Prince George Sports Hall of Fame

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Greg Blackburn-1.jpg

Greg Blackburn (1997)

Swimming Athlete

He may not have heard the roar of the crowd, but Greg Blackburn certainly felt the thrill of victory, at home and around the world.

A member of the Prince George Barracudas swim team from 1987 to 1993. Greg amassed numerous pool records at his home facility and accolades as the team's top overall swimmer, while winning numerous medals at the provincial level and representing our city proudly at national meets.

Greg stepped onto the world stage at the XVI World Games for the Deaf (New Zealand 1989), narrowly missing the medal mark with four fourth-place finishes.

Four years later, as the veteran leader of a Canadian team that dominated swimming competition, Greg won 40 per cent of Canada’s medals at the XVII World Games for the Deaf (Bulgaria 1993). His haul of hardware included six individual medals (two gold, two silver and two bronze), and two relay medals (silver and bronze). Greg also set one world record, for swimmers who are deaf.

Greg’s outstanding achievements were a source of pride for everyone in the city, and he was recognized as Prince George’s Male Athlete of the Year in 1993.


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John Dinsmore (1997)

Baseball Builder/Administrator

John Dinsmore has been described as the man “who made Little League go” in Prince George and the north. Through his efforts, a four-team league was established in the city in 1954. Seeing the need for a program for older boys, he organized the Pony League in 1955 and the Connie Mac League in 1957.

With minor baseball firmly established in Prince George, John traveled the north, building other Little League organizations, an effort which culminated in the formation of the province’s fourth Little League district. John served as the district administrator for 15 years.

For his dedication to the sport, John was recognized in 1964 by the B.C. Amateur Baseball Association as the person who had done the most for Little League baseball in the province.

In 1989 he was made a "Life Member of B.C. Little League Baseball."

The Little League facility at 12th and Freeman is named in his honour: John Dinsmore Stadium.

He played, he coached, he umpired, he organized and he administered. John once said he didn’t know anyone as crazy about baseball as he was, and he was probably right. For the rest of us, his obsession was a great gift. As the beneficiaries of John’s tireless enthusiasm, we are grateful for this opportunity to honour and immortalize his legacy.


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Tom Masich (1998)

Track & Field Coach,Builder

It is perfect timing that Tom Masich be inducted into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

Forty years after he began to work with some of Canada’s top athletes – and a quarter century into his involvement in local athletics – 1998 was the year Tom helped bring Canada’s top junior athletes to Prince George.

Tom was a driving force behind the 1998 Royal Canadian Legion National Track and Field Championships, held at Massey Place Stadium in August. The meet, a showcase for the top 17-and-under athletes in Canada, has been a springboard for close to 100 of this country’s Olympians.

“The one athlete that comes to mind as a 17-year-old was Harry Jerome,” Tom recalls of his first experience with the Legion meet. That was in 1958, two years before Jerome would set the world record over 100 metres.

Tom’s involvement with athletics followed him wherever he went. He coached clubs in Kimberley and Prince Rupert before he came to Prince George in 1966. Work commitments kept him “on the fringes” of track until 1973, when he formed the Prince George Track and Field Club.

“Track has always been part of me,” he says. “It’s always been the one thing I have enjoyed. I really enjoy watching kids develop from nine- and 10-year-olds to their teenage years.”

In addition to his tireless efforts with the Prince George club, Tom helped found such city mainstays as the Prince George to Boston marathon – now called the Labour Day Classic – the Prince George Minor Basketball Association and the city’s elementary school relays. Massey Place Stadium, a truly world-class track and field facility, was built in Prince George at least partly because of his efforts and he was instrumental in bringing international athletes to the pre-Commonwealth Games meet in 1994 and to the Spruce Capital Invitational Track and Field meet in 1995.

Tom has been a tremendous role model for many Prince George youth. He has opened doors for some of this city’s top athletes, and he has brought yet more prestige to this city. He is an excellent inductee into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.


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Darcy Rota (1998)

Hockey Professional Athlete

He may have only been a full-time resident of Prince George for six years, but Darcy Rota says B.C.’s Northern Capital can take some of the credit for his success.

Over an 11-year NHL career, Darcy scored more than 250 goals for the Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Flames and Vancouver Canucks. In 1982 he helped the Canucks to the Stanley Cup final, where they met the New York Islanders dynasty on their way to their third consecutive championship.

“The biggest goal I ever scored in my life was the goal to make it 4-2 in Game 5 against Chicago (in the Campbell Conference Final). “That, by far, is the highlight of my life in hockey.”

