Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame Inductees for 2017 announced
Diane Cummins – Athlete – Athletics
One of Canada’s most decorated middle distance runners, Diane moved to Victoria in 1998 to train at the National Middle Distance Centre. She first represented Canada at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and went on to compete in three more Commonwealth Games (winning three medals), two Pan American Games (becoming a gold medalist), five World Championships and the 2004 Olympic Games. She was ten times national champion and a Canadian record-holder, being only the second Canadian to break the two-minute barrier and running an outstanding 26 times under 2 minutes in the 800-metre.
(Pronunciation note: Dee-ann)
Karen March – Athlete – Parasports
Karen achieved world championship status in not just one but two different sports. She began competing in wheelchair athletics in 1998, represented Canada at the 2004 Paralympics and was rated Top 5 in the world from 2001 to 2005. She started hand cycling in 2010 and was third in the world in 2010 and first in the world by 2011 including the first-ever Overall World Cup Title. In all, Karen collected 15 National Championship podiums, 4 World Cup podiums and 2 World Championship podiums during her remarkable sports career.
Maurice Tarrant - Athlete - Running
Maurice began his running career with the Prairie Inn Harriers in 1983 at age 52. Running distances from one mile to full marathon, he has now set 70 Canadian and 8 world records in various Masters age group categories - including the 5K record at the ages of 76, 78, 79 and 81, the 8K mark at the ages of 79, 81 and 84 and the 10K world mark at the age of 79 - and has recorded an incredible 300 consecutive wins in the Vancouver Island Race Series. At age 85, he broke the Canadian records for 5K, 8K and 10K. He has been honoured by the Harriers many times, including being named Alex Marshall Master of the Year an unprecedented 8 times and having a perpetual Veteran of the Year trophy named for him, and was inducted into the Canadian Masters Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2010. This running phenomenon has now turned 87 and continues to race in the 85-89 age category.
(Pronunciation note: Morris)
Wanda (Allan) Parsons – Athlete – Archery
As a member of the Victoria Bowmen for many years, Wanda competed at the very top international level for eleven years. She represented Canada at the 1976 Olympic Games and the 1984 Olympic Games. She would likely have been a three-time Olympian had there not been the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. She has also represented Canada at three Archery World Championships in Grenoble, France in 1973, Interlaken, Switzerland in 1975 and Canberra, Australia in 1977.
Victoria O’Keefe Soccer Club 1966-67 – Team - Soccer
The JF Kennedy Cup was a Canadian/US/Mexican amateur championship held 1961 – 67. The winner of the Pacific Coast League represented Canada. Mexico won in 1961,63,64,65 and a Vancouver team in 1962, 66. In 1967 the O’Keefes won 19 of 21 Coast League games, including 10 shutouts, and went on to beat the Mexico National Select Team 2-1 in Vancouver and became the last club to win the Cup in its original format and the first on Canadian Soil. It was such a remarkable achievement by a group of amateur athletes that the Canadian Soccer Association lists the victory as one of the defining moments in Canadian soccer history. The Cup remained in the Club’s possession until 2009 when it was donated to the BC Sports Hall of Fame. 2017 is the 50th Anniversary of the victory.
Rafael Melendez-Duke – Official – Athletics
An international calibre sprinter himself, Rafael began officiating in 1968 and has attained the highest classification level within Canada: Level 4. He is one of the best “starters” in Canada and has been for a long time. Rafael has literally written the book on starting – “On Your Marks! A History of Track and Field Officiating in Victoria” – along with a history of the iconic Victoria Flying Y Track and Field Club. While he has worked many national championships and the 1994 Commonwealth Games, he has also officiated year after year at track meets at Centennial Stadium at all levels, from elementary school to international, always as a volunteer. This is a record of achievement and dedication to the sport of track and field that is unparalleled in Victoria.
Alex Nelson – Builder – Multi-Sports
Alex is a member of the Musgamagw - Tsawatainuek tribes of the Kwakwala- speaking people. He has a vast history in the field of sports, recreation and physical activities and believes strongly in the correlation between active lifestyles and leadership and tribal pride. Alex was a founding member and three-time President of the North American Indigenous Games governing body and one of his greatest achievements was hosting the 1997 North American Indigenous Games in Victoria. He was also co-founder and, for 20 years in Victoria, Executive Director of Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Association of BC (the first Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Body in Canada) and a founding member of the Aboriginal Sport Circle (Canada’s national body for Aboriginal sport and physical activity). Alex continues to guide the Partners Council as a respected Elder and Senior Advisor. A master’s soccer player himself, he has also coached community youth, men’s and women’s soccer for 42 years.
Michael “Benj” O’Connor – Builder – Rugby
A former UVic Vikes and James Bay Athletic Association (JBAA) rugby player, Michael began his illustrious career in sport administration in 1979 as a Director, then President of the JBAA, perennial BC Rugby Union First Division champions. He became President of the Vancouver Island Rugby Union, then President of the BC Rugby Union and, in 1987, President of Canada’s World Cup rugby team, working toward Canada’s participation in the first World Cup of Rugby. From 1996 until 2003, he served Rugby Canada as a Director, Vice President - Finance and Vice President, and was responsible for implementing a new business plan enabling Canadian rugby teams to compete internationally on a sustained basis. He also spent five years on the Management Committee of Pacific Pride – responsible for Canada’s Under 23 Men’s team. A recipient of many awards and honours for his outstanding community service, Michael has been inducted into the University of Victoria Sports Hall of Fame, the JBAA Rugby Club, and recognized as an Honourary Life Member of the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.
Sid Thomas Sports Media Award
From time to time, the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame honours members of the media who have encouraged and supported sport in the community. The award is named after Sid Thomas, who was Sports Editor of the Colonist in the 1940s and spent his lifetime promoting healthy activity for the youth of our city. Following his untimely death, the newspaper memorialized him with the annual “Sid Thomas trophy” presented from 1947 to 1960 to the Athlete of the Year. While the trophy disappeared after 1960, Sid Thomas’s dedication to sport lives on in the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame Media Award.
This year, we recognize Denny Boyd (deceased). A well-known and loved Vancouver columnist for over forty years, Denny got his start at the Victoria Times, where he was Sports Editor for approximately ten years through the 50’s and early 60’s. He covered everything from junior hockey to bonspiels to high school sports – from games to competitions to tournaments - and made sure sport was well represented in every edition.
The 2017 inductees will be honored at the annual Induction Ceremony and Dinner scheduled for October 28 at the Westin Bear Mountain.
To date, nearly 200 are enshrined and their stories may be found on the GVSHOF website. As well, plaques with career highlights can be seen on the concourse level of the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.