CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall sports landscape will never be the same, following the loss of a man who was instrumental in the creation of girls minor hockey, as well as baseball and softball leagues in the city.
Brian Tardiff, who fought valiantly following an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) diagnosis nearly three years ago, succumbed to the disease on the weekend.
There was a time when Tardiff could fire a softball from third base to first with lightning speed and accuracy. The same could be said of his proficiency on the ice.
In fact, if you played men’s fastball in Cornwall, had a daughter who played minor hockey or perhaps played yourself, you can thank Tardiff.
The irony that a man who loved physical activity slowly lost that ability wasn’t lost on anyone – including Tardiff himself.
“That hits the nail right on the head,” he said in an interview with Seaway News in February 2014.
Friends and former teammates were remembering Tardiff, a member of the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame, with heavy hearts.
“He was a true gentleman and a great ambassador for our community,” said David Murphy, who played alongside Tardiff on the softball field for 10 years. “Brian was instrumental in the growth of girls hockey and softball in Cornwall and area.
I was honoured when he asked me to help him coach a women’s softball team several years ago. We spent some time at the Ontario Hockey Academy together recruiting for the school too. ”
But like any family, whether it be connected through blood or ice, Tardiff’s network rallied around him – ALS be damned. Tens of thousands of dollars was raised for Tardiff’s family in 2014 to help ease the burden of the disease.
“The great thing about Brian is that you never (got) a half-measure,” Rod McLeod, a long-time friend of Tardiff, told the Seaway News in a previous interview. “He always gave 100 per cent.
“But a lot of it is behind the scenes. He’d rather see other people get the kudos for it.”
If you travel, and happen to bump into people connected with Ottawa district hockey, and even the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, you can bet they know exactly who Brian Tardiff is, and what he has meant to the sport.
His commitment to local sports can be measured in decades. Men’s softball (45 years) and girls minor hockey/softball (25-plus years) top the list.
There will be a viewing at Lahaie and Sullivan Funeral Homes, West Branch, at 20 Seventh Street West from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7p.m. to 9 p.m.
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. at St. Francis De Sales Parish.
The family has said that donations made to ALS Canada or Cornwall Hospice as expressions of sympathy would be appreciated.