There was no shortage of newsmakers in the South Surrey/White Rock sports community over the past 12 months – both the good, such as the Semiahmoo Totems senior girls basketball team winning its first provincial title since 1953; and the bad, like a former Coastal FC soccer coach making national headlines after allegations of abuse were brought to light by a former player.
But the sports story that garnered perhaps the most attention locally was the Canadian national women’s softball team qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics – a feat accomplished on Labour Day weekend right here in South Surrey.
The story began early in the year, when organizers of the Canada Cup were, after a few delays, awarded the tournament by the World Baseball Softball Confederation. From there, organizers worked to stage both the annual Canada Cup and the qualifier, and the payoff was worth it, as the host team – which is chock full of local Surrey talent – earned an Olympic berth after an impressive win over Brazil on the final day of the tournament.
If we fast-forward to this time a year from now, we may find ourselves talking about Team Canada again, if they’re able to land on the podium at the Tokyo-hosted Games.
Now, to review the rest of the list…
• Former Surrey Eagles defenceman Devon Toews – who made his National Hockey League debut for the New York Islanders just before Christmas – scores his first NHL goal, an overtime-winner against the Chicago Blackhawks.
• A Cloverdale curling team led by skip Tyler Tardi wins its fourth consecutive provincial title, winning a B.C. junior men’s title by a 9-2 show over an Okanagan team.
• The Semiahmoo Rock lacrosse program has a record-setting day, as nine members of the organization are selected in the BC Junior ‘A’ Lacrosse League draft, led by first-overall pick Sam La Roue, who is picked by the Burnaby Lakers. Other players chosen include Peyton Hooper (Delta), William DeBeck (Burnaby), Jaden Leach (Burnaby), Dylan Baker (New Westminster), Ryland Sorensen (Burnaby), Adam Mandau (Burnaby), Cam Newson (New West) and Isaiah Edwards (Burnaby).
• The Semiahmoo Totems senior girls basketball team – the top-ranked triple-A team in the province – win their second straight title at the Surrey Fire Fighters Goodwill Classic, defeating Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 82-53 in the final game. Semiahmoo guard Deja Lee is named tournament MVP.
• A day before the junior ‘A’ hockey trade deadline, the struggling Surrey Eagles trade captain Ty Westgard to the Coquitlam Express, in exchange for 19-year-old forward Cole Edgerton and future considerations, which, months later, turn out to be a pair of young players, one of which is flipped to Wenatchee for forward Christophe Tellier, who becomes a key part of the 2019/20 team.
• Cloverdale’s Jennifer Gardiner is part of the Canadian hockey team that wins gold at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s U18 Women’s World Championships in Japan.
• After making a handful of pre-deadline day trades, the White Rock Whalers – in the midst of their inaugural junior ‘B’ season in the Pacific Junior Hockey League – name Matt Rogers their captain for the remainder of the season.
• Surrey is selected to host an Olympic-qualifier softball tournament, the World Baseball Softball Confederation announces. Surrey has previously been selected as the country’s bid city by Softball Canada.
• The Semiahmoo Totems win its third straight Surrey RCMP Classic basketball crown, defeating the higher-ranked Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 89-82 in the final.
• Representing B.C., the Team Tardi curling team – Tyler Tardi, Sterling Middleton, Matthew Hall and Alex Horvath – wins a national junior men’s title in Prince Albert, Sask. The win is the team’s third straight Canadian crown – a feat never before accomplished by a Canadian junior team.
• After months in the works, Semiahmoo Peninsula-based Coastal FC unveils its new $55-million indoor soccer facility at South Surrey Athletic Park.
• Surrey hockey pioneer Karen Wallace and the 1997-’98 Surrey Eagles are among inductees into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame. That year’s Eagles team won both a BC Hockey League championship as well as a Royal Bank Cup national championship. Wallace, who passed away in 2018, was a champion of women’s hockey, and instrumental in its growth in the city and beyond.
• Charlie Evans, a longtime member of the Semiahmoo Peninsula soccer community, passes away as a result of “unresolved heart issues,” and is remembered for his unwavering dedication to the sport and the local youngsters who played it.
• The Semiahmoo Totems senior girls basketball team, ranked No. 1, wins a Fraser Valley championship with a 79-67 win over the No. 2-seeded Walnut Grove Gators. On the senior boys side, the Fraser Valley crown is won by Surrey’s Holy Cross Crusaders.
