Long forgotten stars of Chilliwack’s sporting past will be back in the spotlight this fall with the launching of the Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame. A project several years in the making, the Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame will be located on the concourse at Prospera Centre, occupying part of the wall that overlooks the secondary rink. There will be two static display cases and a video display, honouring the best of the best.
The first class will be inducted in October, bringing to fruition an idea that Judy Fitzsimmons first had nine years ago.
“I found an article in a Delta newspaper talking about the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and I thought to myself, ‘You know, we should have one of these things.’” she recalled. “We have a huge sporting community, but we never honour or recognize them.”
The core of the organizing committee met for the first time in January of 2009, and the big question dogging them from the start was where to put it.
Serious thought was given to having an outdoors display sandwiched between the Landing Leisure Centre and Exhibition Stadium — a walk-through style with stones or plaques set into a pathway.
There was significant debate about whether to have a physical site at all. Perhaps, some argued, a virtual HOF would be the way to go.
The committee was spinning its wheels until the Chiefs Development Group offered the perfect solution. Put it in the rink.
“One we got the place, we could take the next step, so I’m forever grateful to the CDG for that,” Fitzsimmons said. “We would still be struggling, and in fact we’d probably have disbanded by now because we couldn’t do anything.”
The style will be reminiscent of other rink or stadium-based HOFs.
The BC Hockey Hall of Fame, located on the concourse of the new South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, is a perfect example.
Like the BCHHOF, the Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame will be hard to miss, with thousands of people strolling along the Prospera Centre concourse throughout the year.
“I walk around the concourse between periods of Chilliwack Chiefs games all the time, and I always look at that spot,” Fitzsimmons smiled. “I can picture the finished product in my head, and once we get the Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame up and running, I think it will be a focal point of that rink.”
Fitzsimmons has lived in Chilliwack since 1986 and knows a lot about sporting stars of the past. But there are a lot of outstanding individuals and teams who’ve slipped away. They accomplished great things, but only a handful of locals know about them.
“My daughter-in-law’s dad and grandpa were huge into horseshoes, and there’s a huge horseshoe history here,” Fitzsimmons said. “Who knew? I don’t care what sport it is, even if it’s tiddlywinks. If you are the best that you can be and you’ve won a Canadian championship in tiddlywinks, I think that’s terrific.”
The nomination process will open in May, and the standards will be high.
Athletes in any sport will be eligible, but HOF induction will be reserved for those who have reached elite levels.
“And I think the people who end up getting in are going to be tickled pink about it,” Fitzsimmons said. “Some of them may not even know they’ve been nominated. And to get a phone call from one of us saying they’re being inducted into the Chilliwack Sports Hall of Fame, I think they’ll really be honoured.”
Keep watching the Chilliwack Progress sports section for updates on the nomination process and induction ceremony.