The Class of 2017 was enshrined in the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, the four-member group bringing the hall’s membership to 102 all-time.
The class was headlined by Hall of Fame founder Frank D’Amore, who was inducted as a community builder. Long-time coach and teacher Lindsey Karpluk was also inducted as a community builder and Radio NL’s Rick “The Bear” Wile became the first media member to enter the hall.
The 2012-2013 South Kamloops Titans girls’ basketball team rounded out the class, inducted in the team category.
“Celebrating sport is important,” Canadian Olympic swimmer Ryan Cochrane, the guest speaker at the ceremony, told the room of more than 400 as he kicked off the festivities.
Cochrane, who is known as the man who saved Canadian swimming and who won a bronze medal in the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing and a silver medal in the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, said the sporting community doesn’t stop to recognize its achievements often enough.
“I won my first Olympic medal and I was already talking to my coach about what to fix in the next four years before I even got on the podium,” the Victoria native said.
“The inspiration came from people like you.”
D’Amore was the first inductee on Saturday, finally being enshrined in the Hall of Fame he started 27 years ago.
From 1985 to 1990, he organized memorial dances in memory of his friend, Roger Leroux, which began the funding process of the hall.
The Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame remains in memory of Leroux, which D’Amore said made his induction somewhat bittersweet.
“I couldn’t get over the fact that if this Hall of Fame didn’t exist as it currently does, one of my best friends would still be alive,” he said.
Still, D’Amore said he was honoured by his induction and thanked the community of Kamloops for everything it has done to grow the Hall of Fame to what it is today.
“You make Kamloops a better place to live,” he said. “I am incredibly proud to call this place my home.”
Karpluk became the 100th inductee with his selection, an honour he described as “weird, humbling and pretty cool.”
Karpluk played baseball, softball, hockey, basketball, rugby and football in his youth, but his strongest impact came in coaching. He has been a mainstay in the basketball community throughout his teaching career and inspired a number of his former players to take up the coaching reins.
Never the flashiest athlete nor the perennial title contender, Karpluk said his induction served as recognition for those involved in grassroots sports.
“I accept this award based on that and I hope I represent them well,” he said in his acceptance speach. I appreciate the statement the committee is making about grassroots coaches. I’ve never felt myself to be a hall of fame type, but I feel like I was raised in a hall of fame family. You have no idea how overwhelming this has been for me. I appreciate your kind thoughts over the last few weeks.”
Wile, meanwhile, reflected on a career behind the microphone highlighted by championship runs from the Kamloops Blazers, Kam High Red Devils and university and college clubs. His coverage also included provincial, national and international sporting events, both in Kamloops and abroad.
Wile was also heavily involved in the Tournament Capital’s slo-pitch community for many years.
“People can talk and talk and talk but, sometimes, it’s better to listen,” he said.
After learning he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this year, Wile said he received a number of congratulatory calls and messages. One call, from an individual who Wile had interviewed as part of an archery story years ago, stood out.
“It was just an archery story but, to him, it was the biggest story of his life,” Wile said.
“I’ve had the privilege of talking to a lot of stars in the sports field. To me, that’s the gravy of a career. The meat and potatoes is still on the home front.”
The Titans were recognized for their back-to-back championship runs, which saw South Kamloops win the B.C. High School AAA Championships in both 2012 and 2013, the first back-to-back championship runs since 1962.
The teams were coached by Ken Olynyk, Sean Lamoureux, Jane Wolfram and Cory Yamaoka and included Sienna Aberdeen, Hailey Hamer-Jackson, Abby Grinberg, Madison Ellis, Bethany Del Begio, Kierstan Landrie, Mieke DuMont, Emma Piggin, Anna Frankel, Daylynne Agar, Kanesha Reeves, Becca Peters, Emily Vilac, Christine Clyde, Elizabeth Anderson, Ashley Lamoureux, Maya Olynyk and Emma Wolfram.
“A good friend of mine, he always says, ‘Why not us? Why not Kamloops?’” Ken Olynyk said, before turning and pointing to his teams.
“These people were the ones.”
In his speech, Karpluk shared a few memories of playing against the Titans of 2012 and 2013.
“I remember when we thought we could play with you . . . I think we lost by 20,” he said with a laugh.
“The next time, it was 50.”
Kamloops Sports Council Awards
Also part of the festivities on Saturday were the Kamloops Sports Council Awards.
The award winners were as follows:
Sports Person of the Year: Norm Daley and John Pankuch, for their work in organizing the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship;
Team of the Year: The Thompson Rivers WolfPack men’s basketball team, for winning silver in the 2015-2016 Canada West championship and advancing to the program’s first-ever national tournament;
Coach of the Year: WolfPack men’s basketball coach Scott Clark;
University Award of the Year: Dylanna Milobar, for her achievements with both the Kamloops Classic Swimming club and at California State Bakersfield;
International Award of the Year: Steve Seibel, for his work as a basketball official on the international stage, including at three Olympic Games;
Master Athlete of the Year: Margaret Rhebergen won her second Master Athlete of the Year award for her excellence with the Kamloops Track and Field Club;
Female Athlete of the Year: Iuliia Pakhomenko of the Thompson Rivers WolfPack women’s volleyball team. Pakhomenko will go down as the greatest women’s volleyball player in the history of the program;
Male Athlete of the Year: Swimmer Colin Gilbert, who excelled on the national and international stage as a representative of the Kamloops Classics and now swims for the University of Denver.