was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association’s Hall of Fame.
George was one of five well-known volleyball coaches/players who were inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Builder category at a ceremony held at Grand Falls-Windsor on June 9.
“I’m very grateful to be given this great honour,” George said. It’s very humbling to receive this kind of recognition from the NLVA.”
George did not have any physical education background when he arrived at St. Joseph’s and his only volleyball experience was playing intramural volleyball at MUN.
However, he realized that the students loved sports and enjoyed being in the gym after regular school hours.
George said, “The students were pretty much interested in playing any type of sports – basketball, floor hockey, volleyball. They just loved the opportunity to go to the gym and participate in any type of activity.
“I loved going to the gym with the students and, from that, we put together several school teams to compete in intramural games against other local schools. As we got better our teams went further and further and it all evolved from that.”
The sports program, at St. Joseph’s, under George underwent a great evolution under his leadership and inspiration.
St. Joseph’s School was classified by the High School Federation as an “A” school. Despite being an “A” school, the volleyball program at this small school captured provincial “2A” and “3A” championships and a silver medal at the “4A” level.
The senior boys’ volleyball team also participated and won medals at the NLVA sponsored tournaments. The most noted volleyball title captured by the small rural school was a gold medal in Wabush, Labrador during the 1982 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games. The team won this gold medal with a roster of just seven players.
St. Joseph’s also won a silver medal in Corner Brook during the 1986 Newfoundland Winter Games. St. Joseph’s also represented the province at Easter Canadian Championships.
In the mid-1980s, George, along with Churence Rogers, who was teaching at King Academy, cofounded the most celebrated invitational volleyball tournament in the Coast of Bays – the Harbour Breton Invitational. Over the past 25 years students from all over the island and Labrador have come to play in this event that George still helps with as a referee when he is in the community.
George said, “I was very fortunate throughout my career to have the strong support of administrators, fellow teachers and parents in putting together our teams and programs. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to build any type of sports program without this type of help and support.
“I’d like to thank everyone for that support and encouragement. I’d also like to express thanks to Jamie Hunt who nominated me for this honour and the NLVA selection committee who thought I was deserving of the award.
“Of course, we had a strong commitment from the students as well. I was fortunate, over the years, to have some really good volleyball players on my teams.
“This was a part of my teaching career that I really enjoyed. To me, teaching starts after regular school hours when you get to know students, when you can connect with them and see them in a different light.”