Sports

In loving memory of Bill McLean

In loving memory of Bill McLean
Bill McLean in 2015. (Screengrab via Inside the AUS/Bell Aliant)
written by Cameron Honey, Stephen Campbell, Ian Froese, Raeesa Lalani, Henry Whitfield and Graeme Benjamin
November 22, 2015 10:12 pm

On the weekend of Nov. 7-8 Tigers athletics, the entire Atlantic University Sport, and amateur sport in general was dealt a devastating blow with the loss of Bill McLean.

Bill played a crucial role in launching and growing AUSTV in partnership with Bell-Alliant. AUSTV brings webcast coverage to fans of Atlantic University Sport across the globe, and I do mean ‘globe.’ I have called games with viewers from as far away as New Zealand.

Bill could be found at sporting events across Atlantic Canada year-round bringing an unrivaled passion for amateur sport along with a truly contagious smile. Bill was one of the kindest, most genuine people I have ever met.

I will forever be grateful for everything Bill did for me. I was one of many young people wishing to have a career in sports broadcasting that Bill provided with an opportunity to make a dream a reality.

There are so many wonderful things to say about Bill. He was a tremendous broadcaster, yes, but beyond that he was a mentor, a father, a builder and a friend.

I will spend the rest of my career in sports trying to honour the legacy that Bill has left behind. I hope that I can make him proud.

The following contributors all benefited from knowing Bill in much the same way I did. They do such a marvelous job of celebrating the man that he was that I wish to let their words speak for me.

Rest in peace, Bill McLean, and thank you for all the amazing things you were able to accomplish.

– Cameron Honey, Sports Editor and AUS broadcaster

 

“Good evening, friends.”

Some variation of that phrase is how Bill McLean opened each AUS broadcast, and because life isn’t fair, we won’t get to hear those dulcet tones from arenas, courts and fields across Atlantic Canada.

I was one of many lucky journalists with the fortune of working under his wing. Bill embodied everything that is right about sports, particularly university athletics. He loved it, from the games and athletes to the fans at home who would send in emails asking for a shoutout.

He also had a passion for helping young journalists. He took me, a novice doubting himself, and threw me on his radio show. I got to be an analyst, then a play-by-play guy and sometimes I’d broadcast solo. I interviewed athletes on his weekly TV show, too.

He’d never fail to offer support or a compliment. An ‘outstanding young sports journalist,’ he’d say so genuinely. His words of encouragement, of friendship, won’t be forgotten.

He told me, during a walk to the basketball court, he once thought of applying to journalism school. But he forego that thought when he started broadcasting Dalhousie sports. He didn’t need the big cities or the big lights. “This is a dream job,” he had said.

Rest in peace, Bill.

– Ian Froese, Sports Editor Emeritus

 

The Atlantic Canadian sports community was dealt a heavy blow recently when we lost one of our most prized teammates, Bill McLean.

Bill dedicated his life to sports in the Maritimes and was heavily involved in the East Coast sports scene as an athlete, coach and eventually as a broadcaster.

He was a pioneer in getting webcasting efforts off the ground at Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s, which eventually spread to every AUS school after he joined Bell Aliant. Bill established Inside the AUS and the East Coast Sports Show – two of Bell’s flagship programs that have brightened the spotlight on student-athletes more than ever before.

Bill’s passion for his work was only trumped by his selfless, kind and genuine nature towards others. Bill had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world when he was talking to you. He cared – and I mean truly cared – about the wellbeing of people in a way that has become a rarity in today’s society.

Simply put, there are not enough Bill McLeans in the world. Bill’s customary “hello friends” opening on every broadcast was his own special way of welcoming himself into the homes of the friends and families of the student athletes who were taking center stage, helping those who could not make it to the games feel like they were there themselves in a manner only he could.

Bill was a huge influence on me in getting my career off the ground, and I can confidently say I would not be where I am today without him. He was a mentor to myself and many other aspiring sports journalists, giving young talent a voice for the first time in a field that we loved almost as much as he did.

“I love helping out you young, talented sport journalists,” he once said. “All I ask for in return is your soul.”

I, along with my colleagues, will continue to pour my soul into helping to showcase the sports talent we have in Eastern Canada just as Bill did.

Bill was the heartbeat of the AUS, and even though our hearts are currently extremely heavy, we will continue to move forward in his honour to keep his memory alive through sport. Bill McLean will be ingrained in the DNA of the AUS and the Atlantic Canadian sports scene as a whole forever.

