Men's Club - Annual Sportsman's Dinner
Few Events surpass St. Nicholas Men's Club
by Jack Matheson (2000)
So, what what would you think Nick Mickloski and Scott Koskie have in common? Not a thing, you might suggest.
Nick Mickloski has reached the social twilight years, I'd say the late 60s and that may be giving good old Nicko the benefit of the doubt. He used to be a pretty fair hockey player, here and there, with the proper skills and smarts and an outstanding personality, take my word for it. He turned to golf and wound-up pretty much owning Elmhurst Country Club, if not the whole province.
Scott Koskie, meanwhile, is a handsome young dude, well over six-feet and has 'athlete' written all over him. It so happens he's one of the best volleyball players in the world, having represented Canada hither and yon. if he was so inclined, he could make a bundle as a male model or a movie star, but that's another story.
Well, then, what's the big deal? Easy, Nick and Scott are both of Ukrainian descent, for one thing, and they've both been saluted as Manitoba's Ukrainian Sportsman of the year. Let's hear it, loud and clear.
There is one small distinct difference. Mickloski was the very first, back in 1967, and Koskie is the baby of the bunch, having been suitably enshrined for the year 2000 just the other night. In the meantime, St. Nick's Men's Club has made heroes out of enough Ukrainians to fill a fair-sized hall.
Space doesn't allow me to list them all, but they've been a worthy group indeed. Hockey has supplied good guys like Billy Mozienko, naturally, and Billy Juzda, The Beast, and Dale Hawerchuk. Curling has been represented by Orest Meleschuk, the one and only Big O, Kerry Burtnyk (twice), and Hal Tanasichuk. Footballers like Gene Lakusiak, Denny Hrycaiko, Bud Korchak and Steve Patrick are listed, definitely.
Not to forget one of the great guys, Julie Klymkiw, who was a backup NHL goalie, and suds salesman and one of the hardest workers at St. Nick's. Which brings up today's topic, which is the St. Nick's Dinner, and Julie was well worth a standing ovation, this time when he showed up after a terrible, debilitating illness. It's like I told Julie, it wasn't the same without Cactus Jack, but when Julie showed up, he made my night.
I know what most of my vast (?) audience will want to know. What's the big thing with a bun feed? Once you've seen one, you've seen them all. Well, not exactly. The St. Nick's Dinner, which has been held every May or June for the last 35 years, is different, that' s all. Okay, so it doesn't have the posh of the Black and White Dinner (whatever that is) and it doesn't have a cast of thousands like the YMHA Dinner, but St. Nick's has a flavour all of its own.
The flavour isn't necessarily Ternopilski Holubtsi and Halycky Pyrohy, but that doesn't hurt. When you're at the corner of Arlington and Bannnerman, you eat what's in front of you, and it was terrific, and always has been.
I speak from experience, of course, because Wellsy and I were the only originals around and if we missed more than a couple of the 35 reunions, I'd be surprised.
Here's the scene: It's always been in May or June, as I was saying, on a Friday night; the doors open at 6:00 except that the joint is full by 6:05. The downstairs hall handles 300 or so and by 6:15 you can't hear yourself think. Naturally, the tinkling of glassed predominates.
Don't ask me what the guys, and the occasional gal, pay to get in. (I don't and I have a certain amount of seniority.)
All I know for sure is that St. Nick's is always the gathering of the jock clan. No other dinner in town attracts such a classy clientele from our sporting community. For instance, the latest edition had wheels from the Bombers, the Moose, the Goldeyes, the Thunder, and I have it on good authority that these guys wouldn't miss St. Nick's.
The shindig we had on May 12 may or may not have been typical. All I do know is that everybody had a ball and there was no word about anybody asking for their money back. Huh, fat chance.
Father Christopher Zajac welcomed the assembled gang; yours truly remembered Cactus Jack for about the 37th time here and there; Steve Vogelsang of CKY-TV did a helluva job as MC; Bob Picken filling in for an ailing Knuckles (Bob Irving)O called Scott Koskie up to join the ranks of the exalted; Paul Robson introduced the guest speaker, Lyle Bauer of the Bombers; and that was only the icing on the cake.
Naturally, the honchos from the St. Nick's Men's Club, like Lennnie Kozak and Peter Kwasny, were involved. We also listened to Mark Chipman of the Moose, Sam Katz of the Goldeyes and a nice young man from the basketball Thunder and I wish I could remember his name. Like I was saying, everybody shows up at St. Nick's.
Another nice touch was old Bombers like K.P. and Polish Joe (Lenny Ploen and Joe Poplawski) were introduced, so was Mitch Zalnasky, who were good guys like George Ullytat and Gene Hnatiuk, and it was worth noting that Orest Meleschuk was the only winner from away back who keeps showing up. Good for "O".
Which is enough of today's topic. Just put it this way, if you can make it at St. Nick's, you can make it anywhere. With apologies to Old Blue Eyes, of course.
Reprinted with kind permission of Jack Matheson