UVic unveils new Walk of Excellence

Clint Hamilton, University of Victoria athletic director, knew it was imperative to somehow find a way to connect the past with the present and future in the new $77-million Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) Building.

Mission accomplished.

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Hamilton proudly pointed to the display cases Wednesday during the unveiling of the Lynda and Murray Farmer UVic Sports Walk of Excellence.

“Look, Ilario [Vikes basketball legend Eli Pasquale] donated one of his Canadian Olympic team jerseys along with his UVic rookie jersey,” noted Hamilton.

So did a lot of other former Vikes greats across several sports. It’s almost as much a Canadian Olympic Walk of Fame, with uniforms that UVic athletes and coaches wore at Summer Olympics and Paralympics from Los Angeles in 1984 to London in 2012. The artifacts are on permanent display in the professionally-executed Walk of Excellence, which officially opened with ceremonies yesterday in CARSA.

“This is a really important element of the building [CARSA opened in May] because it was always a part of our vision to inspire people,” said Hamilton, himself a former national-champion basketball player for the Vikes.

“This will be a very powerful statement in terms of our current student-athletes and future athletes to show them that are part of a rich history that they will have a part in moving forward. They will feel a part of something bigger.”

The Walk of Excellence is easily visible and accessible from the new Vikes basketball gym in CARSA. It is named in honour of Murray Farmer, a former two-term chancellor of UVic, and wife Lynda. The Farmers made a $500,000 donation to CARSA.

The displays and panels encompass four themes: A Walk Through Time has Victoria College sports items dating to 1941. The International Success section features Vikes-related Olympic Games memorabilia. The National Champions section honours past Vikes CIS champions. The With The Vikes portion features the UVic Sports Hall of Fame inductees and, annually, the previous year’s Vikes award winners. There are also two video touch screens allowing for an interactive trip through UVic sporting history.

“This Walk of Excellence is deeply moving, inspiring and beautiful to look at with its dynamic colours and textures,” said Lynda Farmer, a leader in community volunteer work and an honourary UVic alumnus.

“It lays out a pathway for future UVic athletes to follow.”

Added Murray Farmer: “UVic punches above its weight and it’s important to honour those accomplishments, especially for new students interested in coming here. This [Walk of Excellence] just pops . . . and serves as a stimulating visual panorama of Vikes’ accomplishments.”

Part of the panorama is Nancy Mollenhauer [nee Charlton], who went from a standout field hockey career with the UVic Vikes to two World Cup medals with Canada and fifth place in the 1984 L.A. Olympics.

“These displays are tremendous and bring back so many memories,” said Mollenhauer.

“[Basketball coaches] Ken and Kathy Shields set the tone with their UVic men’s and women’s dynasties and everybody, from the UVic field-hockey players to the rowers, took a little piece of that and carried it forward in other sports all the way to the international level.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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