• Playing at the prestigious Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament, the Semiahmoo Ravens win their first two games – a 5-2 victory over Russia’s SKA St. Petersburg and a 4-3 overtime win over New Hampshire.
• Coastal FC suspends one of its coaches amid allegations of past abuse brought forth by a former high-level soccer player, who played under the coach in question during her time with the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team and the Canadian national program.
• The Surrey Eagles wrap up their BC Hockey League season with a win over the Langley Rivermen, but finish at the bottom of the 17-team BCHL with a record of 13-41-2-2 (win-loss-overtime loss-shootout loss).
• The junior ‘B’ White Rock Whalers wrap up their inaugural season in the Pacific Junior Hockey League with a record of 14-28-0-2 (win-loss-tie-overtime loss) – good for 10th in the 12-team league. Head coach Jason Rogers calls the season “a learning experience” and adds that missing the playoffs in Year 2 would be “a disappointment.”
• The Semiahmoo Totems senior girls basketball team defeats the Walnut Grove Gators 72-61 in the final of the B.C. triple-A senior girls basketball championship, giving the South Surrey school its first senior girls provincial hoops title since 1953.
• Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers pull off a comeback for the ages en route to a B.C. Senior Boys 4A basketball championship, erasing an 18-point deficit against the Kelowna Owls to win the title game 91-86.
• The Semiahmoo Ravens peewee team wins a provincial hockey championship on home ice, defeating Burnaby Winter Club 6-2 in the B.C. title game, which is held in front of a standing-room-only crowd at White Rock’s Centennial Arena. Jordan Gavin paces the Ravens’ offensive attack with three goals and an assist, while Tomas Mrsic also had a big game, with two goals and two helpers.
• Cloverdale’s bantam A1 hockey team wins bronze at provincial championships in Prince George, but comes within a single goal of advancing to the gold-medal contest.
• South Surrey wrestler Ana Godinez Gonzalez wins a pair of national titles at Canadian Wrestling Championships in Saskatoon.
• A pair of Surrey Falcons female hockey teams win medals at provincial championships. The Falcons’ bantam team won gold with a 4-2 win over the tournament hosts, Coquitlam’s Tri-Cities team, and at the peewee level, Surrey scooped silver after being edged 3-2 by Kelowna in the final.
• The Surrey Eagles hire Chilliwack Chiefs assistant coach Cam Keith as the team’s new head coach and associate general manager. The Eagles had been without a permanent head coach since Peter Schaefer was fired early in the previous season.
• White Rock skateboarder Andy Anderson turns pro, joining Powell-Peralta – one of the world’s top skateboarding companies. His skateboard deck – emblazoned with a skull and his last name – sells out online in 12 hours.
• Two young Surrey golfers post low scores on home soil, with Lauren Kim and Justin Bjornson each winning their respective age divisions at the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour’s Ford Series IMG Academy Junior Worlds Qualifier, held at Morgan Creek Golf Course. In the 15- to 18-year-old division, Kim – just 13 years old – wins by two strokes, while Bjornson, 13, wins the bantam boys tournament by two strokes.
• White Rock Wave masters swimmer Betty Brussel, 95, sets either provincial or national records in all seven of her events at B.C. Masters Provincial Championships in Victoria, and one time – in the 200-m breaststroke – is fast enough to set a new world masters mark in the women’s 95- to 99-year-old age bracket.
• Fans at a Vancouver Whitecaps game stage a walkout, protesting the team’s handling of allegations of abuse against a former coach, who most recently had been coaching with South Surrey’s Coastal FC organization.
• The draw is announced for the 2019 Americas Olympic softball qualifier, and Canada is put in Pool A alongside Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cuba, Guatemala and Argentina.
• Led by Cloverdale Minor Hockey alum Caleb Reimer, a handful of Surrey and White Rock players were selected in the Western Hockey League’s annual bantam draft. Reimer was the first local off the board, selected in the first round (18th overall) by the Edmonton Oil Kings.
• Earl Marriott Secondary alum Kelly McCallum is inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of a rugby career that saw her represent Canada on the pitch 30 times before moving into the coaching ranks.
• After being away from the game for two years, former White Rock Triton Liam Rihela returns to the baseball diamond at Thompson Rivers University, and helps lead the Wolfpack to a strong season that ends in the semifinals of the playoffs. Rihela is named a Canadian College Baseball Conference first-team all-star.
• A decade after his family came to Canada from Bangladesh as refugees, Surrey’s Ali Zohar – an alum of Coastal FC and other Surrey-area clubs – earns a full-ride soccer scholarship to the University of Northern Kentucky.