And for Darcy, it all started in Prince George.

Arriving here from Kelowna at age 11, he was a “good house league player.” The last player cut from the rep team in his first year of bantams, Darcy made the traveling squad the following year and would go on to captain the Prince George midgets to a provincial championship. His next step was the captaincy of the junior B Texaco Chiefs before moving on to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. He would star with the Oil Kings, scoring a league-leading 73 goals in 68 games in 1972-73 (out-scoring Lanny MacDonald, Tom Lysiak, Dennis Sobchuk and Blaine Stoughton in the process). That summer he was drafted 13th overall by the ‘Hawks and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I really believe very strongly I would not have made the National Hockey League if not for my years in Prince George. I was very proud to be a resident of Prince George.”

Darcy is still on the front lines of hockey. The inaugural coach of the expansion Burnaby Bulldogs of the B C Hockey League, Darcy brings the same enthusiasm to the rink as a mentor as he did when he played. He says there are five basic ingredients to a good hockey team: accountability to each other, trust, commitment, work ethic and fun. Those five things describe his playing career.

“I would never expect something from them (his Bulldog players) that I wouldn’t expect from myself.”

Darcy Rota has proven himself a top-notch athlete and sportsman. His on-ice and off-ice accomplishments make him an ideal addition to the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.


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Howard Foot (1997)

Water Skiing Builder/Administrator

Howard Foot introduced the sport of water skiing to Prince George in the 1950s, when his father came home from the Kelowna Regatta with a pair of water skis.

Howard took to the sport naturally, and before long was winning countless medals and awards at the Kelowna Regatta, the B.C. Water Ski Provincial Championships and the B.C. Summer Games. Although recognized for his talent, it is Howard’s contribution as a teacher for which he is most respected.

In 1979, Howard opened the Nukko Lake Water Ski School. Students of all ages and abilities have sharpened their skills under his instruction, although Howard always stressed that the most important elements in water skiing are safety and fun. He was always more concerned that his skiers were enjoying themselves, rather than how they were placing in medal rounds.

The school produced many provincial, western and national champions, who attribute their success to Howard’s influence. His involvement is recognized and appreciated throughout the B.C. water skiing community.

In 1990, Howard provided further evidence of his dedication, becoming the water skiing sport chairman for the B

.C. Summer Games.

The Prince George Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to honour his efforts and welcome Howard Foot as an inaugural member, as Prince George’s first man to “walk on water.”


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Jim Fowlie Jr (1997)

Swimming Athlete,Coach

Jim Fowlie Jr. honed his talent and skills with the Prince George Barracudas Swim Club, competing in local and provincial competitions until 1973. From there, his climb to the top of the Canadian swimming ranks was swift. In the 1973 Canada Games, he was the silver medalist in the 400-metre Individual Medley, and bronze medalist in the 200-metre. In 1974, he won the national championship in the 400 IM, setting a new Canadian record. He repeated as national champion the following two years. In international competition, Jim’s achievements were no less impressive; a bronze medal in the 1974 Commonwealth Games; a Commonwealth record in his specialty, the 400 IM in 1975; and two top-five finishes in the 1975 World Championships.

In 1976, he set a world short course record, again in his favoured event, the 400 IM, a record that stood up for four years. Jim retired from competition in 1976, but he’s continued his winning ways as a swimming coach. He returned to the Barracudas as head coach, before embarking on a remarkable coaching journey. From 1978 to 1992, he served as head coach for national-calibre clubs in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto, and he held numerous national coaching appointments. From there, Jim went “Down Under” to further his career with the Australian Institute of Sport.

In 1996 in Atlanta, his swimmers collected three Olympic medals.

As an athlete, he found the way to victory. As a coach, he has showed the way. For his achievements, and for his dedication to the sport of swimming, Jim Fowlie has definitely earned his place in the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.


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Diana Lowrie (1997)

Figure Skating Builder/Administrator

Diana Lowrie was a member of the Prince George Figure Skating Club from 1968 to 1992. During that period, she held the positions of Carnival Chairman, Costume Chairman, Secretary, Pro Liaison, Vice-President and finally Hospitality Chairman for the 1992 Western Divisional Championships held in Prince George.

Elected to the Board of Directors of the Cariboo North Central Region (figure skating) she served as Secretary and Region Chairman for a total of eight years. As an elected member of the Board of Directors of B.C. Section she held the posts of Director, Secretary, Precision Skating Chairman, B C Winter Games Provincial Advisor and Vice-President for a total of 11 years.

