When you start listing the most influential people in the Red Deer sports scene, Dwayne Lalor is, and should be, one of the first who comes to mind.
A mainstay in local baseball and high school sports for more than three decades, Lalor is the 2018 winner of the City of Red Deer’s Lifetime Sport Achievement Award.
Lalor says the honour is a special one given that his father Wayne was a past winner, along with many others who’ve played a role in his storied athletic career.
“I went back through the history books and saw some of the names that are on there, some of the people that I got a chance to play for, my coaches throughout my youth. So this is a wonderful award,” he said Wednesday.
Lalor’s impact on the Red Deer sports community has been monumental in more ways than one, including being part of the group that started the Red Deer Riggers senior men’s baseball club in 1981.
“We had some pretty good senior players living in town who weren’t getting an opportunity to play in Red Deer,” he recalled. “There was a bunch of us coming up from the DQ Braves midget team that wanted to keep playing. So we were able to get the structure around us to give us the opportunity to play and that’s what’s carried us through to today.”
Lalor went on to play an incredible 29 years for the Riggers while also handling coaching, GM and president duties along the way.
“My family allowed me to do it, that was probably the biggest thing,” Lalor said of the key to his longevity. “I really enjoy baseball and getting to play in Red Deer at the highest amateur level was special.”
Lalor played college baseball at Washington State from 1981 to 1985. In 1985-86 he had the honour of playing for Canada’s national men’s team.
“That was probably the most exciting thing that I ever got to do. I got to play against the best teams in the world at the amateur level,” he said of playing for Team Canada. “The first year we were in Edmonton playing in the Intercontinental Cup, so that was nice to play where my family and everyone could come and watch.”
Lalor was the tournament co-ordinator for the Canadian Senior Women’s Baseball Championship in 2016 and president for Red Deer Minor Baseball up until last year. He's coached at provincial and national championships too numerous to count, at the Canada Summer Games and with every Red Deer baseball team imaginable. But his local sports legacy goes far beyond the ball park to his 31 years (and counting) as a teacher and coach at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.
“I’ve got to spend my entire career there, which is rare that a teacher gets to stay in one spot for that long. I’m very proud that I’ve been able to do that and get to coach some kids that have gone on and done some great things in the world – doctors, neurologists, sports agents and other different things. It’s been a great experience. I hope that everyone who goes to high school gets to play for a sports team along the way.”
Lalor, who is 55, says he couldn’t be more proud of the current red hot Red Deer sports scene, from hosting national and international events to major investments in new and improved facilities.
What is Lalor most proud of when it comes to his long and legendary local sports career?
“Just being able to help kids grow up and chase some of their dreams. Kids get a chance to play somewhere and do something great and to think that I might have helped them along a little bit is a great feeling.”
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