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George Stothart

Biography

George Stothart, a multi-sport athlete, coach, and official, was born deaf. He became Alberta’s longest serving basketball official (1954 to 2017), and helped lead the growth of deaf sports. George played football at the high school, university, and junior levels, basketball at SAIT, and fastball with the deaf team ‘The Flying Fingers’. He competed at three World Deaf Games - on Canada’s Basketball Team in 1965 and 1973, and in the 400m race in 1969. George helped found the Edmonton Tasmanian Devils deaf slo-pitch team, the Edmonton Deaf Basketball Team, and served on the board of the Federation of Silent Sports of Alberta.

Basketball was a life-long passion for George. His father was an official and George started officiating basketball in 1954 at the age of fifteen. For more than sixty-two years he refereed games at the community, high school, and university levels, as well as at tournaments and championships. At the peak of his career, he officiated 287 basketball games per year.

George’s journey began in 1939 when he was born in Ottawa, Ontario. From the time he was three to thirteen years of age, he attended Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri. While there, he was trained in speech reading, and throughout the years, he became exceptional at it. As a result, George was able to pursue his interest in sports and education. When he was thirteen, his family moved to Lacombe, Alberta where George took up basketball, track and field, and was a tackle on the High School football team. After he graduated, he attended the University of Alberta and was a halfback on the Bears football team from 1958 to 1960. He also was an end on the Edmonton Huskies team during his first season in 1958/59. After his time at the U of A, George went to the University of British Columbia where he received his diploma in Deaf Education. He returned to Alberta and taught math at the Alberta School for the Deaf.

George continued to play sports and was on the basketball team at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). In 1965 he was selected to play on Canada’s deaf basketball team, and competed at the 11th International Games for the Deaf in Washington D.C.. George wanted to compete at the next games in 1969; however, Canada was not fielding a basketball team that year. George made the decision to compete in the 200m and 400m events at the Deaf National Tournament in order to make Canada’s Athletics team. He won both events at Nationals, and then competed at the International Games for the Deaf in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where he finished fifth in the 400m event. In 1973, Canada once again fielded a deaf basketball team and George played at the (renamed) Deaflympics in Malmo, Sweden. He attended the Deaflympics Games one more time, in 1981, in Koln, West Germany as a team official/chaperone for Canada.

Throughout the years, George also played fastball (baseball) as a catcher and an outfielder, and coached slo-pitch. In 1969, he was a key player on the 'The Flying Fingers’ deaf fastball team in Edmonton. In 1980, he was one of the founders of the Edmonton Tasmanian Devils deaf slo-pitch team. In 1987, he coached the renamed Edmonton Devils team and took them to the 6th Annual Canadian Deaf Slo-Pitch Tournament in London Ontario. The team won the national championship and George received the Coach of the Tournament Award. From 1988 to 1991, George coached the Edmonton Angels Slo-Pitch Club and took the team to compete at the Annual Canadian Deaf Women’s Slo-Pitch Tournaments.

George was one of the first officers to serve on the board of the Federation of Silent Sports of Alberta after it was founded on December 3, 1974. From 1976 to 1982 he held numerous executive positions. In 1984, the FSSA became the Alberta Deaf Sports Association, and in 2011 George was named an honorary member of the Association in recognition of his lifetime of work with the deaf community in Alberta.

For his contributions to basketball, George received the Herb McLaughlin Special Achievement Award in 1991, and was awarded a Life Membership Award from the Edmonton Basketball Officials Association in 1998.