A long and eventful life began for Wilfred Robert Hoare Aug. 21, 1916 in Manchester, England a life that would see him accomplish many things, make many friends and influence countless young lives.
An athlete in his youth, Wilf participated in football (soccer), cricket and track. In 1940, he was short-listed for the British Olympic 4X440-yard relay team, only to see the Games cancelled due to World War II.
In 1946, he ran the final 400 metres for the RAF to win the mile race at the European Forces championship in Germany. Still competing into his 70s, he captured bronze in the 400 metres and silver in the 800 at the Masters Olympic Games held in Denmark in 1989.
During World War II, Wilf was a member of the Royal Air Force, serving as a Physical Training instructor. In 1952, he joined the RCAF, spending time in Germany, Newfoundland and at CFB Greenwood.
Retiring in 1966, he returned to England where he earned a Bachelor's degree from the London University Institute of Education. He taught in his hometown of Manchester for four years, and was involved with the Recreation Department as well as writing for the local newspaper.
Wilf returned to Greenwood as Director of Community Services and Programs, which included the job of village administrator and recreation director, until 1982. In 1973, Wilf and his wife Renee moved to Berwick, which would remain his home until his death on Mar. 15, 2001.
Wilf's most enduring contributions to sport were as a coach. While in Newfoundland, he coached the ice hockey team in Labrador to championships in 1961 and 1966. During his years in Greenwood, he coached the Greenwood Rangers soccer team to a remarkable 25 championships, including two national titles.
In 1973, the year he came to Berwick to live, Wilf was appointed head coach of the provincial women's field hockey team. One of his first players, Judi Rice, remembers Wilf's comments after final selections for the team were made. He stated in his strong British accent, “we have some work to do here, but in three years, I guarantee you we will be national champions.” Rice recalls, “we looked at him and each other and thought, 'who is this guy, he must be out of his mind'.”
Wilf travelled to Halifax for practices on the Halifax Commons every Saturday and Sunday. At the time, he was one of only two coaches coaching women at the provincial level. As a coach, he was ahead of his time, combining rugby and soccer drills into field hockey drills.
A task master second to none, he didn't back down from anyone or anything, and he was always promoting his adopted province of Nova Scotia and Town of Berwick.
In Wilf's second year coaching, his team made the top three in the country, upsetting a heavily favoured Ontario squad.
In the third year, the girls did exactly as Wilf had predicted, winning the national championship, defeating a favored B.C. team in the semifinals and Alberta in the final. They remain to this day the only team east of Ontario to win the national title.
Ten years later, in 1985, Nova Scotia won the Canadian Masters field hockey championship with many of the same players from the 1975 team and, of course, Wilf as their coach.
The 1975 team, along with Wilf as coach, was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. Today, 36 years after that first national title, the players still refer to themselves as 'Wilf's women'.
Even later in life, education continued to play an important part in Wilf's life. He was the first senior citizen in Canada to earn a Masters degree in recreation, which he received from Acadia in 1985 at age 68.
The Berwick Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct, posthumously, as an Athlete and Builder, Wilfred Robert Hoare, athlete, coach, mentor, friend and inspiration to generations of athletes of all ages.
Inducted June 2011