Veteran Times Colonist sportswriter Cleve Dheensaw is part of the Class of 2020 to be inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.
The induction class includes former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Kirk McLean, former MLB pitcher Jeff Francis, former B.C. Lions all-star defensive lineman Brent Johnson and the 1979-80 University of Victoria men’s basketball team, which began UVic’s run of seven consecutive national titles.
Also being inducted in the Class of 2020 are Olympic and Tour de France cyclist Alex Stieda and Paralympic gold-medallist wheelchair curler Sonja Gaudet.
The class was unveiled during a press conference Tuesday at the Hall of Fame, located at B.C. Place Stadium. The induction ceremony is June 4 at the Vancouver Conference Centre.
Dheensaw has covered the sports beat for the Times Colonist since 1981. He becomes the first inductee into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame media category whose entire career has taken place outside the Vancouver market.
“I have to thank Island athletes and teams,” said Dheensaw, who called the honour a “huge surprise.” “It’s their success, produced through their effort and sweat, that has allowed me to write about their exploits in the Olympics and Commonwealth and Pan Am Games, World Cups in soccer and rugby, Mann Cups, the Super Bowl and from junior to the NHL. They have taken me on quite a journey over nearly four decades.”
Dheensaw said it is meaningful to be inducted the same year as the first of the UVic dynasty basketball teams to win a national championship.
“That was my first beat in the Times Colonist sports department, and to be able to jump right into covering a dynasty was truly unique and special,” said Dheensaw, adding it’s also a privilege to enter the same hall as Island greats such as hockey legend Lester Patrick, all-rounders Torchy and Doug Peden, basketball stars Art and Chuck Chapman, lacrosse superstars Paul and Gary Gait and Kevin Alexander, triathlete Simon Whitfield, rowers Silken Laumann and Derek Porter, rugby player Gareth Rees, and basketball hall-of-famer Steve Nash.
“I am truly grateful for this honour,” he said. “Sport is as intrinsic to the fabric of a community as the symphony or theatre.”
Past Island-associated inductees in the media section of the B.C. Sports Hall include Jim Taylor (Daily Colonist), Jim Kearney (Victoria Daily Times), Ted Reynolds (CJVI), Jim Robson (CJAV in Port Alberni), Jack Short (horse-race announcing) and Paul Carson (CHEK-TV), although all later became more renowned working in the Vancouver media.
Entering in the builders’ category of the Class of 2020 are Kathy Newman from Paralympics wheelchair basketball, Valerie Johnson from trampoline gymnastics, Bill Mitchell of wrestling and the late Harry White from junior golf.
Robin Bawa of Duncan, the first Indo-Canadian to play in the NHL, is being enshrined in the pioneers’ category.
A total of 406 individuals and 63 teams have been inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame since its founding in 1966.