Oak Bay High honours its distinguished sporting alumni

James Kirkpatrick qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the Canadian men’s field hockey team. Before that, he was a rugby and soccer player at Oak Bay High School. That was a path also followed by Connor Braid of the Tokyo 2020-qualified Canadian rugby sevens team.

Adam Straith and Nick Gilbert played pro soccer and earned 43 and 10 caps, respectively, for Canada after playing at Oak Bay. Sean White won two Pan Am Games gold medals and played in the Commonwealth Games and 2011 World Cup after starring for the Oak Bay Barbs rugby team.

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They are part of the latest wave of former athletes enshrined into the Oak Bay High Sports Hall of Fame during the induction ceremonies held over the weekend in the school’s Dave Dunnet Community Theatre.

They join more than 40 previous inductees selected in the 2005, 2008 and 2011 intakes.

Many of the former inductees — such as Bays basketball coaching legends Gary Taylor and Don Horwood — were in attendance to welcome in the new inductees.

The new class also includes former basketball standout Tom Holmes, who was named MVP of the 1969 B.C. high school championship tournament at the Pacific Coliseum despite losing in overtime to the Vic High Totems in the all-Island final.

Former Bays basketball star Graham Taylor went on to win three national championships with the University of Victoria Vikes while fellow Oak Bay High alumnus Andreas Hestler became the first Canadian male mountain biker to compete in the Olympics at Atlanta in 1996.

Maddie Secco and Kathleen Leahy starred for the Oak Bay field hockey team before, respectively, playing in the NCAA Pac-12 at Stanford and the University of Victoria in U Sports and earning 139 and 63 caps for Canada. Heather Benson, an Oak Bay field hockey great of a previous generation, played in the Pan Am Games for Canada and was part of the silver-medallist national team at the 1983 World Cup.

Josh Howatson, tall yet terrifically agile, came off the volleyball court at Oak Bay to star for many years as the starting setter of the Canadian national team after playing at Camosun College and being named U Sports player of the year during a starry career at Trinity Western.

Also inducted were all-round, multi-sport standouts Jack Showers, Chris Trumpy Jr., Mitch Gudgeon and Yeta DiLalla.

Coaches and builders inducted in this intake were Dave Thomson, Mike Sheffer, Murray Allen and Keith Butler.

“It is an eclectic and accomplished group,” said Oak Bay athletic director Rich Fast.

“The culture of our school stresses academics, athletics, arts and citizenship. This again illustrates the success we have had in athletics. It was inspiring to see so many generations represented in one place at one time.”

Fast said the nine years between inductions was because of the school’s rebuild which replaced the old Oak Bay High School building. He said induction ceremonies will now be held about every five years.

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