Class of 2023 Inductees

Updated May 16, 2024

John Axford

John Axford

John Axford, who grew up in Port Dover, Ontario, played major league baseball for ten years. Nicknamed “Ax Man,” Axford, a pitcher, suited up for a number of teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, and St. Louis Cardinals. He also played seven seasons in the minor leagues, and was named to Team Canada’s baseball team in 2013 and 2023. Prior to playing professional ball, Axford pitched for Notre Dame and Canisius College.

In 2011, Axford was the National League’s saves leader. That year, he received the National League’s Rolaids Relief Man Award, and was named co-winner (along with Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds) of the Tip O’Neill Award, issued by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Axford played minor ball in Port Dover and was a member of several provincial championship teams, including the 1999 Midget OBA Champions, 2000 Midget Champions and OBA Team of the Year, and 2001 Midget OBA Champions. One of his former coaches described Axford as a standout player, adding “it was his intelligence, his strong work ethic, and his leadership that set him apart.”

Barry Boughner

Barry Boughner

Barry Boughner, originally from Delhi, Ontario, was a standout baseball and hockey player, as well as a coach and organizer in the Inter-County Baseball League. Boughner’s on-ice career included six years of professional hockey in the IHL, CHL, AHL, and NHL. He suited up for the California Golden Seals, Des Moines Oak Leafs, New Haven Nighthawks, and Albuquerque Six-Guns, among others. Boughner played junior hockey with the London Nationals, helping them to a Junior B championship in 1964-65. Boughner was named to the OHA West All-Star team in 1967-68, along with Darryl Sittler. Boughner also coached at the Junior A level in hockey.

Boughner played baseball for London’s Junior A and Senior A Intercounty Baseball League teams, earning multiple championship titles. During his career with London, Boughner played all nine positions, including catcher and pitcher. His versatility is demonstrated by the fact that he made the IBL first all-star team in 1974 as a second baseman, in 1975 as a third baseman, and in 1980 as a designated hitter. Boughner’s prowess was recognized by the Intercounty Baseball League, who named him to their Gold Bat Club in 2018 as one of the top 100 IBL players since 1919. Boughner also served as a coach and organizer in the IBL.

Boughner has been described as “an exceptional coach whose passion, dedication, and commitment to player development have left a mark.” As a player, he was said to be “a natural team leader,” and a person who “gave his all every game.”


Paul Smithson

Paul Smithson

Paul Smithson is being inducted posthumously as an athlete/organizer, As a curler, Smithson skipped his teams to two provincial championship titles and two berths in the Provincial finals, and also notched 15 Zone championships, curling for a total of 37 years. One fellow curler recalls Smithson as “very competitive” but added that his competitiveness never detracted from his sense of fair play.

Smithson helped out with “Learn to Curl” programs, and was described as a “tireless” worker running bonspiels, promoting the game, and introducing new people to curling, serving as “a great ambassador for the sport.”

As a high school student, Smithson excelled in football and track and field, particularly pole vault. His passion for track and field carried over when he became a teacher. Smithson organized youth track and field and cross country events for elementary school students for 29 years.

Induction Dinner

Barry Boughner and Paul Smithson, along with Class of 2022 inductees Shane Bergman and Shirley Shaw, will be formally inducted into the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition at the Induction Dinner Saturday, July 13 at the Hungarian Hall in Delhi. Tickets will go for sale to the general public in June. Details will be announced on the web site.

Due to a previous commitment, John Axford will not be available to attend the 2024 Induction Dinner. While he remains a 2023 Inductee, John’s Induction Ceremony  will take place at a future event.

Roy Cowan, who was initially named as a 2023 Inductee, has since declined that honour.

The Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition is physically located in the Simcoe Recreation Centre, pool viewing area level. Displays of sports team photos and inductee plaques can be viewed during regular operating hours.  Additional information about events, past inductees and how to nominate individuals can be found on the Sports Hall’s web site,


Class of 2022 Sports Hall Inductees Announced

The Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition is proud to announce its Class of 2022.

Shane Bergman and Shirley Shaw are the latest individuals to be announced to the Sports Hall. They will join the group of over 90 athletes, coaches, builders, and sports ambassadors already inducted into the Hall.

Shane Bergman

Image of Shane Bergman in Calgary Stampeders uniform
Shane Bergman

Shane Bergman spent seven seasons with the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders before retiring in January, 2021. Bergman, an offensive lineman, played in 93 regular season games and 10 post-season matchups, including Grey Gup victories in 2014 and 2018. In 2019, Bergman was named to the West Division and CFL all-star rosters.

Referred to as a “technician” with effortless skill, Bergman was said to be one of those athletes who “makes the players around him better.” 3 Down Nation listed him as one of the Top 100 Active CFL players in 2020.

Prior to suiting up for the Stampeders, Bergman played for the Western Ontario Mustangs. As a high school player, he helped the Waterford District High School Wolves earn the league title in 2009. 

Shirley Shaw

Photo of Shirley Shaw
Shirley Shaw

Shirley Shaw served as head coach for the Simcoe Seals swim team for Special Olympics athletes for over 20 years, seeing the numbers rise from nine swimmers to over 40 during that time. Shaw has also served as the local chair of the Simcoe Special Olympics Community Council.

Besides swimming, Shaw also introduced a number of other sports to local Special Olympics athletes, including basketball, floor hockey, snowshoeing, and golf.

In the reference letters supporting her application, Shaw was praised for her “dedication, kindness, and compassion.” She was also described as a “wonderful coach and mentor,” with “an amazing way with the athletes.” One reference noted that “Shirley has provided an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to feel valued, accepted, and accomplished in their sport and in life.”

In acknowledgement of her efforts, Shaw was named Special Olympics Ontario Female Coach of the Year in 2016. She received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General of Canada in 2017, and was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation in 2019.

Bergman and Shaw, along with any new inductees selected from nominations received in 2023, will be formally inducted into the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition at an event in 2024.

The Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition is physically located in the Simcoe Recreation Centre, pool viewing area level. Displays of sports team photos and inductee plaques can be viewed during regular operating hours.  Additional information about events, past inductees and how to nominate individuals can be found on the Sports Hall’s web site.

Wanted: Sports Hall Board Members and Volunteers

If you’re interested in promoting awareness of Norfolk County athletes’ achievements and have the time and inclination to volunteer to support this objective, then the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition would be love to hear from you.

The Sports Hall’s mandate is to recognize and honour individuals and teams who have made significant contributions to Norfolk County’s sports history. Their primary focus is the Induction Dinners, usually held every two years to celebrate those individuals who have been inducted to the Hall of Recognition. The group also works with Norfolk County to host the annual Parade of Champions event during the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show. This event recognizes individuals and teams who have earned provincial and national championships or awards during the past year.

Each year, the Sports Hall also reviews nominations from the community to determine that year’s allotment of Sports Hall inductees. Periodically, the Sports Hall conducts fundraising events such as golf tournaments.

With the Annual General Meeting coming up March of 2023, the Sports Hall is seeking volunteers interested in joining the Board, or helping with events such as golf tournaments and induction dinners. Interested parties are welcome to pose any questions they might have, or express their interest in involvement, by contacting us at

Did You Know

  • Since its inception, the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition has inducted over 90 individuals to the Hall.
  • Displays, including plaques honouring past individual inductees, are located in the pool viewing area of the Simcoe Recreation Centre.
  • The Sports Hall’s 25th anniversary book, written by George Pond, is now available for purchase at three local venues: the Customer Service Desk at the Simcoe Recreation Centre, Firefly & Fox Books in Simcoe, and Nifty Gifty in Waterford. Sales price has been reduced from the original $25 cost, to $20.

Thank You to The Barrel!

The Barrel’s Pizza Promotion event resulted in a $300 donation to the Sports Hall. Many thanks to The Barrel, and to all those who supported this event.

Cheque presentation at The Barrel
In November, The Barrel held a pizza promotion, with proceeds going to the Sports Hall. Above, Sports Hall co-chairs Jean Montgomery (left) and Lisa Timpf (centre) accept a cheque for $300 from Nick Kokkoros, Partner and General Manager of The Barrel (right).

Many thanks to The Barrel Restaurant for their Pizza Promotion. The Barrel pledged to donate $2 to the Sports Hall for every medium and large traditional or gourmet pizza ordered for pickup or delivery from November 7 to 13.

The pizza promotion event resulted in a $300 donation to the Sports Hall.

Thank you to The Barrel, and to all patrons who ordered a pizza during this time. Your support of the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition is appreciated!

Sports Hall Trivia Contest

Want to sink your teeth into a tasty prize? Then why not take a shot at the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition’s trivia contest?

The question: “Name three people who have been inducted into the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition, along with the years they were inducted.”

If you can’t answer off the top of your head, don’t despair: The response can readily be found either by looking at the Sports Hall’s web site, or by checking out the Sports Hall’s 25th anniversary book, Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition: The First Twenty-Five Years. 

The Rules: 

  1. Entries must be received by midnight December 31, 2022.
  1. Limit of one entry per person.
  1. Answers must be legible, although spelling or typographical errors will not disqualify an entry.
  1. Entries must include a method of contact, in case you are the winner (email, phone number, etc.)
  1. Judges’ decision on suitability of entries is final.
  1. In the month of January 2023, one winner will be drawn from among the correct entries. This person will receive a $25 gift certificate for David’s Restaurant in Port Dover.
  1. Winners must be willing to have their name publicized on the Sports Hall web site and social media.

How to submit:
Entries can be submitted as follows:

a) by email, sent to, or

b) by mail, sent to:
Trivia Contest
Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition
182 South Drive
Simcoe, ON
N3Y 1G6

Good luck to all!


Nominations for Class of 2022 Close December 1

Do you know of a Norfolk County athlete who has consistently excelled at the highest levels of sport? A coach or builder who has left a lasting stamp on Norfolk’s sporting landscape? A sports ambassador whose enthusiasm and commitment stands out above all others?

If so, the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition wants to hear from you.

Individuals have until December 1, 2022 to submit nominations for the current round of inductions. Candidates will be assessed against a standard set of criteria to determine up to four inductees to be named as the Sports Hall’s Class of 2022. These inductees will be honoured, along with Class of 2023, at the Sports Hall’s next induction dinner, tentatively planned for 2024.

To view nomination guidelines , visit the “Nomination Process” tab on the top navigation menu.

The nomination form can be downloaded from that location, or from the link below:

nomination form

Completed nomination forms, along with supporting material, can be dropped off at the Simcoe Recreation Centre to the attention of Susie Wray, or mailed to the updated address indicated on the current nomination form.

Since its establishment in 1994, the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition has inducted over 90 individuals from throughout the county, including hockey greats Leonard “Red” Kelly and Ron “Chico” Maki as well as numerous builders and coaches without whose efforts the Norfolk sports landscape would look very different. The Sports Hall displays are located in the pool viewing area of the Simcoe Recreation Centre. The “ Hall” includes a permanent plaque wall as well as rotating displays featuring the most recent inductees.

The Sports Hall has also conducted Reunion of Champions events to recognize past provincial and national championship teams, as well as supporting the Parade of Champions, which this year acknowledged over 100 individuals who, as members of teams or on their own, earned provincial, national, or international honours since the fall of 2019.

Anyone wishing to support the Sports Hall’s efforts is invited to participate in a fundraising event being held in partnership with The Barrel Restaurant in Simcoe. The Barrel Restaurant has pledged to donate $2 to the Sports Hall for every pizza delivered or picked up from their restaurant from November 7 to November 13, 2022.

25th Anniversary Book Now Available as E-book

Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition: The First Twenty-Five Years is now available for purchase as an e-book. A print version of this book, written by George Pond, was launched as part of the Sports Hall’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

The e-book version contains essentially the same written content as the print version. To better suit the e-book format, some of the photos in the print version have been removed. However, the e-book still contains photos of each individual inductee, as well as a photo of each of the 11 teams inducted into the Sports Hall as well as other photos.

Cost of the e-book is $14.99 Canadian. Copies can be purchased through, using the link below:


2018 Sports Hall Inductees Announced

David Baldock, the late Paul Davidson, David Edmonds, Jim Merrick and Peter Timpf have all been named to the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition for 2018. These outstanding athletes, coaches and builders are being recognized for their contribution to the rich sports history of Norfolk County.

Long-time Simcoe resident, David Baldock has excelled in the international sport of orienteering. This athletic endeavour combines racing and navigation with a compass through diverse and often unfamiliar terrain. Baldock has medalled in events held throughout North America and is a Canadian and Provincial champion. Locally, he helped to establish orienteering courses and enrichment programs for children in senior public school.

During his lifetime, Paul Davidson competed, coached and organized many sports with compassion. He  won championships in basketball, lacrosse, hockey, and curling but is most widely recognized for being part of the mixed pairs National and Provincial lawn bowling championships, with partner Muriel LaPlante. Paul was a well-respected coach at the Delhi Public and Simcoe Composite Schools. Davidson also served as a sight coach/guide for blind golfers and curlers at the Provincial and National level.

David Edmonds is being recognized as a dedicated builder and coach of hockey, soccer and baseball in the communities of Delhi, Simcoe and Tillsonburg for over 50 years. Whether Dave was on an executive, coaching from the sidelines or officiating in some capacity, he tried to provide the best opportunity he could for all participants. Former athletes Edmonds has coached describe him as an outstanding leader who instilled the values of hard work and sportsmanship. Dave made the game fun and encouraged all to perform their best.

Jim Merrick is passionate about football! After getting his start as a high school football player at Simcoe Composite School, Jim trained hard to make the line-up with McGill University and the CFL, with stints in Saskatchewan and Hamilton. Along the way to the big league, he also excelled in the shot put event, winning a provincial university championship and competing at the Canadian National level. Back home in Norfolk County, Jim continues to lead young football players to great destinies. The most well-known player he has assisted with coaching is two-time Grey Cup Champion Shane Bergman.

Port Dover resident Peter Timpf is being recognized as a builder of sport for the lakeside community. For more than 30 years, Peter has served on executives, coached, and spearheaded fundraising and membership drives for the Port Dover Figure Skating Club, Port Dover Minor Softball Association and the Ontario Rural Softball Association (ORSA). He has successfully coached two female teams to ORSA provincial championships and another to an Eastern Canadian Championship. Many credit Peter for serving as a mentor who inspires them to volunteer with sport and service club organizations in the community.

These outstanding athletes, coaches and builders along with the 2017 inductees will be inducted into the Norfolk County Sports Hall of Recognition at a gala celebration on July 13, 2019.