It’s hard to talk about Delton Community League without introducing you to Walter (Wally) Gurba. Now 81, Gurba has been league president for 25 years. In the 70s, when the building went up at 88 Street and 123 Avenue, Gurba was there. He’s been there more than 40 years, working in the shop or flooding the ice with the league’s Zamboni.
That’s right, Delton has a Zamboni. Its origin is one of the many stories Gurba will tell you with a wry smile.
The league has plenty of which to be proud. Modern LED lights brighten a large hall and spacious dance floor. There is a stage, a kitchen, and plenty of seating. The community gathers here during holidays like Mother’s Day and Halloween. They also come together for less happy occasions.
Chris Nozack, a member of Delton’s executive, recently died from cancer at 52 years old. Walter and his wife Lil said 300 people gathered in the hall to celebrate Nozack’s life. The mood lightens as Tyler, their grandson, shows me a funny video of industrial strength potato mashers hard at work to prepare that feast. The Gurbas know that community forms through both joys and hardships.
Gurba offers me a tour of the league. On our way towards the downstairs pool table, I notice a stack of neatly folded soccer jerseys.
Soccer is one of Delton’s most vibrant programs, with three fields connected to the league and many young players involved as soon as the fields are ready.
Green Shack programs and city-run day camps round out the league’s summers.
When we head outside toward the rink, Gurba’s face lights up. Delton may have the finest outdoor ice in the city thanks to that Zamboni. Gurba recounts the journey of the Zamboni from a now-defunct Sportex rink. He laughs in disbelief at the bargain they scored and how before he knew it, he was teaching himself to operate a Zamboni. During winter, floodlights keep the pristine ice open all evening, with heated change rooms waiting for crowds of sometimes 60 skaters.
Delton owns their building and is financially secure. Everyone involved is a volunteer, and that includes Gurba’s 40 years of service. With finances in order, they don’t rely on outside rentals. It is the members who use and care for this space, and the members who step up whenever volunteers are needed.
Since Gurba won’t acknowledge his accomplishments in Delton, others have had to. He was recently named an ATB Home Ice Hero.
I ask Walter and Lil what’s kept them here so many years. There’s always more work to do, they say. Things to clean and things to fix and things get ready. Their community needs them. It’s as simple as that.
DELTON COMMUNITY LEAGUE
Image: Walter Gurba with his family. Credit: Cindy Gurba.