The words “Always a participant, never a spectator” are fitting to Sallie Szanik.
When one daughter joined Highland dancing, Szanik didn’t just watch from the wings, she became part of the dancing group. When a second daughter decided to try skating, Szanik was right there to lend her support to the skating club. And when her son, Wade, started making waves with the Special Olympics swimming program in Prince George in 1989, Szanik began an association with Special Olympics that has taken her to the present day.
Szanik's induction into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame as a Special Olympics coach is just one more accomplishment in a career that has been stuffed with many.
When Szanik first got involved with the Special Olympics swimming program as a parent, she recognized the need for more coaches. Even though she was a competitive swimmer in her high school days she did not feel she had the knowledge to coach. She decided, therefore, to take a Level 1 technical swimming course through the National Coaching Certification Program. She then took her Level 1 theory course and today holds Level 3 technical and theory certification.
Szanik, a Prince George resident since 1974, has coached on local, provincial, national and international stages over the years.
Provincially, Szanik guided swim teams at the B.C. Special Olympics Summer Games in 1993, 1997 and 2001. The 2001 Games were held in Prince George and she was part of the bid committee that brought them to the city. For 18 months leading up to the Games, she served as the liaison between the local organizing committee and B.C. Special Olympics.
Szanik has coached at the national level for Special Olympics three times – 1994, 1998 and 2002. The year 2001 also brought a national highlight for Szanik when she attended the Canada Games in London, Ontario, as a coach with the B.C. swim team. Those Games marked the first time Special Olympics athletes were invited to compete in swimming.
“Our training program was combined with Team B.C.’s generic swimmers and the results were astonishing,” Szanik said. “One of our male swimmers achieved all gold and our three other swimmers each medaled or made the finals."
Internationally Szanik was one of two Team Canada swim coaches for the 1999 World Special Olympics Games in Raleigh, North Carolina. This coming June, she will attend the 2003 World Special Olympics Games in Dublin, Ireland as Team Canada’s head coach for aquatics.
“This has been my biggest challenge, as I head the aquatics team of 16 athletes, four coaches and one sports manager from across Canada,” Szanik said. “Our training program has been intense as we strive toward making Team Canada one of the best prepared teams at the Games.”
Szanik, married 32 years to husband Richard, was also part of the local committee that raised more than $750,000 to build the diving towers in the Prince George Aquatic Centre. She received the City of Prince George’s Recreation Award of Merit in 2001.
From running to skiing to skating, Dick Voneugen has used his passion and skills to help make Prince George rich in events and facilities for 25 years.
Voneugen, born in Holland and a Prince George resident since the 1960s, began his involvement in local athletics in 1978 when he helped start the Prince George Roadrunners. Voneugen served as president of the organization for 10 years, giving it the solid foundation it continues to stand on today. The club’s Grand Prix Series is currently recognized as one of the best in B.C.
Still with running, Voneugen took over the organizational responsibilities of the Prince George to Boston Marathon in 1984 and re-named it the Labour Day Classic. Each year, the Classic attracts runners from around the province and from 1984 to 1998, Voneugen looked after the course layout, setup and take-down.
One of the participants in the P.G. to Boston Marathon was Terry Fox. After Fox was claimed by cancer in 1981, Voneugen stepped in to coordinate the first Terry Fox Run in Prince George and remained a member of the organizing committee until 1998. Thanks to Voneugen’s organizational and promotional skills during that time, the event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the search for a cure for cancer.
On the track, Voneugen has also made invaluable contributions. His first foray onto the track came when he put together teams for the once popular Corporate Cup Relay. In 1990 he began his involvement in the B.C. Senior Games by organizing the local track and field team that participated in the event. Voneugen, who has also been a B.C. Senior Games competitor, assumed the responsibility of area coordinator for the Games from 1990 to 1995. Voneugen has also been a key contributor to the ongoing success of the Kids Fun Triathlon and has given his support to the Family “Y” Road Race and Marathon.
Voneugen’s contributions can also be seen in two of the city’s best trail systems. He was involved in the construction of the Otway Nordic Centre and when the Cranbrook Hill Greenaway Trail opened in the mid 90s, it did so with Voneugen’s fingerprints all over it. Cross-country skiers use the trail, a length of 25 kilometres, in the winter and it is a favourite spot for hikers and cyclists in the summer.
