Susan (Reid) Schellinck learned early on in her field hockey career the importance of representing Nanaimo on the international stage, on Saturday, she was recognized for those efforts.
Schellinck was inducted into the Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame along with former NHLer Gene Carr, boxing coach Les Varro in the builders category and the Margaret Fuller Rink in the team category, at the Nanaimo Museum in a ceremony.
Schellinck was a pioneer in field hockey in Nanaimo, picking up the sport in Grade 8. By Grade 10 she was making provincial teams and at 17 she was trying out for her first national team in Toronto.
It was there where she had a chance encounter with fellow Nanaimo Sports Hall of Fame inductee Gerald Kazanowski, who played for the national basketball team throughout the 80s. Feeling insecure about trying to crack a team filled with players from Calgary, Vancouver and other major centres, Kazanowski gave her some advice that stuck with her for the rest of her career.
"He had already been to the Olympics when I had met him. .. he was really influential in giving me confidence," said Schellinck. "You've got to look at what you have and the strengths that you have, it doesn't matter where you're from, it's about what you bring to the table."
Schellinck became one of Canada's top field hockey players, helping the University of Victoria Vikings to three national championships, and played for Team Canada at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. She also helped Canada to a bronze medal at the 1995 Pan Am Games and played a major role in the program's success, narrowly missing out on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, finishing ninth in qualifying with the top eight making it on to the Games.
Being inducted into the hall of fame, however, was an opportunity for her to acknowledge publicly all of the help she had along the way and has been committed to helping other young athletes to accomplish their dreams.
As an occupational therapist with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, she is affiliated with the Pain B.C. Education Committee, the American Society of Pain Educators, Canadian Neuromodulation Society, Right to Play and the Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards. She also works with Pacific Sport Vancouver Island, giving her direct access to local, elite athletes.
"Those are the people that got me where I went to, if I can be apart of something that allows a tournament to happen or make it easier for people to run the events that they do, absolutely," said Schellinck.
Building athletes was not necessarily the goal Varro had in mind when he became a coach with the Nanaimo Boxing Club in 1970.
He was out to sculpt men, and he did it very successfully hammering home the motto "It's better to build a boy than mend a man."
He took up the sport in Abony, Hungary, where he was born. He was being bullied on his way to and from school and joined the local club to learn self-defence.
He was hooked.
His amateur boxing career came to an end in the 60s after an industrial accident while working on the railroad left him with a piece of steal lodged in his eye.
In 1970 with his own son being bullied, he signed him up for boxing and started on as a coach. Through his time with the club, he coached hundreds of boxers in to champions, even a few into national champions, including Jack Snaith, who became the youngest boxer ever to win a Canadian senior title at age 16 and 106 pounds.
During his career he coached both provincial and national teams and has earned recognition from the City of Nanaimo, the B.C. Amateur Boxing Association, the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association and USA Amateur Boxing inc.
But even more important to Varro is the success many of them have had in life outside of the ring.
During his induction, letters from past pupils were read out testifying to the impact he had on their lives, while Jim Kipp, who introduced Varro, talked about his first hand experience with him and the kids he worked with.
It was all a little overwhelming for the retired coach.
"I didn't start out to be here, but it's something I'm very, very proud to be," said Varro.
Jim Robertson made it his own personal business to make sure both Red and Gene Carr have been enshrined in the hall.
Red made it in a few years ago in the builder's category after running a service station in Nanaimo next to the old Civic Arena, but this year was Gene's turn.
Gene played for 10 years in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers, L.A. Kings and Atlanta Flames, finishing with 215 points (79 goals, 136 assists). He was known for his speed, and played on the same line with Kings superstar Marcel Dionne.
Carr was unable to make it up from his L.A. home due to health reasons, and so Robertson accepted on his behalf.
"They supported me in every which way and I became part of their family," said Robertson, who also played junior hockey with Gene with the Kelowna Buckaroos.
He recalled one of his trips down to L.A. to visit Carr shortly after he was dealt to the Kings. They were hanging out with legendary rock band The Eagles, when they decided to take an impromptu flight to Vegas for a night out.
"I was working for the government at $172 a month, I was so far out of my league, but Gene would say 'I'll bank roll you, let's go.' Everything was on him," said Robertson. "He was generous to a fault, as were his mom and dad, there was always tickets, he'd always buy dinner, just a prince of a man."
The Margaret Fuller Rink is one of two national champion curling teams from Nanaimo; the other - the Don McRae Rink- is also in the hall of fame.
The Fuller Rink - with Margaret Fuller at skip, Pat Good at third, Sylvia Koster at second and Edna Quinney at lead - won the 1957 Women's Western Canadian Championship, at a time when the tournament was transitioning into a national championship.
They finished the tournament 7-1, beating Alberta in the final and losing only to runner up Manitoba.
They became instant local celebrities, complete with a parade through town.
They did this all at a time when women's sports were not widely accepted and women were expected to fulfill the role of housewife and not pursue work or hobbies outside of the home.
There are no surviving members of the rink, but Kim Koster, son of Sylvia Koster, was on hand to accept the induction on the team's behalf.
"I know they would have appreciated being here," said Koster. "It's a bit tougher when you look back and say they accomplished these things, but they did it for their own fun, not to be recognized. It is greatly appreciated by the family, we've never really accomplished anything really on our own. I know it's not given, it's something they worked hard for."
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