Pair of South Surrey softball supporters inducted into Softball BC Hall of Fame

Rick O’Connor, Zeone Andrijaszyn among 2020 inductees

Softball BC Hall of Fame inductee Rick O’Connor, on the field with the White Rock Renegades during the 2010 Senior Women’s Canadian Championships in Kitchner, Ont., at which White Rock won gold. (Contributed photo)

Softball BC Hall of Fame inductee Rick O’Connor, on the field with the White Rock Renegades during the 2010 Senior Women’s Canadian Championships in Kitchner, Ont., at which White Rock won gold. (Contributed photo)

Semiahmoo Peninsula softball supporter Rick O’Connor and longtime Canada Cup volunteer Zeone Andrijaszyn have been inducted into the Softball BC Hall of Fame, alongside a pair of well-decorated former players from Vancouver Island.

O’Connor, who is the president and CEO of Black Press Media – parent company to the Peace Arch News – was inducted into the sponsor category; while Andrijaszyn, a former Richmond resident who passed away earlier this year, was a former executive with Softball BC and a key cog in the Canada Cup, the long-running international softball tournament held annually in South Surrey. He was inducted into the ‘special recognition’ category.

Nanaimo’s Dennis Eckart and Victoria’s John Green were both inducted as players.

“It’s definitely humbling that people want to bestow an honour like that upon you,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor’s involvement in the sport dates back decades – he once played at “pretty competitive level” before coaching his two eldest children, Josh and Kristy, in the mid-1980s. In the ’90s and into the 2000s, he was heavily involved in the White Rock Renegades ’88 team on which his youngest daughter, Courtney, played. That team, coached by the late Bryan Sask, who passed away earlier this year, was one of best teams in Renegade history, ending its run with four provincial championships and two national titles.

On those teams, O’Connor served as everything from an assistant coach and manager, to someone who was behind the scenes fundraising and organizing travel.

His induction as a sponsor stems from his longtime support of the Canada Cup – of which Black Press Media has long been a key sponsor – as well as the job he did spearheading the UBC women’s softball program, which he helped found just over a dozen years ago.

“I don’t sort of see myself necessarily just as a sponsor, but someone who tried to be involved in all aspects of the game, and tried to encourage young people,” O’Connor said.

The creation of the UBC softball program is among O’Connor’s biggest accomplishments, and not only did he help get it off the ground beginning in 2007, but a few years later was instrumental in saving it from the chopping block during a UBC review that threatened the program’s varsity status.

In the UBC program’s formative years, “he had his hand in everything,” said Courtney, who went on to play at the Vancouver school.

“He raised probably over $500,000 for the program since it’s started, through a variety of initiatives and (fundraisers), and then he’s also donated quite a bit of his own personal money to the program, too,” she said.

“I chose not to go away for university (on a softball scholarship), so it was quite nice that halfway through my (university) career, a softball program came to us.

“He was able to create an opportunity for me – which is something really special and something I got a lot of great memories from – but also for a lot of other players who wanted to stay home (and go to school).”

It was Courtney and her younger brother Kieran who nominated their dad for hall-of-fame induction, she added.

Though she said she wanted to keep most of her best softball memories with her dad to herself – “It was just always a thing that the two of us did together,” she said – Courtney did tell PAN that one memory in particular sticks out.

It was 2005, and the Renegades ’88 team was in Montreal for national championships. Her dad hadn’t made the trip, “because we’d already travelled to Florida, and to California – it was already an expensive year.”

“We were in the playoffs, about to make it into the finals… we had a rest day (between games) and I remember hearing a knock on the door of my room, and I opened it and he was there,” she explained.

“He’d flown in because he said he couldn’t imagine not seeing us win a national championship. We didn’t end up winning that year, we came in second. But he just couldn’t stay away.”

O’Connor noted that his hall-of-fame induction dovetails nicely with some recent news from the UBC program – specifically, the creation of a proper softball facility on campus. Since its inception, UBC has practised on campus baseball diamonds, and played games at South Surrey’s Softball City.

But now, after fundraising efforts raised enough money, an on-campus field is set to be renovated. O’Connor expects the work to begin this month.

“It’s taken 13 years (for softball) to become a (fully-funded) varsity sport… and now it’s going to have its own facility. Having this honour happen right around this time, while it’s humbling, it’s also gratifying because these two things are sort of tied together,” he said.



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Softball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP don’t want to see you having your vehicle towed away after an aggressive driving infraction. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP hand out more than 500 tickets in aggressive driving crackdown

Police say they’ll continue to focus on speeding, aggressive and distracted driving

Home sales for November in the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board were profitable for sellers because of historically low supply. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)
Historically low supply leads to higher prices in Chilliwack real estate market

City dwellers want to relocate to the eastern Fraser Valley and are willing to pay a high price

Prolific offender Jonathan David Olson (left) and Brodie Tyrel Robinson, both of Chilliwack, were convicted of several offences in BC Supreme Court in August 2019 in connection to a crime spree on the Canada Day long weekend in 2017.
Dangerous offender designation off the table for Chilliwack gangster

Jonathan Olson found guilty in connection with 2017 crime spree now facing 14 years maximum

Wilma’s Transition Society is having a Christmas Car Give-away. (Wilma’s)
Someone in Chilliwack is set to win a car in a Christmas Give-Away

Fill out an application online with Wilma’s Transition Society until Dec. 14

Protestors with an “End The Lockdown$” sign at Science World in Vancouver on May 3, 2020. (Desire Amouzou photo)
OPINION: On individual rights versus community health

Using freedom as an excuse to gather in this pandemic illustrates a staggering degree of selfishness

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

Most Read