With skating, Voneugen founded the Outdoor Ice Oval committee in 1998, with an eye toward cementing the yearly existence of an Olympic-sized speed skating oval in Prince George. The oval, which had an on-again off-again history in the years prior to 1998, has grown into one of the most popular winter facilities in the city, attracting 16,000 users in 2001-2002. Voneugen and his committee members raised the required amount of money to buy all the maintenance equipment for the oval. On cold winter nights, it is not uncommon for Voneugen to be out on the oval, flooding the surface for the next day’s visitors.Use of the venue is free to the public.
For all his time and effort in helping make this city’s sports scene a top-notch one, Voneugen has found his rightful place in the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame as a builder and administrator.
He was an eight-time Silver Gloves champion, nine-time B.C. champion and 11-time Golden Gloves champion. On two occasions, Prince George’s Allan Bayne was named Golden Boy, an honour shared by only two other fighters in B.C. boxing history. In more than 160 amateur boxing matches, the Spruce Capital Boxing Club southpaw came out on the losing end just 23 times. He won a further three matches as a professional.
Bayne’s prowess in the amateur ranks extended well beyond the borders of B.C. His boxing career included wins at the Houston and Tacoma Golden Gloves tournaments and at the prestigious Blue and Gold tournament in Los Angeles in 1992. In late 1993, Bayne, after finishing runner-up four times at nationals, won the light middleweight (156 pounds) gold medal at the Canadian Amateur Boxing Championships in Winnipeg. In 1994 at the age of 22, he reached the final of the light middleweight division at the St. Georges Challenge Cup in Liverpool, England. Despite not being able to finish his fight due to a cut forehead after butting heads with his Russian opponent, Bayne was still voted top boxer at the 18-country tournament.
Later that year, as the only B.C. boxer on Team Canada, he competed at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria. Bayne lost by knockout in the first round to Rival Cadeau of Seychelles, who at the time was the eighth-ranked light middleweight in the world.
John Kazakoff knew there was a void in Prince George baseball, and in 1997 he filled it, as the Prince George Grays began their inaugural season in the B.C. Junior Baseball League.
During the past nine seasons, Kazakoff has been a part of the Grays, first as the team’s manager and last season when he stepped down and became the assistant coach.
Kazakoff did not take long to find the ball field in Prince George when he moved here in 1974. He played in the Prince George Senior Men's league for 11 years.
During his coaching career in Prince George, Kazakoff has had many team accomplishments. In 1986 and 1998 he coached the Senior Babe Ruth and Junior Babe Ruth All-stars to provincial championships. In 1989 he was part of the Japan 14- and 15-year-old World Tournament. In 1990 Kazakoff was one of the coaches for the B.C. under-17 team which returned from the Western Canada Summer Games with a Gold medal.
With the Grays, Kazakoff led the team to a league championship in 2000, when Prince
George hosted the B.C. Junior Baseball provincials. The Grays won the tournament and made their way to nationals in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Ken Larsen’s status as an all-star basketball player extended from the high school courts in Prince George to the international level of the Pan American Games and the World Championships. Along with basketball, the Calgary-born Larsen also excelled in baseball and football, and spent a couple of years in the boxing ring while growing up in Prince George. In 1957 his Prince George Junior/Senior high school basketball team competed at the B.C, tournament, after which Larsen was awarded a work scholarship to Everett Junior College in Washington.
A year later he joined the Vancouver Cloverleafs, winning rookie-of-the-year in 1958, then played with the Athletics Senior A Men's basketball team in Alberni. He then turned to baseball, which took him to Stockton, California, to work with a 'C' league team with hopes of breaking into the Vancouver Mounties organization in the late 1950s. The next destination was Calgary, where he competed in football and baseball leagues, and also worked out regularly and played exhibition games with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Larsen was recruited by the Lethbridge Broders senior A basketball team which won the national championship three years in a row. In 1962 the Broders represented Canada at an invitational tournament in the Philippines which was intended to be the world championships, but was reduced to invitational status due to political problems involving the Eastern Block. The Canadian team placed second. The following year, Larsen again represented Canada, this time as part of the national Pan American Games team in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where Canada made it to the consolation round.
Larsen played one final season with the Broders in 1963-1964 before joining a Winnipeg area team. In 1966 his Manitoba team won a silver medal at the first Canada Games basketball tournament. Larsen returned in 1967 to Alberni where he played another three years of senior A basketball and several years at the senior B level before returning to Prince George.
When Kathy Mears got her first taste of golf at the age of seven, she had no plans to one day become Canada’s first certified female club professional. But, like one of her perfectly stuck drives, she flew straight and true into the national history books when, in 1972, she was accepted as a member of the Canadian Professional Golfers Association.
