By Kevin Mitchell,
The Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame inducted Odie Lowe, the 1969-70 and 1971-72 Vernon Essos hockey team, three-time Canadian Olympic swimmer Rick Say of Salmon Arm and late basketball official Mel Briggeman of Vernon in its Class of 2014 Friday afternoon.
More than 20 members of both Essos teams returned for the luncheon for themselves and to pay tribute to Lowe, who coached both Essos teams to the league championships.
Two Salmon Arm residents, Gord Mackintosh and Garry Osborne, were the goalie tandem for the 1969-70 Essos.
Mackintosh explains when he was first notified about being inducted he was not immediately excited.
“After thinking about it and giving the news time to sink in, it hit me that this doesn’t happen to everyone, and it’s a really neat opportunity to be recognized like this,” said Mackintosh.
Say, arguably one of Canada’s all-time greatest freestyle swimmers, competed in three Olympics: 2000 in Sydney, Australia; 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing.
He paid tribute to other Salmon Arm athletes enshrined in the hall, basketball players Bev Smith and Joanne Sargent, and late cross-country skier Reino Keski-Salmi, before thanking the committee for his induction.
“I heard those guys’ names a lot when I was growing up and it’s neat to be included with them now,” said Say, accompanied by his parents, Tony and Viv, and his grandmother.
“I feel very special and honoured to be here and be part of this group. It means a lot to me.”
Say, who now works as a rink attendant in a Victoria suburb, shared the honour with every person that helped him accomplish his swim goals.
“It wasn’t just me on the blocks. It was every single person I came in contact with and every single person who helped me get there,” he said.
“Coaches, sports organizations, teammates, support staff, volunteers and my family and friends.”
-With files from Evan Buhler, Salmon Arm Observer.