Canada has had numerous popular books written about sports. There have been sport books that study sport in a particular period or focusing on a certain league, team or personality. On the other hand, the role of Clubs who acknowledge athletes in all sports, that hasn’t appeared in too many periodicals. It must be noted that Canadians of Ukrainian descent, their contribution to the development of sport within their ethnic community is remarkedly limited in awareness. Also, Clubs have been almost completely overlooked, particularly the history of athletes of Ukrainian background in organized Canadian sport.
During the years of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, several significant Ukrainian based sports Clubs made a strong landmark presence within their community. Their legacy has dedicated and rooted a sport history of athletic accomplishment. For over 50 years, St. Nicholas Men’s Club of Winnipeg has hosted the Ukrainian Sportsman Dinner (held at the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church on Bannerman Avenue and Arlington Street – in Winnipeg’s North End) honouring Ukrainian Manitoban athletes who have made a major impact on the Manitoba sports scene, even nationally and internationally.
The first St. Nicholas Men’s Club of Winnipeg dinner was held in 1966, former NHL player Nick Mickoski, who won the 1966 Manitoba amateur men’s golf championship, was the first individual honoured by the Club. From then on, over 60 individuals have been recognized with a Club award, as the Ukrainian Sportsman of the Year. While the early focus was on athletes, St. Nicholas Men’s Club is recognizing many individuals who have made major contributions to sport in various ways such as coaches, managers, builders, administrators and sports volunteers.
The Ukrainian Sportsman of the Year dinner is held at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church hall on the second Friday in May, jam-packed with a sellout crowd of more than 300 people that include a who’s who of the Winnipeg sports scene. No other Award dinner in Winnipeg attracts such a classy clientele from the sporting community as the St. Nicholas Men’s Club. Former legendary sportscaster Bob Picken for many years introduced the Ukrainian Sportsman of the Year and the introduction of the many quests done by the President of the Club.
This Ukrainian Sportsman Dinner is a unique tradition, it is one of Winnipeg’s most loved annual sporting events, a place where some of the city’s most hallowed sports heroes have been given their rightful award by their own Ukrainian community that has existed for over 50 years. The history of the participation of Ukrainians in Canadians sport would be incomplete without reference to the St. Nicholas Men’s Club who made and continue to impact on sports in Manitoba and for all of Canada.