Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kamloops sports world loses a friend

Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops sporting community has lost a friend with the death of Fred Nicolson.
Nicolson, 70, passed away Tuesday at Royal Inland Hospital after a brief battle with cancer.
Nicolson was an especially familiar face at Kamloops Blazers’ games and on baseball, fastball and slo-pitch diamonds around the city.
“I met Fred at fastball,” long-time friend Dan Cournoyea said Tuesday. “I had moved up from the coast and was an umpire. He’s one of the guys who I met first and we got talking and he invited me to be one of the crew for hockey.”
Nicolson headed up the the WHL team’s off-ice officials crew. In fact, he spent 39 years as a volunteer with the Chiefs, Jr. Oilers and Blazers. Nicholson also was a long-time member of the Kamloops Blazers Booster Club, an organization he once served as president.
Nicolson worked on the off-ice officiating crew at the 1995 Memorial Cup in Kamloops, the 2006 World Junior Championship that was held in Vancouver, Kamloops and Kelowna, and was especially proud to have been involved in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
“That was one of his goals,” said Cournoyea, who was mainly responsible for getting volunteers off the Kamloops crew onto Olympic assignments. “He had never done one. The things he’s done for us . . . I wanted him to be able to do something he wanted to do.”
In recent summers, Nicolson kept busy in the slo-pitch community — if there was a tournament on, you could bet that Nicolson was busy as an umpire.
Spike Wallace, the Blazers’ community and sponsorship co-ordinator, wrote about Nicolson in Booster Banter, the Booster Club’s newsletter that went out to members yesterday.
“We all enjoy and appreciate Fred’s humour and caring demeanour as a proud and valuable member and past-president of the Blazers Booster Club,” Wallace wrote. “As an umpire, many a ball player . . . felt the ‘respectful’ wrath of Fred as he threw them out on strikes or on the bases, due only to unskilled base running!”
Unfortunately, Nicolson won’t have seen the newsletter, which also carried in it kind words from Howard Brown, the club’s president.
“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Fred,” Cournoyea said. “He was involved in the community. He was very communited oriented. He put others ahead of himself.”
Earlier this month, Cournoyea and a few other friends arranged for an evening with Nicolson to be held at the Sports Action Lounge.
“He was taken aback . . . he had his emotional moments,” Cournoyea said. “You could see he was overwhelmed.”
Many of the people there that evening knew Nicolson threw his involvement with hockey.
“He’d been involved with the Blazers for 39 years,” Cournoyea said. “He wanted to do one more game next season to make it 40.”

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