David Sidoo, Frank Smith and the 1969/70 UBC Thunderettes women’s basketball team are among the members of the BC Sports Hall of Fame’s 2017 induction class.
Of all the inductees, Sidoo received the highest honour — the W.A.C. Bennett Award. According to the Hall of Fame’s nomination form, the Bennett award recognizes individuals who have “made a significant unique and lasting contribution to sport in British Columbia.”
Sidoo — who played for Thunderbirds football from 1978 to 1982 and won a Vanier Cup championship during his final year — has donated millions of dollars toward sports programs for youth in the province. He also notably founded the 13th Man Foundation to raise money for the UBC football team.
While he is proud of his accomplishment, Sidoo said that he feels more grateful for the difference he’s been able to make in his community.
“It’s not about the awards, really. It’s about the people that you make a difference for and that’s what really just excites me so much,” said Sidoo.
Smith — who coached UBC football from 1974 to 1994 and made four Vanier Cup appearances during that time — was also proud to see a player that he once coached enter the Hall of Fame.
“[Sidoo] is certainly worthy of being inducted … He’s done a number of things in the community over and above just football,” said Smith.
Smith got inducted to the Hall of Fame as part of the player/coach category and attributes his induction success to the performance of his team.
“A lot of the players went to play for the Canadian Football League (CFL) after they had been at UBC, and that’s a reflection on them and a reflection on the team and the program,” said Smith.
Sidoo also credits his success to Smith’s mentorship.
“I’ve taken so many of those team aspects that [Smith] taught me on the football field and in sports into my business world, and have been very successful with that,” said Sidoo. “He’s helped me more than he can help.”
In the team category, it was the 1969/70 UBC Thunderettes women’s basketball team that got the award.
Heather Cranston — one of the members of the team — sees the 1969/70 season as having set a legacy for the women’s basketball program at UBC.
“The coaching style was what really took this group of athletes higher than most of the teams had been before,” said Cranston. “We did fitness training that was pretty much unheard of for women’s sports.”
That year, the Thunderettes came out with a 32-6 record to place first in Western Canada and also won the Senior A women’s championship. Five of the team’s players eventually went on to play for the Canadian national team.
“I think it’s really important for women’s sports, especially women’s team sports, to be promoted through the BC Sports Hall of Fame,” said Cranston.
Outside of UBC, other members of the induction class include Roland Green (cycling), Mark Recchi (ice hockey), Geroy Simon (football), Michelle Stilwell (wheelchair athletics), Mark Wyatt (rugby), Tim Frick (wheelchair basketball), George and Dianne Tidball (equestrian) and Chang Keun Choi (Taekwondo).
The official ceremony for the Hall of Fame induction will take place on April 12.