Hall of Fame welcomes new inductees

The Central Okanagan Hall of Fame 2014 inductees, (clockwise, from top left): The 2004 Kelowna Rockets, Glen Mervyn, Mike and Brenda Van Tighem and Gillian Thomson  - Contributed
The Central Okanagan Hall of Fame 2014 inductees, (clockwise, from top left): The 2004 Kelowna Rockets, Glen Mervyn, Mike and Brenda Van Tighem and Gillian Thomson
— image credit: Contributed

A decade removed from that championship Sunday afternoon in May, it remains one of the defining moments in the history of sports in the Central Okanagan.

In front of an electrified hometown crowd at Prospera Place, the WHL-champion Kelowna Rockets captured their first and only Memorial Cup title with a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Gatineau Olympiques.

To officially honour the occasion 10 years later, the 2004 Rockets team will be one of four inductees to be enshrined this November into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame.

Current Rockets' assistant coach Dan Lambert said the club's championship run of 2003-04 will conjure up some remarkable memories for team management, players and fans alike.

"It's a moment that you can reflect that it's been 10 years, and now you have a true understanding of how difficult is to win a Memorial Cup," Lambert said. "To be inducted 10 years later, obviously you have some players who have moved on and are in the NHL, and other guys who are in every aspect of life. I'm sure they'll get back together and it's as if they'll be back in the dressing room again, reliving it.

"It's a very special moment, not only for the team and management, but for the city," he added. "I think everybody's going to look back an appreciate the accomplishments that team had."

The other inductees are:

• Gillian Thomson—Builder

Gillian Thomson first made her mark in sailing as an elite competitor, winning a gold and silver medal at the 1992 and 1993 Hobie 18 women's world championships, then a silver medal in the Trapseat 16 Pan American Games in 1998.

Thomson has since garnered provincial, national and international recognition for helping to grow the sport through her Learn to Sail and Disabled Sailing programs.

For Thomson, the recognition from her home community is both humbling and rewarding.

"Sport in Kelowna has always been a big part of my life and my family's life," Thompson said. "The Hall of Fame was exciting when it was developed a few years ago, I didn't expect to be standing up here with the inductees…it's really a big honour. I think that sport in Kelowna is a big part of the culture, just to be part of that connection is thrilling."

• Glen Mervyn—Athlete (deceased 2000)

After capturing a gold medal at the British Empire Games in 1958 and a silver at the Pan Am Games in Chicago in 1959, Glen Mervyn was part of Canada's silver medal winning rowing crew in men's eights at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. He later coached the men's pairs team to a gold medal at the at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. At the age of 50, Mervyn became a national and world cycling champion in his age division.

Mervyn's wife, Christina, who attended Tuesday's media gathering to unveil this year's inductees, said Glen was an inspiration to many who came in contact with him over the years.

"It's absolutely a delight, we're just thrilled and, as my daughter said, 'Very well deserved, Mom," Christina Mervyn said. "Because they know how dedicated he was, and inspirational. He was the most positive, encouraging person in the world. He never said no, and never said you couldn't do it. If you wanted it badly enough, just do it, work hard…and boy did he work hard."

• Mike and Brenda Van Tighem—Builders

Mike and Brenda Van Tighem touched the lives of many young athletes during their time in Kelowna.

Among their many initiatives, Mike helped found the Kelowna Track and Field Club in 1983 and spearheaded the Jack Brow Memorial Meet, one of the premier track events in B.C.

Brenda spent 12 years as a coach with the Kelowna Track and Field Club coached Team B.C. athletes at nationals from 1990 to 2000.

Together, the Van Tighems coached a number of national and international calibre athletes, including Malindi Elmore, Brenda Shackleton and Tracy Melesko.

"This a tremendous honour," the Van Tighems, who now live in Calgary, wrote in a statement. "An honour that's only been made possible by a small group of people who had the foresight and initiative to found the Kelowna Track and Field Club in 1983."

The 2014 Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Museum induction ceremony will be held Nov. 20 at the Coast Capri Hotel beginning at 7 a.m.

Tickets for the breakfast gala will be available at Kelowna Museums.


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