Inspiring the future, together.


Inspire the future, with us.

Sonja Gaudet

Athlete - Wheelchair Curling

Growing up in North Vancouver, Sonja played basketball and equestrian. She moved to Vernon in 1988 and worked at a local restaurant while raising a family. Everything changed in 1997, when she was seriously injured while riding her horse, becoming paralyzed from the chest down. With support from her family, the Vernon community, and others like Rick Hansen, she made a miraculous recovery. After just a month in hospital and two more rehabbing at GF Strong, she returned home.

Sonja discovered wheelchair curling in 2003 when the Vernon Curling Club sought her advice on accessibility for a bathroom reno. Wheelchair curling was to be a new Paralympic sport in 2006 and Sonja had no idea she’d end up one of the new athletes recruited for it. Sonja progressed rapidly, breaking into the national team program in 2005 and making her first international appearance for Canada at the 2006 Paralympics in Torino.

Over the next decade, Sonja helped Canada win three straight Paralympic gold medals in 2006, 2010, and 2014 and three world championships in 2009, 2011, and 2013. The highlight of Sonja’s career was selection as Canada’s Opening Ceremonies flagbearer at the Sochi Paralympics. In 2018, she was featured on a Canada Post stamp.

Read more about Sonja's story.

Alex Stieda

Athlete - Cycling

Growing up, Alex played hockey and tried cycling for summer cross-training. He bought a ten-speed and fixed it up, probably the best $20 he ever spent. With the guidance of long-distance cyclist Harold Bridge, coach Baz Lycett, and senior rider Ron Hayman, Alex shot up the cycling ranks. In 1978 he won every event possible at the Canadian junior championships. At the 1979 world junior track championships, a young Greg LeMond edged him out in the individual pursuit quarterfinals.

After winning the 1980 Gastown Grand Prix, Alex was a Canadian international mainstay for 12 years. He won bronze at the 1982 Commonwealth Games, competed at the 1984 Olympics, and recorded three top-10 world track championships finishes. He also won 15 national titles.

He turned pro with the 7-Eleven team in 1986, at the forefront of the North American wave cracking European domination of cycling. On Day Two of his first Tour de France in 1986, Alex bluffed a ‘nature break’ and fooled the peloton. He sprinted in front and by stage’s end held the overall lead to claim the yellow jersey and four other classification jerseys. It marked the first time a North American ever wore the Tour’s leader’s jersey. He remains one of only two Canadians to accomplish this. Alex hung on to cycle down the Champs-Élysées and finish 120th overall just eight years after taking up cycling seriously.

Read more about Alex's story.

Jeff Francis

Athlete - Baseball

Growing up in North Delta, baseball became Jeff’s life when he made the BC Premier Baseball League’s North Delta Blue Jays. Playing for UBC he set 11 team pitching records, twice was named an NAIA First Team All-American, and received the Bobby Gaul Award as UBC’s top male athlete.

After appearing on the cover of Baseball America magazine, Jeff was selected ninth in the 2002 Major League Draft by Colorado—the second highest Canadian-born player ever chosen. After making his MLB debut, Jeff quickly became a Rockies starter, showcasing precision control. In 2007, he compiled a 17-9 win-loss record and 165 strikeouts in 34 starts, earning Cy Young Award consideration and landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He helped Colorado complete one of baseball’s most memorable late-season runs to the World Series, winning 21 of 22 games, before falling to Boston. Jeff became the first Canadian starting pitcher to win a major league postseason game and the second to start in a World Series.

Read more about Jeff's story.

Brent Johnson

Athlete - Football

Brent Johnson changed the way we think about Canadian defensive players in the CFL. At one time common thinking held that certain positions were reserved for American players. Like a winded lineman left gasping in his wake, Brent exploded past that, proving not only that Canadians could play, they could dominate.

Playing four years at Ohio State at defensive end, he helped the venerable Buckeyes to two Sugar Bowl appearances, a Rose Bowl victory in 1997, and memorable wins over bitter rival Michigan. Brent came to BC in 2001, arriving as part of a young core of dominant players who drove the Lions to the most successful decade in club history. This included five West Division titles and three Grey Cup appearances, winning twice in 2006 and 2011.

Over 11 seasons with the Lions, Brent played 185 regular season games recording 225 tackles and a club record 89 sacks, including a CFL-leading 17 in 2005. Brent was twice named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian, and to date, he stands as the only Canadian to win the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award, which he received in 2006. He also was a three-time CFL All-Star and a five-time West Division All-Star.

