The International Sports Heritage Association (ISHA) has named the executive director of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame as the recipient of the prestigious Schroeder Award. Sheila Kelly, (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) was recognized during ISHA’s Oct. 19 Evening of Champions dinner at its annual conference, which was held in Knoxville, Tenn., at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Presented periodically, the W.R. “Bill” Schroeder Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor presented by the International Sports Heritage Association (ISHA) and is awarded to individuals for meritorious service of lasting nature in the sports heritage industry.
“Sheila has distinguished herself as an outstanding museum leader and strives for excellence in all aspects,” ISHA President Susan Wasser said. “Her engaging leadership skills, passion, dedication, and ingenuity have transformed sports heritage within Saskatchewan. We are thrilled to be able to honor Sheila with this award and provide her this well-deserved recognition.”
“I am humbled and honored by this recognition awarded by my peers,” Kelly said. “It was certainly not something I expected. It serves as a reminder that this industry and the people in it are a very big part of my life both personally and professionally.”
Kelly has served as executive director for the Hall of Fame for 28 years. During her tenure, she has impacted sports heritage from the local to the international levels by developing the Hall of Fame as the leading sports heritage association in her province.
Additionally, she is credited with nurturing the development of multiple satellite halls, sports museum and sports heritage research projects. Multiple books about amateur sports have been published under the auspices of SSHF during her tenure.
Diane Imrie, executive director of Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, called Kelly “a respected museum professional and a sought-after leader … Kelly has demonstrated a willingness to help out whenever called upon by colleagues.”
Kelly has served as the President of the Museums Association of Saskatchewan (1999-2001); the Canadian Association for Sport Heritage (1995-98); and International Sports Heritage Association (2009-2010).
Under her leadership, the SSHF took more of a museum focus and substantially increased its permanent collection. On behalf of the Hall of Fame, Kelly secured a formal agreement with the Province’s most successful sports team, Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, to house its entire collection.
She has overseen the rebranding of her organization including the development of a new logo and an ISHY Award-winning website, among others.
Working with a small staff and limited resources, Kelly engages volunteers and members of the SSHF and to partner with community organizations to meet desired outcomes. Among the non-traditional collaborations is the co-publishing of a limited edition exhibition catalogue with a local art gallery and providing pre-concert activities for the Regina Symphony Orchestra Kids Concert Series during the presentation of “The Hockey Sweater.”
“Such innovative programming ideas have brought new audiences into the world of sports heritage that help break down barriers of preconceived notions of the role that a sports hall of fame can play in a community,” Imrie said.
The official presentation of the Schroeder Award will take place on October 19, 2017, at “An Evening of Champions” as part of ISHA’s annual conference, hosted this year by the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville.
Kelly earned a bachelor of arts in archaeology and a master of arts in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Saskatchewan in 1985 and 1987, respectively.