It was a day of mixed emotions for Coldstream’s Reni Dolcetti.
The day he found out his 1979-80 University of Victoria Vikings men’s basketball team had been elected for induction in 202o to the BC Sports Hall of Fame was tempered by the news that Dolcetti’s Vikings’ teammate and fellow Sudbury, Ont. native Eli Pasquale had died at 59 of cancer.
The 1979-80 Vikes were the first team in the Canada West conference to go 20-0, and won the then-CIAU Canadian title in Calgary, beating the top-ranked Brandon Bobcats 73-65 in the final. Dolcetti was the tournament MVP. Pasquale was a first-team Canada West all-star, Dolcetti was named to the second team.
“It was an honour to be part of a unique group of young men playing the sport we all loved,” said Dolcetti, a 6-foot-8 forward who retired from teaching high school and coaching high school hoops in 2014, and also survived a bout of cancer in his arm. “We had a cohesive team of talented, dedicated athletes coached by Ken Shields, a brilliant tactician.
“Unfortunately, we lost a key member of our team with the recent passing of Eli Pasquale, a fellow Sudbarian and former Olympian. He was a fierce and skilled competitor, contributing to our team’s success.”
Victoria defeated the University of Calgary Dinosaurs on home court in 1980, earning the program’s third Canada West title and a berth to the CIAU championships. Pasquale and Billy Turney-Loos were named Canada West First Team all-stars, while Gerald Kazanowski and Dolcetti were named to the second team.
The Vikings travelled back to Calgary for the nationals and dispatched the University of Windsor Lancers 93-75 in their opener. In Game 2, the Vikes grounded Saint Mary’s Huskies of Halifax 91-75. The Vikings upset No. 1 ranked Brandon Bobcats 73-65 in the finals for their first national title. Shields was named CIAU coach of the year, while Dolcetti was named MVP and all-star.
The Vikings will be inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in the team category. Joining them in the 2020 Class are athletes Sonja Gaudet, three-time Vernon Paralympic gold medalist in wheelchair curling, baseball pitcher Jeff Francis, cyclist Alex Stieda, former Vancouver Canucks goalie Kirk McLean and former B.C. Lions defensive end Brent Johnson.
Being inducted in the builders-coaches category are Harry White (golf), Bill Mitchell (wrestling) and Valerie Johnson (trampoline gymnastics). Duncan’s Robin Bawa is being inducted in the pioneer category for the being the first South Asian to play in the NHL while Cleve Dheensaw will be inducted in the media category and the W.A.C. Bennett Award will be presented to Kathy Newman.
After his career with the Vikings, Dolcetti joined the Olympic program and made Team Canada in 1980, but the squad did not get to compete in Moscow as Canada joined a number of countries in boycotting the Games for the then Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
He coached high school boys and girls basketball for 30 years at Charles Bloom (Lumby), VSS and Kal Secondary schools. Dolcetti helped guide the Kalamalka Lakers to the 2008-09 B.C. AA girls title.