Thirteen Deltans, two teams and one company were honoured for their contribution to the world of sport at the 14th annual Delta Sports Hall of Fame gala on Friday, Oct. 26.
The Delta Sports Hall of Fame was founded in 2005 to acknowledge Delta residents who have made strides in their respective sports. Since it began, close to 200 inductees, sport champions and sponsors have been celebrated.
“We need to remind ourselves that we are one of the best communities producing athletes in the Lower Mainland area,” Rick Lewall, Delta Sports Hall of Fame committee chair, said at the opening of the gala. “It’s not just two or three sports, it’s a whole variety of sports. And we can be very proud of what we do and how many athletes go on [to play professionally].”
This year, honourees came from a number of different sports, including softball, baseball, water polo, gymnastics, rugby, football, field hockey and soccer. Laurel Crosby, who was inducted to the hall of fame in the builder category, represented wheelchair sports as a whole.
|Youth athlete of the year Rowan Childs accepting his award at the 2018 Delta Sports Hall of Fame gala.
Grace Kennedy photo
This year, the event honoured nine “sport champions” — individuals who the nominating committee decided had an outstanding year. Many of the champions are in their teens or 20s, and are still working to make a mark in their respective sports.
The sport champions included softball volunteer Fred Wells, field hockey master athlete Landon Kitagawa, field hockey youth athletes Rowan Childs and Brendan Guraliuk, rugby youth athlete Jarvis Dashkewytch, North Delta water polo players Haley McKelvey and Gurpreet Sohi, gymnast Devy Dyson and the South Delta Secondary senior boys rugby team.
While the nominating committee chose individuals who had a spectacular year for the sport champion categories, the inductees to the hall of fame were chosen for their long-term accomplishments and success.
This year, the seven inductees hailed from North Delta, including the North Delta Colt All Stars 1979 team, Colt player and professional baseball star Chuck Westgard and softball coach Ed Anderson.
|North Delta softball coach Ed Anderson giving a speech at the 2018 Delta Sports Hall of Fame gala Friday, Oct. 26.
Grace Kennedy photo
“It took a few minutes to realize what happened,” Anderson said about being inducted into the Delta Sports Hall of Fame.
Anderson started coaching the North Delta Animals, as they eventually became known, so his daughter could play with her friends, and continued to coach that team for 17 years.
During his speech, Anderson shared some of the experiences he had with the North Delta Animals over the years — including the time the team was travelling to play a tournament in the States and the pitcher lost one of her cleats in a McDonalds. Between 1974 and 1991, Anderson saw his team succeed at the provincials six times, go to nationals three times and had two of his players go on to play on the Canadian national team.
“The strength of Delta in those days in women’s fastpitch was actually unheard of,” he said.
Other inductees included wheelchair sport advocate Laurel Crosby, football player John Coflin, sport sponsor Ladner Motors and soccer pioneer Jill Proctor.
Proctor was honoured in the pioneer category for her effort to open the world of refereeing to women. She was the first woman to referee a professional soccer match in the province, and the first woman to ever referee a FIFA game.
“For me to be acknowledged tonight and be inducted into the Delta Sports Hall of Fame is just icing on the cake,” Proctor said during her speech Friday night.
Like many of the inductees at the awards gala, Proctor shared memories from her time in sports, including one exhibition game between the men’s national team and the Vancouver 86ers (now known as Vancouver Whitecaps FC) that she refereed in Tsawwassen in the late ’90s.
“When I arrived at the field, cars were everywhere, there were people lined around the field five people deep — usually there’s not too many spectators for these games,” she explained. “Also, what I didn’t expect was the line up of little girls and their parents wanting my autograph after the game.
“No one wants the referees autograph, ever,” she said. “I just hope that when they saw what I was doing that they thought that they could do it too.”