Sheldon Kennedy, Jennifer Saunders, Ralph Lyndon along the 1996 & 1997 University of Manitoba Bisons women's basketball teams were inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame Thursday night in Winnipeg.
"Receiving this honour is about being shoulder to shoulder with people like Ralph here tonight, and seeing what the inductees past and present have accomplished. This represents hope. It doesn't matter where you are in life, you can turn it around and be anyone you want to be. It's an honour to be here."
- Sheldon Kennedy, Hockey/Multi-Sport Athlete, Builder
Sheldon Kennedy carved out an impressive minor hockey career and starred for the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League. He represented Canada in 1986 in the Esso Cup, won a gold medal in 1988 at the World Juniors in Moscow, and captained his Broncos to the Memorial Cup championship in 1989. Kennedy was drafted in the 4th round, 80th overall, by the Detroit Red Wings and played over 300 games in the NHL.
Kennedy’s impact in sport spans much farther than his accomplishments in hockey. He courageously came forward with charges against his former junior coach, which helped the authorities press charges and brought these issues to the social forefront. His work with the Respect Group has pioneered the Respect in Sport program, a program that Manitoba was the first province to implement, and is now nationwide with over two million Canadians registered.
"I would not be a hall of famer without my mom and dad. I'm a proud Manitoba athlete. I played racquetball because I loved it, and I was kinda good at it. It wasn't a clear path but I learned to never underestimate the power to prove everyone wrong."
- Jennifer Saunders, Athlete, Racquetball
Jennifer Saunders learned to play racquetball in her hometown of Thompson, Manitoba when she was only 10 years old.
During her career, Saunders won a record 11 National Singles Titles, her last in 2019. She also won a record 13 Doubles National Titles, her first in 2003 and her last, again, in 2019. Saunders’ combined twenty-four titles gives her the record for the most national combined titles won in Racquetball Canada history. Her record of success at the national level is remarkable, with twenty podium finishes in open singles (11 gold, 8 silver) and 17 podium finishes in open doubles (13 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze).
"Thank you for this honour. One of my favourite memories, with Daniel Mac, we were down 18 points going into the fourth quarter, with 10 minutes left, I did my kick and recovered it myself for a touchdown."
- Ralph Lyndon, Multi-Sport/Athlete, Hockey, Lacrosse, Football
Ralph Lyndon is the very definition of an all-around athlete. Lyndon excelled in hockey, lacrosse, and football in his youth. Daniel McIntyre Collegiate only lost one game from 1950-52 and won three championships while Lyndon was an all-star and team captain in 1951 (at 16 years old) and ‘52.
1954 was a milestone year. Lyndon began playing senior lacrosse at age 16 and was a member of the Eastern Championship-winning team that year. He was also playing hockey for the Winnipeg Monarchs and was on the Winnipeg Rods junior team that reached the National Final.
1955 was just as action-packed for Lyndon who captained his Winnipeg Monarchs to the Western Canadian Junior Finals. The 1955 Manitoba All-Stars became Western champs, and. Lyndon was reputed to have the hardest shot on the team! Lyndon played football for the Rods in 1955 but did not play in the Championship as he was off to Great Britain to play hockey. Lyndon laced up for the Harringay Racers for the 1955-56 season and was named Rookie of the Year.
"You look on this stage and you see a ton of basketball talent. Multiple all-stars, multiple all-Canadians, an all-Canadian rookie team, CIU defensive national player of the year, national female athlete of the year...and all the success that our teams had was more than just our talent. We had superstars, but we also had the grinders that were sometimes overlooked. The young players that wanted to prove themselves, and the glue players who held it all together."
- Jana Taylor, on behalf of the 1996 & 1997 University of Manitoba Bison Women’s Basketball Teams
The University of Manitoba Bisons women’s basketball team won the first of two consecutive national championships in 1996 in a thrilling 81-77 overtime victory over Toronto. The squad became only the fifth women’s team from Manitoba to win a national women’s university title in basketball since the tournament began in 1972.
The 1997 team had a tough act to follow, but the taste of victory drove them to try and repeat. Fifth-year veterans Terri-Lee Johannesson, Victoria Neufeld, and Larissa Crellin wanted to go out with a bang. They defeated York by a score of 73-62 to capture their second straight National Championship. To date, the 1997 Bisons were the last Manitoba-based university team to win a national women’s basketball title.
"After the postponement of last year’s induction ceremony, we were reminded how special sport and community are in our live," noted Sport Manitoba President & CEO Janet McMahon. "That’s why this year, I’m especially grateful to recognize our class of inductees for their outstanding accomplishments and impact in sport. Each of you have made Manitoba so proud."
Michelle Sawatzky was the Master of Ceremonies at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame Induction and she asked Sheldon Kennedy to reflect on his induction into the Hall of Fame