Read more about Brent's story.

Kirk McLean

Athlete - Ice Hockey

Kirk was a natural athlete who excelled at both hockey and soccer. Drawn to the crease, he patterned his play after legends Jacques Plante and Bernie Parent. After starring with the Oshawa Generals, he was selected by New Jersey in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. In 1987, in his first trade, GM Pat Quinn shrewdly snagged a future Canuck cornerstone in Kirk.

For the next 11 seasons, with his characteristic stand-up style and cobra-quick glove hand, Kirk provided the Canucks with some of the best goaltending in the NHL. By his departure in 1998, he was the Canucks’ all-time leader in virtually all goaltending statistics: 516 regular season games played, 211 wins, 20 shutouts, and a 3.28 goals against average.

Kirk led Vancouver to two Smythe Division titles and recorded all 15 Canuck wins during the run to the Western Conference Championship and Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. He was twice selected to the NHL All-Star Game in 1990 and 1992. A two-time Vezina Trophy finalist and a 1992 2nd Team NHL all-star, he was also a two-time winner of the Cyclone Taylor Trophy as Canucks MVP.

Harry White

Builder/Coach - Golf

Harry White had a favourite saying that summed up his philosophy on the game of golf: ‘Tee it high and let it fly, there aren’t any hazards in the sky!’ That’s a pretty good motto for life in general, and if anyone lived it, it was Harry.

Few individuals were as dedicated to golf’s youngest participants at the grassroots level in BC than the man many knew as ‘Uncle Harry.’ Introduced to golf by his father, young Harry caddied for the legendary Stan Leonard and was transfixed by the fast, smooth swing of Moe Norman. Known as a master putter and for using unusually high 6-inch-long tees, Harry developed into a top amateur. He played four years for Saint Martin’s University in Washington and won the 1969 Vancouver City Amateur. He was named a member of three BC Willingdon Cup teams and two Pacific Coast Amateur Morse Cup teams.

Harry began coaching in 1969 and never stopped for five decades. In 1971, he and Fred Wellsby began holding junior events around the Lower Mainland. Two years later, Harry and Fred were the BC founders of the Junior America’s Cup Team matches that allowed young BC juniors to play against the best from the western US.

Read more about Harry's story.

Bill Mitchell

Builder/Coach - Wrestling

Bill Mitchell loved to coach. He put everything into it.

He played nine CFL seasons as a lineman and kicked field goals, including a then-world record 58-yarder. Traded to the BC Lions in 1966, he took an offseason job teaching at Coquitlam’s Centennial Secondary. Bill quickly turned the school into a perennial wrestling powerhouse. At one point, 35 provincial title banners hung in Centennial’s gym—22 were teams coached by Bill.

Over his 25-year career he coached thousands of athletes including some of Canada’s greatest wrestlers like Chris Wilson, Chris Rinke [RING-KEY], and John ‘Earthquake’ Tenta. It took him to events around the world: the Pan American Games, world wrestling championships, Commonwealth Games, and his career highlight, the 1988 Olympics.

Read more about Bill's story.

Valerie Johnson

Builder/Coach - Trampoline Gymnastics

All you need to change a child’s life is one hour. That’s been the foundation of Val Johnson’s coaching philosophy for over fifty years.

Early on, Val began teaching gymnastics classes as a 14-year-old volunteer. The City of New Westminster hired her as an instructor at 16 and she just never left. 2020 marks her 51st year working as the only gymnastics and trampoline programmer ever employed by the City of New Westminster. A founder of Ariel Trampoline Club, the first trampoline club in Canada, Val competed from 1969 to 1974 becoming Canada’s first-ever national trampoline champion in 1971, adding two more titles in ensuing years. Twice she competed for Canada at the world championships in 1972 and 1974 before retiring from competition.

Val founded the Shasta Trampoline Club in 1975, now the oldest and among the most successful competitive trampoline clubs in Canada. Dozens of her athletes have gone on to wear the Maple Leaf over the past five decades. In 1982, Shasta’s Christine Tough won Canada’s first-ever world trampoline title. To date, Shasta athletes have produced at least 19 world championship and 31 national championship medals.

Read more about Valerie's story.

1979-80 UVic Vikings Men's Basketball Team


As a rallying cry, it was perfect: ‘You can’t stop a train.’ The 1979-80 University of Victoria Vikings men’s basketball team screamed this in unison after many huge victories during a truly historic season that ended with UVIC’s first-ever Canadian university basketball championship.

