September 10, 2008

In this the 75th Anniversary Season of the Winnipeg High School Football League, the League has initiated a Hall of Fame.

Original teams, like St Paul's, were able to select three individuals for inclusion as inaugural members in the WHSFL Hall of Fame. Current Crusader Coaches elected to choose one individual from each of the three categories of membership: Builder, Coach and Player.

The three individuals selected are Father Barry Connolly SJ - Builder (left in 1955), Laurent (Larry) Desjardins '41 - Coach and Ron Latourelle '52 - Player. They will be honoured at a WHSFL Event in the coming weeks.

Click here for Event Information

 Father Barry Connolly SJ - Builder

St Paul’s High School is honoured to select Father Barry Connolly SJ as an inductee in the category of Builder to the Winnipeg High School Football League Hall of Fame in this the 75th year of league play.

Father Connolly first came to St Paul’s in 1954 and as Director of Athletics quickly established and grew the school’s Intramural Football program. At its peak, more than half of the students in the school were playing either intramural or Crusader Football. After 4 years in which the groundwork for future success was laid, Father Connolly left to continue his studies as a Jesuit in 1958.

Father Connolly returned to the school in the late 1960s, serving an additional 15 years as Teacher, Counsellor and Director of Athletics. The Crusader Football program continued to grow, culminating in a League Title in 1975 and a Provincial Championship in 1982.

Father Connolly cared deeply for the school, the Crusader team and the Crusader Football Program. He diligently and reverently cared for the Crusader playing field, dedicated in his name, Connolly Field, in 1989 and rededicated after field renovations in 2006.

Laurent (Larry) Desjardins ’41 - Coach

St Paul’s High School is honoured to select Laurent (Larry) Desjardins as an inductee in the category of Coach to the Winnipeg High School Football League Hall of Fame in this the 75th year of league play.

As a little league softball and hockey player, and later as a coach, businessman and respected politician, sports played a central role in shaping the life and career of Laurent Desjardins. Baseball was his primary sport until he discovered football at St Paul’s. He excelled with the Crusaders from 1939 to 1941. Coach Greg Kabat honed ‘Lefty’s’ natural athleticism and became his coaching role model. Subsequently Laurent played briefly with the Blue Bombers and the United Services team.

In 1943 during military training, Laurent was scouted as Line Coach by Bill Orban, Isaac Newton’s Head Coach. Post war, Laurent was Line Coach for the Crusaders in 1945, 1947 and 1949 and Head Coach in 1948 and 1950. Every year that Larry Desjardins ’41 coached the Crusaders was a Championship Season with 5 league and 2 Provincial Titles between 1945 and 1950.

As a Minister in the Provincial government during the 1970s and ’80s, Laurent championed countless sports causes, demonstrating the no-nonsense approach learned from Coach Kabat.

Ron Latourelle ’52 - Player

St Paul’s High School is honoured to select Ron Latourelle as an inductee in the category of Player to the Winnipeg High School Football League Hall of Fame in this the 75th year of league play.

Ron Latourelle was a wide-eyed rookie on the 1949 Crusader Team that stunned Daniel McIntyre in the Provincial Final. The 1949 Crusaders had three recent Crusader alumni coaches: Larry Desjardins ’41, George Depres ’46 and Paul Cholakis ’46.

Ron played four years for the Crusaders winning 3 more league titles before graduating. Ron played his junior football for the Winnipeg Rods, winning two Western Canadian Championships and appearing in one National Championship. Ron went on to professional play as a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, winning Grey Cups in 1958, 59, 61 and 62 under coaches Bud Grant and Joe Zaleski..

“My older brother Ray ’47 and bursaries made it possible for me to spend four great years at St Paul's High School. The Jesuit way shaped my future in terms of sports, teaching, family and community.”

“Father Monaghan SJ, St Paul’s Principal, gave me my first teaching position in 1958. That year I coached the juvenile basketball team to the Private School’s Senior Championship and the Greater Winnipeg Juvenile Provincial Championship with Father Connolly as manager.”

Ron completed his Bachelor of Education (University of Manitoba) and Masters of Education (University of Oregon) and taught at high schools primarily in the St Boniface School Division for more than 30 years, teaching Physical Education in both French and English programs, while helping to establish a division wide program called Cooperative Education.