THERE ARE SOME amazing individuals in Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame. From Kaye Kaminishi, to Mo Granger, from Bob Cowden to Dianne Barker, they exemplify not only what is great in sport in Kamloops, but in our community as well.
All are deserving to be in the Hall.
Going back to 1991 when the Hall started, a total of 92 men and just 13 women have been inducted. It hasn’t gotten better in recent years. From 2008 to 2018, there have been 36 men inducted into the Hall, but only six women.
Now in 2019, all four of the individuals who will be inducted into the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame are men. No women will inducted in 2019.
I have no qualms of the men who have been inducted. And I have no qualms of the individuals nominated this year. Every one of them that I know has not just been great in the sports arena, but in life in general.
But I am a bit saddened that so few women are recognized.
The Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame is an independent group, and is free to decide who it inducts.
But, it’s clear Kamloops has some amazing women athletes and sports builders.
As a community we have sent Josie Morrison and Jessica Hewitt to the Winter Olympics for speed skating, with Hewitt bringing home an Olympic medal. Catherine Pendrel medaled at the Summer Olympics for mountain biking. In 2015, Kamloops’ Kate Stebbings finished fifth in her age class for the Ironman World Championships.
Lisa Bonang, a hockey player, played three seasons for UBC Thunderbirds. She was also a member of Senior Team BC (2006-07), a member of U18 Team BC (2005), and captained her Kamloops AAA team. She played 12 years of minor hockey in Kamloops as well.
On the sport builder side, let’s start with the Kamloops Long Blades, the home club of Olympic medalist Jessica Hewitt. The head coach, Sandi Vyse, has coached hundreds of youth to provincial, national and international success. Meet organizer Carol Duggan regularly oversees 50 or more officials for races of 100 or more skaters, including last year’s B.C. Winter Games.
Then there’s Jessica Vliegenthart, basketball Paralympian, and president and founder of the Kamloops Adapted Sports Association.
Lisa Henson, a coach certified at the National level with the Valleyview Skating Club, has over 30 years coaching experience. Kiko Takahashi has been the Women’s Artistic Gymnastic coach for over 20 years for the Kamloops Gymnastics/Trampoline Club. She has coached athletes up to the national level.
Those are just a few of the amazing women athletes and sports builders in Kamloops.
When there are so many amazing women in sports in Kamloops, it saddens me that so few are recognized.
Sports has been a place that women had to fight to be part of.
It was only in 1967 that a woman was permitted to run in the Boston Marathon. While men’s ice hockey joined Olympics in 1920, the women’s game didn’t enter the Olympics until 1998. Canada’s women’s soccer team did not play internationally until 1986. The first women’s World Cup was not played until 1991. Women’s wrestling joined the Olympics in 2004, rugby and golf in 2006, and boxing in 2012.
When I was a young girl, I wanted badly to play ice hockey. But girls weren’t allowed. Thankfully, someone was willing to fight, and now young girls can play hockey. And even go to the Olympics.
Now, it is time to recognize the achievements of women in sport.
The Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization, and as such is free to choose who it honours.
However, the Hall itself is housed in the Kamloops’ Tournament Capital Centre (TCC). The City provided funds to help establish the display cases, and provides ongoing support through providing space.
Being in the TCC, the Hall is in an extremely prominent place. That centre sees well over 600,000 visitors a year. What does it say to young girls, and boys as well, that so few women are celebrated for their contributions to the Kamloops sports community?
It is time that the City of Kamloops, and more particularly City Council, encourages Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame to review their selection criteria so that women in sport are recognized for what they have achieved.
Kamloops has some amazing women athletes and sports builders. Let’s celebrate them.
Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.