Six athletes and two builders were honoured for their sustained bodies of athletic work, with their induction into the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.
One of six athletes welcomed into the Hall at a gala dinner last weekend at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa, former Olympic marathoner Bruce Deacon put the honour eloquently: “Unlike a trophy, which represents the accomplishment of a day, this represents the efforts of a life and tens of thousands of miles of training and racing.”
Elaine Dagg-Jackson, honoured as a builder for her work developing curling in Greater Victoria, became serious as a player in the 1980s, turned her hand to coaching in the early 1990s and has earned medals from virtually every level of championship in women’s curling. A national level coach since 2004, Dagg-Jackson emphasized that helping get young people involved in activities such as curling is critical to helping build a healthy society.
“Sport matters,” she said, repeating the phrase to end her acceptance speech.
Builder inductee Ed Ashmore got involved coaching wrestling at the Victoria YMCA in 1964 when the regular coach was injured. Ashmore never looked back, having coached hundreds of school-aged students in the sport since, many of whom went on to provincial, national or international success.
Still a driving force behind the Victoria Commonwealth Bulldogs wrestling club at 81, the spry coach told the 200 or so guests at the gala, “The kids gave everything they had and they gave back love.”
Despite living in Victoria with its temperate climate, downhill skier Lauren Woolstencroft became one of the most decorated skiers in Paralympic history. Having already won a number of medals in international events including the 2002 and 2006 Paralympics, she demolished the competition at the 2010 Winter Games in Whistler, winning gold in all five events in which she raced.
Rick Say, the most decorated swimmer in Canadian history with 27 international medals, is in the next stage of his life, driving a Zamboni at a local recreation centre and married with a young child. In accepting his induction into the Hall, he said, “I feel honoured to have had the experience of sports, but my focus now is on my family.”
Long-time target rifle shooter Alexander “Sandy” Peden has spent as much time promoting his sport and developing young shooters as competing, but enters the Hall as an athlete. He used the opportunity of addressing the gala crowd to educate people about the history of the shooting sports for Canadians.
Retired left-handed professional baseball pitcher Steve Sinclair, who spent brief stretches with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners, after he thought his pro career was over, had a vocal support group at the gala.
He wound up his acceptance speech with some inspirational words originally spoken to his young son and daughter, neither of whom had been born when he was playing pro. “Dreams are attainable … Believe in yourself and you can do great things.”
Not only was the gala dinner held at the Westin for a second straight year, the Hall of Fame’s relationship with Bear Mountain has also been strengthened.
Shannon Drew, vice president of corporate affairs and community initiatives of the Bear Mountain property owner and developer Ecoasis, announced that next year’s Dobber Classic Golf Tournament will be held on one of the golf courses there. The tournament is one of the primary fundraisers for the non-profit organization.For more information on the Hall of Fame, visit gvshof.ca.