At the national level, Lowrie spent three years as the elected Director of the Canadian Figure Skating Association, six years on the National Precision Skating Committee (three years as Chairman) and two years as a member of the National Competition Committee. She attained Canadian Level as a Precision Skating Judge, and judged or refereed 13 Canadian Championships.

She achieved Master Trainer status in Precision Skating in 1989.

Beyond our borders, Lowrie moderated judges' seminars and served as a judge for Precision Skating events all over the globe. In addition, she sat as a member of the North American Precision Committee from 1989 to 1991.

This simple list of titles and duties cannot begin to do justice to Lowrie's hard work and dedication on behalf of the Canadian figure skating community, and more so her efforts to raise the profile of Precision Skating at home and around the world. All we can say is, if she were not inducted into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame, she would at least win some kind of award for the city’s biggest collection of hats.


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Harold Mann (1997)

Boxing Athlete,Coach,Builder/Administrator

Harold Mann has been an international champion boxer and coach, a teacher and an inspiration to generations of young men in British Columbia and Canada. He has also been an outstanding ambassador for his sport, a family man and a community leader.

As an amateur, Harold garnered four provincial titles, and three national championships. In 1962, he brought home gold from the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, becoming the first and only B.C. boxer to win Commonwealth gold.

As a professional, Harold went undefeated in 12 bouts from 1963 to 1967.

After his competitive career, Harold shared his knowledge and experience as a coach with local, provincial and national teams. Five of his charges went on to repeat wins at the national championships, including his son Laurie, a six-time national amateur champ. Harold has also refereed on both the amateur and professional levels.

The Harold Mann Boxing Achievement Award is presented annually by the B.C. Amateur Boxing Association in his honour.

Harold and his wife, Betty, still live in the city where they raised three sons (all of whom boxed). They have eight grandchildren. Harold remains a vital and respected figure in the Prince George boxing community to this day.


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Neal Marshal (1997)

Speed Skating Athlete

Neal first stepped onto the speed skating oval in Prince George in 1976. Twenty years and several thousand trips around the track later, he leads the country and ranks among the world’s best.

A six-time national all-round champion (1991-1997), holder of four Canadian records and two-time Olympian (Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994) Neal has his sights set on Olympic gold in Nagano, Japan this February.
As a former world record holder at 3,000 metres, and the current world record holder at 1,500 metres, Neal has to be one of Canada’s brightest hopes to bring home some serious hardware in 1998.

Neal has already proven his mettle in international competition, winning two bronze medals in the World Championships and nine medals (two gold, six silver and one bronze) on the World Cup circuit, plus the overall World Cup championship in 1994-1995.

While many of our inductees can look back with pride on their achievements, we are happy to salute one athlete whose greatest competitive moments may yet lie ahead. We honour Neal Marshall for his outstanding accomplishments, and we look forward to adding more accolades to the list. We’ll leave a prominent space for Nagano gold. Good luck, Neal. Your native city stands behind you.


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Randy Wagner (1997)

Volleyball Athlete,Coach

Randy's first taste of volleyball supremacy was with the 1976 AA provincial high school champions from Prince George Senior Secondary, a team that ran up a stunning 91-game winning streak. He must have liked that winning feeling, because the next year, he played for the juvenile club national champions, and made the junior national team. Just one year later, he played for the men’s national champs, and made the men’s national team.

From 1978 to 1980, playing for the College of New Caledonia and Langara College, he was twice a national MVP, winning two provincial titles and one national title.

From 1980 to 1986 as a member of Team Canada he shared a Canada Cup victory, a third-place performance at the Pan-American games, and a fourth-place finish at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

South of the border in 1984-1985, he was rookie of the year, first-team All-American and a U.S. national champion with San Diego State, playing with U.S. national team members Karch Kiraly, Pat Powers and Marc Waldie.

After five years of semi-pro volleyball in Europe, Randy returned for one all-star season with UBC. In 1991 he began his coaching career with a semi-pro club in Belgium until finally coming home in 1994 to assume the head coaching post with the College of New Caledonia Kodiaks.

Randy has followed a similar path of many of our inaugural Hall of Fame inductees. This path takes them far afield, pursuing the pinnacle of achievement in their respective sports, but it then returns them home, to teach and encourage others to share their rewarding experience. This is the common bond that all our honorees share: an uncommon devotion to their sport and to their home. Prince George is indeed fortunate to have a native son like Randy Wagner.