Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame enshrines 2012 inductees
Ken Perry isn't alone in reflecting on 1988 as one of the most remarkable years of his life.
The former linebacker has plenty of Okanagan Sun teammates, coaches, volunteers and fans who share his fondness for the BC. junior football club's first ever Canadian title.
The Sun went undefeated en route to the national glory that season, shutting out the Burlington Ti-Cats 50-0 in the championship game.
Twenty-four years later, the Sun has been enshrined in the team category into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame.
"Never once while playing in '88 did we ever think how far in the future this would take us," said Perry. "We never once thought an occasion like today would occur, it's a very humbling experience.
"If it were not for a total, complete effort from the players, coaches, support staff, executive, cheerleader and of course the Okanagan fans this championship would not have been possible," Perry continued. "It was truly a remarkable time we'll remember all of our lives."
The Sun was one of five new inductees introduced into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Thursday morning at the fifth annual breakfast gala at the Coast Capri Hotel.
The other inductees in the class of 2012 are:
• Glenn Ennis—Athlete
A Kelowna Secondary School grad, Ennis went on to achieve national and international fame in the sport of rugby.
A member of Canada's first ever World Cup team in 1987, Ennis would play in two more World Cups in 1991 and 1995 where he served as vice-captain. A world all-star in 1988 and 1991, Ennis played professional rugby in Japan for 10 years.
Following his rugby career, Ennis became a Hollywood stuntman, appearing in more than 15 movies.
Ennis is thrilled by his induction in his hometown.
"Growing up here as a kid, there were many names in the sporting community here that I looked up to" said Ennis. "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—Athlete
After nurturing her volleyball skills in Kelowna with the KLO Cougars, Russo became a prominent member of the UBC Thunderbirds women's program.
In 1985, she joined Canada's national women's team where she played in more than 150 matches over eight seasons.
In 1989, she was named captain of Team Canada.
Russo played in the 1996 Olympics, two world championships, two World Cups and two Pan American Games.
"I've always been really proud to be from Kelowna, no matter where I went I always made sure people knew I was born and raised in Kelowna," said Russo.
"The number of great athletes that have come out of Kelowna is quite an impressive list and I'm really honoured to be recognized with that group.
"Really volleyball was just a game that I loved and a passion of mine," added Russo, "and I was so fortunate for that passion to turn into a career for me, an incredible journey that I was able to accomplish so much."
• Alex Recsky—Builder
As a volunteer, Recsky's fingerprints can be found everywhere in the local sports community.
A former physiotherapist with the CFL's Calgary Stampeders, Recsky has volunteered his services to many teams and causes over the past 20 years, including the UBC Okanagan Heat, the Kelowna Rockets, Okanagan Sun, the B.C. Senior Games, and the World Junior Hockey Championship.
"Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years," said Recsky.
"I've volunteered because it help others feel good, and a bonus of doing that is it makes me feel good. Another bonus when you volunteer with young people, is it keeps you feeling young."
• Dr. Barry Urness (1942-2012)—Bennett Special Recognition Award
The late Barry Urness was a tireless organizer and volunteer in the local sports community for more than 40 years.
Considered by many as a visionary, Urness was a founding member of the Okanagan Sun football club, a past president of the Kelowna Amateur Sports Society, a member of the Kelowna Civic Awards Committee for 25 years, and the founder of Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame.
Urness passed away in the summer of 2012.
Barry's wife, Betty, who was on hand to accept the induction, said her husband derived great joy from watching others have success.
"Apart from Barry's legendary schemes and dreams, more than anything else Barry was a fan, in fact the ultimate fan," said Betty Urness. "He believed in people and more than anything else wanted them to succeed, and he loved to shine the spotlight on those who achieved goals whether as an individual or as a team.
"Barry loved being part of something that was bigger than himself," she added. "The lasting influence of his leadership is seen all over this wonderful city, and points to his belief in a world of possibility. If there was a way, Barry was determined to find it."