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Joe Montana

Cathy Tallman

Ken Kronson-Sports Dinner Chair, Mindy Lichtman-finalist Idy and Max Nusgart Memorial Award, The finalist for the Idy and Max Nusgart Memorial Award, Caleb Rutner-winner Idy and Max Nusgart Memorial Award-2011 Jewish Athlete of the Year, Mitch Billinkpoff- finalist Idy and Max Nusgart Memorial Award

Silent Auction Prizes




by Adam Kaplan, July 4, 2011

[ The writer of this article, twenty one year old Adam Kaplan, the son of  Hart and Faith Kaplan, is studying international relations at University of Winnipeg. Faith, as readers know, is a very popular Winnipeg Jewish Review columnist.] 

Each year, local dignitaries, amateur and pro athletes, politicians, businessmen, clergy and sports fans  converge on the Winnipeg Convention Centre for a night of wining, dining, schmoozing and world class entertainment in the name of honouring the best in Jewish community athleticism, sportsmanship and philanthropy. For many, the Y Sports Dinner (now the Rady J.C.C. Dinner) has been the can’t miss event of the year and this year's event, (the 39th year) was no exception.
Walking into the main hall to join the other 1300 attendees, I was quite impressed, a sentiment shared by Blue Bomber offensive lineman and annual attendee Obie Khan, who hailed the great job the organizers did in transforming the Convention Centre into “a world class event, that stacks up there with the top dinners on the continent”. On my way to my table I passed by the open bar and the silent auction tables laden with dozens of items ranging from lawn mowers to sports cars, spa packages, weeklong stays in Israel and seemingly countless pieces of signed sports memorabilia (items such as balls, helmets and jerseys signed by the likes of Reggie Bush, Peyton Manning, Jonothan Towes, Cal Ripken and 2011 Stanley Cup finalists the Vancouver Canucks.) 

I  then made my way to my table where a  tender and juicy kosher prime rib dinner with sides of gourmet veggies and potatoes that defied all expectations was served. (The dinner was not merely edible but genuinely fantastic-- unlike most of my personal experiences with quite large (1000 plus) catered events, kosher or otherwise!  It began with a delectable squash  based soup, a nice salad , and after the delicious main course, it closed with a lovely fruit based dessert.)

There was a few guys and gals  (but considerably more guys) my age at the event, but the crowd did tilt towards more middle aged and older folk as one would expect.

Long-time local radio personality and MC Beau got to the meat and potatoes of the night by introducing the evening’s honourees which included many worthy additions to the Jewish Athletic Wall of Fame. The coveted Maccabia Hockey League Heart and Soul award  this year went to Steven Promislow. The four finalists gunning for the top spot, the Jewish Athlete of the Year included past winner and ping-pong phenom Mitch Bilinkoff, 2011 Manitoba amateur golf champion Mindy Lichtman, and top marathon runner Reesa Simmonds.

But it was wrestler Caleb Rutner who took home the Nusgard Memorial Plaque. Rutner is a two time (and current) Canadian Wrestling Championship  winner in the 66 kg weight class, and won the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler award. This 16 year old St. Paul’s High sophomore has three Manitoba gold medals to match his three undefeated seasons and titles of 2010/11 Manitoba High School Champion and Wrestler of the Year. 

Rutner told the Winnipeg Jewish Review after winning the award : "Winning the award felt fantastic. It gave myself, my team, and everyone who helped me recognition. It felt amazing going up in front of the hundreds of people and the experience gave me a chance to interact with people in the Jewish community."

Rutner also holds dual Canadian/US citizenship which allowed him to compete with team North Dakota in the U.S. National Wrestling Championship and is currently training to compete in it again this month. 

This year's worthy honorees of the Sports Dinner were the Tallman Family,  honoured for their significant contributions to the community. North end born and raised Harvey Tallman took a small auto-wrecking business he bought in 1942 and with the help of his sons Bob and Larry plus hundreds of his “team members” transformed it into the coast to coast auto parts and retail giant it has become. In 2007, Harvey, Bob and daughter-in-law Cathy established the Tallman Foundation. The Foundation has provided so much--from breakfast programs for inner-city kids, to  sports equipment for budding athletes, to  full scholarships for deserving high school students. All of this has been  the Tallman's way to give back to the community that has shaped them. Bob and Cathy, graduates of St. John’s and Sisler respectively,  have expanded their “First Degree” scholarship from the two awarded to the top students at each of their alma-maters in 2008 to over 14 awarded this last year to student leaders at every high school in Winnipeg’s north end.


Bob and Cathy both spoke about growing up in the north end, attending public school. They feel education is the best way to positively affect someones life. "We want all kids to succeed and reach their dreams, regardless of financial situation," they said. They feel that their scholarships assist to make "their communities a better place and will assist all of us, since in the end (North, south, east aside), we're all part of one community".

"Though even a small group can raise a community, we hope to raise our goal of educating 100 deserving to students to 1000 in the next few years."  

Speaking with Bob after the ceremony, he humbly thanked the JCC for giving recognition to “the great kids and volunteers who make the Foundation such a success” and reiterated the importance of local leadership transforming community. He is certain that the future leaders his scholarships assist would help create an environment for all students to succeed.    

The entertainment got off to a great start with the live auction’s frantic bidding for the night’s top prize: tickets for three Jets games this coming season which went for over 1500 dollars. A personal highlight of the night was the comedic styling of L.A.’s Alonzo Bodden, who brought the house down with his rip roaring and refreshingly off colour routine, many of which can be viewed online for those interested in a laugh or two. Finally, the man most everyone was waiting for, keynote speaker Joe Montana, arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. “Cool Joe” enjoyed one of the most celebrated careers in pro football. With four Super Bowl rings, five Most Valuable Player awards and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of fame, no one could doubt his prowess on the field, though his off field speaking routine left much to be desired. I found his half hour pep talk about the importance of practice, preparation and teamwork for success, peppered with some stories of growing up in football loving small town Pennsylvania wanting to play basketball and bizarre non-sequiturs (including a vague recollection about putting crabs down his pants), to be a little disjointed and hard to follow. However, his recollections of his father’s unique drills involving passes thrown through the windows of moving cars, and some of his big wins like the 1979 Cotton Bowl, were interesting. 

All in all, my second outing to the Rady J.C.C. Sports Dinner was most enjoyable. The experience was summed up best by frequent dinner attendee and man about town David Nepon as “good people, good food, a lot of laughs, great time”.    

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