North Delta-raised football kicker Mitch Berger with the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy as a Super Bowl champ with Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009. (File photo)

North Delta-raised football kicker Mitch Berger with the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy as a Super Bowl champ with Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009. (File photo)

SPORTS

Super Bowl champ, 2 winning teams, trailblazers among latest BC Sports Hall of Fame inductees

Read about the 2023 class members, who ‘truly exemplify the best of sport in this province and beyond’

The newest roster of BC Sports Hall of Fame inductees includes a Super Bowl-winning football player, a para-sports pioneer now in government, a pair of championship teams and one trailblazing sports radio host, among many others involved in sports.

The 2023 induction class was revealed Tuesday (Oct. 25) at the hall’s home, at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, many months ahead of a gala ceremony planned for next June.

The six-athlete class includes former NFL-er Mitch Berger (football), ex-Canucks defenseman Dennis Kearns (ice hockey), ski cross athlete Kelsey Serwa, wheelchair basketball Paralympian Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, tennis player Dr. Susan Butt and softball standout Mary-Anne Walz.

The list of builders/coaches includes Wynn Gmitroski (athletics), Deb Huband (basketball), Jim Kojima (judo) and Carla Qualtrough (para sports).

Championship teams headed for the hall are the 1971 Richmond Roadrunners (lacrosse) and the 2012 Penticton Vees (hockey).

Pioneers selected for induction are Eleanor (Young) Stonehouse (tennis) and Dr. Brian Day (sports medicine), along with sports broadcaster Dan Russell in the media category.

The 2023 W.A.C. Bennett Award is given to Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney, longtime co-owners of the Vancouver Canadians baseball franchise.

Since 1966, the BC Sports Hall of Fame has inducted 442 individuals and 67 teams to its Hall of Champions.

“This year’s honourees truly exemplify the best of sport in this province and beyond,” said Tom Mayenknecht, chair of BC Sports Hall of Fame.

“After months of anticipation, we’re energized to begin telling the stories and marking the outstanding achievements of our Class of 2023.”

• RELATED STORIES:

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa headed to BC Sports Hall of Fame.

Historic 2012 Penticton Vees heading to BC Sports Hall of Fame.

PODCAST: Bob Marjanovich chats with longtime NFL punter Mitch Berger.

Posted below are bios for the BC Sports Hall of Fame’s 2023 induction class:

ATHLETES

Mitch Berger – Football

One of the most impressive and longest careers by a Canadian-born player in NFL history. Played 14 NFL seasons (1994-2009) and 187 regular season games as a kicker/punter with 11 different teams, most notably the Minnesota Vikings (1996-2001), New Orleans Saints (2003-06), and Pittsburgh Steelers (2008), winning a Super Bowl title with the Steelers. Twice named to the NFL Pro Bowl and twice selected as an All-Pro (1999, 2004). Set an NFL record of 40 touchbacks (long kick-offs that sail into the opponent’s end zone) in a single season in 1998. At one time he was the highest paid punter in NFL history. Born in Kamloops, raised in North Delta, lived in Vancouver, currently resides in Arizona.

Jaimie Borisoff – Wheelchair Basketball

One of Canada’s greatest wheelchair basketball players. A three-time Paralympic medalist helping Canada to gold in 2000 and 2004, and silver in 2008, while representing Canada at four Paralympic Games. In world championship play, he helped Canada to the 2006 world title and world bronze medals in 1998 and 2002. Selected to the World All-Star Five Team at the 1998 world championships. A member of the Canadian men’s national wheelchair basketball team for over 15 years (1995-2006, 2008-12), serving as the team’s co-captain for much of that time. An eight-time national champion with Team BC, he was selected to the national tournament all-star team 11 times. Born in New Westminster, currently resides in Vancouver.

Susan Butt – Tennis

One of Canada’s top tennis players of the 1960s, winning tournament championships all over North America and Europe and playing in tournaments on four continents. Ranked as Canada’s top women’s singles player three times (1960, 1961, 1967) and ranked second in 1958. Competed at Wimbledon in 1961, reaching the third round before falling to the tournament’s top seed. A four-time member of Canada’s Federation Cup team (1967, 1970-72), serving as team captain three times. A six-time BC Open singles champion (1958-63), she also never lost a BC hardcourt women’s open championship at Stanley Park, winning this tournament eight times. Born in North Vancouver, raised in Victoria, currently resides in North Saanich.

Dennis Kearns – Ice Hockey

One of the top defensemen in Vancouver Canucks history. Played his entire 10-season NHL career with the Canucks (1971-81), in 677 games scoring 31 goals and 290 assists for 321 points, then a club-record for defensemen. Remains tied for third all-time in scoring for Canucks defensemen after his club record stood unbroken for nearly 30 years. Remains second all-time in assists by a Canucks defenseman. His club record of 55 assists by a defenseman in the 1976-77 season was only broken by Quinn Hughes just last season after standing for 45 years. Two-time winner of the Babe Pratt Trophy as the Canucks top defenseman. Twice represented Canada at the IIHF World Hockey Championships (1977-78), helping Canada to a bronze medal in 1978. Born in Kingston, Ontario, currently resides in North Vancouver.

Kelsey Serwa – Ski Cross

One of Canada’s most decorated freestyle skiers of all-time. Represented Canada in ski cross at three Winter Olympics, winning gold in 2018 in Pyeongchang and silver in 2014 in Sochi. She currently stands as one of only two ski cross athletes in the world to win multiple Olympic medals, the other being fellow BC Sports Hall of Fame Honoured Member Marielle Thompson. The 2011 world champion in ski cross, she also won three Winter X Games medals in her career: gold in 2011 and 2016, as well as bronze in 2010. Totaled eight career victories on the FIS World Cup tour and 20 podium finishes. Member of the Canadian national freestyle skiing team from 2009-19. Born, raised and currently resides in Kelowna.

Mary-Anne Walz – Softball

One of Canada’s best softball players of the 1980s. Member of Canada’s national women’s softball team from 1986-90. Helped Canada to a fourth-place finish at the 1986 ISF World Series in Auckland, New Zealand, and a sixth-place finish at the 1990 ISF World Series in Normal, Illinois. Named to the All-World Team at the 1986 World Series. Helped Canada to a bronze medal finish at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis. Named an all-star at shortstop at numerous international tournaments including the World Challenge Cup in 1985, 1986, and 1987, in the latter she was also named Top Batter. Six-time Canadian champion winning five national titles with Vancouver Alpha Sports and one with the White Rock Renegades. Born, raised and currently resides in Port Coquitlam.

BUILDER/COACH

Wynn Gmitroski – Athletics

One of Canada’s top athletics coaches over the past 40 years, guiding some of the country’s best middle-distance runners including Olympic bronze medalist Angela Chalmers, world championship silver medalist Gary Reed, and world championships top-ten finisher Diane Cummins. Coached Canadian athletes at six Olympic Games, 12 world championships, six Commonwealth Games, the Francophone Games, and the world indoor championships. Coached Canadian athletes to 15 national records, three Commonwealth Games gold medals and one silver medal, Pan American gold, and silver medals, and 19 top-ten world rankings or finishes at major championships. Named Athletics Canada’s ‘Outstanding Coach of the Year’ in 2007. Born in Selkirk, Manitoba, currently resides in Victoria.

Deb Huband – Basketball

One of Canada’s most successful university coaches in any sport. Served as UBC women’s basketball coach from 1995-2021, the longest tenure of any UBC women’s coach in any sport in the university’s history. In that time, she became the all-time winningest coach in U Sport Canada West history setting a record with 344 victories against just 171 losses. Finished with an overall career win-loss record of 537-295 in all competitions at UBC, the fourth-most wins ever among all Canadian women’s basketball coaches. Coached UBC to three Canadian national championships (2004, 2006, 2008), three national championship runner-up finishes, and four Canada West championships. Coached Canada’s national women’s basketball team to a silver medal at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg. Born in Ottawa, currently resides in Vancouver.

Jim Kojima – Judo

Nearly 70 years of service devoting most of his life to the sport of judo in various capacities and roles including as an athlete, coach, referee, official, and administrator. Served with Judo Canada since 1957 and Judo BC since 1958 and is still active with both to the present day. Served as an International Judo Federation referee at six Olympic Games and 22 world championships from 1974-2001. Served as president of Judo Canada from 1988-94 and as chairman of the 1993 World Judo Championships held in Hamilton, Ontario. An original member of the Steveston Judo Club, which was formed in 1953. Helped raise nearly $100,000 to build the Steveston Martial Arts Centre in 1972, the first dojo built in the traditional Japanese architectural style outside of Japan. Born, raised and currently resides in Richmond.

Carla Qualtrough – Para Sports

Considered one of the most influential and respected women in Canadian sport. Served as president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee from 2006-10. The first Paralympic athlete elected to Canadian Parliament, she served as Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities in the federal Liberal government from 2015-17. Currently a member of the International Paralympic Committee’s Legal and Ethics Committee, a role she has held since 2002. Served as the IPC’s Legal Officer for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Served as vice-president of the Americas Paralympic Committee from 2013-15. As an athlete, she represented Canada in swimming at two Paralympic Games (1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona) winning three bronze medals in various relays while swimming to eight top-eight individual finishes. Born in Calgary, raised in Langley and currently lives in Ladner as MP for Delta, serving in the Liberal cabinet as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

TEAM

1971 Richmond Roadrunners Men’s Lacrosse

1971 Canadian Junior A Minto Cup champions, the first western Canadian team to win the Minto Cup in nine years. Defeated Peterborough 4-3 in a thrilling seven-game series held at New Westminster’s Queens Park Arena, with the deciding seventh game a 13-11 victory in overtime before over 5000 spectators. Lacrosse experts consider this one of the greatest lacrosse series ever in Minto Cup history. Earlier that season, Richmond won the BC Junior A lacrosse championship defeating top-ranked Burnaby Cablevision 4-3 in a thrilling seven-game series with Game 7 a 14-12 overtime victory. This series featured four games that went to overtime. Richmond finished second in the Pacific Junior A Lacrosse League with a 14-10 win-loss record rallying from a five-game losing streak to start the season.

Team Members: Stan Ackerman (public relations), Ed Ashcroft, Barry Atkinson, Chuck Bourne, Gary Bregani, Jim Bregani, Jack Buchanan, Bill Clearie, Randy Crowe (president), Roy Crowe, Larry Dean, Dave Durante, Mal Follis (secretary-treasurer), Ted Gernaey, Bob Holmes, Doug May, Grant McCauley, Harvey Olsen, Gord Osinchuk, Tom Penway, Larry Phillips (team manager), Ron Phillips (coach and general manager), Jerry Pinder, Ron Pinder, Mike Safianuk, Pat Safianuk, Butch Skirzyk (assistant coach), Mike Smith, Fred Sutton (equipment manager), Bob Tasker, Brian Tasker, Dave Tasker, Bob Taylor (trainer), Dave Taylor, Gil Tetrault, Lyle Trowski, Walt Weaver, Sandy Wheelhouse

2011-12 Penticton Vees Men’s Hockey

2012 RBC Cup (now known as the Centennial Cup) national Junior A hockey champions defeating the Woodstock Slammers 4-3 in the final in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Finished the BCHL regular season with an overwhelmingly dominant 54-4-0-2 win-loss record, setting records for most wins (54), points (110), and winning percentage (.917). Set a Canadian Junior Hockey League record for most consecutive regular season wins with 42 straight victories. Scored 334 goals as a team, averaging an amazing 5.6 goals per game. Finished with seven of the top nine scorers during the BCHL regular season. Earlier, won the Doyle Cup, defeating the Brooks Bandits 4-1 in their best-of-seven game series to earn the Pacific region berth into the RBC Cup.

