Windsor Choristers Athletic Club

Windsor Choristers Athletic Club

The Windsor Choristers Athletic Club, had its beginning in June of 1954, at a meeting chaired by founder Dr. Walter Spitzig (PHD Psychology), in his classroom at St. Angela Elementary School. The charter members and founding fathers of the Choristers who gathered at the June 1954 meeting were, Walter Spitzig, George McTavish, Eddie Hogan Sr., Wilfred Adam, and Ron Elliott.

Longtime President of the Choristers, Spitzig was the pianist for the St. Angela music program and choir, an athletic coach at the school, and the organist and Music Director at Sacred Heart Church. He formed adult male, adult mixed and boys’ choirs at Sacred Heart, and that was the origin for adopting the Choristers A. C. name. He felt the need and the urge to organize boys’ athletic teams with financial aid from his choral groups that performed at concerts locally, such as the Kiwanis and Knights of Columbus Music Festivals, as well as events in Sarnia and Michigan. He felt the need to foster a love for athletics and music. He did not subscribe to the notion that sports activities and musical performance are mutually exclusive or not compatible, that was certainly dispelled with the formation of the Choristers organization, and their outstanding accomplishments throughout Ontario. He believed boys could be singers and athletes, and many members of the Choristers A.C. participated in both endeavours with skill and artistry, at concerts and sports venues in gymnasiums and on playing fields.

Windsor Choristers teams have participated in approximately twenty-five plus Ontario Finals. capturing fifteen All-Ontario Championships. The Choristers A. C. began sponsoring youth athletic teams in 1954, entering a Bantam age (13-14) team in the Ontario Amateur Softball Association (OASA) in 1954 & 1955. The first All-Ontario Title claimed was the OASA Bantam “A” softball crown in 1955, due in large part to the pitching of Hector Marinacci, and timely hitting from Dave and Gino Piazza. On their march to the title they defeated teams from Point Edward, St. Catharines, and Galt, prior to their win in the finals in Northern Ontario against Englehart. Other members of that squad were Ted Collins, John Harcarufka, Larry Pawluck, Chris Antonelli, Richard St. Pierre, Eugene Krawchuk, Glen Dennis, Roger Gagne – coach, and Walter Spitzig – coach. The Choristers were Southern Ontario Champions in 1954 & 55.

From 1954 to 1963 Choristers entered Basketball teams in Minor Bantam (age 11-12), Bantam (13-14), Midget (age 15-16) teams in local Church, Parks & Recreation, Windsor & District Leagues, in addition to Ontario Church Basketball Association (OCBA) and Ontario Amateur Basketball Association (OABA) competitions. Walter Spitzig managed or coached the various basketball teams, that won ten All-Ontario Titles. He was often assisted by Mike Seman. Spitzig would often take his teams to Detroit to play exhibitions in larger gyms, to better prepare his teams for OABA and OCBA competitions that were staged in High School gyms. Locally Choristers games were played in smaller Elementary and Church gymnasiums.

In 1955 Choristers were the OABA Midget Champions. In 1957 Choristers were Windsor Church Basketball Association Minor Bantam Champions, and an OABA Finalist. In – 1958 Choristers were Windsor Church League Minor Bantam and Midget Champions, and Ontario Church Basketball Midget Finalist and Minor Bantam Champions. In 1959 Choristers coached by Eddie Hogan Sr. were an OABA Jr “B” Midget Finalist, and Choristers Midget teams were Windsor and District League champions in 1959 & 1960. In 1960 Choristers won Windsor & District Titles in Bantam and Minor Bantam. In four consecutive years (1960 – 64) Choristers were crowned OABA Bantam and Minor Bantam Champions.

Some notable players who passed through the Choristers A. C. basketball programme were Ed Petryshyn, Ambrose Gardiner (Canadian Olympian), Mario Baggio, Tom Mailloux, Mel Greaves, Norm Renaud, Tom Kilpatrick, Ron Zanin, Ron David, Byron O’Rourke, Richard Cloutier, Dan Hogan, Ken Lowry, Ron Radlin, Fulvio Valentinis, Elio Del Col, Bill Colini, Cliff Reaume, Doug Stocco, Gary Loreto.

From 1955 to 1974 Choristers A. C. sponsored a team in the AKO Pee Wee Minor Football League. They were undefeated League and Playoff Champions in 1957 and 1969. The ’69 team was coached by Mal Hodges Sr. and George Rocheleau. In 1964 Choristers were Playoff Champions, coached by Joe Bevacqua, Bill Murphy, Mario Mollicone. Choristers were Playoffs Champions again in 1971, playoffs Finalist in 1959 (Don Allen was Q.B.),1962, and 1965 (coach John Zdonek).

In 1958 Choristers A. C. sponsored a Juvenile Softball League, teams were AKO, Local 240, Moose Lodge, Outdoor Sport Shop, Cervezas, Tequilas. In 1959 and 1960 Choristers A. C. sponsored a Juvenile Outdoor Lacrosse League administered by Mike Seman. In 1959 the teams were Choristers, AKO, Local 240, Italiani, in 1960 the teams were AKO, Local 240, Caboto Club, Olivers.

From 1961 to 1968, and 1971 Choristers sponsored Bantam teams in the Outdoor Parks & Recreation Hockey League at Lanspeary Park, winning a Championship in 1965. Since 1969 Choristers A. C. have sponsored a team in Windsor Minor Hockey, primarily Bantams, some Midget.

For a couple of years in the late 1950’s the Choristers raised monies for their sports programmes through “Turkey Raffles” and a unique undertaking organized by Spitzig, a yearly “Match Day” a type of Tag Day. The logo “Lighting the Way For Boys” was printed on each box of matches. The boys in the sports programmes and choir would dress in their black and white satin jackets and stand on downtown street corners, with boxes filled with match boxes for sale, hung around their necks. The night prior to the “Match Day”, the men in the organization would canvas from Tavern to Tavern peddling the Match Boxes. Bingos were also an important fundraiser for the Choristers in the early years, and have been the sole source of revenue since the 1970’s. Another memorable community involvement started in 1955 when local black leader Dr. Walter Perry asked the Choristers A. C. to partake in the Emancipation Day ceremonies at Jackson Park.

In 1997 – 98 Choristers began awarding two Football Bursary’s to the U. of Windsor. Currently they support the U. of Windsor women’s basketball programme via an annual monetary donation, and also donate sever­al thousand dollars annually to Windsor Minor Hockey. For the past fifteen years they have sponsored four Windsor Little League teams, one in each of the four districts. Throughout the years Choristers A.C. has also made donations in support of such community organizations as the Goodfellows, and the Downtown Mission. Since inception in 1954, the Choristers A. C. has contributed over $300,000. in support of youth sports in our community.

In the formative years (1954-59) membership in the Choristers A. C. totalled 127 individuals. Today there is an 12-man Executive Board consisting of, Walter Spitzig (President), Pat Paterson (Vice-President), Eddie Hogan Sr. (Treasurer), Eddie Hogan Jr. (Secretary), John Kaschak, Leo “Punky” Bracken, At Crayton, John Foglia, Brian Hogan, Robert Oliver, Sam Sisco, Mike Soulliere.