Eleven individuals and three teams were honoured for their outstanding achievements and contributions to athletics at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education's 31st annual U of T Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday.
“U of T's Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1987 as part of an ongoing effort to record and celebrate a legacy of athletic excellence at U of T,” said Ira Jacobs, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education. “Tonight we honour individuals and teams who helped build that tradition of excellence.”
The inductees were selected from sports as varied as cross-country, track and field, football, basketball, squash, hockey, soccer and volleyball. Taking their turn on the podium to receive their awards, the athletes thanked their families, coaches and teammates for providing them with the support, motivation and inspiration they needed to achieve their success.
“On occasion, my parents were the only spectators, not counting the other athletes, attending some of my races,” said John A. Sharp, an alumnus of U of T's Victoria University who was honoured for his achievements in cross-country and track and field.
Sharp also thanked his sister Trudy, sitting in the audience, for letting him borrow her black tights on a very cold October day of an OUA track and field championships in 1974. He won the race in record time.
Speaking on behalf of the inducted 1974 men’s cross-country team, Brad Morley showed up wearing a singlet he wore in 1974 when the team was crowned both CIAU and OUAA champions.
KPE Dean Ira Jacobs (left) with members of the 1974 cross-country team (photo by Martin Bazyl)
“Still looks good, huh?” he said to cheers from the audience.
“The passion we all had for our sport was nurtured and developed by the very positive atmosphere at the University of Toronto, embodied in the wisdom and dedication of our coaches. And, from the impressive biographies of my teammates, you can see how much it shaped us as athletes and people,” said Morley, who became an English teacher after graduating from U of T.
One after the other, the inductees shared their favourite memories of being U of T Varsity athletes. Julia Hamilton, who led the Varsity Blues women’s squash team to three consecutive OUA titles from 2002 to 2005, while pursuing a medical degree, quoted American gymnast Mary Lou Retton: “A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.”
Jeff Chung was one of the most decorated men’s volleyball players in Varsity Blues history, who went on to serve as the Varsity Blues men’s volleyball head coach from 2004 to 2007.
He thanked his family and spoke about his special relationship with coach Orest Stanko, calling him not only the best, but the most entertaining coach.
“You always challenged me, pushed me hard, taught me how to win and be a leader. You believed in me and, most importantly, you made me laugh.”
The 1997-98 men's volleyball team, inducted in U of T's Sports Hall of Fame (photo by Martin Bazyl)
Chung’s teammate on the inducted 1997-98 men’s volleyball team, Peter Esteves, remembered that their team was shorter than nearly all the others, and they tended to make slow starts in matches. But they believed in themselves, something Coach Stanko encouraged.
“He told us that our success was in our hands and he had the gift of empowering us when we needed it.”
Esteves recounted the story of the team losing the first two games in a best-of-five match. During the huddle leading into the third game, the players’ spirits were low. Stepping into the huddle, Stanko looked at them and said: “It’s clear we have them right where we want them.”
They went on to win that match.
Congratulations to the 2018 U of T’s Sports Hall of Fame inductees. They are:
John A. Sharp – cross country and track and field
Ewart “Reddy” Dixon – football and basketball
Frank Halbus – gymnastics, track and field
Julia Hamilton – squash
Walter “Watty” Thompson – hockey, soccer, track and field
Thomas Joseph McAuliffe – cross country, track and field
Jeff Chung – volleyball
Harry Hobbs – football
Michael Slean – volleyball
Dr. John C. Cameron – medical staff
Dorothy Jackson – synchronized swim staff and administration
1974 men’s cross country
1997-98 men’s volleyball
2004-05 women’s squash