Comment: How Sports Hall of Fame is adapting to an unusual year

A commentary from the president of the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame. Part of our continuing series on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses and organizations.

We were in the middle of the planning process for the 2020 Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner when COVID-19 put the brakes on the event.

The 27th annual ceremony was due to happen in October at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa, but a provincial health order on mass gatherings made it impossible for us to carry on with the event.

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The fundraisers we hold to help fund the dinner were also cancelled, so it was a double whammy for us. However, even though there won’t be a dinner this year, we announced the class of inductees for 2020 in May, and these deserving individuals will be recognized in 2021.

The first event to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions was the Family Sport & Recreation Festival held at PISE every May. As co-host, the Hall of Fame receives a donation from the Victoria Foundation and Golf for Kids. However, now we must defer their participation donation to next year.

Next, we help support a local golf tournament — the Dobber — which was slated for June. Originally postponed to the fall, this event will likely not happen until 2021.

Then in July we had a 50/50 night planned at the Victoria HarbourCats game. This would have been our third year after two successful evenings in 2018 and 2019, but the HarbourCats season was cancelled. We had other fundraising events in mind, in particular with Pacific FC, but these are all now on hold.

Many Victoria sports fans know that our hall of fame is housed in the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, in the concourse by Gate 3. Here, we honour the more than 220 athletes, coaches, teams and builders that have been inducted since 1991.

In addition, we have displays that chronicle Victoria’s rich sports history, including the history of cycling in Greater Victoria, dating from the 19th century to the present day. That display includes the restored track bike of Torchy Peden, the Hall of Fame’s first inductee.

We also cover the history of soccer on Vancouver Island with a four-panel display that depicts 128 years of soccer greatness, produced in conjunction with the Vancouver Island Soccer League. Unfortunately, we had to remove the displays in April when the city set up a temporary indoor shelter for the homeless in the arena.

While our events are cancelled and our displays are not on view, our 15-person volunteer board remains strong and productive. Since April, our monthly meetings have been held virtually on Zoom, and we are still actively planning for the future.

The hall of fame gives back to the community and one of the events we support is the Vikes Championship Breakfast held in September at the University of Victoria.

The hall of fame purchases tables where we host past inductees and sponsors as a thank you for their generous support to us. The breakfast has raised $5.6 million over 12 years for student-athlete scholarships.

While we don’t know if the 2020 breakfast will happen, the annual Vikes scholarship we award will go ahead. For the past 10 years, we have provided a scholarship for a local high-school student who is a first year Vikes athlete, via the Bate Family Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame Award.

Despite not having the induction dinner and ceremony this year, our class of 2020 will not go unrecognized. We announced six inductees, four in the athletes category: Bobby Ross (rugby), Bob McLaren (athletics), Joanne Mick (softball) and Donnie Orr (boxing); and two builders: Pat Hall (multi-sports) and the Vancouver Island Soccer League. These worthy additions to our hall of fame will be profiled on our website, newsletters and social media channels and will be formally inducted next year with our 2021 class.

As a registered charity, we are moving ahead with confidence, knowing that our way of life will get back to normal, and we can resume our work and focus on preserving Victoria’s immense sports heritage.

Please view our website at gvshof.ca for more information on our activities and where you can show your donation support for the work of your Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame.

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