Hall of Fame welcomes five new inductees

Among the 2012 Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame inductees are (left to right) Glen Ennis, Alex Recsky, and the 1988 Okanagan Sun, represented by coach Lawrence Nagy.   - Doug Farrow/Contributor
Among the 2012 Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame inductees are (left to right) Glen Ennis, Alex Recsky, and the 1988 Okanagan Sun, represented by coach Lawrence Nagy.
— image credit: Doug Farrow/Contributor

It was a football season head coach Lawrence Nagy can only describe as "magical."

In 1988, the Okanagan Sun went undefeated from start to finish to win the Canadian junior championship, clinching the national title with 50-0 win over Burlington.

"We had some very special people that year, and we had some great efforts from the players," said Nagy, the head coach of the Sun in 1988. "Not only that, but it went from top to bottom, the board of directors, our president Dr. Barry Urness, just everyone who was involved was selfless.

"Everybody really knew what it meant to be part of a team."

It was that dream season 24 years ago that has earned the Okanagan Sun a permanent place in the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame in the team category.

The Sun was one of five new inductees announced Tuesday morning at the Kelowna Museum.

The other COSHF inductees for 2012 are:

• Alex Recsky—Builder

For more than 20 years, Recsky has been a tireless volunteer on the Kelowna sports scene.

Once a physiotherapist with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders, Recsky has worked with varsity athletes at Okanagan University College and UBC Okanagan, with the Okanagan Sun and the WHL's Kelowna Rockets.

He has also volunteered on various committees including the B.C. Senior Games, Memorial Cup, World Junior Hockey Championship, and Kelowna General Hospital.

Recsky was humbled by his induction.

"This is huge, this is really a big-time honour," said Recsky. "I'm very fortunate to have chosen the profession I'm in, I really enjoy working with young people and I get a great thrill out of it. The satisfaction I've had over the years working with people is immense."

• Glen Ennis—Athlete

Ennis, who began his rugby career in Kelowna, played all across the globe and was a member of Canada's first ever World Cup rugby team in 1987. He played two more World Cups in 1991 and 1995 and was captain of all three squads. After playing professionally in Japan for a decade, he became a Hollywood stunt man, appearing in more than 15 movies.

For Ennis, his induction into the COSHF ranks as one of the highlights of his athletic career.

"Growing up here as a kid, there were names in the sporting community here that I looked up to like the Athans family and so on," said Ennis, a two-time world all-star in rugby. "So to be part of an institution that includes names like that is really a big honour and a thrill for me.

"Having played a lot of my sporting career and my rugby overseas, to be grounded where I grew up in something like this really does mean a lot to me and makes me feel at home."

• Erminia Russo Thorpe—Athlete

After starring at the high school level with the KLO Cougars, Russo joined the University of British Columbia women's volleyball squad where she became a prominent member of the Thunderbirds.

In 1985 she was named to Canada's national team and over the next decade would play over 150 internaitonal matches for her country.

Russo played in the 1996 Olympics, two world championships, two World Cups and two Pan American Games.

In a message read Tuesday by her sister, Bianca Iafrancesco, Russo expressed her gratitude to those who have helped her along the way, and for being mentioned in the same breath as so many other great athletes from Kelowna.

"I have been fortunate throughout my sporting career that I have had the loving support of my family and excellent coaching starting here in Kelowna," Russo said. "I've always been proud to be from Kelowna, and now to be recognized amongst the many great athletes the city has produced, it is truly and honour and one that I will cherish."

• Dr. Barry Urness—Bennett Special Recognition Award

A tireless builder and volunteer in the local sports community for more than 30 years, Urness was a founding member of the Okanagan Sun football team.

He also helped to resurrect high school football in the Central Okanagan, served as president of the Kelowna Amatuer Sports Society for 10 years, and served on the Kelowna Civic Awards Committee for 25 years.

In 2008, Urness founded the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Museum.

"Everybody who knows Barry knows what he's done for the sports community and the community in general over the last 30 years," said COSHF managing director Pat Kennedy.

Kennedy, along with fellow COSHF board member Rob Peter, delivered the news of his induction to Urness last week.

"He was humbled and immediately began crediting others as he always does," added Kennedy. "He certainly has made a huge difference here and we thank him for that."

The 2012 COSHF induction gala will be held at 7 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 22 at the Coast Capri Hotel.

Tickets will be on sale at the Okanagan Heritage Museum.


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