Mears has taken up her place in the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame. Fittingly, she joins in the hall her father, Harold Pretty, the man who introduced her to golf and set her on the path to a lifetime of accomplishments in the game. Pretty was inducted into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mears grew up on the fairways and greens of the Prince George Golf and Curling Club, where her father was the long-time professional. During the early years of her career, she was runner-up at the B.C. Junior Golf Championship and placed third at provincials when she graduated to the senior ranks.
As am amateur player, Mears won tournament after tournament. Thanks in part to her skill, she became the head professional at the Williams Lake Golf Course and held that job for more than two years before she applied for membership in the CPGA. Several months went by before the CPGA finally accepted her as a member.
“I guess I caused quite a stir back at the CPGA head office with my application,” she later recalled. “Because my application for membership as a head professional was unprecedented, it was quite a hassle getting into the association. It took them quite a while to decide to accept me.”
Mears was back in Prince George by 1975 and returned to amateur status in 1979. During her prime years as a player, her handicap hovered between three and five. She won the Ladies Simon Fraser Open in Prince George five times and was runner-up on five other occasions. She was also a 12-time Ladies Club Champion at the Prince George Golf and Curling Club.
Although Mears' days as an active player are more limited these days, her involvement in golf continues at the official’s level. For about the last decade she has been involved in updating the handicap and course ratings for golf courses in District 9 (basically the northern half of B.C.). Five years ago Mears assumed the Chair position for District 9 of the BCLGA. Her responsibility was to act as liaison between the BCLGA and the 25 ladies golf club captains in her district. In the fall of this past year the BCGA (Mens) and the BCLGA provincial associations merged. Mears now serves on the board of the merged associations and continues as Chair of Zone 8 of the Ladies Golf Committee.
Welcome Mears to the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.
Inside Prince George limits, the Martin family name is synonymous with baseball, fastball and hockey. Without the remarkable volunteer efforts and sponsorship dollars of Joe, Bernard, Maurice, John and Pat Martin and their respective clans, the local sports landscape would be nowhere near as rich as it is today.
For their tireless work and lasting involvement in local sports, Bernard, Maurice, John and Pat are new additions to the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame. They join in the hall Joe Martin, baseball builder and sponsor, who was inducted in 1998.
Drive, walk or ride a bike through the streets of the city, and before long you will spot a baseball or fastball park built with the help of Martin hands. Nechako Centennial Little League Park, Joe Martin Little League Park, Volunteer Little League Park, Heather Park, Carrie Jane Gray Babe Ruth Park, Rotary Babe Ruth Park, Monty Gabriel Park and the Big 6 Senior Mens Fastball Park – they all either saw a Martin operating heavy machinery, wielding a shovel or hammer, or opening up a wallet in support of the project.
It is impossible to fully detail in this Prince George Sports Hall of Fame program the contributions of Joe, Bernard, Maurice, John and Pat and their families. Beginning with Bernard Martin, though, the summary unfolds in the following paragraphs.
Bernard was a sponsor of Clandonald Logging Nechako Little League for 22 years (1963-1985), helped build Martin Park for Nechako Babe Ruth Baseball in 1973 and rebuild it to Joe Martin Park for Nechako Little League in 1975. He also assisted with the construction of the Heather Park Babe Ruth facility by clearing the trees. He performed the same task when the Elksentre skating arena was built.
Bernard’s other volunteer efforts included groundskeeping for countless baseball tournaments. Some of the ones on the list are Pacific Northwest regional events in 1988, 1992 and 1995, the B.C. Summer Games in 1989 and the Baseball Canada Senior Championship in 2002 at Monty Gabriel Park. Alongside Bernard for much of his work was wife Edith, who helped lay sod at several fields and applied fresh coats of paint to numerous concession stands.
On to Maurice Martin. Maurice was also a sponsor of Clandonald Logging Nechako Little League from 1963 to 1985 and was present for the building of Martin Park and then Joe Martin Park. As well, Maurice lent his time to the clearing of the land at the Heather Park Babe Ruth complex and the Elksentre.
In men’s fastball, Maurice also sponsored the Clandonald Logging teams from 1970 to 1972. For many years, Maurice spent his July 1st long weekend working in the concession stand at the annual Native Men’s Fastball Tournament.
