Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Big names heading to Sports Hall

Hawerchuk, Koskie, Shakespeare, Wedlake lead Class of 2013

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IN the list of names, a portrait of sport in Manitoba emerges: A hockey star and a baseball phenom, a tireless basketball booster and a historic curling squad.

On Wednesday, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame unveiled its list of 2013 inductees. Nine honourees will be inducted at the 34th annual ceremony this winter, nine leaders in their own way: athletes, visionaries, history-making teams.

"That's what makes this so special," said Bill Wedlake, the longtime University of Winnipeg basketball coach, who will be inducted at the dinner on Nov. 2. "There's people in there who have been working for as long as I have and longer, and had success, and we're going to be standing there shoulder to shoulder."

'It's a very good cross-section this year of high-profile professional athletes, and also amateur athletes that tend to toil outside of the limelight'

-- Sport Manitoba heritage director Rick Brownlee

Some of the names Wedlake will share the spotlight with need no introduction: there's Dale Hawerchuk, the Winnipeg Jets legend. There's Corey Koskie, a kid from Anola who played hockey and volleyball but wound up breaking into Major League Baseball, where with the Minnesota Twins in 2001, he became the only third baseman in American League history to swat out more than 25 home runs, 100 RBI and score more than 100 runs.

But there are other names on the list too, names for who the spotlight of fame has passed with time, or never fell on too intently. There is Art Werier, the lifelong 'Pegger who worked so hard to build table tennis in Canada and across the world, and helped launch Sport Manitoba. There is Faye Finch, who rocked a standout career as a student athlete at Kelvin High School into decades of achievement in softball, voleyball, track, fivepin bowling, touch football and team handball. She played from 1959 until her retirement in 1993.

There is also one posthumous induction: John T. Haig, the former Tory MLA and senator who grew up in Alexander. He died in 1962, but his legacy lives on in the Canadian Curling Association, which traces its roots back to the Dominion Curling Association he helped found in 1935.

Then there are the younger inductees, athletes, including Koskie and swimmer Shannon Shakespeare, 36, who carried her Manitoba Marlins training to the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.

"It's a very good cross-section this year of high-profile professional athletes, and also amateur athletes that tend to toil outside of the limelight," said Sport Manitoba heritage director Rick Brownlee. "And we're catching up on some history that probably should have been recognized long ago."

Specifically, Brownlee points to the 1936, '42 and '49 Watson brothers Brier-winning curling teams, which were skipped by Ken Watson with his brother Grant at third. Marvin McIntyre and Charles Kerr filled out the '36 squad, Charlie Scrymgeour and Jimmy Grant the '42 team, and the '49 rink had Lyle Dyker and Charles Read curling alongside the Watsons.

Because Manitoba has had so much international success in curling, the usual bar for hall consideration was a world championship, Brownlee said -- but those three Watson teams, which curled out of Strathcona, were dominant in their national runs.

For Wedlake, who fell in love with basketball as a young teen playing on an outdoor court near Luxton Junior High, getting the nod was "overwhelming."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2013 D4

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