Times Colonist’s Dheensaw honoured with national Fred Sgambati Media Award

Cleve Dheensaw

Vikes Communications

Long-time Times Colonist sports reporter Cleve Dheensaw became the first Victoria media personnel since 1975 to win the prestigious and national Fred Sgambati Media Award on Wednesday night.

After more than three decades of chronicling Canadian university sport on Vancouver Island, Dheensaw was acknowledged Jun. 7 in Mississauga, Ont. at the annual U SPORTS Awards Gala. The Fred Sgambati Media Award is presented to a member of the media in recognition of major contributions to the development and growth of Canadian university sport.

Fred Sgambati was a well-respected reporter/broadcaster who was a great supporter of university athletics in Canada.  A former University of Toronto athlete and University football official, Fred Sgambati was the radio voice of the College Bowl (now the Vanier Cup) for its first 13 years.

“I feel like this award is really an award for the athletes who actually create the performances that those in the media report on,” said a humbled Dheensaw. “It’s also the U SPORTS coaches who help create those U SPORTS athletes who in turn create those stories we cover on the university beat.”

“What makes UVic so unique though is that the coaching staff has often done it all themselves as athletes right to the international level like Bruce Wilson who captained Canada in soccer at the World Cup and Lynne Beecroft who played for Canada in the Olympics in field hockey. This has been a most knowledgeable and engaging group to cover over the years. As a sports writer, they keep you challenged. Because of their breadth of knowledge and experience, you really have to know your stuff to cover UVic spots in the Victoria media market. I have thoroughly enjoyed that challenge since 1981.”

Dheensaw, who has spent the last 36 years with the Times Colonist, was first awarded the 2016-17 Fred “Gus” Collins Award on May 1 and automatically became the conference’s nominee for the national award. The conference honour is named after the late Fred “Gus” Collins, who worked tirelessly for the conference to produce up to date and accurate statistical information from 1979-1999.

“I cut my teeth on Canada West and CIAU coverage upon joining the Times Colonist and it’s been a pleasure and real kick in getting back into what is now the U SPORTS beat after Ron retired,” said Dheensaw of his colleague Ron Rauch. “It has again opened my eyes to the talent, passion and energy Canadian university athletes bring to both their sporting and academic pursuits. That has been reflected in the astonishing number of UVic athletes I have covered over the years who have gone on to the Olympics.”

A native islander, the University of Victoria grad has travelled to cover a combined nine Olympic, Commonwealth and Pan Am Games since joining the paper in 1981. Dheensaw has also been a familiar face in Vancouver Island’s high school, college and university sports scenes, including at Victoria’s most recent national championship events – the 2016 women’s rugby and 2017 women’s basketball U SPORTS championships.

“There’s no one more deserving of the Fred Sgambati Award than Cleve Dheensaw,” said Brian Drewry, Sports Editor of the Times Colonist. “Born and raised in Victoria, he understands the importance of varsity sports at UVic and what the school means to the community and the province so his coverage of the Vikes, whether it be basketball, soccer, field hockey or track and field, is always thorough and entertaining for our readers.”

Dheensaw becomes just the second Vancouver Island sports reporter to win the national award following Jim Crerar of the Victoria Daily Times in 1975. Previous Canada West nominees include A-Channel and now CTV reporter Jason Pires (2007-08) and Times Colonist’s Ron Rauch in 2012-13.

Trailblazing basketball coach Olga Hrycak, long-time athletic director and basketball bench boss Coleen Dufresne, and late football advocate and business leader Adam Zimmerman were also honoured Wednesday night at the U SPORTS Awards Gala as part of the 40th Annual Meeting and 2017 conference.

Fred Sgambati Media Award Recipients
2017 Cleve Dheensaw (Times Colonist – Victoria)
2016 Rita Mingo (Postmedia – Calgray)
2015 Marc Durand (Radio-Canada – Quebec City)
2014 Darren Zary (The StarPhoenix – Saskatoon)
2013 Richard Boutin (Journal de Québec)
2012 Mary Caton (The Windsor Star)
2011 Monty Mosher (The Chronicle Herald – Halifax)
2010 Tim Micallef (The Score Television Network)
2009 Howard Tsumura (The Province – Vancouver)
2008 Pierre Durivage (Productions Rivage – Montreal)
2007 Bill Sturrup (CHML Radio – Hamilton)
2006 Serge Vleminckx (Journal de Montréal)
2005 Ian Hamilton (Leader-Post – Regina)
2004 Jean-Paul Ricard (La Tribune – Sherbrooke)
2003 John Short (Edmonton Journal & CJCA Radio)
2002 Wayne Kondro (The Ottawa Citizen & Southam News)
2001 Phil Lachapelle & Ken Welch (CHTV – Hamilton)
2000 CHRW Radio (University of Western Ontario – London)
1999 Christine Rivet (Kitchener-Waterloo Record)
1998 Robert MacLeod (The Globe and Mail)
1997 Paul Hendrick (ONtv – Hamilton)
1996 Ken Newans (CFCN-TV – Calgary)
1995 Not awarded
1994 Bruce Perrin (TSN)
1993 Not awarded
1992 Serge Vleminckx (Journal de Montréal)
1991 Not awarded
1990 Ken Fathers (The Windsor Star)
1989 Ken Newans (CFCN-TV – Calgary)
1988 Norm Marshall (CHCH-TV – Hamilton)
1987 Peter Watts (TSN) *
1987 Don Lovegrove (The Hamilton Spectator) *
1986 Pete James (CFPL TV – London)
1985 Scott Mathews (Atlantic Television Network)
1984 John Hancock (CBC Radio – Montreal)
1983 Al Ryan (The Toronto Star)
1982 Scott Taylor (Winnipeg Free Press) *
1982 Normand Légère (L’Évangéline – Moncton) *
1981 Mike Murray (The Hockey News) *
1981 Henry Pasila (CHCH-TV – Hamilton) *
1980 Wally Sears (Sackville Tribune Post)
1979 Henry Viney (CFCN-TV – Calgary)
1978 Not awarded
1977 Randy Phillips (The Gazette – Montreal)
1976 Bill Johns (Kitchener-Waterloo Record)
1975 Jim Crerar (Victoria Daily Times)
1974 Hugh Townsend (The Chronicle Herald – Halifax)
1973 Jim Vipond (The Globe and Mail)
1972 Bob Gage (The London Free Press)

* co-recipients