The Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductees share a sense of determination, perseverance, discipline and a love of sport.
The same can be said of committee chair Dave Barber and fellow hall of fame committee members who drove through a pair of pandemic-era cancellations before finally holding a well-attended celebration Friday night at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.
More tthan 300 family, friends and pillars of the Scenic City sports community gathered at the Bayshore to officially enshrine the four athletes, three teams, two builders and a special merit inductee.
The class of inductees includes athletes Bryan Kazarian, Mark Cochrane, Steve Irving, and Bayleigh Hooper, builders Terry King and Jack Milne, and the Crescent Athletic Club, which goes in under the special merit heading.
The three teams enshrined in the Class of 2020 are the 2018 Owen Sound Selects under-23 fastpitch club, the 1968 Owen Sound TNT Highsteppers and the 1968 Owen Sound Highsteppers Patti Cakes.
Matt Hermiz served as the evening’s master of ceremonies.
Cochrane scored the game-winning goals in Game 5 and Game 6 of the 1998 Mann Cup as the Brampton Excelsiors won the national senior A lacrosse championship. He won a provincial Midget C championship in 1983 playing in the Owen Sound Minor Lacrosse League. Cochrane averaged almost five points a game from 1984 to 1987 with the Owen Sound Signmen junior B team. He was the third-leading scorer in the Ontario Lacrosse Association in 1986 with 67 goals and 82 assists in just 20 games. Cochrane won the 1991 Presidents Cup with the Owen Sound North Stars and went on to win provincial championships with the Owen Sound Woodsmen from 2001 to 2003 while serving as the team’s captain. He played in the National Lacrosse League with the Brantford Warriors, Buffalo Bandits, Albany Attack and Arizona Sting.
In his speech, Cochrane thanked his mother for putting her kids into sports even when money was tight.
“She always found a way,” Cochrane said.
Hooper’s gymnastics career in Owen Sound is full of winning moments. She won the Level 5 all-around provincial championship in 2013, winning best artistry on the floor and best vault. She was the first provincial champion from Owen Sound in 17 years at the time of the gold-medal performance. She followed that up in 2016 with a Level 8 provincial beam championship and event finals beam championship as well as best artistry on the floor. She is an OFSAA medalist from 2016 winning gold on the beam and bronze on the bars competing for St. Mary’s High School. In 2021, Hooper was a member of a Canadian PR3 mixed coxed four crew that qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic Summer Games.
Hooper too thanked her parents for their time and effort in supporting her athletic accomplishments.
“I know it hasn’t always been easy, but look where we’ve ended up,” she said during her induction speech.
Irving is widely considered Owen Sound’s most accomplished male golfer. Irving played in two Canadian Tour PGA Events and numerous national and provincial amateur championships including a bronze medal finish in 2017 at the Ontario Senior Men’s Champion of Champions tournament at Heron Point. He qualified and played in 13 Ontario Amateur Championships and two Canadian Amateur Championships. Locally, Irving is an 11-time winner of the Owen Sound Golf and Country Club Men’s Championship (victories span from 1978 to 2010) and a four-time winner of the Legacy Ridge Golf and Country Club Senior Men’s Championship (2016-2019). Irving played collegiately with the Georgian Grizzlies and was a three-time Ontario Men’s collegiate champion (1981-83). He’s already a member of the Ontario Collegiate Sports Hall of Fame (inducted in 2003).
He spoke about the drive and sacrifices he made in pursuing excellence in the sport. Playing in the dark, and in the snow “trying to find a patch of green to land the ball in”.
“I’ve tried to work my butt off the best that I can,” he said.
He also thanked those who supported him and those in golf who helped him grow within the sport.
Kazarian joins a long list of family members already enshrined in the Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame. He played lacrosse professionally after being selected seventh overall by the Albany Attack and playing seven years in the National Lacrosse League including appearances in two championship finals. He was a member of the Owen Sound Woodsmen senior B lacrosse teams that won two national championships and five provincial titles. In senior lacrosse, he has won a rookie of the year award, a Presidents Cup scoring title, and was named the North Stars team MVP in 2012. He played on the 2000 Orangeville Northmen junior A team that won the provincial championship and were finalists at the Minto Cup. He’s also an accomplished hockey player with a career spanning Junior B (Greys) Major Junior (Attack) and the WOAA senior league as a member of the Saugeen Shores Winterhawks, including multiple league championships.
Kazarian shared stories about his sports journey, and how his path through athletics opened doors for him and created life-long friendships and relationships.
He thanked his father for “guiding me in the right direction”.
“Play as long as you’re able to,” he said. “It doesn’t last forever.”
Milne and King were both inducted into the builders category for lengthy volunteer, organizational and support roles in both the city and beyond.
Milne began to volunteer with the Owen Sound Minor Lacrosse association as vice president in 1975 and continued as both manager and coach of several teams through 1986. He also volunteered for the Zone 8 (West Central) Minor Lacrosse association setting all scheduling for the novice through juvenile leagues. He was a convenor for Bluewater Minor Lacrosse and West Central Minor Lacrosse and became the Referee in Chief for Owen Sound Minor Lacrosse in 1982. He became the manager of the Rutherford Junior B Signmen from 1984-86. He also volunteered in softball and hockey and was instrumental in bringing harness racing to Owen Sound.
King has coached, refereed and served as an executive for lacrosse leagues in Owen Sound and Ontario at all levels. He was the head coach of the 1991 Owen Sound North Stars provincial championship-winning team that went on to win the Presidents Cup. King’s business – King & Associations LLP Chartered Accountants – has sponsored numerous teams and events in Owen Sound. For the past eight years, King has been the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s referee assigner for junior and major leagues. In that role, he assigns officials for over 1,500 games in Ontario each year. He has been the referee in chief at three national lacrosse championships – the Mann Cup, Presidents Cup, and Founders Cup.
The Crescent Athletic Club was inducted in the special merit category. The club has encouraged, sponsored and grown local sport in Owen Sound for over 100 years after forming in 1920. Their motto of “Play the Game” and promotion of local amateur sport has gained the club notoriety throughout the country.
The 1968 Owen Sound TNT Highsteppers, a group of 13 girls, formed a competitive twirling corps with National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA) instructor and choreographer Patti Davey. The corps made its debut at the ’68 Ontario Championships and quickly rose the ranks from novice to advanced twirling corps.
Meanwhile, also enshrined in the Class of 2020, the 1968 Patti Cakes twirl team of five girls – the very first twirl team formed in Owen Sound to compete in NBTA sanctioned competitions – competed and won in more than a dozen events. The team raised funds to pay for their own practice hall, competition fees and transportation costs.
The 2018 Owen Sound Selects under-23 team endured a long up-and-down season culminating in a herculean effort to win the national under-23 championship in Quebec.
The Selects qualified for the national championship as Ontario’s third team. After finishing the round-robin 4-3, the Selects lost their first playoff game, forcing them into the losers’ bracket in the double-elimination setup. The Selects wouldn’t lose again, reeling off four-straight wins including back-to-back victories on a scorching hot championship Sunday.
After six days, 12 games, 87 innings, seven extra innings contests, and 45 cases of water, the Owen Sound Selects brought home Softball Canada’s U23 Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship.
Selects coach Jamie Simpson spoke about the bond sports create among teammates.
“We can always pick up right where we left off,” he said. “The bond, it’s always there.”
As much was true with the delayed hall of fame induction ceremony, picking up where it left off over two years ago as COVID-19 swept through the region.
Like the Highsteppers, who told a story about the time their music cut off in the middle of a competition. They followed their mantra of “no matter what happens, keep smiling” and continued in relative silence. When the music kicked back in, the Highsteppers were right on beat.
The Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame was started in 1981 by the Ramoca Shrine Clubs and the Knights of Columbus, elections and inductions are held every two years.
In 1984, the City Parks and Recreation Committee stated its support for the continuation of the Hall, and in 2004 the Owen Sound Sports Hall of Fame underwent a major renovation at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.