• The Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys rugby team wins a Fraser Valley championship when a last-second kick from Takoda McMullin gives the South Surrey team a 24-22 win over Abbotsford’s Yale Lions.
• Former Surrey Eagle Anthony Bardaro honours his family heritage by representing Italy at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Slovakia. The 26-year-old tells Peace Arch News that playing for Italy “has all been very surreal.”
• Crescent Beach resident – and longtime hockey broadcaster – Jim Hughson is awarded one of his profession’s highest honours: the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.
• A slew of South Surrey high-school athletes land on the podium at BC High School Track and Field Championships in Kelowna, led by Semiahmoo’s Aneel Gillan, who wins gold in one of the event’s most gruelling contests – the 10-event senior boys decathlon. Other winners included Earl Marriott’s Rori Denness, Olivia Van Ryswyk and Macey Michaud, among others.
• A trio of Semiahmoo Totems basketball players – Izzy Forsyth, Tara Wallack and Deja Lee – are selected to represent Canada at the FIBA U16 Women’s Americas Championship in Chile.
• Claire Eccles – who plays both baseball and softball – ends her university softball career at UBC in style, being named to the Cascade Collegiate Conference first All-Conference team, while also being named a gold-glove winner for her defensive play in the outfield. On the baseball diamond, her summer league team, the Victoria HarbourCats, announces it will retire her No. 8 jersey.
• White Rock poker player Greg Mueller wins a World Series of Poker bracelet – the third of his career – in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. Mueller’s previous bracelet wins came 11 days apart, in 2009.
• Former Valley West Hawks hockey star Luka Burzan is drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the sixth round (171st overall) of the NHL Entry Draft.
• The Surrey Eagles announce that returning defenceman Cody Shiavon will serve as team captain for the upcoming season. Just five days later, Schiavon commits to play for Yale University in 2020/21.
• White Rock field-hockey goalie Kaitlyn Williams is among players announced to play for Canada’s national field hockey team at Pan American Games in Peru.
• For the second summer in a row, the Canadian women’s national softball team strikes gold at the South Surrey-hosted Canada Cup, defeating Triple Crown Colorado 3-0 in the final game. Prior to the back-to-back titles, the Canadian national squad had not won the Canada Cup since 1996.
• Jordan Cheyne wins the Tour de White Rock’s men’s road race in fine fashion, cruising to the Marine Drive finish line without another rider in sight – race announcers called it perhaps the most dominant performance in the event’s 40-year history – while Nina Kessler, a BC Superweek rookie, won the women’s race.
• A trio of Surrey residents – longtime White Rock Renegades president and Canada Cup Chair Greg Timm, former Canadian outfielder Melanie Matthews and umpire Christman Lee – are inducted into the Softball Canada Hall of Fame.
• The White Rock Renegades ’04 defeat their 2003-born Renegade teammates in the final game of the U16 provincial softball championships, and both teams advance to national championships later in the summer.
• South Surrey high-jumper Alexa Porpaczy continues her streak of national titles, winning gold in the women’s U20 competition at Canadian Track and Field Championships in Montreal. With the victory, the Semiahmoo Secondary grad – who now attends the University of Arizona – now has six national championships.
• A number of Ocean Athletics members land on the podium at B.C. Junior Development Track and Field Championships, which are held at South Surrey Athletic Park. More than 460 athletes laced up for the event, which Ocean Athletics coach Maureen de St. Croix said was “the biggest JD championship in quite some time.”
• A handful of South Surrey/White Rock residents are inducted into the Softball BC Hall of Fame – longtime White Rock Renegades coach Chuck Westgard, Greg Timm, Jackie and Jerry Duggar and the White Rock Renegades ’91 team.
• The White Rock Tritons place third in B.C. Junior Premier Baseball League playoffs, losing in semifinals 3-2 to the North Delta Blue Jays.
• Semiahmoo Minor Hockey alum Ethan Scardina is named captain of the BC Hockey League’s Nanaimo Clippers.
• Canada’s national women’s softball team – which is chock full of Semiahmoo Peninsula talent – qualifies for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after placing first at the South Surrey-hosted 2019 Americas qualifier. Canada officially punched its ticket to the Olympics after a 7-0 victory over Brazil on the final day of the competition.
• Martial arts instructor/competitor Mostafa Sabeti is named the new coach/manager of Wushu Canada’s national team.
