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Jayna Hefford and star-studded roster of athletes to join U of T Sports Hall of Fame

Four-time Olympic champion among those honoured

Alumna Jayna Hefford is just one of the athletes being inducted into U of T's Sports Hall of Fame (photo below of Darren Lowe courtesy KPE/ all other photos courtesy Jayna Hefford)

Four-time Olympic champion Jayna Hefford, Jen Rawson and the 2000-01 Ontario and Canadian champion women's hockey team are among the 15 inductees joining the University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame Thursday, June 5.

"With so much excitement built up around Olympic hockey, it seems only fitting that U of T 's great hockey tradition contributes the celebration," said Beth Ali, director of intercollegiate and high performance sport. "All of our inductees are a true representation of the outstanding contributions made by our student-athletes, coaches and administrators, while at the University of Toronto." 

Keeping on the ice, U of T will also honour long-time head coach and Olympian Darren Lowe, in addition to fellow former NHL'er Andre Hidi and the 1983-84 OUAA and CIAU champion men's hockey team. Diana Clarke and the 1995-96 OUA champion women's volleyball team are also among the nine athletes, three builders and three teams to be recognized at the 28th annual event, held at Hart House on the University of Toronto's downtown campus.

Joining Hefford, Rawson, Lowe, and Clarke at the 2014 Hall of Fame induction ceremony are former pitcher of the year Michael Didier and Olympic pole vaulter Bruce Simpson. The award will be given posthumously to women's basketball and men's boxing pioneers Jean Stevenson and Charles Gossage. 

Three builders will also be inducted, including football's Richard Kollins, water polo's David Breech and swimming's Winifred Baxter.

Tickets are available at uofttix.ca, or by calling the Hart House box office (416) 978-8849. The reception will start at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall with the ceremony to follow at 7:30 p.m. in Hart House Theatre.

"Through this induction, we acknowledge the extraordinary athletic collegiate careers of these individuals and teams and we are extremely proud of their respective achievements beyond our program," said Ali. "Congratulations to the hall of fame class of 2014."

A four-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time world champion, Hefford (pictured at right) has established herself as one of the world's top female hockey players. The Kingston, Ont., native played with the Varsity Blues women's hockey team, helping them to the Ontario title and earning OWIAA all-star honours in 1997. She made her international debut that same year and is one of only three players in Canadian women's hockey history to score over 100 goals on the world stage. Hefford scored the winning goal in the 2002 Olympic gold-medal game and is coming off her fifth Olympic Games in Sochi two months ago.

A standout on the ice for Toronto from 1996 to 2001, Rawson capped off her five-year career by leading the Varsity Blues to the 2001 CIS championship (35-0-0 overall) title, where she earned tournament MVP honours. During her career at U of T, Rawson was also recognized as an all-Canadian, OUA all-star, academic all-Canadian, and the 2001 OUA athlete of the year (BLG finalist). U of T captured three OUA titles (1996, 1999, 2001) during Rawson's playing career.

The 2000-01 Blues cruised through the regular season to a perfect 22-0-0 record, outscoring their opponents 114-14 in the process. U of T earned the OUA banner in convincing fashion, handily defeating the Laurier Golden Hawks 5-0 in the gold-medal game, and lived up to their No. 1 seeding at the 2001 CIS (then CIAU) championship in Calgary. With a 4-3 victory over the Regina Cougars, the University of Toronto claimed its first national championship in women's hockey. Head coach Karen Hughes earned OUA and CIAU coach of the year honours, and went onto serve as an assistant coach of Canada's Olympic champion team in 2002, while Rawson, Ali Houston and Susie Laska each earned all-Canadian honours that season.

Lowe (pictured at right) had an impressive playing career at both the amateur and professional levels. He was a key member of the undefeated 1981-82 OUAA championship team and captained the Blues upon his return from the Olympic Games in 1985-86.

During Lowe's Varsity career, he was an OUAA all-star in each of his three seasons, an all-Canadian in 1985-86 and the MVP of the 1981-82 playoffs. In 1986, Lowe's final year as a Varsity Blue, he received U of T's prestigious George M. Biggs Trophy for leadership, sportsmanship and performance.

As captain, he led a Canadian squad that won a gold medal at the 1984 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, and again captained the 1985-86 national student team. Lowe played professionally for six seasons, including stops in the NHL (Pittsburgh Penguins), the American Hockey League and in Europe (Austria, Finland). He finished his playing career in 1990-91 as a member of the IHL's San Diego Gulls and joined U of T's coach staff as an assistant coach in 1992-93 before assuming the head coach role three years later.

After representing Canada at the 1980 world junior championships, Hidi joined the University of Toronto men's hockey team and ended his four-year career ranked third on the Blues all-time scoring list with 90 goals and fourth in points (189). The three-time Ontario all-star led the Blues to the OUAA title in 1982 and 1984, while also earning all-Canadian and CIS University Cup MVP honours as U of T claimed the 1984 national title.

In March, 1984, Hidi signed with the Washington Capitals as a free agent, playing in one regular season game and two playoff contests. He played most of the 1984-86 period with the Binghamton Whalers of the AHL where he provided grit and offense before retiring.

The 1983-84 Blues men's hockey team boasted three players, including Hidi, that went onto to play in the NHL, as well as two that went onto coach. The Blues went 20-1-3 to finish first in the regular season and were a perfect 7-0 in the post season en route to Ontario and Canadian titles. Toronto capped off the spectacular seasons with a 9-1 rout of Concordia in the University Cup final.

Mike Keenan earned OUA coach of the year honours that season. He would later move onto the NHL and earn a Stanley Cup as the New York Rangers head coach in 1994. Mike Pelino was one of four Blues to earn Ontario all-star status that season and went onto serve as an assistant coach for the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers.

The Sports Hall of Fame honours U of T's greatest athletes and builders. It was established by the T-Holders' Association in 1987 as part of an ongoing effort to preserve and display the records relating to the outstanding historical tradition of athletic, academic and community leadership fostered by the University of Toronto. 

May 21, 2014