Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Laliberte, Guenette, MacCulloch head class of 2014

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THE Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame announced the 2014 inductees Wednesday. This year's class includes five athletes, three builders and the 1988 Winnipeg Blue Bombers that won the Grey Cup.

The media event took place at the newly renovated Hall of Fame gallery at Sport Manitoba. Athletes Wanda Guenette (volleyball), Connie Laliberte (curling), Keith McLennan (lacrosse) and Heather Ruby (softball) were in attendance, along with builders Ron Brown (racquetball) and Al Kinley (baseball).

Former NBA player Todd MacCulloch (still the only Winnipegger to ever be drafted into the NBA) and artistic gymnastics coach Lorie Henderson were unable to attend. The 1988 Blue Bombers were represented by Chris Walby, James Murphy and Bob Cameron. The induction ceremony will be on Nov. 8.

"Wow, it's a bit surreal, it's a great honour," said Guenette, 51. "It's been a lot of hard work, a few blood, sweat and tears but it's been worth it. I kinda faltered in the '80s and I realized what I wanted to do and I've been dedicated to my sport ever since."

Guenette played volleyball through the '80s and '90s, winning a national championship with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen before competing three times for Team Canada at the Pan Am Games and at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She later moved to beach volleyball, competing on the pro tour with multiple appearances at the Pan Am Games and world championships.

She now coaches beach volleyball, something she said she never had when she started the game.

For McLennan, a lacrosse player who represented Manitoba 23 times at the national championships, it was great to see his sport recognized.

"I started when I was about seven years old at Kelvin community club because we lived about one street over from Kelvin," said McLennan.

"My brother played and once I started I had my stick in my hands, taking it school everyday and I just loved the game."

Last year, McLennan was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame, but he said there's no better feeling than being honoured in his home province.

"Lacrosse isn't the biggest sport in Manitoba, with hockey and all the other sports, to be inducted like this is just great," McLennan said. "It's just really great, an emotional high."

The 1988 Winnipeg Blue Bombers believed they could win even when no one else did. At the Eastern Conference final, the Bombers overcame the favoured Toronto Argonauts, 27-11, before edging the similarly favoured B.C. Lions, 22-21, to win the franchise's ninth Grey Cup.

"It's very exciting, anytime you can go into some type of hall of fame it's fantastic," Cameron said. "And then to go in with the whole team and a bunch of guys you got a bond for the rest of your life with, it's really neat."

Cameron was named the game's most valuable Canadian, noting he wasn't expecting to receive the awasrd.

"We did all the little things you have to do to win close games," Cameron said. "And it's always great seeing these guys, like I said, when you win championships there's a bond there for life and when you win championships in front of millions of people that's even more cool.

"My parents were still alive back then, I shared all those moments with my parents and my teammates. You can see them 10, 20, 30 years later and it's like it was yesterday."

kyle.edwards@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2014 D4

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