Francois Fournier to be inducted into PA Sports Hall of Fame

Submitted photo. Francois Fournier is being inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame.

Francois Fournier has quite the long resume in Prince Albert sports and he will be enshrined into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in both the athlete and builder category.

Fournier says he was a little shocked when he heard the news from Sports Hall of Fame president Ellen Grewcock in a phone call.

“My first reaction was somebody’s playing a joke on me. I really didn’t believe it. It kind of takes you by surprise. I still have a tough time just even thinking about being inducted. I don’t know the exact word, but it’s very humbling.”

Fournier began his athletic career as a member of the Prince Albert gymnastics club at the age of seven. As a gymnast, he would earn several accolades finishing in the top three of several meets.

Fournier was also a strong swimmer with the Prince Albert Polar Bear Swim Club, winning several ribbons for his efforts. On the court, Fournier helped the St. Mary Marauders to a provincial city and provincial title while helping his Molson Canadian Men’s Basketball Team to three consecutive Northern Classic Championships from 1983-1985.

Additionally, Fournier has served as a basketball referee for many years and was awarded the Clayton Shaw Basketball Association Referee of the Year award for his work.

“I’m still reffing. I just love it.” Fournier explains. “We’re teaching kids in grade 9, grade 10, who are starting to ref and we’re working with them. It was just a process that worked from playing basketball in high school and then senior mens and then helping out with reffing, as a bunch of us got in there and helped out with the reffing. Just giving back to the game which had I not started doing that in Prince Albert, I probably wouldn’t be doing it now, I think it’s set the seeds for me in reference to things that I’ve done since I’ve left.”

During the mid 1970s, Fournier played a key role in developing competitive swimming in Prince Albert. He served as a co-coach of the Prince Albert Kinsmen Aquatic Association (PAKAA). In his first year, nine of the 14 swimmers for the club qualified for provincials.

Fournier also completed his diving level 1 instructor course and coached in the sport.

Fournier played a key role in bringing a water show to Memorial Pool in Prince Albert for residents to enjoy. The show, which was later coined as “The World Famous Flying Tanks” included swimming, diving, lifeguarding and even speed swimming.
The show featured not only Francois, but his brothers Lucien, Laurent and Phillip. Fournier credits Phillip for coming up with the Flying Tanks moniker, but the World Famous part was added later as the group would perform all over Saskatchewan and Western Canada.

“We went all over the place, and then when we did that, we added the world famous, and I mean, not that we were, but we sure enjoyed it. I was the director of it. The leader without question was my brother Phil, and we had outstanding athletes. We did it all, and we always included a lot of the local folks, and just thoroughly enjoyed it. When we went and performed, the amount of joy that we brought people was the reward.”

From 1981-1985, Fournier served as the Vice President of the Canadian Amateur Diving Association (CADA). One of Fournier’s key accomplishments during this time was implementing a marketing campaign for Sylvie Bernier, who went on to win a gold medal for Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

As part of the marketing campaign, they helped Bernier with aspects both in and out of the pool.

One challenge they helped Bernier overcome during that time was how she was intimidated by the American Olympic diving coach Ron O’Brien.

Fournier says that was a big reason she won the gold medal in ‘84.

“He would say things to her like if you were only diving down here with me, then you could be doing so much better. Her confidence was being lost. We addressed that. She was attending a meet in the States and he came up to talk to her and she said, ‘you stop it right there. You’re not going to talk to me again until the LA Olympics are done.’ She never talked to him again.”

Additionally, Fournier served on the organizing committee for the 1989 Canada Summer Games diving competition and was chairman of the 1990 National Diving Championships. Fournier also was the chairman of the Dive Canada International meet and received a certificate of merit for his announcing work at Universiade in 1983. He was recognized by CADA and presented with an award as an athlete and builder.

The 32nd Annual Induction Banquet for the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame is on Saturday night at the Ches Leach Lounge at the Art Hauser Centre.