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Highlighting Hall of Famers: Tony Cote and Jacqueline Lavallee

Two of the 12 Indigenous athletes, builders or coaches that have been honoured and selected to the Saskatchewan Sport Hall of Fame are featured below. Those selected to the Hall of Fame have seen unparalleled success in sport, as well as enhanced the sport community in the province. For more information on visit sasksportshalloffame.com 

Antoine “Tony” Cote – Inducted in 2011 (Builder – Multisport) 

During his lifetime, Tony Cote was a major proponent of Indigenous sport, creating and developing Indigenous hockey teams and leagues, fastball teams and multi-sport games within Saskatchewan. 

Following his election as Chief of Cote First Nation in 1970, Cote commenced the construction of a hockey rink with artificial ice — a first among Saskatchewan First Nations. This led to the establishment of Saskatchewan’s first all-Indigenous Junior ‘B’ hockey team, with Cote serving as president for the next five years. He also helped form Saskatchewan’s first all-Indigenous old-timers hockey team, the “Wagonburners” which went on to capture the Saskatchewan East Division title in 1977. 

On the ball diamond, Cote also acted as the manager of the Cote Selects women’s football team from 1974 to 1978. The team traveled to tournaments across North America, including the National Indian Activities Association championships in 1977 and 1978. 

Cote’s most important contribution to sport in Saskatchewan came in 1974, when he played an instrumental part in the creation of the Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games and later, the Saskatchewan First Nations Winter Games.  

The Games, which alternate yearly between the summer event and the winter event, are open to youth under 20 years old from the 70 First Nations across Saskatchewan. Over 3000 athletes compete in the Games. In 2014, the Games were renamed to the Tony Cote Summer Games and Tony Cote Winter Games in honour of their founder. 

“We initiated something here that everybody is very proud of in Saskatchewan,” said Cote of the Games in his Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame Induction video. 

Cote’s commitment to the growth and development of sport in Saskatchewan led to him being awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2008 and the Tom Longboat Medal in 1974 as the province’s outstanding sportsman. 

Cote passed away on July 31, 2019. 

Learn more about Tony Cote at sasksportshalloffame.com.  

Jacqueline Lavallee – Inducted in 2014 (Athlete – Soccer/Basketball) 

It’s not often that a university athlete is recognized as one of the top players in their sport, let alone two sports, but that’s the case for soccer and basketball All-Canadian Jacqueline Lavallee. 

Competing at high levels of sport started early for Lavallee, who competed at the 1992 Saskatchewan Summer Games in track, the 1995 Western Canada Summer Games in basketball and the 1997 Canada Games in soccer. She also helped Saskatoon-based Holy Cross high school to two provincial titles before becoming a dual-sport athlete with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies’ basketball and soccer teams. 

“It was my goal when I fell in love with both [sports] in high school, my goal was to go somewhere that I could play both,” Lavallee said in her Saskatchewan Hall of Fame Induction video. “So that was a huge thing for me, not having to choose.” 

During her five-year career, Lavallee was twice named a Canada West all-star midfielder (1999 and 2001) as well as an All-Canadian in 1999 for her efforts on the soccer field. Meanwhile, on the basketball court, she was named a Canada West point guard all-star three times (1997, 2000 and 2002) and an All-Canadian in her final 2002 season. That year also saw Lavallee finish the basketball season ranked second in Canada West scoring and third nationally, which led to her earning the National Sylvia Sweeney Award as well as a CIS Top 8 Academic All-Canadian. 

Following her university career, Lavallee went on to play for the Canadian women’s national team from 2002-2004 and played Division 1 professional women’s basketball in Germany from 2003-2004, during which time she had the opportunity to play in the EuroCup. 

Once she wrapped up her playing career, Lavallee took on a coaching role and has served as an assistant coach with the Huskies for the last 14 seasons. 

Prior to her Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame induction in 2014, Lavallee’s athletic achievements also earned her the Tom Longboat Award in 2000 —and again in 2008 as a coach— a spot on the Holy Cross Wall of Honour, an induction into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and a place on the University of Saskatchewan Wall of Fame in 2011. 

Learn more about Jacqueline Lavallee at sasksportshalloffame.com.  

With files from the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame