A few tears were shed but there were plenty of smiles on the faces of those who were inducted into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday morning.
“It was the best team I’ve ever been a part of,” said former Kelowna Rocket and current Buffalo Sabres player Josh Gorges in a video played at the ceremony. The 30 year-old was part of the 2004 Rockets that went on to win the Memorial Cup and were inducted into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame under the team category.
Gavin Hamilton (Photo Credit: KelownaNow)
VP of Business Development Gavin Hamilton was on hand to accept the honour and fondly remembers the Rockets run for the Memorial Cup 10 years ago.
“When we started out planning our bid for the 2004 Memorial Cup, we had no idea how much work it would be and then when it was over, not only had we won our first national championship, we had profoundly changed how the Memorial Cup would be hosted,” reminisces Hamilton. “We really changed the Memorial Cup and took it from being ten days of hockey and made it into ten days of parties, street hockey, live entertainment, arts and cultural events, a wine festival and some unbelievable hockey.”
Christina Mervyn (Photo Credit: KelownaNow)
Glen Mervyn, silver medalist at the 1960 Olympic Summer Games in Rome in the Men’s rowing event, received the Athlete Category honour. “He was very proud to represent his country,” said Mervyn’s wife Christina who accepted the award in his honour. Mervyn lost this battle with cancer in 2000 at the age of 63. Rowing wasn’t the only sport Mervyn succeeded in. At the age of 50, he became a National & World cycling champion in his age category.
Inducted into the Builder Category was Gilian Thomson for her 28 years of dedicated service and work to making the Kelowna Sailing Club what it is today. Thomson also won gold and silver medals at the Hobie 18 World Championships and Pan American Games plus is recognized around the world for her Learn to Sail & Disabled Sailing programs. “I love it, and I can’t get enough of it,” said Thomson when it comes to the sport of sailing and her work in the community. “This past summer, we provided lessons to over 2,500 participants with ten paid instructors and five young volunteers, all home grown. COSA is a relatively small club but we are the only club in Canada to have twice received the award for Best Sailing School in the country.”
Mike and Brenda Van Tighem (Photo Credit: KelownaNow)
Finally, Mike and Brenda Van Tighem received the Builder Category honour for their work in creating the Kelowna Track and Field Club. Known as Mr. & Mrs. Track and Field, the two build the Jack Brow Track Meet into a premier event in Western Canada.
The breakfast also featured a cheque presentation to KidSport Kelowna from the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Museum and Interior Savings Credit Union plus a one-on-one talk between Sports Legacy Committee Managing Director Patrick Kennedy and WHL Commissioner Ron Robinson.
Pat Kennedy and WHL Commissioner Ron Robinson (Photo Credit: KelownaNow)
Robinson admitted just how much the Rockets are respected in the WHL.
“Anytime we have new ownership or even ownership that is going through challenging times, probably the call they make is to Bruce Hamilton and the organization here. Bruce is respected around the league and that is something that people really rely on.”
Photo Credit: KelownaNow