Two elite athletes, a celebrated curling couple, a dedicated and admired coach, and a hockey team with a decade-long legacy of success made up the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame’s class of 2019, which was formally inducted in a ceremony at the Cowichan Golf and Country Club on Saturday night.
Joining them in being honoured were the directors and volunteers who made four multi-sport events in the Cowichan Valley not only possible but also spectacular.
The inductees included rugby player Patrick Kay, fastball pitcher Brian McKinlay, curlers Wes and Roselyn Craig, basketball and volleyball coach Ted Webb, and the Fuller Lake Flyers junior B hockey team. The Wall of Fame’s first-ever Award for Outstanding Community Achievement was presented to the boards of directors and community volunteers of the 1991 BC Winter Games, 2005 BC Seniors Games, 2008 North American Indigenous Games, and 2018 BC Summer Games.
Still representing Canada in international rugby, Kay is a product of the Cowichan Rugby Football Club and Cowichan Secondary School, who graduated in 2011. In 2017, Kay helped Canada to its first-ever World Rugby Sevens Series in Singapore, and this past July, he helped Canada qualify for its first Olympic rugby sevens tournament in 2020. Kay has represented Canada at the Youth Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and has played nearly 200 games for the national senior men’s team since his debut in 2009.
Kay paid tribute to his brother, Thomas, who he followed into the sport and who remains his inspiration. He also expressed appreciation for everyone who helped him in his journey through rugby.
“I want to thank all of the coaches and organizers and supporters who have all contributed to the sports culture we have,” he said. “I get to travel around the world and play sports, and I’m always proud to call this place my home.”
McKinlay played in the golden era of fastball in the 1950s and 1960s. A hard-throwing right-handed pitcher for Mayo Lumber and Duncan Merchants teams in the Vancouver Island Fastball League, he posted phenomenal records of 22-2 in 1967, 13-1 in 1968 with 205 strikeouts in 120 innings, and 14-2 in 1969. He also led the league with a stratospheric .468 batting average.
His teammates lauded his ability and character in a video tribute.
“I’m so honoured and so lucky to have played with him,” said Garry Bruce.
McKinlay died in 2016, and the award was accepted on Saturday by his widow, Denise, and granddaughter Lisa Moilanen.
“I think the friendships he gained from sports meant more to him than any MVP ever would,” commented Moilanen, who noted that she didn’t know much about her grandfather’s athletic accomplishments while he was alive, but felt compelled to nominate him for the Wall of Fame once she heard stories of his success.
Wes and Roselyn Craig are two of the most decorated curlers in the Cowichan Valley and B.C., racking up wins at the local, provincial, national and international levels. Between the two of them, they have collected more than 70 provincial championships, 11 Canadian titles, and three world championships.
Roselyn won the 2008 and 2010 provincial senior women’s, 2018 provincial masters women’s, 2008 and 2010 provincial senior women’s, and 2009 and 2011 world senior women’s championships. Wes won the provincial senior men’s championship in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2017, and provincial mixed titles in 2001, 2015 and 2017. The Craigs were teammates on the 2001 provincial mixed championship team.
In addition to their success in competition, the Craigs helped develop the junior program at Kerry Park Curling Centre, and Roselyn has coached extensively at the provincial and national levels.
Webb was an admired teacher and coach at Cowichan Secondary for more than three decades. A graduate of Cowichan High School, he returned to the Valley to become the longest-serving and most successful coach in the history of the Thunderbirds program. Webb also helped create camps and development programs throughout Cowichan Valley, helped start the Cowichan News Leader Public Open Tennis Tournament, and was a charter member in 1984 of the Cowichan Valley Ol’ Hustlers Oldtimers Hockey Club.
“Passion” for sports, and the T-Birds program in particular, was a concept that came up frequently during the tribute to Webb on Saturday night.
“We always joked that if you cut him open, he would bleed white, gray and burgundy,” friend Tim Cox said in the video tribute. “He was a very passionate guy.”
Webb died in December 2018, and his widow, Antoinette, represented him at the induction. She recalled how he would return from games and tournaments and talk endlessly about how his teams had performed.
“It came across to me that my husband was passionate and committed and really believed in what he was doing,” she said. “And I loved him for that, loved him dearly.”
Fuller Lake Arena opened in 1968, and it was just two years later that the Flyers took the ice as a competitive junior B team in the South Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. The team lasted from 1970 to 1980, with games broadcast on the radio by Dave Rubenstein. The club’s popularity peaked in 1973 when they faced the Juan de Fuca Gulls in the league final in front of a standing-room only crowd of 1,200.
The Flyers include the first two-time inductees to the Wall of Fame in Don Bodger and Greg Adams, who were previously inducted as individuals, and Brian Branting and Dennis Young, who were previously inducted as members of the 1976 Cowichan Timbermen football team.
According to Gerry Giles, the chair of the 2005 BC Seniors Games, the four multi-sport events that were acknowledged on Saturday all had one thing in common: a Cowichan flavour that bucked the trend.
“They all have a standard formula they’d like us to follow,” she stated. “And guess what — we didn’t follow it.”
The 1991 BC Winter Games were an athletic and community success, with a monetary legacy that topped $200,000 and helped provide seed money for the Cowichan Sportsplex in 1996.
The Sportsplex was a key part of the bid for the 2005 BC Seniors Games and the games themselves, which brought more than 2,500 participants to the region.
The 2008 North American Indigenous Games attracted 4,700 participants, and brought the Cowichan Valley community together in an unprecedented way.
Most recently, the 2018 BC Summer Games prioritized local arts, culture and First Nations language, and set records with opening ceremonies attended by more than 9,000 people.
Plaques for this year’s honourees and the previous 45 individuals, teams and families that have been inducted can be seen in the lobby of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.
The next induction ceremony will take place in 2021.