September 1st, 2020

We celebrated Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope in this space just last month. His brother Darrell and his niece Alexandra were kind enough to join in on our online tribute to the Marathon of Hope with fellow Hall of Famer and Indigenous community leader Lara Mussell-Savage. Terry’s story is being featured in the first in a series of Hero in You educational modules to be released this fall.

So we ask the question on this Tuesday, September 1st, 2020, do you remember where you were 40 years ago today on September 1st, 1980? It was the day that Terry had to suspend his Marathon of Hope in Thunder Bay, Ont. It is both one of the most inspiring and saddest days in the life and times of the iconic British Columbian. It is yet another compelling chapter in the storytelling around the pride of Port Coquitlam, BC and all of Canada.

Retelling the Terry Fox story is a privilege of all of us who are associated with the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

And when it comes right down to it, that’s what we are: the BC Sports Hall of Fame is a storyteller. We tell thousands of stories. In fact, we are home to more than 127,000 stories (27,000 artifacts and over 100,000 photographs and documents). Each year, we become home to more stories; thanks to a process that begins each June 30th with our Nomination Day deadline and then continues through Selection Day and Announcement Day and then ultimately ends with our Induction Day/Night, only to begin anew with the search for the next induction class. Our storytellers are led by all those sport historians and community leaders who have served as nominators of the many deserving athletes, coaches, officials, administrators, builders, pioneers, media and teams that have been identified over the years.

Our storytellers of course include our Curator Jason Beck, Museum Assistant Shelby McCannel and our management team headed by Chief Executive Nicholas Cartmell. Our storytellers span our government supporters who believe as much as we do in the power of sport history, heritage and culture, along with our corporate, community and media partners and suppliers. They include our media partners such as Global Television and TSN Radio. Our storytellers also include our spokespeople and supporters on our Board of Trustees. They include our extended family; the BC Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, the Council of Chairs (all of the living former chairs of the BC Sports Hall of Fame), the BC Council of Sports Halls (and the sport historians and curators who keep the more than 43 local, regional and sport-specific Halls of Fame alive throughout the province) and the emergent Council of Trustees (a living database that we’re developing to recognize all those who have served the society in its 54 years of public service).

Of course, our leading storytellers are our Hall of Famers themselves. Those of the more than 417 individuals and 64 teams that have been inducted since the Hall first opened on August 23rd, 1966 and since the first induction event was held in 1969. Everything we do is designed to acknowledge, recognize, honour, celebrate and promote our Hall of Famers; everything from our Induction events themselves to our Hero in You educational outreach program to the galleries, exhibits and displays that form the heart of our SportsHall at BC Place.

Like our indigenous elders going back many generations, the BC Sports Hall of Fame is inspired to pass along these stories of triumph over adversity from generation to generation. We take that responsibility seriously and we aim to live up to the excellence that defines BC sport in general and our Hall of Famers in particular every way we can.

Yet on a week when Ed Willes announces his retirement after 22 years with The Province and PostMedia and 38 years in the business of sports writing, we’re reminded that some of the most important storytellers are the sports media personalities and professionals who bring sport to life on television, radio, print and, increasingly, online and on social. And Ed Willes is a shining example of one of those storytellers who has stood out among the finest in his craft. Few Canadians have filed more than 3,000 columns but Ed did that week-in, week-out for The Province and in recent years, The Vancouver Sun. He probably wrote close to another 1,000 columns in his first 16 years in the business in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, eventually travelling the road back to North Vancouver and his years as the featured columnist for The Province.

It’s one of those full-circle stories, of which there are many at the BC Sports Hall of Fame. Ed wrote for more than two decades for the newspaper that the founder and first curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, Eric Whitehead, led for years as sports editor and columnist. In the spirit of Eric Whitehead, Ed also served the SportsHall as a long-standing member of our Selection Committee.

His service to the BC Sports Hall of Fame – like many who have been inducted as Honoured Members in the media category – is palpable. And it’s one he has done with the utmost of modesty. When I thanked him this week for all of the support he’s accorded the Hall over the years, including as a member of our Selection Committee, he replied with “Cheers Tom but the Hall has given me a lot more than I gave to it.”

All that I can say to that is Ed Willes – a multiple winner in the Paul Carson Broadcast & Media Awards, including as Best Columnist — is yet another in a long line of terrific sports writers, columnists and media personalities that have called BC home. We’ve been blessed with some of the best in the country. And we’ve all been richer for it, as has the story-telling that defines the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the bigger picture of BC sport history, heritage and culture.

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and host of The Sport Market on TSN Radio, he is a strong advocate for the KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder.