By Rebecca Peng –
“No one I can think of is more deserving of having this park named after them,” says Jim Clarkin, President of the Fisher Park Community Recreation Council.
On June 24, over a hundred kids, fresh from their last soccer game of the season, gathered with their parents to commemorate the naming of Fisher Park’s sports fields. For all of them, the name is a familiar one.
“This is Brian Kearns’ park,” announces Clarkin. “These are now his fields.”
Brian Kearns spent over 40 years in recreation, 27 of them at Fisher Park. He’s known throughout the community as a dedicated volunteer who coaches a variety of sports – from hockey to gymnastics, wrestling to track and field – at Fisher, Highland Park, and with the Ottawa West Golden Knights.
“It just goes to show what a difference one person can make in people’s lives. So often we hear how with kids, just that one adult can make such a difference,” says Councillor Katherine Hobbs of Kearns’ vast accomplishments. “Brian has made that difference for so many kids. We don’t have enough Brians in our community.”
“You don’t find many guys like Brian,” agrees Clarkin. Clarkin met Kearns when he was just four years old and eager to play baseball.
“After that, Fisher was my life. It was home for everybody and it was a good place to go. It’s the right sports, it’s keeping kids active and having fun, and Brian was always about kids having fun.”
Clarkin credits the expansion and the development of Fisher Park’s sports programs to Kearns’ involvement and dedication.
“We have over a thousand kids that play in the spring programs now. That’s just the fun programs, not the competitive clubs. What he’s done for the neighbourhoods is just so huge. He’s just the best guy, the best coach, and a great guy to know. No one’s better deserving [of this honour] than Brian,” says Clarkin.
“There’s a lot of history in this park,” adds Councillor Hobbs, “and to have him as part of this history is really important. It’s great.”
Having the sports fields named after himself is something Kearns never could have predicted.
“It’s wonderful. It’s overwhelming. It’s actually very humbling. You never expect such a thing, eh?” says Kearns. “When I [first] came here we had a green shack and a couple of outdoors rinks. Now it’s amazing. The community’s just wonderful. They’re the ones who made me who I am today.”
It’s a community he’s still giving back to, not just as a volunteer, but also as a cheerleader. His grandchildren play in Fisher’s soccer program and Kearns is there to support and encourage them, as well as all the other children too.