“We’ve got a whole group of people about to become hall of famers right here,” said former CHBC weather man extraordinaire Mike Roberts.
Roberts rang out the call to the hall early this morning at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna.
“The hall welcomes our first inductee, Rob Dirk,” said Roberts, as the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame inducted the class of 2018.
“I’m extremely humbled and eternally grateful for this recognition,” said Dirk, a former Vancouver Canuck.
Hockey, football, track and field and rowing were represented in the athlete category. Volleyball and baseball were recognized in the builders and pioneer category.
“I cannot tell you how proud and privileged I am to be in my real home town of Kelowna and accept this honor,” said Allan Simpson, an inductee in the pioneer category for his writing about baseball.
Dirk , CFLer Chad Folk , Special Olympian Tracy Melesko , Olympic rower Heather Mandoli Alschuler plus volleyball builder Hugh Wong and Simpson were all honored today for their personal contribution to the Central Okanagan’s sports legacy.
“It’s never been hard to be in sport for me, especially volleyball. In fact, I think if the selection committee knew how easy it has been for me, I think they might revoke this induction,” joked Wong about his 40-year dedication to growing the sport of volleyball across the country.
From the modesty of Allan to the strength and perseverance of Melesko, all of the emotions that exemplify the spirit of sport were on display at the ceremony.
“Representing Canada and competing at international games is an incredible honor,” said Melesko who is the Hall’s first Special Olympian to be inducted.
“There is one more coach I have to thank, perhaps the most influencial person on my whole life: the late Mike Reiner,” confessed Mandoli Alschuler, an Olympic rower and now a Hall of Famer.
There was also a common theme on Thursday morning: An appreciative thanks to those who helped and supported them along their sports journey to excellence.
“Without Mike, I wouldn’t have a rowing story and I wouldn’t be here,” said Mandoli Alschuler.
As all athletes know, it’s a long way to hall of fame, and when you are called you may stand alone. But you didn’t get there on your own.
“Even though the sports are different, one thing I know is that none of us would be here without the help of countless people along the way,” said Folk, a two-time Grey Cup winner with the Toronto Argonauts and now one of the newest members of the Central Okanagan’s Sports Hall of Fame.