The 2019 Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner took place on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Best Western Wayside Inn Banquet Room in Wetaskiwin.
Blaine Kjorlien, Athlete-Builder
Blaine Kjorlien was born in Wetaskiwin and grew up involved in a variety of community and school sports including hockey, fastball, football and wrestling. It wasn’t until high school and university that Blaine really excelled as an athlete. He gained renown and success in both football and wrestling at Camrose Lutheran College and wrestling at the University of Alberta.
Blaine’s passion for sport continued into his teaching career where he was a successful and influential coach in football and wrestling at Wetaskiwin Composite High School.
In high school Blaine was a member of both the WCHS wrestling and football teams. He was a zone wrestling champion in both grade 11 and 12. Blaine also played on a Wetaskiwin Fastball team that won the Northern Alberta Championship. After high school, Blaine was recruited by Camrose Lutheran College and during his two years at CLC he was a member of both the football team and the wrestling team. In his first year both the football team and the wrestling team won the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Championship. In his second year both teams again were conference champions and for his contributions and effort Blaine was awarded MVP honors for both the football team and the wrestling team. Besides these two awards, he was also the Most Outstanding Athlete at CLC in his second school year.
After two years at CLC Blaine moved to the University of Alberta where he concentrated his athletic pursuits on wrestling. In his first year Blaine was a Provincial Champion and won a Bronze Medal at the Canadian Open Championships. In his second year Blaine was again Provincial Champion and was selected by the Canadian Amateur Wrestling Association to compete on the National Team in the World Cup in Toledo Ohio. After graduating from the U of A Blaine continued wrestling while he was coaching. In total Blaine has won gold at the Alberta Wrestling Championships a total of seven times. At the 1975 Canada Summer Games he was a member of the Alberta team and won a wrestling silver medal.
The most amazing part of Blaine’s athletic career is what he dealt with as an athlete. In 1968 at the age of 16 Blaine was diagnosed with Diabetes. All the years that he competed Blaine had to deal with regulating his blood sugar levels in order to reach his maximum potential at any time, a rather difficult task. Unlike diabetics today, he had no technical aids to assist him with this problem. Blaine credits his coach at the U of A as well as his doctor, Dr Leavert Johnson, for helping him to learn how to deal with his condition while training and competing. Blaine has now lived with diabetes for 50 years and is still in great health, an admirable achievement in itself.
Blaine began coaching football and wrestling at WCHS in 1975. For three years Blaine was the Defensive Coach for the Sabres High School Team and in 1975 the Sabres Football Team were league champions. Blaine coached the Wetaskiwin High School Sabres wrestling team for fourteen years starting in 1975 and ending in 1990. For 13 consecutive terms his wrestling team won the Central Alberta Zone Championship. The team finished second in Alberta five times and won the Provincial Championships seven times. During Blaine’s coaching tenure a total of ninety-six Wetaskiwin Sabres Wrestlers won provincial gold medals and over 300 Sabres Wrestlers won either gold, silver or bronze medals at the provincial championships.
In recognition of his coaching abilities and achievements Blaine was chosen in both 1978 and 1988 as “Alberta Wrestling Coach of the Year” by the Alberta Amateur Wrestling Association. Three times Blaine coached Alberta Wrestling Teams at the Canadian Championships as well as coaching WCHS and Alberta wrestlers at two USA Open Championships and on one European Tour in 1988. At the Canadian Wrestling Championships one of his Wetaskiwin wrestlers was Canadian Champion and several more brought home medals. Besides his high school coaching commitments, Blaine also coached teams in the Wetaskiwin Minor Hockey, Soccer and Baseball Associations.
Blaine can certainly be credited with the development of the exceptional WCHS wrestling program that must be the envy of all coaches and schools in the province. Blaine is being inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame because of his impressive athletic accomplishments and his outstanding coaching career.
Submitted by Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame