Local News

New stadium name is a fitting tribute

Emma Pritchard

True to his humble character, Bruce Leonard let his gentle smile and proud gaze do the talking as Grafton PCYC basketball stadium was officially named after him during a special ceremony on October 24.

The event coincided with the 53th annual Jacaranda Basketball Carnival, one of the biggest tournaments in the state and one which Mr Leonard was influential in creating.

Described as a “true legend” by Bryan Robins, committee member of Grafton Basketball Association and the official MC at the ceremony, Mr Leonard has contributed more than 50 years to Grafton Basketball since he attended his first meeting in 1965.

During that time, he served as either president or secretary-manager for three decades and helped to put Grafton Basketball on the map.

Although he admitted to never having a high opinion of his playing ability, it was Mr Leonard’s roles in administration and his coaching ability that saw his talent shine.

He previously coached basketball teams at Grafton and South Grafton High Schools where he enjoyed an extremely successful period between the 1970’s and 1990’s.

Mr Leonard coached junior and senior teams at representative levels and in recent years, his tireless devotion to a sport he loves so much saw him inducted into the NSW Basketball hall of fame.

As he was assisted in the unveiling of the new sign, which proudly bore his name in large white font, Mr Leonard was content to quietly admire the splendour of the occasion as he received congratulatory messages and a round of applause from the small crowd who attended due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“It was a privilege to be there to share the occasion with Bruce,” Mr Robins said.

“I’ve been playing basketball for over 50 years and Bruce is a true legend in every sense of the word.

“It was a significant event, not just for Grafton Basketball but for sport in general in the Clarence Valley and it’s not every day a large piece of infrastructure is named after someone so significant.

“Grafton Basketball would like to thank Grafton PCYC for allowing us to do it because it is their building and we’re grateful to them for their support.”

Vice President of Grafton Basketball Pat Hagan, echoed the words spoken by Mr Robins.

Together, they commissioned a Grafton Basketball life members board and unveiled it in front of Mr Leonard to show his name written across the timber.

“It really is great that Bruce has been recognised for everything he has done for Grafton Basketball,” Mr Hagan said.

“He’s an inspiration to a lot of people and we were thrilled to see him get the recognition he deserves.”