Spirit of Sport Awards handed out and 2022 class enshrined in London Sports Hall of Fame

Eight Londoners were celebrated at the 2022 Spirit of Sport awards and London Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The event took place at the Hellenic Community Centre Thursday night.

Justin Hoffer and Jennifer Jaquith were recognized for their volunteer work in the community.

Amanda Truelove was named Elementary School Coach of the Year and Keith Heard was named Secondary School Coach of the Year.

Jim Agathos and David-Lee Tracey were inducted into the Hall of Fame in the builder category while Jessica Zelinka and Steve Rucchin were enshrined in the athlete category.

Jim Agathos

Agathos will be enshrined in the builder category. He emigrated to Canada from Greece in 1951 and as the owner of the Huron House restaurant, became one of the first sponsors of Red Circle Hockey.

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His sponsorships grew from there and it wasn’t long before he was sponsoring 35 different teams in a year. Agathos did that for 35 years giving more than $1 million to youth sports teams.

When all of the baseball diamonds in the city of London were pushed beyond capacity, Agathos spent $60,000 to build a new diamond in his own front yard.

If the local sports scene needed something, Agathos was there to try to provide it.

In 1983, Huron House provided sponsorship to a team that participated in the World Arm Wrestling Championships. The team became world champions.

Agathos was named Sportsman of the Year in 1969 and was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal in 2002.

David-Lee Tracey

Tracey took cheerleading in Canada to a whole new dimension when he brought American-style techniques to Western University.

Over a 35-year span Western wowed anyone and everyone at football and basketball games with acrobatics and pyramids and captured 34 national titles in the process.

Tracey actually started out as a member of the Mustangs cross-country ski team after arriving in London, Ont., from Ancaster, Ont., in 1977.

He joined and eventually captained Western’s cheerleading squad.

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Western has won dozens of competitions in the United States and performed at the 2019 Juno Awards.

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B.C. athletes lead push to make cheerleading official Olympic sport

Tracey founded Power Cheerleading Athletics and opened the Power Cheer Gym on Quebec Street in London in 1998.

Tracey is also responsible for creating Western University’s mascot, J.W., and has trained more than 10,000 cheerleaders and has not missed a home football game at Western dating back to 1977.

Jessica Zelinka

Zelinka’s world-class ability in track and field earned her incredible success at every level all the way to the Olympic Games.

Zelinka dominated in high school in sprints, hurdles, long jump and high jump and that eventually led her to the heptathlon which she began to compete in at the age of 16.

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The climb happened quickly for Zelinka as she went from the World Junior Championships to the World Championships with a stop along the way at the Commonwealth Games. Zelinka made her mark quickly by setting a new Canadian record in the heptathlon.

After battling through an injury, Zelinka set another Canadian record in the heptathlon and also placed fourth at the Beijing Olympic Games. At that point her finish was the highest ever by a Canadian in a multi-sport event.

Zelinka finished 5th in the heptathlon and 7th in the 100 metre hurdles at the London Olympics in 2012 and captured her second silver medal in heptathlon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

Zelinka retired from athletic competition in 2016 and is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Steve Rucchin

There are unconventional routes to the National Hockey League and then there is the one taken by Steve Rucchin.

Rucchin went from the Thamesford Trojans of the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League to the Western Mustangs and then made the rare and difficult jump to the pro ranks, where Rucchin became an NHL star and was eventually named the captain of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

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Rucchin began to get buzz from scouts as a member of the Mustangs from 1990-94 when he racked up 190 points in 140 games and was named Ontario University Player of the Year in 1994 and was named a finalist for CIAU Player of the Year.

The former Banting Bronco was selected 2nd overall in the NHL’s supplemental draft and made the jump to the NHL in his very first professional season. Rucchin played 735 games with Anaheim, the New York Rangers and the Atlanta Thrashers. He was a perfect fit as a centre between Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne and the trio formed one of the great lines in the National Hockey League in the early 2000s.

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Fighting the odds to make it to the NHL

Rucchin helped the Mighty Ducks (as they were called then) to Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final where they were edged by Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. Rucchin scored the overtime winner to eliminate the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of that playoff run.

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Rucchin also represented Canada at the 1998 World Hockey Championship and made history when he faced his older brother Larry who played for Italy.

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