You will never be forgotten, Bill. Thank you for everything. Rest in peace.

– Stephen Campbell, AUS broadcaster

 

We will never know or understand truly why this happened, but the news about Bill has been devastating.

I’m one of the lucky ones who Bill decided to take under his wing, mentor and teach he took a young, fresh-faced kid and helped mold me into a broadcaster and better person. One of the first of a long line of university kids, he turned into professional level broadcasters he never turned anyone down that asked for help.

Bill ignited my passion for local and university sport and taught me not just how to be a great sportscaster, but about perseverance, grace under fire and the ability to adapt under pressure.

Whenever I used to complain about a shitty location or crappy weather on location, I remember you telling me just how lucky we were to get paid to do what we loved.

I can truly say, without the support and encouragement of Bill that I would not be as lucky as I am today with a great job, a wonderful fiancé and a happy life.

I still remember my first time meeting Bill, it was in a radio booth at CKDU in the Dalhousie Student Union Building Bill had reached out to me over Twitter and invited me in to talk about the Tigers.

I was nervous as hell, but Bill was a pro. He put me at ease and helped guide me through when the interview was over, he said to me, “Are you sure it’s your first time? You’ve got the gift, Whitfield.”

A kind, selfless man who helped shape not just my future but took the time to nurture countless other young minds shared the successes and talent of thousands of student athletes and never failed to give 110% to everything he was involved in.

You had so much to give; from the old offices of Sportstream, to the radio studio at CKDU, whether rainy/snowy/window/hurricane, you were always so committed to spreading the successes and triumphs of athletics.

Along the way you’ve helped so many people develop not into great broadcasters, but great people. It was never about YOU, it was about the athletes or the young broadcasters who you were nurturing I wish we’d all taken more time to appreciate it.

Even now, I fail to find just the right words to truly show my appreciation and how much you helped me along the way.

It’s impossible to quantify the affect you had on myself and countless other young minds; always encouraging, always willing to teach and help each of us along our own path.

A mentor, a role model, a devoted father and a true friend.

Rest in peace my friend, Bill McLean, I truly will miss you.

– Henry Whitfield, AUS broadcaster

 

My heart is heavy right now.

The man who made all of my sports journalism dreams come true is no longer with us. I have been reading all the posts about him just wishing that he could read them too. Look how much we all love you, Bill McLean so very much. There are so many young aspiring broadcasters who have said, “He was my mentor, he gave me the chance.”

“Lefty Lalani” that is what he used to call me.

I remember him telling me once, “Rae, this is what I do, I want to take all you young guys and show you your full potential and make you into sport broadcasters.”

He did that. For so many of us.

I was looking forward to all the years we were going to rule Atlantic Sport together, Bill. You worked so hard to get Atlantic Sport to where it is, it is because of you we have the opportunities and the success that we have.

You have left behind a legacy. And now with respect to all your hard work, we are going to work extra hard to keep it going. I will keep your show alive that you were training me to host, I will make sure that I work on my voice and positioning like you were teaching me, I will make sure that anything you have ever said to me resonates with me in my future.

And any time I am on air, I will always be thinking about you.

– Raeesa Lalani, host of East Coast Sport Show

 

Bill McLean was never one to say no.

When I told Bill I was interested in trying my hand at broadcasting, he didn’t say no.

When I asked Bill to provide AUS analysis in the Dalhousie Gazette’s Sports section, he didn’t say no.

When there was an opportunity for Bill to broadcast an AUS game, then make his way to a minor basketball tournament, he didn’t say no.

To me, Bill was an icon. Anyone who has the ability to be accepted into hundreds, if not thousands of people’s homes without hesitation is a special type of person.

Bill was able to do that with ease.

I think anyone who crossed paths with Bill left with some sort of story to tell. Here’s one that resonates with me.

He asked me pretty late in the day to broadcast a couple Dalhousie basketball games for him. I had class until six, and by the time I grabbed a bite to eat and arrived at the Dalplex, the game was just minutes from starting.

To my surprise, Bill was there, speaking with a camera operator to his left. When he saw me, that huge, memorable smile emerged on his face. He took his headset off, met me on the bleachers, and thanked me over and over again for arriving on such short notice.

Then, he told me he had to get home. Said he had to see his daughter. Said he’s spent too much time broadcasting and needed to see her. I guess the sheer excitement in his eye to get home and see her is what stuck with me.

And it will for a long, long time.

Rest easy, Bill. I hope you’ve found peace.

– Graeme Benjamin, Sports Editor Emeritus

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