John Martin and Pat Martin have both been faithful sponsors of baseball and fastball during their years in Prince George. They both sponsored Nechako Little League house and all-star teams, as well as the P & J Logging and Tabor Lake Logging fastball teams. Anytime a tournament program was printed to help support a particular event, the advertising dollars of John and Pat would be within the program pages. Advertising their businesses on baseball park signage was another way they made sure their cash helped give various leagues a solid financial base.
John’s wife, Mary, and Pat’s wife, Ruth, have both been loyal volunteers and spectators at ball parks for decades.
With the Martin family, getting involved either as a volunteer or as an athlete appears to be generic in nature. Many of the Martin offspring – too many to list – have contributed to the local sports scene in one of those two capacities.
In just a small sampling from the Pat Martin line, Dan Martin, one of Pat’s four sons, is the current president of the Prince George Minor Hockey Association and has been on the PGMHA executive since 1993. Julie and Samantha, two of Dan’s daughters and Pat’s granddaughters, are active in soccer in the summer months and play all-star hockey for the Curtis Elite Midget Female Cougars.
Another one of Pat’s granddaughters, Tracey Jones (nee Martin), is an elite-calibre curler who represented the northern part of the province at the 2003, 2004 and 2005 B.C. Scott Tournament of Hearts. Melinda Kotsch (nee Martin) played alongside Jones at the Scott in 2004 and 2005.
One of Pat’s grandsons, Chris Martin, is a former member of the Prince George Spruce Kings junior hockey club. Mike Martin Jr., another grandson of Pat, was a key member of the Prince George Grays junior baseball team and now plays in the local senior men's league.
Other Martins have participated at high levels in figure skating, lacrosse, basketball and volleyball.
One of the Martin family members, as mentioned in the Hall of Fame nominations package, gave the following thought on the Martin clan:
“We should have never been homeowners, just owned a motorhome and parked outside the ball field or lacrosse box in the summer and the hockey rink in the winter.”
Those words are as pure and true as a homerun to straight-away centre field. They perfectly summarize why the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame now has more Martins inside its walls.
After spending the better part of 15 seasons away from home, Stewart Malgunas returned to Prince George two years ago as the assistant coach of the Prince George Cougars.
As a minor hockey player growing up in Prince George, Malgunas got his start playing at the Kin Centres and the Coliseum, learning the skills that got him drafted by the NHL's Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round in 1990.
Malgunas, a defenceman, became the first Prince George minor hockey product to wear the maple leaf at the World Junior Championships, where he won a gold medal with Team Canada in 1990.
Malgunas played one season for the Prince George Spruce Kings, recording 12 goals and 34 assists in 48 games, before making the move to major-junior with the Seattle Thunderbirds. There, he played the next two seasons before being drafted 66th overall by the Red Wings.
In 1992, he helped his AHL squad win the Calder Cup.He was then traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, were he played 67 games as a rookie.
Malgunas played 129 games in the NHL and 435 games in the AHL. He also played two seasons for the Frankfurt Lions, in Germany, before an ankle injury forced him into retirement in 2003.
Malgunas continues his coaching career as assistant coach for the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Eight years after he stepped away from the boxing ring, Boyd Bayne is still getting recognition for his accomplishments. It’s the price to pay for success.
This year, 2008, Boyd is being recognized as an inductee into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame. In August of 2007, Boxing B.C. awarded him with the Harold Mann Boxing Achievement Award for his efforts as a coach and official. In Boyd's 20 years as a coach at the Spruce Capital Boxing Club, he worked as a trainer and mentor to several Canadian amateur boxing champions.
But Boyd, a 65-year-old native of Trail, doesn’t list the gold medals the Spruce Capital boxers won as his biggest highlight. Even the thrill of joining his son, Allan Bayne, at the 1984 Commonwealth Games in Victoria isn’t what satisfies him the most.
“I’ve thought about (my fondest memory of coaching) a number of times and I think that it’s where some mother or father would bring their sons to the boxing club who were having problems in school and on the street and we’d sit down and we’d have a conversation of what was going on,” Boyd said. “After six months or a year, their parents would come back and they’d go, ‘Wow.’ Their grades go up and you can sure tell the difference in the home with their attitude. That’s a real highlight – to be able to take somebody that’s having problems in life.”
Allan Bayne, a Prince George Sports Hall of Fame member who won nine B.C. amateur titles with his father as his coach, said the sport of boxing is an avenue many troubled youth have taken. And boxing has turned their lives around in a positive way.
“You get a high from accomplishing things,” he said. “Boxing gives you more steps in life to reach goals and stuff like that, and (you get the opportunity) to travel all around the world.”
