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Down Memory Lane: ‘A great athlete and a true gentleman’

Morris “Pat” Hollett
Morris “Pat” Hollett

A man who has been described as one of the province’s finest athletes of his era recently passed away in Burin.  

Morris “Pat” Hollett excelled in every sport in which he participated, including soccer, hockey and basketball, as well as a multitude of track and field events. 

As a young lad in the early 1950s, while a student at the Anglican Parish Hall School in Burin, Hollett was introduced to track and field sports.

From the mid-1940s up to 1960, a Burin Peninsula Inter-Town School Sport’s Day was held annually, and healthy competition among the various towns vying for top honours was the order of the day.

Frank Pearce, principal of the Anglican Parish Hall School, saw the athletic potential of the six-foot, three-inch teenager – he’s the man Hollett credited for playing a major role in his development in track and field.

Hollett honed his athletic skills on the Burin Peninsula, but when he transferred to St. John’s to attend Prince of Wales Collegiate in 1956-57, he became noticed provincially.

This photo of Pat Hollett appeared in the Evening Telegram in 1962 when he was at his peak in sports.

During his two years at PWC, he was a valuable member of both the school’s hockey and soccer teams, but track and field was where he really shone. He was the school’s athlete of the year for both years, setting numerous records and winning the open discus, shot put, pole vault, javelin, high-jump, broad jump and 440-yard dash.

He also competed in track and field events involving all St. John’s schools. 

A quote from a 1956 newspaper reads: “A lad from Burin, Morris Hollett, came in to compete in the Junior Pole Vault but as there was only a Senior Pole Vault event going ahead, he entered that and he won … not bad for a junior.”

Lew Fizzard was one of Pat Hollett’s closest friends for many years. Fizzard went with him to Bell Island for the Provincial Track and Field Meet in 1955, and of course “the lad from Burin” didn’t disappoint. He won the pole vault event, beating all competition from St. John’s and other centres.

After graduating from PWC at St. John’s, Hollett went on to the University of New Brunswick where he led the soccer team to a championship and was named as MVP for the sport.

Upon returning to Newfoundland, Hollett established himself as one of the top soccer players in the province. A solid defender, who played in the left fullback position on the Burin Eagles in provincial senior competition in the 1960s, Hollett possessed exceptionally talent and skill. 

Earlier, when he played soccer while living in the capital city, a quote in the local paper stated, “He is known to possess the most wicked kick ever seen in St. John’s football.”

Hollett is a member of both the Burin Peninsula and the provincial soccer hall of fames.

Fizzard was also a teammate of Hollett on the Burin Eagles. In his words, “Pat Hollett had it all. He was a great athlete and a true gentleman. I can’t say enough about him. He was always so very reserved and humble.”

Hollett died at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre on Aug. 3 at the age of 77. His funeral took place at the Zion United Church at Burin on Aug. 7. He left to mourn his partner of 32 years, Blanch, as well as his two sons, Douglas and Rob, and their families; Blanch’s children and their families; one brother and two sisters, and many other relatives and friends.

Allan Stoodley is a long-time resident of Grand Bank. He can be reached at amstoodley@hotmail.com, and he welcomes any comments on this or any other article he has written.

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