Team Members: Nick Amies, Nick Babich, Chad Bannor, Kyle Beaulieu, Joey Benik, Nick Buchanan, Cole Buckley, Ryan Cooper, Kameran Crawford, Dexter Dancs, Cody DePourcq, Ryan Gropp, Steven Fogarty, Michael Garteig, Bryce Gervais, Shane Hanna, Fred Harbinson (coach and general manager), Garrett Hendrickson, Chris Hurry, Alex Jewell, Logan Johnston, DJ Jones, Chad Katunar, Zachery Lindsay, Curtis Loik, Mario Lucia, Cameron Marks, Jordan McCallum, Mark McLellan, Graham Millar, Mike Moran, Wade Murphy, Grant Nicholson, Carter Popoff, Connor Reilly, Mike Reilly, Ryan Reilly, Nic Renyard, Brady Shaw, Travis St. Denis, Riley Stadel, Troy Stecher, Zach Urban, Daniel Urbani

PIONEER

Eleanor (Young) Stonehouse – Tennis

One of Canada’s top tennis players of the 1930s whose career accomplishments would have been even more impressive if not for the disruption of World War II to her prime competitive years. 1940 Canadian Open singles champion and two-time Canadian Open runner-up (1934, 1947). Two-time Canadian Open doubles champion (1934, 1940). 1939 Canadian Open mixed doubles champion. Ranked as Canada’s number one women’s singles player in 1937, 1939-40, 1946, and 1948. Represented Canada at Wimbledon in 1935 playing in singles and doubles and made headlines around the world for being the first-ever women’s player to wear shorts in her matches, something never done at Wimbledon where women previously only wore skirts that were knee-length or longer. Born, raised and lived her entire life in North Vancouver prior to her death in February 1995.

Dr. Brian Day – Sports Medicine

Pioneering surgeon considered a world leader in developing and improving arthroscopic surgical techniques on athletes particularly for knee injuries making them far less invasive and cutting recovery time in half. Pioneered the introduction and teaching of arthroscopic surgical techniques in Canada. Treated professional and amateur athletes from all over the world including those from the CFL, NHL, NBA, NASL, PGA, and English Premier League, as well as celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone. Served as the medical officer for many provincial, national, and international sports teams and events including the Canadian Olympic team and Canada’s Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup teams. One of only three Canadians to serve as president of the Arthroscopy Association of North America, the world’s leading academic society in the field of arthroscopic surgery and sports injuries. Born in Liverpool, U.K., currently lives in Vancouver.

MEDIA

Dan Russell

Highly respected member of Vancouver’s sports media during a 40-year career in which he pioneered modern ‘sports talk’ radio in BC as host of his nightly ‘Sportstalk’ show, for years the most popular sports radio talk show in BC. Appearing on CJOR (1984-88), CKWX (1988), CFMI (1989-97), CKNW (1997-2013), and CISL (2013-14), Sportstalk is still the longest-running sports talk show in BC history (1984-2014) and one of the longest running in Canada. For many years he served as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Vancouver Giants and WHL games on SHAW TV, the CHL on Sportsnet, the Seattle Thunderbirds on radio, and the BC High School basketball championships. Also did play-by-play on Vancouver Canucks pay-per-view broadcasts, hosted Canucks broadcasts on CKNW, and wrote for the Vancouver Sun. Born and raised in Richmond, currently resides in Thailand.

W.A.C. BENNETT AWARD

Jake Kerr and Jeff Mooney

Long-time co-owners of the Vancouver Canadians (2007-present) both saving and elevating professional baseball in Vancouver. Refurbished Nat Bailey Stadium to the point where many consider it among the best minor league ballparks in North America. Changed the direction of the struggling Canadians, in their first decade as owners winning four Northwest League championships (2011-13, 2017), doubling the club’s attendance, setting ten club attendance records, and receiving the John H. Johnson President’s Award for top organization in Minor League Baseball (2013), the first Canadian team to win this award. Negotiated the affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, which remains in place to this day. Launched the Vancouver Canadians Foundation, which fundraises for underprivileged children, and the Vancouver Canadians Baseball League allowing thousands of young children play baseball at Nat Bailey Stadium each summer. Mooney was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, now lives in Vancouver. Kerr was born, raised and lives in Vancouver.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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