Charlie Ballem provided the framework, put in the hours and set the guidelines for those that came afterwards as a person whose contribution to sport and, in particular, the P.E.I. School Athletic Association (PEISAA) has been immense.
Born in Mount Albion in 1929, Ballem began teaching at Summerside High School in 1957, where he was an exemplary award-winning physical education teacher and coach of many teams. He is remembered most for the way he instilled respect in those he taught.
It was Ballem who provided the leadership that developed the P.E.I. School Athletic Association from an idea of a few forward-thinking individuals into the successful program that it is now. He was elected as the initial president on Dec 27, 1961, and served in that capacity until 1964.
During his tenure as president, Ballem wrote the constitution, by-laws and policy handbook for the fledgling organization – documents that continue to serve as a reference for operational decisions of the association today.
Ballem continued on the executive until 1969, later becoming executive director of the PEISAA, and continued as a consultant in physical education and recreation.
His innovative leadership moved the sport program into the elementary and junior high schools and, by moving into the lower grades, the PEISAA became a complete sport system.
Ballem enforced the professionalization of physical education programs in our province. With assistance from the physical education co-ordinators, the first official physical education curriculum was developed in the mid 1970s.
In recognition for what Ballem achieved in P.E.I. school sport, the PEISAA presented him with its first builders award in 2000, and then subsequently named the award in his honour.
As part of the PEISAA's celebration of its 50 years of operation, recognition of Charlie Ballem's leadership is essential, and the thousands of Island youth involved as school athletes over the years need to be appreciative of his insight.