One of sport’s most unknown – yet most iconic – figures will be coming to speak in Brantford later this month.

Jack Lengyel is coming to speak at the fifth annual Brantford Sports Recognition Banquet on January 21. He is better known as the coach who went to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia after a tragic plane crash took the lives of 37 players, eight members of the administration crew, and fans and parents for a total of 75 casualties

The banquet will honour local athletes as well as those who work behind the scenes. Bob Hollingsworth, the chair of the event, discussed how happy he was with the decision in an interview with Brant News.

“Jack’s history – we really felt it played in well with what we’re looking to recognize,” he told the paper. “It’s not for the athletes or their accomplishments, but to recognize the people behind the scenes and the young athletes that are leaders in the community.”

Lengyel usually speaks on how to maintain success in life, drawing on his own experiences of rebuilding Marshall’s football program. He has often said he draws on values such as faith, hope and perseverance, and refers to these core values throughout his speeches.

In 2006, Lengyel was portrayed by Matthew McConaughey in the film We Are Marshall. He has been influential in sports disasters, as seen by his travels to Bathurst, N.B. following the tragic accident that took the lives of seven high school basketball players and one teacher in January 2008.

He is not new to Southern Ontario, as he was also the keynote speaker at the Friends of Golden Hawk Football Reception and Dinner in Waterloo in April, 2008.

The banquet is at the Best Western Brant Park Inn, and tickets are still available to purchase at 1 Sherwood Dr. Tickets are $50 each, or $350 for a table of eight.

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