By Pam Rosenberg
In March 2020, the community lost a dear friend, mentor and beloved coach, Jon Braun. Now, three years later, he will be forever memorialized at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre.
Thanks to the generosity of community members, on Sunday, June 11 the Soloway JCC will officially unveil the Jonathan Braun Athletics Centre.
“It isn’t easy to commemorate someone as impactful as JB. He positively influenced our JCC and community for over 32 years. Through naming the gym in JB’s honour, it allows all of us and future generations to recognize how important he was,” says SJCC President/COO Barry Sohn.
Jon passed away unexpectedly on March 9, 2020, at the age of 63 leaving generations of Ottawa families shocked and saddened. Later that same week, the city, and the SJCC shut down due to the pandemic, leaving our community no time to properly pay tribute to this special person.
Affectionately known to all as JB, Jon was originally from Montreal and began work at the Chapel Street JCC in 1988. As the Director of Athletics & Leagues as well as Summer Camps, Jon had a meaningful impact on the lives of the many people he coached and mentored.
“Growing up, Jon loved sports. But later in life, as Athletic Director at the JCC, he experienced his love of sports vicariously through the kids that came through the gym, the leagues, the camps, and everything else he did to instill that passion in them,” says Martin Braun. “Because he was a big kid at heart, he could relate easily to them, and the underdog - the child, who was not the natural, but rather the one who needed encouragement. And encouragement from JB meant the world to so many of those kids.”
And although Jon is physically no longer with us, his spirit lives on in the generations of community members who participated in his programs over the years. According to Matty Simonovich, SJCC Athletics Coordinator, he is remembered fondly by those in the sports leagues and not a week goes by where someone isn’t sharing a story or mentioning his name.
“Many share similar memories – having a seat in his office, giving and getting advice, talking about life. They think of JB leaning back in his chair about to drop some wisdom (or a good one-liner) on them,” says Matty. “Everyone agrees that naming the gym after him is a nice touch, but there is often a chuckle, because he wouldn’t have wanted all this attention. He was humble.”
The Jonathan Braun Athletics Centre dedication begins at 10 am on June 11, and is open to the entire community. The event will include tributes to Jon as well as a reveal of the gymnasiums new centre court which bears Jon’s name.
Martin says, “it is an honour for myself and my family that JCC Ottawa is dedicating the Athletics Centre to Jon, as a constant reminder of what he stood for, and the role model he was.”
- Pam Rosenberg is the VP Operations for the Soloway JCC.