The More Storytellers, the Better!


The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame relishes its role as the go-to storyteller of our sports community. It is a responsibility that we take seriously – whether it comes to our annual Induction Event, the galleries, exhibits and displays at our home at BC Place or simply the almost daily vignettes and tidbits that we post for our friends and followers on digital and social. Whether it is our annual induction process, the construction of new galleries or upgrades on existing ones or our increasingly valuable digital communications, it is really all about storytelling – telling the stories of the athletes, coaches, builders, officials, administrators, pioneers, media and teams that have helped turn British Columbia into one of the true hotbeds for sport and active living in Canada and across North America.

Any story that accurately honours the past and brilliantly inspires the future is right up our alley. That is as true for the inspirational stories produced by our youth sports system as it is for the exploits of our professional sport franchises, our major junior teams and our varsity squads.

We’re the first, however, to admit that we can’t do it on our own. In fact, as we’ve tried to convey in the recent launch and early days’ development of the BC Sports Hall Network – the emerging network of more than 40 local, regional and sport-specific halls, museums, galleries and exhibits located in communities spanning the province – we believe that we are better when we’re working together with all of those who share our penchant for celebrating excellence, accomplishment and achievement at all levels of sport.

As our BC Sports Hall Network grows and strengthens in each of the eight zones that define our provincial sport system, we will be able to build and expand our storytelling capacity from the grassroots up – to share more stories and celebrate more worthy inductees than ever before. Simply put, the BC Sports Hall Network is one way for us to build a local to provincial bridge by striving to bring our induction processes together and create an up to date database of every athlete, coach, builder and other sport leader who has ever been celebrated as a Hall of Famer, whether that be at the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame headquartered in Kelowna, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in New Westminster or any of the other sports halls in between.

Yet above and beyond those volunteers, staff and interns who stand behind our BC Sports Hall Network and the more than 40 sports halls throughout BC, beyond our curator Jason Beck, our Chief Executive Nicholas Cartmell and our dedicated staff team, and beyond our Board of Trustees, our Foundation Board of Directors and our Council of Chairs, there is a talented, creative and passionate group of individuals that is as important to the promotion of sport history, heritage and culture in British Columbia than anyone.

And that is the strong and talented cadre of professional storytellers, career historians and accredited media who love to tell sports stories. That list of professional storytellers includes, for example, Kathleen “Kat” Jayme, the dynamic film maker behind The Grizzlie Truth, which made its debut yesterday at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It is her fourth documentary film on the old Vancouver Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association and by far her most personal. It is a must-watch film for anyone who loved the old Grizzlies during their six-year run from the fall of 1995 to the spring of 2001. Yet it is also something that all of us who have “imprinted” ourselves as a fan of one or more sports teams. Moreover, it is and will become yet another important part of sport history, sport heritage and sport culture here in B.C.

Kat has done more than anyone to keep the Grizzlies story alive, even if that story seemed to end 21 years ago when the Vancouver-based franchise changed ownership groups and relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. That moment – heartbreaking to many and profoundly disappointing and anger-inciting to others – is a poster child for the notion that sometimes, even oftentimes, the most important lessons in life are found through a loss or failure rather than a win or a success. It is a reminder that we do not always measure our connection to our favourite sports teams through wins and losses.

The Grizzlie Truth by Kat Jayme is not only a film about the Vancouver Grizzlies. It is a compelling testament to the way that sport – in any of its forms – makes us feel. It tells us that our engagement with our hometown teams and favourite athletes is not always rationale. In fact, it rarely is. Sport creates powerful connections and generates the kind of emotions that cause palpable physical responses, from goosebumps and heart palpitations to tears and even voice loss.

Were it not for Kat, hundreds of people wouldn’t have visited VIFF this weekend to see the premiere and follow up screenings of The Grizzlie Truth. Without her, there would be an even bigger hole in the space once occupied by Bryant “Big Country” Reeves and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Yet because of her and her filmmaking – art and history imagined by the blood chemistry of Filipino heritage and further defined as a “Grizzlies Superfan” – we have not only The Grizzlie Truth, Finding Big Country and other Grizzlies-inspired films, but we have the very meaningful memories that she’s helped us relive 28 years after the birth of the NBA franchise in Vancouver, 27 years after its first games and 21 years after it moved to Memphis.

Kat Jayme is a unique creator of content in many ways. Yet she shares many of the qualities held by our professional storytellers in the media – radio, TV and print/digital – and those who call themselves career sport historians. That includes a heartfelt connection to her craft. A love for sports. And an unabashed desire to tell stories that make a difference.

To Kat Jayme, to her fellow sport filmmakers, to all those in the sports and news media in British Columbia and to all of you who are passionate sport historians, we thank you. Without you, the footprint that sport history, heritage and culture – and the inspiration it brings to the next generation of British Columbians and Canadians – would not be what it is today. With your storytelling to build upon, we stand energized to work with you and be the “best BC Sports Hall of Fame that we can be”.

The bottom line represented by the likes of Kat Jayme: The more great storytellers, the better our sport system will be and the more inspired young British Columbians and Canadians will be for generations to come. Hey, thanks to you, who knows, but maybe the NBA returns to Vancouver one day.

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 founder and host of The Sport Market sport business radio show, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.