Kevin Alexander remembers his mom encouraging him to play hockey in Saanich but “I didn’t like early mornings or being cold.”
The result was a superstar lacrosse career and enshrinement as part of a heavily Island-flavoured Class of 2013 into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame during the induction ceremonies tonight at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre.
“If you don’t like what you’re doing, you will never be good at it,” said Alexander, who became plenty good in the lacrosse box.
Montreal native Peter Reid recalls being told in the mid-1990s that Victoria was emerging as the place to be for triathletes. He made the move. The result was three Ironman Hawaii world titles, three Ironman Hawaii silver medals and one bronze.
Ken Shields took with him the lessons of being part of Canada’s own version of Hoosiers when as a player his upstart Prince Rupert Rainmakers beat the bigger Vancouver and Island teams to win the 1964 B.C. high school basketball title.
“The only reason we could even compete was that we were fitter, tougher and defended better. Those lessons became the foundation of my coaching career and all my teams reflected those simple, basic values,” said Shields, who coached the University of Victoria Vikes to seven consecutive Canadian university men’s hoops championships in the 1980s.
Alexander, Reid and Shields are part of the B.C. Sports Hall Class of 2013. Other Islanders being enshrined tonight are Ken’s fellow coach and wife, Kathy Shields, who guided the UVic Vikes women’s basketball team to eight Canadian university titles, and Dawn Coe-Jones, who came out of Lake Cowichan to win more than $3 million in a golf career spanning 1984 to 2008 to become one of the earliest Canadian stars on the LPGA Tour.
The other inductees for 2013 are former Vancouver Canucks player, coach, GM and president Pat Quinn; the 31-times capped Canadian rugby great Ro Hindson, the Okanagan native who came out of Brenwood College; Olympic medallist swimmer Brent Hayden of Mission; and Larry Kwong of Vernon, the first player of Asian descent to play in the NHL and also the first player from the Okanagan to make it.
Going into the Hall in the team category is the Ocean Falls Swim Club, the isolated small mill-town club that produced several Olympians, including Mexico City 1968 silver-medallist Ralph Hutton, who lives in Parksville, and Anne Linton, who resides in Victoria.
Larry Isaac of Coquitlam is this year’s media inductee for his 35-year career as producer of numerous CBC Olympic and Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts and of CKVU’s ground-breaking Sports Page.
Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, who grew up watching the Victoria Shamrocks play lacrosse at the old Memorial Arena, has labelled Alexander as one of his top-five favourite athletes of all time.
“Kevin Alexander was the Steve Nash of lacrosse,” said Ken Shields, also a huge Alexander fan.
“Kevin did something special each game.”
Alexander was a rare, natural talent. Yet it’s never that easy.
“I sometimes laugh at the natural athlete description,” said the 58-year-old Camosun College welding instructor. “It took a lot of practice and repetition.”
As for his own success as a basketball coach, Shields pointed to his UVic players — who included Olympians Eli Pasquale, Gerald Kazanowski, Greg Wiljer and other national teamers such as Kelly Dukeshire and Phil Ohl.
“Both Kathy’s and my success was all due to the performances of our players,” said Ken Shields, who coached Canada for five years and was also assistant coach for the Australian team at the 2004 Athens Olympics and assistant for the host British women’s team at the 2012 London Games.
“Our induction into the Hall of Fame is a direct result of their performances. We are indebted to all of our players. This is a very special honour, especially to be going in with such incredible company.”
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