Powell River’s rich history includes a long list of athletic achievers who have made significant contributions on the sporting scene, locally, nationally and internationally. These accomplishments will be recognized this summer as the first nine inductees to the Powell River Sports Hall of Fame are celebrated.
“Sport was so important to building this community,” said sports hall of fame committee member Ray Boogaards. “Look at all the great things that have been accomplished here because of sport.”
After months of behind the scenes work from a volunteer committee and anonymous selection subcommittee, the inductees have been named. They are the 1969/1970 Powell River Regals Hockey team; soccer and boxing athlete Les Adams; track and field pioneer Gino Bortolussi; hockey player Bob Crawford; soccer player Drew Ferguson; football players Roy and Ted Gerela; hockey player Gary Lupul; and 1984 Olympic track and field athlete Connie Polman Tuin.
In all, the community nominated 25 teams or individuals. Those not named this time will be retained and put forward as nominees in the future, according to committee chair Jim Palm.
“All the people who were nominated will go into the selection for the next round in two years,” he said.
The concept of an event honouring local sporting talent has been talked about for years, according to vice-chair Lisanne English.
“I approached the [City of Powell River] 20 years ago about doing a sports hall of fame,” she said. “It became more important after the Regals were inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame two years ago.”
Powell River’s sporting history goes back to the founding of the mill town when the then Powell River Company recruited talented athletes and musicians to work in its paper mill.
“They used to bring hockey players in to play on the Regals and gave them a job,” added English.
In 1969/1970 during a gruelling playoff season in which the Regals eventually won the Hardy Cup national championship, hockey fever gripped the town.
“They closed the schools and there were lineups at six in the morning outside the ticket booth,” said English.
After triumphing, the momentum led to the construction of the Powell River Recreation Complex in 1975.
“Without the Regals winning that championship in ’69 and ’70 and creating a buzz in this community we may not have the rec complex that we’ve had for the last 43 years,” said Palm.
In the weeks leading up to the gala, all nine of the inductees will be profiled in the Peak, giving more insight into their accomplishments and contributions to the fabric of this community.
The inaugural Sports Hall of Fame banquet takes place June 15 at Hap Parker Arena. Tickets will go on sale soon.
“It’s going to be a great event,” said English. “It brings the sporting community together and returns people to the community who grew up here.”