• Semiahmoo Rock Lacrosse alum Ivan Rojas Jr. suits up for Costa Rica – where his family is originally from – at the World Lacrosee Indoor Championship, which is held at the Langley Events Centre.
• Jy Stewart – a former swimmer with the Pacific Sea Wolves – is hired as the club’s new, permanent head coach, after serving in the role as an interim basis since the spring.
• A pair of Surrey rugby players, Talon McMullin and Shoshanah Seumanutafa, are each awarded bursaries through BC Rugby “to assist them in achieving their national and international rugby goals.”
• Former Semiahmoo Peninsula resident Christine Girard – one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians – is inducted into the Canada Olympic Hall of Fame. A weightlifter, Girard won gold at the 2012 Olympics and bronze at the ’08 games, though most medals were awarded years later, after the competitors ahead of her were disqualified for positive drug tests.
• City staff and members of Surrey’s parks and recreation committee float the idea of creating a Surrey Sports Hall of Fame similar to what other Metro Vancouver communities, such as Delta, have. “I fully support it, and it’s something that should be done,” says Surrey Coun. Doug Elford.
• Following in the footsteps of his ultra-marathon-running father Ferg, Carter Hawke finishes third in the Whistler Alpine Meadows ‘Triple Wammy’ event, in which competitors run Whistler-area trails over three days.
• Three Surrey soccer teams land on the podium at their respective national championships – including one that ends up right at the top. The Central City Breakers United men’s team wins gold in St. John’s, Nfld., while both Surrey United’s U17 and U15 teams win bronze.
• Members of the Semiahmoo Peninsula sports community grieve the loss of Randy Ellis, a longtime football and lacrosse coach and executive member who passed away at 61 years old. Ellis died suddenly while competing in a Tough Mudder race in Las Vegas.
• The struggling Surrey Eagles shake up their roster, trading captain Cody Schiavon to the Trail Smoke Eaters for a pair of players – Liam Freeborn and Kieran O’Hearn.
• Several Surrey field-hockey players – Sukhi and Balraj Panesar, Brandon Paneira, Adam Froese, Keegan Pereira and David Carter – book trips to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after the national men’s team of which they’re a part wins in dramatic fashion against Ireland in an Olympic-qualifier game in North Vancouver.
• Surrey runners finish strong at B.C. High School Cross-Country Championships in Abbotsford, led by Jaiveer Tiwana, who wins the senior boys race.
• The Special Olympics B.C. Summer Games are coming to Surrey in 2021, it is announced at a news conference at city hall. The event will include 10 sports and include athletes from all across the province.
• White Rock Renegades softball coach Ted Birdsall is named Softball Canada’s coach of the year after leading his 2004-born Renegades team to both provincial and national championships.
• Volleyball banners are headed to a pair of South Surrey schools after the Semiahmoo Totems senior girls win their South Fraser championship tournament and the Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys win their South Fraser tourney.
• Elgin Park Secondary grad Danielle Steer scores the winning goal for UBC to lead the Thunderbirds women’s soccer team to a national championship win over the University of Calgary. Steer – who also scored the winning goal in the semifinals – is named MVP of the final game.
• South Surrey rider Emma Woo wins the prestigious J.C. Anderson Legacy Medal – and a $10,000 bursary – after being recognized as one of the top equestrian talents in the country. She is the first B.C. rider to win the award.
• Panorama Ridge Secondary’s senior boys soccer team completes its undefeated season by defeating another Surrey team, L.A. Matheson, 3-2 in the final game of the BC High School Triple-A Boys Soccer Championship.
• The White Rock-South Surrey Titans junior bantam football team rolls through the playoffs, winning a regular-season title in the Vancouver Mainland Football League, and following up with victories over Nanaimo’s South Side Dawgs and the Chilliwack Giants, in provincial semifinals and finals, respectively. In the title tilt, White Rock defeats Chilliwack 26-22 thanks to four rushing touchdowns – three of which come from game MVP Hudson Bromley.
• The Earl Marriott Mariner senior boys defeat the Kelowna Owls 3-1 (19-25, 25-14, 25-11, 25-14) in the final game of B.C. triple-A senior boys volleyball championships in Langley. The win gives the South Surrey team its second provincial crown in as many years – and three in a row if you include the junior title they captured in 2017.
• Luc Bruchet finishes second in the 10-km senior men’s race at Canadian Cross-Country Championships at Abbotsford’s Clearbrook Park. Bruchet, an Olympian and Elgin Park Secondary alum, won the race the two previous years, and also in 2013.