Mann, a British Empire Games champion and a three-time Canadian amateur champion, urged Boyd to take up coaching. Despite never having boxed competitively himself, Boyd accepted the offer.
“Harold Mann and I were the very best of friends,” he said. “And one day Harold phoned me up and said, ‘Boyd I need you to come down and I want you to coach.’”
Boyd, who had been around boxing most of his life, got the coaching bug and never quit. During the prime of his coaching career, he often spent more hours at the gym than his boxers did. The Spruce Capital club was consistently full, with between 50 and 60 members, during his tenure as head coach.
“It became a full-time job,” said Boyd, who put on a total of 10 fight cards in Prince George. “There were times that your wife (was) at home, or it’d be your wife’s birthday or it was your anniversary or your kid’s birthday and it didn’t really matter to Allan as much.”
Boyd joined Team B.C. at several Canadian championships. Among the memorable events in Prince George he had a role in organizing were the Champions for Children competitions in 1989 and 1990. The $15,000 raised went back into the community to help organizations like the Child Development Centre.
Boyd has been selected for Prince George Sports Hall of Fame membership in the coach/builder category. He was nominated by Allan, who was inducted as an athlete in 2005.
“It’s a great honour to see my dad being inducted with myself because if his time and effort wasn’t there, lots of us wouldn’t have even excelled to where we are today, I can promise you that,” Allan said.
After two decades as head coach at Spruce Capital, Boyd stepped away from the job. But, he remained close to boxing. He became a ringside official, which kept his passion for the sport alive.
Don Nachbaur spent all of his minor hockey years in Prince George. Local rinks, teammates and coaches played a major role in his rise to the National Hockey League.
Now, the city where Nachbaur strapped on skates for his first organized hockey game is recognizing his athletic achievements. He is being inducted into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame in the professional athlete category.
“I think it’s an honour,” said Nachbaur, who is now head coach of the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League. “It’s an honour too because there are so many people that have donned athletics in Prince George, and to be singled out for your accomplishments is very humbling. At the end of the day, I would never have been able to do what I have done had it not been for such quality people that have helped me along the way from the time I was a kid to the time I became a pro. And it all started in Prince George.”
Nachbaur was born in Kitimat in 1959 and his family settled in Prince George in 1967. During his time in the Prince George Minor Hockey Association, a long list of coaches helped him develop his skills and appreciate the game of hockey. Nachbaur’s father, Walter, was also a major influence.
“I think any son looks up to his father," Nachbaur said. “I’m no different. He taught me a lot about life. He taught me a lot about hard work.”
Nachbaur looked up to coaches like Dave King, who coached him when he suited up for the Billings Bighorns of the Western Hockey League. Nachbaur skated for the Bighorns in the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons.
“Dave King was pretty much my mentor for the pro game,” he said. “He was a fantastic coach.”
In the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, Nachbaur was selected in the third round, 60th overall, by the Hartford Whalers. He was among a talented crop of prospects chosen. Other players, like defencemen Ray Bourque and Kevin Lowe, and forwards Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson, were also part of the 1979 draft class.
Nachbaur played 223 games in the NHL. He skated for the Whalers, Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. During his NHL career, he collected 23 goals and 46 assists for 69 points. He also had a rugged side. His 467 penalty minutes are proof he wasn’t afraid to mix things up. In 11 NHL playoff games, Nachbaur scored one goal and added an assist. He also had 24 penalty minutes in the post-season.
Nachbaur came close to winning the Stanley Cup on two occasions. He suited up for the Oilers squad that was swept by the New York Islanders in the 1983 final and played for the Flyers team that fell to Edmonton in seven games in the 1987 championship series.
Nachbaur’s professional career also included 469 games in the American Hockey League, where he spent time with the Springfield Indians, Moncton Alpines, New Haven Nighthawks and Hershey Bears. After he suffered a herniated disk in his neck during a game with the Flyers in the 1989-90 season, doctors advised him to be careful with hitting and fighting. He decided to continue his career in Europe, where skating was more important than physical play. He spent four seasons, 1990 to 1994, with Graz EC of the Austrian League.
Nachbaur started his full-time coaching career in 1994-95 with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. After six seasons as head coach in Seattle, he returned to the AHL to work as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Phantoms. The Phantoms were led at the time by bench boss John Stevens, who went on to guide the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.
Nachbaur began his tenure with the Tri-City organization in 2003. By the time the 2007-08 season arrived, he had turned the Americans into a WHL powerhouse.