For 2012 inductees, emotions run high

Broadcaster John McKeachie remembers being five-years-old and receiving a stick signed by the Island hockey legend Lester Patrick himself.

Archery builder Al Wills, involved in his sport for more than 40 years, proudly recalled that a Victoria Bowmen archer represented Canada at every Olympics from when the sport was introduced into the Summer Games at Munich in 1972 to Barcelona in 1992.

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A sporting city enshrined more of its past greats Saturday night at the 19th annual Victoria Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies held at the Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence on the Camosun College Interurban campus.

"It's a very emotional night," said Vic High-grad McKeachie, who went from the old CKDA Radio to the Vancouver and national sports media spotlights.

"It's the passion and heritage this city brings to sport and which is passed from one generation to the next," said McKeachie, who follows his father and two uncles in the Victoria Hall.

Joining McKeachie and Wills into the Hall with the Class of 2012 was former basketball star Tracie Sib-bald [née McAra], who came out of Reynolds Secondary to lead the UVic Vikettes to three CIS national titles and played in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, placing fourth, during a six-year Canadian national-team career.

"When you know the type of athletes that have come out of this city and on to the international stage at the highest levels, it's pretty amazing, flattering and humbling to be honoured like this," said Sibbald.

Also enshrined last night with the Class of 2012 were the legendary Gold Dust Twins from the Victoria Shamrocks of the 1950s - Fred (Whitey) Severson and the late Archie Browning - whose uncanny and deft tandem passing-and-shooting abilities made them among the greatest players in lacrosse history.

"The Shamrock were the No. 1 team in town back then and used to fill the old Memorial Arena," recalled a beaming Severson.

Joining McKeachie, Wills, Sibbald, Severson and Browning in the Class of 2012 were auto-racing legend Roy Haslam; George Jones, the noted rugby builder and a founding member of the Victoria Commonwealth Games Society and Braefoot Athletic Centre; and Joe Iannarelli, the irrepressible founding manager of the Esquimalt Archie Browning Arena.

The team inductee was the Gorge Hotel men's soft-ball squad, which starred the talented all-rounder Joe Bryant, and won a then-record six consecutive B.C. titles from 1954 to 1959.

Plaques honouring the Class of 2012 will join those of the more than 200 previous inductees inside the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre. cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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