Brooklin Alumni To Be Inducted Into Whitby Sports Hall Of Fame
By Sam Laskaris
The all-time leading scorer of the Brooklin Lacrosse Club franchise and a three-time Mann Cup champion with the organization are among those who will be honored soon by the Town of Whitby.
Former Brooklin Redmen (the team changed its moniker to Brooklin Lacrosse Club prior to the 2019 season) stars Shawn Williams and Gil Nieuwendyk will be both inducted into the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame this spring.
The induction ceremony is scheduled for Apr. 18 at the Royal Ashburn Golf Club, located in the Whitby hamlet of Ashburn.
Williams played the majority of his 19 seasons in the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL), a loop that was previously called the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s Major A division, with the Brooklin team.
During his career in the league he racked up a whopping 2,121 points in 474 regular season and playoff contests.
He won the Mann Cup once with Brooklin in 2000. And then in 2009 he was dealt to Brampton late in the season and helped the Excelsiors win a Mann Cup.
Williams is thrilled he’ll soon have his own spot in the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame, located inside the Iroquois Park Sports Centre.
“I’m obviously very honoured,” he said. “It’s a nice piece of sports history in this area.”
Williams also fondly recalls his local lacrosse career.
“I have lots of good memories with the Brooklin team,” he said. “I remember starting there (in 1996). And, of course, a highlight was winning the Mann Cup, which we were chasing for a long time there.”
Williams also played 17 seasons professionally in the National Lacrosse League. During his pro career he had stints with the Ontario Raiders, Toronto Rock, Buffalo Bandits, Rochester Knighthawks and Edmonton Rush.
Williams played in 281 NLL matches and registered 1,230 points. He won league championships with the Rock in 1999 and with the Knighthawks in 2007.
And he’s still involved with the NLL now, serving as an assistant coach with the Colorado Mammoth.
Williams, who is 45, is also a physical education teacher at O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Oshawa.
And he’s also gearing up for his third season as the head coach of the Whitby Warriors’ Junior A squad.
As for Nieuwendyk, who is now 58, he’s also obviously excited about his upcoming induction.
That’s even though he has already been inducted into the same hall of fame.
“It’s not just for lacrosse,” he said. “This is for all sports and it’s for all the great athletes that have come out of the Whitby area.”
Nieuwendyk first entered the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. He was part of the Warriors’ Junior A team that was recognized for winning the 1990 Minto Cup, its national championship.
Nieuwendyk went on to play six seasons with the Redmen, winning the Mann Cup in 1985, ’87 and ’88.
“Not to sound conceited but we were a very, very good team,” he said. “And 99 per cent of us were local players, from the Durham Region, that gelled together. It was a lot of fun. And the success made it more enjoyable.”
Nieuwendyk is also pleased he will be inducted at the same time as another former Brooklin lacrosse star.
“I’m very excited to go in with Shawn,” he said. “He’s been a great ambassador for Brooklin lacrosse.”
Nieuwendyk also coached for the Brooklin club, serving three seasons as an assistant coach before stepping down from his duties last year.
A Whitby native, Nieuwendyk is now living in Port Perry and is working as a customer account manager for Weston Foods in Toronto.
When time allows he still follows the Brooklin Lacrosse Club. “I got down to a few games last year,” he said.
But Nieuwendyk does not believe he’ll make a return to the sport in a coaching capacity.
“I’m enjoying life and I’ve gotten into golf now,” he said.