Saint John Track & Field – 1950-Present Day

(L-R) Walter Ellis, Wayne Brown & Claude Butler at Shamrock Field.

1950-1970: The sport of Track and Field in Saint John was forever changed when Walter James Ellis, born in 1933, emigrated to Canada from England in 1958. Upon his arrival, he quickly became an integral part of youth sports in Saint John. Mr. Ellis, Walter to many, was a teacher and coached a variety of sports at St Malachy's High School, including Rugby but Track and Field was a passion of his. He guided many Saint John athletes through these earlier years of our sport.

1970-1990: In 1976, Walter established the Saint John Track & Field Club as a New Brunswick Track & Field Association member. The formal constitution was signed in 1980 by him, Doug Damon, Judy Latham, Bob Hooper and Paul James, all active parent volunteers. Judy Ellis, Walter's wife, was also a key volunteer organizing track meets, including roles in national competitions, Canada Games and assisting with club duties. Walter and his wife Judy were recognized as sports builders by the Saint John Sports Halls of Fame in the 1990’s.

The 1970s also saw the construction of a Gym & Field House at UNBSJ, which hosted youth indoor track meets, introducing many to the sport as a year-round pursuit. Outdoor practices and competitions took place at gravel track at Shamrock Field in Saint John's North End. As the 1985 Canada Summer Game host, the Saint John track scene grew even stronger with the construction of the all-weather track at the Canada Games Stadium at UNBSJ. As a head coach for the 1985 Canada Games Track & Field team, Walter oversaw the planning, and UNBSJ became the provincial main site of competition for many years, including national events in preparation for 1985.

Top athletes during these years included Gina Spear, Rorri Currie, Scott Robinson, Bill MacMackin, Lee Latham, Terry Lee Damon, Trina Penny, Peter King and Kevin Hooper as well as many others who went on to be coaches and leaders within the club.


1990-2010: Following Walter's death in 1995, the club's leadership transitioned to former athletes turned coaches Kristen Sweet, Rorri Currie and David McAuley. Club coaches took leadership roles on Canada Games Teams and worked hard to maintain the club, supporting up to fifty athletes. The legacy of the Canada Games Stadium played a crucial role in the development of top athletes in the region, playing host to most regional events.

In 2004, the Saint John Track and Field Club came under the leadership of local volunteers lead by former SJTC athlete Bill MacMackin and Dave Thomas, the Technical Director for Athletics New Brunswick. Sue Ellis-Loparco, daughter of Walter, returned to the club to support the community's young athletes. Once again, Saint John athletes were representing the province on provincial teams, setting records and winning club championships. The Saint John Club played a crucial role in raising increased awareness of the sport by hosting the Canadian Masters' Track & Field Championships in 2007, which helped support efforts to revitalize Canada Games Stadium which was completed in 2011.

2010-2019: The club continued to be a host for provincial competitions and, in 2012, also hosted the North/Central American Caribbean Masters Championships. The four-day international event saw over 400 competitors compete on the newly revitalized track and allowed for a significant equipment upgrade for the club at the Canada Games Stadium.

The club grew steadily during these years, becoming one of the largest in the Atlantic Region. In 2011 UNB announced the return of Track & Field/Cross Country as a full REDS varsity sport including a UNB Saint John component to make it the only university bi-campus team. The club was contracted to manage the university program on both campuses in partnership with the Fredericton Legion Track Club. This collaboration has helped foster a high-performance branch of the club that is consistently among the best in the country. In the initial years of the UNBSJ/UNB partnership, volunteer coach Kristen Sweet led the Saint John university group. The program grew to support a full-time coach to support the university and club programs event. Jason Reindl was hired as full time coach from 2012-2017 followed by Chris Belof after 2017.

The club saw many top athletes develop during the 2000-2020 years winning medals at regional events, University championships, Legion championships and Canada Games including Caleb, Jones (National Team member 2010), Mitch Quigg, Mathew McNeil (Nation U SPORTS XC team member 2017) , Katie Robinson, Nick MacMackin, Josh Shanks (National Team Member 2012), Victoria Leblanc, Craig Thorne, and Erin Vringer to name a few.

2019 saw the opening of the new Irving Oil Field House after significant community support and fundraising led by club President Bill MacMackin. The field house has provided the club with an indoor facility to train year-round and host high-level competitions that service the entire Atlantic region and Canada as a whole. They were the 2020 host of Atlantic University Sports Championships, and in 2022 host of the Athletics Canada Indoor, Canadian Masters Indoor and USPORTS Championships.

2020-Present: The Saint John Track & Field Club continues to build on our founder, Walter Ellis's philosophy of participation and sportsmanship being more important than winning. Saint John Track and Field Club welcomes athletes of all talents, ages, and skill levels. The club's membership includes regional, provincial, and national championship medalists and fitness enthusiasts who want to stay active. The Ellis family still serves as essential members of the club, with Sue Ellis-Loparco (daughter) and Julia Loparco (granddaughter) being coaches and board members.

In 2020 the Saint John Track & Field Club and their sister club, Fredericton Legion Track Club, further strengthened their connections with the UNB team by renaming as Reds Track & Field Clubs. We are a regional partnership of Track & Field clubs and the UNB team. One club family with two primary goals.

  1. Support Athlete Excellence: Deliver vital programs to support, nurture, and inspire athletic excellence at all levels in NB
  2. Grow our sport: Attract more athletes, grow our coaches, officials & leaders; host events; support facility development; grow our community impact and be recognized as among the best in "Athletics in Canada."