Coach Ken Shields transformed the UVIC program with his unique blend of intensity, work ethic, and the drive for perfection. The team consisted of mostly Vancouver Island-born-and-raised players with a perfect mix of experienced veterans like Ian Hyde-Lay, Chris Hebb, Ted Anderson, and Reni Dolcetti and young talents like Eli Pasquale, Gerald Kazanowski, and Kelly Dukeshire. American import Billy Turney-Loos was the team’s offensive sparkplug.

Urged on by the lunatic ravings of the team’s mascot, ‘The Mad Viking,’ over 2000 screaming supporters packed McKinnon Gym every game. The Vikes rattled off 20 straight regular season victories in Canada West play, the first UVic team to go undefeated. In the national tournament, victories over the University of Windsor and defending champion Saint Mary’s Huskies followed. In the national final, UVIC faced number-one-ranked Brandon University. After a slow start, Turney-Loos and Dolcetti turned the tide in the second half as UVIC earned a 73-65 victory. Both were named tournament all-stars, with Dolcetti also named MVP.

Read more about the Vikes' story.

Robin Bawa

Pioneer - Ice Hockey

When Robin Bawa made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals on October 6th, 1989, few recognized the moment’s significance. That night Robin, a hungry 23-year-old from Duncan, became the first athlete of South Asian descent to play in the NHL. In his second game, he became the first South Asian to score a goal.

His path to the Big League was far from easy. Robin faced countless instances of racial discrimination, but overcame the abuse with courage and determination. He progressed from the Fuller Lake Flyers to a leading role with Ken Hitchcock’s explosive Kamloops Blazers, scoring 57 goals in 62 games in his final junior year. By then Robin had helped Kamloops to two WHL titles and two 3rd-place Memorial Cup finishes.

Playing in Washington’s farm system, Robin found himself a target as the only South Asian in the minors. To defend himself, he learned to fight as well as score, piling up 23 goals and over 200 penalty minutes in 1988-89. Washington traded Robin home to Vancouver in 1991 where in his Canucks debut he ignited the Pacific Coliseum crowd by shattering the arena glass with a hit.

Robin later played for the San Jose Sharks and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, totaling six goals in 61 career NHL games.

Read more about Robin's story.

Cleve Dheensaw


Cleve grew up playing hockey and lacrosse, but showed more promise with the written word. He began writing at Victoria High School, the third great BC sportswriter after Jim Kearney and Jim Taylor to emerge from Vic High.

While attending the University of Victoria, Cleve wrote for The Martlet stumbling upon one of the biggest sports beats in BC: the UVic men’s and women’s basketball teams in the midst of national dynasties coached by Ken and Kathy Shields. He began writing for the Victoria Times-Colonist in 1981 and hasn’t stopped, shining the spotlight on countless BC athletes from their fledgling days to international stardom. Athletes like Steve Nash, Silken Laumann, and Simon Whitfield, among thousands of others.

During his career, he covered four Olympics in person, six Commonwealth Games, and the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. To date, he has written six books on BC sport. Cleve is the first BC Sports Hall of Fame media inductee whose career was based entirely outside the Vancouver media market. No sportswriter in Canada has covered a similar-sized region for so long, so well, and so thoroughly.

Read more about Cleve's story.

Kathy Newman

W.A.C. Bennett Award

Over a 40-year journey, Kathy Newman’s focus was to make a difference in the BC wheelchair sports community. You could say she’s done that and more. Today the BC Wheelchair Sports Association enjoys a leading reputation worldwide.

It began in 1981 when as president of the Langley Mustangs Track and Field Club, Kathy invited young wheelchair athletes like Rick Hansen to compete at the club’s annual track meet, one of the first in Canada allowing athletes with a disability to participate in an inclusive environment. The BC Wheelchair Sports Association brought her on shortly after and by 1987 she was the organization’s executive director, a position she held for 25 years.

In that time, Kathy worked tirelessly to increase awareness of wheelchair sport. She mentored a generation of para-sport administrators and programmers. She developed the Bridging the Gap and Wheelchair Loan programs, as well as ‘Have a Go’ Days that encouraged individuals who had been recently injured to try participating in sport. Many lives were changed through these programs, encouraging countless people with disabilities to lead active lives and showing what is possible. BC athletes like Rick Hansen, Richard Peter, and Marni Abbott have become household names today. Kathy was there for them from the beginning, helping propel them forward until they reached historic heights.

Read more about Kathy's story.