The 2023 slate of inductees into the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame has been announced.
The inductees include two teams: the 1959 Duncan Little League baseball all-stars and the 1982-83 Cowichan Thunderettes basketball team.
Others to be inducted during a ceremony Saturday, Nov. 18 are: Ernie Mansueti as a builder; softball player Helen Gosnell and triathlete Jason Sandquist.
Inductees will receive a special award. A biography on each inductee will be added to the Wall of Fame display inside the Cowichan Aquatic Centre and a paver stone with their names will be included on the Walk of Fame located outside the centre.
“We’re excited to keep this tradition moving forward with five more inductees added to our Sports Wall of Fame,” said North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas. “The rich history of athletics in North Cowichan and Duncan is inspiring and I’m happy our communities can continue to honour these athletes.”
“These athletes, sport builders and championship teams will be stellar additions to our Sports Wall of Fame,” said committee chair Councillor Tek Manhas.
The Duncan Little League all-stars of 1959 became the first Cowichan Valley boys’ team to win a major championship by attaining Western Canadian supremacy.
A home run by catcher Greg Ledding at Central Park in Victoria clinched the Vancouver lsland Little League title and sent the team on its way to glory. The team captured the attention of the province after making it all way to the World Little League Championship at the Knotts Berry Farm Ball Park in California.
Team members included: Garry Bruce, David Cooke, Ricky Haslam, Billy Moore, Mike Martin, Peter Bartleman, Keith Edwards, Gerald Evans, Jack Philpot, Raymond Stotts and Greg Ledding.
The 1982-83 Cowichan Thunderettes girls’ basketball team, coached by John Hart, was made up of truly dedicated and exceptional athletes. They won 33 of 35 games during the season and claimed the provincial high school girls basketball championship against Abbotsford.
A gritty championship game at Simon Fraser University brought out the best in the team, as the girls came from behind in the second half.
Team members included: Kim Poland, Carol Bot, Irina Sladecek, Val Larson, Cathy Roome, Melanie Slade, Sandy Hughes, Shawn Hudson, Inet Sladecek, Kris Jahelka and Cindy Dodds.
This is a particularly special honour for the team since it’s the 40th anniversary this year of that prestigious title.
Ernie Mansueti has long been a leader in the Cowichan sports community and, in fact, created the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame concept, and also involved Kidsport Cowichan, an organization that covers registration fees for kids to join organized sports who might otherwise be unable to do so.
Mansueti is the retired parks and recreation director of the Municipality of North Cowichan and made significant connections across the province during his tenure as well as being so instrumental locally in volunteering, leading numerous sport clubs and events, and serving as the community’s liaison to the Vancouver Canucks when the team held training camps in the Cowichan Valley during the 1980s.
Helen Gosnell turned 90 in June and has lived in the Cowichan Valley for 89 years. She’s also in the Alberta Hall of Fame as a member of a National Softball Championship Canadian team in 1951.
Gosnell was not only an exceptional shortstop, but also dedicated years to teaching baseball and field hockey to students in the Cowichan Valley while organizing sporting events and encouraging the younger generation to pursue their dreams in athletics.
Sandquist was an extraordinary triathlete during his heyday who trained and competed to ridiculous extremes.
His lengthy resume includes: multiple Ironman Canada appearances and other major triathlons, including Hawaii. He was ranked No. 1 in the world for Ironman 70.3 races in 2013 and 2014 and received the Triathlon Canada excellence award for long distance triathlon in 2014.
Sandquist continues to run, swim and cycle and inspires many people in the Cowichan Valley to get into triathlon training.
The North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame has been honouring the rich history of coaches, athletes, teams, administrators and builders from the Cowichan area since 2008.