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    • Athletic award’s history prompts winner to find out more

      July 9, 2013

       Track star Sarah MacRitchie was thrilled when she won a major award at the recent Cobequid Educational Centre (CEC) athletic banquet in Truro.

      “It was certainly quite a surprise,” said MacRitchie, who received the Bryan Scallion and Dianne Powell Award, along with an accompanying $1,000 bursary. “I had no idea that I had won.”
       
      MacRitchie, an 18-year-old Lower Onslow resident, was intrigued after taking a close look at her award plaque and discovered that the winner ‘would have to have certain credentials to qualify and exhibit Bryan’s characteristics.’
       
      “I wondered who Bryan Scallion was and the story behind the award,” she said. “I realized that I didn‘t know a lot about Bryan.”
       
      In fact, Scallion was a superb athlete, having participated for the national B team in cross-country skiing and he made the national biathlon team.

       
      He was also a member of the first Nova Scotia Canada Games cross-country ski team in 1971 and represented his province again in cross-country skiing in 1975, as did Powell. Scallion also ran marathons, competed in cycling and swam in masters’ events.
       
      He coached Nova Scotia’s 1979 cross-country ski team with Powell handling the manager’s role. By the 1990s, he was still involved at the national level as a coach and as an official.
       
      And, as longtime CEC sports followers may recall, the husband-and-wife team of Scallion and Powell started the cross-country running and skiing programs at the high school in the early 1980s.It was a big commitment, especially considering that Scallion, a federal fisheries officer, worked out of Wallace, Cumberland Co.
      The family lived in Wentworth Station with their four children.
       
      “Bryan and I felt that cross-country running and skiing were life sports,” recalled Powell, a longtime CEC teacher who married Scallion in 1975. “These are sports that people can continue with even later in life.
      “It was difficult getting kids interested in distance events. It was new to ask them to take part in a sport other than regular team sports. It was a real challenge at first.”  But interest grew and approximately 20 students became involved.

      “We carried on, Bryan and I, right up until his death (following a brain aneurysm) in 2003,” Powell said. “I didn’t consider myself a coach, but Bryan would design the workouts and coach the athletes at the meets and I’d help out. “It gives me a certain amount of satisfaction to know that quite a number of kids participated on school teams where they’d possibly never have had the opportunity.”
       
      Powell is also happy that the family can continue to contribute to the development of young athletes through this award. “Initially, I think Bryan would have laughed but today he would be honoured and proud,” she said. “Our children all feel that Bryan really shaped their lives. He was such a strong, forceful personality.”
      Today, an active lifestyle remains a Scallion family tradition.
       
      “Our children were all very active and involved in sports from a young age,” said Powell. “They really had very little choice, for Bryan and I were both competitive and active. Conor, Margret, Kate and Ewan are all grown up now and they are all still very active which is good.”
       
      MacRitchie, who has registered at Dalhousie University in Halifax, ran the 100m, was part of the 4X100 relay team and competed in high jump for CEC. “I’m absolutely happy to learn more about Bryan and Dianne,” she said. “It is really nice to know more about the award and how it came about.” MacRitchie is the ninth winner of the award, which was originally known as the Bryan Scallion Memorial Bursary.
       
      TAGLINE: Lyle Carter’s column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.