2022 - Mark Dennis

Mark DennisStettler Regional Fire Chief, President of Stettler Minor Football, and Wildcats Coach, Mark Dennis, is the recipient of a Clearview Star Award. The Clearview School Board chose Dennis as one of two award recipients for 2022 at its March 16, 2022 meeting. 

The Clearview Star Award recognizes staff and community members who have made significant contributions to Clearview’s school communities through volunteerism, as a community partner, or have supported our schools at the school level. 

Volunteers make an immense contribution to the vitality and success of our communities and schools,” says Guy Neitz, Clearview Board Chair and Stettler Wildcats Coach. “Mark Dennis was instrumental in the procurement and installation of the track and football field lights at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus. The Board appreciates Mark and those who worked with him for their efforts to complete the field light enhancements of our track and football field.”

“It really was a community effort,” says Mark Dennis, Clearview Star Award recipient. “The vision for the project was already in place, and many volunteers and community members contributed to this project. I am kind of surprised to be receiving the award because it was really a community project. I did try to bring everyone together, but honestly I couldn’t have done it without so many contributing to the work.” 

Katie Bainbridge nominated Dennis, and gives him credit for the work of bringing everyone together. Bainbridge is the outgoing President of the Stettler Wildcats Football Club. She was on the committee that oversaw the project development, and is a parent of teens who have participated in Wildcats Football. 

“Mark spearheaded the effort,” says Bainbridge. “He took what had been talked about and made it happen. For more than 60 years youth have played football in this community. Other communities have lighting for their fields. Having lights for our Stettler Wildcats has been a dream for a long time. Having that dream come true has really contributed to the opportunities our youth and whole community now have. It lifts the players, the team and the community.” 

Bainbridge explains that because football is an autumn sport, and daylight ends quickly, players must start practices and games early in the day. That makes it difficult for working parents to enjoy, and for other members of the community to support. With the lights, football can happen in the evening, which increases family attendance. “It has become a wonderful, community building experience,” says Bainbridge. 

There were approximately $75,000 gifts in kind contributed to the project, with a final cost of $235,630. 

Norbert Baharally, former Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus Principal, and current Wildcats Coach says he is thrilled families and community can now attend the games. “We have lots of farm families, especially, who are sometimes working 24-7 with harvest in the fall. Now with football lights and later games, they have the opportunity to attend games.” Baharally also points out that in years when the Stettler Wildcats go to playoffs and practice into November, natural light becomes increasingly limited, so having football field lights allows coaches to properly train the team. Baharally points out that the football field lights also provide opportunities for Stettler’s minor football teams, in addition to other sports and for community use. 

“We’ve had this vision for a long time,” says Baharally, “and we had started to talk about making it happen. Mark Dennis joined the conversation at the right time. He was the workhorse that got the project going. He worked with volunteers, businesses who were donating and with contractors to make everything happen. He brought it all together with logistics experience and his connections with the community. Mark went above and beyond, and we are happy to see him receive this award.” 

Dennis has a history with football in Stettler. Dennis as well as his father and two sons have all played for the Wildcats Football team. His youngest son is a current team member. 

“I had a good time playing football,” Dennis says. “Now, as an adult, I look back at those times and place even more value on them. Friendships I formed then are still in place, and I learned important life lessons about being a teamplayer and about leadership. Yes, football is a game, but the experiences I had playing the game have been important in my life. That’s why I wanted to contribute to this project; because it is important for the development of our youth.”