A trailblazing runner. An illustrious footballer. A basketball hall-of-famer. And, a storied fastball franchise.
Such are the four newest inductees to the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame, announced on the morning of June 14.
Phil Ellis was a staple in the Kelowna running scene in the 1990s, enough to land him a spot on Canada’s national team. His trophy cabinet also boasts both second and third-place finishes at the Canada Summer Games.
He also held the Canadian record for the five-kilometre run for 16 years.
Ken French, Ellis’ longtime coach, was at the announcement to sing his praises, calling him “competitive, very, very talented, and a real sportsman.”
Rob Friend also donned the red and white in his respective sport, dressing for the Canadian Men’s soccer team from 2003 to 2011. Add on to that an 11-year professional career in Europe, All-American honours at the University of California Santa Barbara and helping organize the expansion Vancouver squad in the Canadian Premier League, and Friend has landed himself a spot in the hall.
Jack May, otherwise known as ‘Mr. Basketball’, came to Kelowna in 1971, and immediately became involved in the amateur sports scene. He is being inducted into the builder category.
May was a founder of the Western Canada Basketball Tournament at Kelowna Secondary School and sits as a Past-President on the B.C. High School Boys Basketball Association.
He said that he was “very honoured” to be inducted alongside the other great names in the hall.
The final inductee was not an individual, but rather an organization. Kelowna Major Men’s Fastball booked their ticket into the pioneer category.
Heading into its 79th season, the organization has hosted plenty of events over the years, including the Canadian Sr. A Men’s selection camp, Sr. A Men’s tournaments, Masters Provincials, and more.
Softball B.C. said that the Kelowna league is a “key part of the game’s history.”
The official induction ceremony will be held on the morning of Nov. 10, in a breakfast event at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna. Tickets will go on sale at the Okanagan Heritage Museum in October.