Saanich resident Reginald Underwood was honoured as the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame unveiled its Indigenous Sports Gallery this week.
“Being recognized by your people is a warm feeling and knowing that what you’ve done is a recognition for the kids to come. It was a proud moment,” he said.
The exhibit recognizes Indigenous athletes who have made an impact on B.C.’s sports history and the Indigenous Sports Gallery features over 1,000 square feet of permanent exhibit space, including memorabilia from past athletes and the Circle of Champions.
Underwood, 67, a member of the Tsawout Nation was recognized in the Circle of Champions, an exhibit within the new gallery, honouring Indigenous athletes formally inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
Underwood was inducted to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in ‘90 for the Victoria Bate Construction ‘75-‘76 softball team. He was a center fielder and was a leadoff hitter and he cherished his time with the team.
“It’s the friendships that you make, the camaraderie, that you have,” he said. “You can’t wait to get to the ballpark. You win together and lose together.”
He played nearly every sport imaginable as a youngster, and took to sports because with 13 other siblings “eating was a competition,” he laughed. When he first saw a game of softball being played, he was amazed at how fast it was and how quick the pitching was. He gave it a try and due to his heavy-hitting capabilities his friends said he should play.
He started playing softball at 16 years old and within three years he was playing Senior A with the Victoria Bates. Seeing nearly every ballpark in each province and Northwest Territories, he won 10 provincial championships and six national championships, the 1976 World Championship and gold at the Pan Am Games in ‘79.
Underwood also represented Team Canada for the Pan Am Games and World Championships.
He worked as a carpenter, but he travelled and practiced like a pro athlete, practicing in the evenings at Central Park in Saanich.
“Behind every amateur athlete is a very understanding wife,” he said, noting this year marks half a century together and their 45th wedding anniversary.
In an effort to spend more time with his family, he stopped playing Senior A and joined Senior B and continued playing in 40-and-over leagues and masters leagues until he had rotator cuff surgery.
Now he plays soccer three times a week and gets in a few rounds of golf. Underwood just got back from the 55+ B.C. Games in Kimberley, capturing the silver medal in soccer.