'' Hank ''
The sign of a truly exceptional all-round amateur athlete is the ability to compete in a wide variety of sports, and excel in them all. Such is the case with Henry Akervall, whose amateur athletic career spanned close to a half century and included involvement in close to a dozen different sports.Henry (Hank) Akervall first exhibited his outstanding athletic abilities while attending high school in Port Arthur where he competed in football, basketball and track and field, setting a district record in the Junior Boys' pole vault in 1952. At the same time he was also active with local hockey and baseball teams, earning the 1950 Port Arthur Minor Bantam Defenceman Award and contributing to the Port Arthur Giants' 1955 Senior Baseball League title.In 1956 his outstanding talents led him to the OHA and the Hamilton Tiger Cubs where he was voted a 1958 Junior ‘A' All-Star defenceman. Choosing to follow the academic path, he made his way to Michigan Tech in 1959 and enjoyed an impressive college sports career with the Huskies. A three time WCHA All-Star, he was a two-time member of the U.S. National All-Star Team, Assistant Captain of the 1962 NCAA Division I Championship team and lettered in javelin and discus. At the conclusion of his university career, he went briefly to Finland where he became the first foreign born player to take to the ice for the Finnish Tappara hockey club. His talents attracted the attention of Father David Bauer, who was overseeing the Canadian national team. Recruited to the national squad, he went on to serve as the Captain of the 1964 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team. Following the Games in Innsbruck, he played a season of senior hockey in Minnesota, before returning to Thunder Bay where he continued his hockey career with the Port Arthur Bearcats and the Thunder Bay Twins.In 1966 he joined the faculty of Lakehead University and served as their Director of Athletics, setting the ground work for the development of the school’s Physical Education Program. The first coach of the Lakehead Norwester hockey team, he held the position from 1966-69 and 1971-75. Under his direction the team claimed the 1966-67 International Collegiate Hockey Association (ICHA) title and the 1972-73 Great Plains Athletics Conference crown. He rounded out his 30 year university career retiring from Lakehead in 1997 as the Director of the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism.In addition to the sports mentioned previously, he also participated and excelled in fastball, golf, skiing, curling, bowling, squash, fishing and flat and white water canoeing. In an ironic twist of fate, it was while playing in a pick up game of hockey in February of 2000 that this exceptional and versatile athlete passed away. Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 17, 1988
© Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame 2008