Each year, at the end of the season, ABA presents an award in honour of former ABA president Pat Stopa, for a member who displays integrity and commitment to the sport.
For many of you who had the privilege to meet and know Pat over his years at Alberta Bobsleigh, you will remember a kind and generous man, full of integrity and wit who shared a great passion for the sport of bobsleigh. For those who would become his close friends, even dearer to his heart were the people of bobsleigh he would come to know and volunteer along side.
Pat came into the sport in the early years as an aspiring athlete. In 1983 he and a few of his lawyer friends answered a local newspaper advertisement announcing one of the first Alberta Bobsleigh testing camps at the University of Calgary. Bobsleigh was, without question, all new to this area and perhaps it was the curiosity that intrigued him, but his attraction to this sport would become a defining moment in the history of Alberta Bobsleigh. While he didn’t quite rank in the world’s elite category at the time, he was invited to attend a National recruitment camp in Ottawa the following year. Soon after getting the news that he probably didn’t have the physical attributes to make the Olympic Bobsled Team, Pat was not deterred and continued his involvement as an active volunteer.
With the Olympic Winter Games coming to Calgary in 1988 there was a real need for local volunteers to prepare for this major event which would truly lay the foundation for this sport in Alberta. He in fact did end up finding his way to the Olympics, as he was soon recruited to be the Chief of Access Control for the Bobsleigh Committee of OCO ’88.
Once Canada’s first track was built in Calgary in 1986, ABA membership started to flourish. A driver’s school was organized and one of the first applicants was none other than Pat Stopa. John Nixon, Pat’s partner for the school, fondly recalls Pat’s excitement, which was soon displaced with fear when it was their turn to actually drive the ice rocket down the slippery chute!
Soon after the 1988 Olympics, Pat became the president of Alberta Bobsleigh, a position he held and cherished for many years. He was active at the National and International levels of the sport and became an ardent voice for volunteers at all levels. Pat travelled to many FIBT congresses and became a well-respected spokesman for Alberta Bobsleigh.
Among Pat’s many accomplishments with the sport he became an international judge, received the prestigious ABA Builder Award in 2003, and also became a recipient of the 25 Year Recognition Award in 2008.
His premature death shocked the bobsleigh community, which is grateful for his commitment and dedication to the sport, and for being there for many as a dear friend, confidante and colleague. He will be missed.
2014 – Darleen Orritt
2015 – Marlis Herdt
2016 – Melissa Lowe
2017 – Ryan Taal
2019 – Wayne Page