The water fountain at Lakeside Park has an interesting backstory, for those curious enough to ask.
Years ago legendary Nelson coach Terry Walgren decided that the current fountain was too far away to walk during games. After he passed in 2003, his friends installed a new one midfield that sees regular use today.
“The kids use it constantly. It’s perfectly situated between the two pitches,” said Chuck Bennett, chair of Nelson Youth Soccer.
That fountain is only one way Nelson soccer enthusiasts are keeping Walgren’s memory alive. Another is with the upcoming Nelson Youth Soccer Association’s upcoming Terry Walgren Tournament, which runs from today to Sunday and will host over 50 games.
“Terry was a great player and a great guy. He’s one of the core guys in Nelson who got soccer up and running,” Bennett said. He said before Walgren’s intervention, Nelson was primarily a hockey town. He believes that without him and others who introduced the sport to the Kootenays, the popularity of soccer wouldn’t be where it is today.
“He was always involved, always coaching,” said Bennett. “He was an extremely talented player.”
Bennett said the tournament has been growing for many years, and last year grew from being an exclusively female event to now include their male counterparts.
“We’re looking to become the preeminent tournament in the Kootenays and I think we’re on the right track,” said Bennett.
He said some players and members of the community have asked who Walgren was, and he hopes that through the tournament they can “keep his memory alive.”
Walgren grew up in Nelson in the 1970s, during the infancy of the Nelson Youth Soccer Association. He graduated from L.V. Rogers and played for the Simon Fraser Clansmen and the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
Though he was exceptional player, Walgren’s real passion was coaching. He earned an NCCP level III certification. Throughout a lengthy convalescence, he continued to mentor and inspire young players and coaches. At the time of his passing in 2003 he was the highest rated coach in Nelson.
Walgren coached and played for the Nelson Inn Keepers and aided the women’s team make it to provincial championships. He was a part of the soccer programs in Trail, Kitimat, Kispiox, Fruitvale, Castlegar, Creston and Terrace.
Perhaps it’s appropriate, then, that the tournament that bears his name will host teams from cross the province, including the Creston Blitzz, the Salmon Arm Warriors, Kootenay South Saints and Fernie United, as well as many others.