Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of profiles highlighting the achievements of the inductees for this year’s Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame banquet which is scheduled for Saturday in the Ches Leach Lounge at the Art Hauser Centre.
For 20 years Amanda Dunn made quite a name for herself in the sport of racquetball.
Actually, she made two names for herself; first as Amanda MacDonald when she was growing up and then later as Amanda Dunn when she was married.
Regardless of what name she played under, Amanda was pretty special on a racquetball court.
“I started when I was eight years old,” recalled Dunn recently. “My neighbours were going to play and asked if I wanted to come.”
“I played in my first nationals when I was 10 years old in Kelowna and that kind of lit the fire,” added Dunn.
That fire turned into an inferno.
Dunn qualified for provincials every year she competed and as a junior competitor she won the Canadian championship in five straight years from 1993-97. Dunn was on the national junior team from 1995-97 and in her first year with that squad won the coveted triple crown – gold medals in women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles – at the world championships in Fountain Valley, Calf.
In total, Dunn won seven gold medals at world junior championships so her move to the senior division was relatively easy and being selected for the national team at that level was rather academic.
“I had great coaches,” says Dunn. “Randy Backland and Frazier Dent at Courts North and then Lorne Prentice out of Saskatoon; they really helped me.”
“I also had great family support,” added Dunn. “My dad was my No. 1 bag carrier. I also had great role models with people like Lori-Jane Powell. We had so much amazing talent coming out of this small town.”
While Dunn dominated all competitions in the junior division it was in women’s doubles with her long-time partner Karina Odegard where she continued to make a name for herself at the senior level.
Dunn and Odegard won national titles in 2000 and ’02 and in those same years, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, respectively, they captured silver medals at the world championships. Dunn also helped the women’s team to a second-place finish at both world events and in 2000 was part of the overall gold-medal winning squad. Canada was second in 2002.
Her final trip to the world championship was 2004 in Anyang, South Korea, and this time she competed in singles, winning a bronze medal and helping the women’s entry and Canadian team to silver-medal results.
Dunn, who also coached racquetball for a number of years, retired from the sport in 2005 to focus on her career as a teacher and to raise her family, but she still possesses a high level of enthusiasm when talking about the game.
“I just loved the individual aspect and the speed,” says Dunn. “It was such an adrenaline rush and the opportunity it gave me was amazing.”
With all of the attention being directed toward her since it was announced that she was going to enter the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame for her amazing accomplishments, Dunn decided to return to the game this year, but disappointment awaited her on two fronts.
First, the sport has faded considerably since her heyday and second, after two decades of going injury free she tore her Achilles tendon in one of her first workouts.
“The thing that made racquetball so amazing was it was a family sport,” said Dunn. “There isn’t that much racquetball anymore.”
Having already been named the Prince Albert Sportswoman of the Year in 1998, Dunn says this honour of going into the hall of fame is very special.
“It’s very exciting,” says Dunn. “It’s like the big closing moment. It’s amazing for my kids to see; they keep asking a lot of questions and look at the old stories in the paper.”
Dunn will join Josef Tesar Jr., Ryan Roznowsky, Bob Coffin, Pat Regel, Ward Howat, the 1972 bantam West Hill Flyers and Prince Albert Sports Council at the gala ceremony this weekend.
Tickets for the event can be purchased from the Community Services department at City Hall or by contacting Ellen Grewcock at 306-980-6242 or Derek Smith at 306-980-6116.