Pair of South Surrey softball supporters inducted into Softball BC Hall of Fame

Rick O’Connor, Zeone Andrijaszyn among 2020 inductees

Softball BC Hall of Fame inductee Rick O’Connor, on the field with the White Rock Renegades during the 2010 Senior Women’s Canadian Championships in Kitchner, Ont., at which White Rock won gold. (Contributed photo)

Softball BC Hall of Fame inductee Rick O’Connor, on the field with the White Rock Renegades during the 2010 Senior Women’s Canadian Championships in Kitchner, Ont., at which White Rock won gold. (Contributed photo)

Semiahmoo Peninsula softball supporter Rick O’Connor and longtime Canada Cup volunteer Zeone Andrijaszyn have been inducted into the Softball BC Hall of Fame, alongside a pair of well-decorated former players from Vancouver Island.

O’Connor, who is the president and CEO of Black Press Media – parent company to the Peace Arch News – was inducted into the sponsor category; while Andrijaszyn, a former Richmond resident who passed away earlier this year, was a former executive with Softball BC and a key cog in the Canada Cup, the long-running international softball tournament held annually in South Surrey. He was inducted into the ‘special recognition’ category.

Nanaimo’s Dennis Eckart and Victoria’s John Green were both inducted as players.

“It’s definitely humbling that people want to bestow an honour like that upon you,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor’s involvement in the sport dates back decades – he once played at “pretty competitive level” before coaching his two eldest children, Josh and Kristy, in the mid-1980s. In the ’90s and into the 2000s, he was heavily involved in the White Rock Renegades ’88 team on which his youngest daughter, Courtney, played. That team, coached by the late Bryan Sask, who passed away earlier this year, was one of best teams in Renegade history, ending its run with four provincial championships and two national titles.

On those teams, O’Connor served as everything from an assistant coach and manager, to someone who was behind the scenes fundraising and organizing travel.

His induction as a sponsor stems from his longtime support of the Canada Cup – of which Black Press Media has long been a key sponsor – as well as the job he did spearheading the UBC women’s softball program, which he helped found just over a dozen years ago.

“I don’t sort of see myself necessarily just as a sponsor, but someone who tried to be involved in all aspects of the game, and tried to encourage young people,” O’Connor said.

The creation of the UBC softball program is among O’Connor’s biggest accomplishments, and not only did he help get it off the ground beginning in 2007, but a few years later was instrumental in saving it from the chopping block during a UBC review that threatened the program’s varsity status.

In the UBC program’s formative years, “he had his hand in everything,” said Courtney, who went on to play at the Vancouver school.

“He raised probably over $500,000 for the program since it’s started, through a variety of initiatives and (fundraisers), and then he’s also donated quite a bit of his own personal money to the program, too,” she said.

“I chose not to go away for university (on a softball scholarship), so it was quite nice that halfway through my (university) career, a softball program came to us.

“He was able to create an opportunity for me – which is something really special and something I got a lot of great memories from – but also for a lot of other players who wanted to stay home (and go to school).”

It was Courtney and her younger brother Kieran who nominated their dad for hall-of-fame induction, she added.

Though she said she wanted to keep most of her best softball memories with her dad to herself – “It was just always a thing that the two of us did together,” she said – Courtney did tell PAN that one memory in particular sticks out.

It was 2005, and the Renegades ’88 team was in Montreal for national championships. Her dad hadn’t made the trip, “because we’d already travelled to Florida, and to California – it was already an expensive year.”

“We were in the playoffs, about to make it into the finals… we had a rest day (between games) and I remember hearing a knock on the door of my room, and I opened it and he was there,” she explained.

“He’d flown in because he said he couldn’t imagine not seeing us win a national championship. We didn’t end up winning that year, we came in second. But he just couldn’t stay away.”

O’Connor noted that his hall-of-fame induction dovetails nicely with some recent news from the UBC program – specifically, the creation of a proper softball facility on campus. Since its inception, UBC has practised on campus baseball diamonds, and played games at South Surrey’s Softball City.

But now, after fundraising efforts raised enough money, an on-campus field is set to be renovated. O’Connor expects the work to begin this month.

“It’s taken 13 years (for softball) to become a (fully-funded) varsity sport… and now it’s going to have its own facility. Having this honour happen right around this time, while it’s humbling, it’s also gratifying because these two things are sort of tied together,” he said.



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Softball

Just Posted

File photo
Surrey Board of Trade vows ‘a lot of noise’ will be made about tax increases

Huberman calls for comprehensive tax review at all levels of government

William Henry Rawlison was last seen on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (Contributed photo)
Police looking for missing White Rock senior

William Rawlison, last seen on June 20, may be driving to Kamloops

TEASER PHOTO ONLY - Hillcrest Drive-In's sign at the end its run in Surrey, in a photo uploaded to cinematreasures.org by hermangotlieb.
SURREY NOW & THEN: The city’s last drive-in, Hillcrest showed movies for 50 years on site turned shopping mall

‘It was a good memory, being the last drive-in in the Lower Mainland, at the time,’ says former operator Jay Daulat

United Truckers Association members outside Labour Minister/Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains’ office on Monday, June 21. (submitted photo: UTA)
Protesting truckers park outside Labour Minister’s Surrey office; daily rallies promised

The truckers take issue with unlicensed trucks taking work away from legitimate owner operators, and more

Natalie Brown and Colten Wilke star in the feature film Thunderbird, co-produced by South Surrey-raised Michael Morrison and released this month in Canada, the U.S and the U.K. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey-raised producer helps bring ‘Thunderbird’ to the screen

Michael Morrison guides B.C.-shot thriller with First Nations connection

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

Most Read