November 21, 2023
(North Cowichan, BC) – On November 18th three new individuals and two teams were added to the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame. Since 2008, the Wall of Fame has honored the rich history of sports, coaches, athletes, teams, administrators and builders from our community.
“As North Cowichan celebrates 150th anniversary, we are excited to honor our sports community,” says North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas. “We stick to our 150th A theme of celebrating our future, we are proud of our sporting heritage and young athletes on the rise.”
“We continue to be impressed by the quality and quantity of nominations we receive,” explains Councilor and Board President Tek Manhas. “Holding the event every two years ensures that we can recognize our sporting leaders.”
The five new inductees added to the Sports Wall of Fame are:
- Helen Gosnell – softball
- Ernie Mansueti – builder
- Jason Sandquist – triathlon
- 1959 Duncan Little League All Stars – baseball team
- 1983 Cowichan Thunderettes – basketball team
Front row (left to right): Garry Bruce (representing the 1959 Duncan Little League All Stars), Helen Gosnell, Kim Poland (representing the 1983 Cowichan Thunderettes Basketball)
Back row (left to right): Jason Sandquist, Ernie Mansueti
(Photo by Don Bodger)
Director, Parks and Recreation, Municipality of North Cowichan
Helen Gosnell – Softball
Helen was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley. She has always been proud to be Native, as her father was a member of the Cowichan tribe.
A natural athlete, she dreamed of playing professional softball. When she was 17, she was hired by the Edmonton Mortons as a shortstop.
In 1951, she was a member of the Edmonton Mortons, who won the first official Canadian senior women’s softball championship in Toronto. This achievement earned the team induction into the Alberta Softball Hall of Fame.
The following year, Helen returned to the island, playing Duncan women’s softball. During her years as a player, she won many tournaments and trophies for the best pitcher and catcher. After a serious knee injury, she focused on coaching.
Helen has devoted years of her teaching career to helping students learn baseball and field hockey. She organized sports events and encouraged young generations to realize their dreams in athletics. Because of her excellence in teaching, her teams have won multiple local tournaments and many students have gained valuable life skills through playing sports.
Ernie Mansueti – Builder
Ernie is a well-known face in the Cowichan sports community. In his role as General Manager, Community Services for North Cowichan, he was responsible for the design and construction of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, Crofton’s seawalk, three skateparks as well as Sherman Road and Evans parks. Ernie also formalized recreational trail opportunities within the municipal forest preserve and integrated trail systems between communities and neighborhoods.
In terms of sporting events, he has sat on application committees and served as the municipal liaison for the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, Rogers Hometown Hockey, Rowing Canada, BC Seniors Games, North American Indigenous Games and BC Summer Games.
Ernie also served on the board of the Recreation Foundation of BC and the Recreation Facilities Association (RFABC). RFABC awarded him the Dave Dauphinee Award in 1996 and 2003 for his outstanding work.
Ernie leaves a legacy as a founder of the North Cowichan-Duncan Sports Wall of Fame, KidSport Cowichan, and a member of the ALS Old-Timers Hockey Tournament Organizing Committee.
Adding to this impressive resume, Ernie also coached baseball, hockey and football for over 40 years.
Jason Sandquist – Triathlon
In more than three decades, Jason has been competing at the highest level of amateur triathlon, winning numerous awards, victories and places on the podium. His first triathlon was in 1989. In 1991, he completed his first Ironman race (a triathlon with a 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike ride and 42.2 km run). He finished fourth in his age category, qualifying for the Ironman World Championship.
Since then he has participated in 28 Ironman races, including 10 Ironman World Championships. This resulted in six wins for his age group and 13 podiums.
Some of his many accomplishments include the top amateur competitor at Ironman Canada in 1994, 1996 and 2000. He was the first in the world for the Ironman 70.3 races in 2013 and 2014. Jason received the 2014 Long Distance Triathlon Excellence Award from Triathlon Canada .
Jason is currently the BC Provincial Half Ironman Champion for his age group (50+ Male). He continues to rack up age group wins and podiums, dedicates time and effort to his training and inspires athletes and people in North Cowichan and beyond.
1959 Duncan Little League All Stars – Baseball
In 1959, the Duncan Little League All Stars became the first Cowichan Valley boys team to win a major championship. They won seven straight games en route to the Vancouver Island and Canada West titles. That included wins over East Vancouver and Trail and winning the BC provincial title.
The team then advanced to the Northwest Regional Championships in Portland, Oregon, competing against teams from Washington and Oregon.
They did not lose a game until they were defeated by a team from Vancouver, Washington, which ended their charming run to the Little League World Series.
Despite the loss, the team’s return to Vancouver Island was quite the spectacle with two mayors escorting them in a mile-long convoy from the Nanaimo Ferry to the full field of fans at Pioneer Park.
Team members include:
Garry Bruce, David Cooke, Rick Haslam, Conway Dillabaugh, Larry Paradis, Bill Moore, Mike Martin, Peter Bartleman, Keith Edwards, Gerald Taylor, Ted Evans, Jack Philpot, Raymond Stotts, Gregory Ledding, coach Roy Hughes and manager Jarvis Jickling.
1982-83 Cowichan Thunderettes – Basketball
This girls basketball team made a name for itself on Vancouver Island by winning the provincial girls basketball championship against Abbotsford. Dedicated and exceptional athletes lost only two games all season.
The championship game at Simon Fraser University brought out the best in the team. They showed their desire to compete well, going back into the lead after halftime. The sportsmanship of the girls did not falter, and their dedication ultimately led to victory.
The players were a great combination, led by Kim Poland. Their friendship matched their incredible talents. Carol Bot, Cathy Roome, Val Larson, Irina Sladecek and Kim Poland also received multiple All-Star and MVP awards at various tournaments during the 1982-83 season.
Vancouver Island faced stiff competition from a population of mainland teams, but the 1983 Cowichan Thunderettes were able to win and bring home the win.
Team members include:
Kim Poland, Carol Bot, Irina Sladecek, Val Larson, Cathy Roome, Melanie Slade, Sandy Hughes, Shawn Hudson, Inet Sladecek, Kris Jahelka, Cindy Dodds, Managers Susan Lee and Carolyn Warren, Coach John Hart and Assistant Coach Bud Fulton.