Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Golf star Wilson reflects fondly on other sports life

Sports Hall of Fame inductee shined at U of Saskatchewan

Barb Wilson, second from right, has great memories from U of S.
    At one time, golf wasn’t the only sport Barb Wilson was known for.
    On Wednesday at a press conference at the Saskatoon Field House, the 66-year-old was announced as an inductee for the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame class of 2017. With one Saskatchewan junior women’s golf title, five Saskatchewan women’s amateur titles and five Saskatchewan senior women’s title to her credit, Wilson’s selection to the local Sports Hall of Fame as an athlete was a fitting one.
    With the Field House being located right next to the University of Saskatchewan, Wilson found herself reflecting on the days when she was a member of the school’s athletics program. She played for what was then known as the Huskiettes basketball team from 1970 to 1974. Besides the hoops team, Wilson was also a member of the Huskiettes field hockey team and the track and field team.
    “I absolutely loved my five years in the university,” said Wilson. “You can’t get better than that.”
    “One of my best friends is Heather Witzel, who played with me on the basketball team. Pat Jackson was our coach at that time and was one of the all-time best coaches. She was actually the coach of the national team for the first couple of years that I played.
    “I remembered all the fun times that we had playing field hockey. We all had to learn how to play field hockey, because the university didn’t have a coach, so they asked Pat to coach it.”
    Wilson and Witzel played basketball together for three seasons from 1970 to 1973 helping the Huskiettes post an 85-11 record. The team won a bronze medal at the 1971 Canada Winter Games in Saskatoon.
Barb Wilson listens to her Hall introduction.
    Following those three campaigns, Wilson stayed on for the 1973-74 season helping the Huskiettes record a 15-5 regular season mark before being swept by UBC 2-0 in a best-of-three Canada West championship series.
    Back in those days, Wilson said all the members of the basketball team played field hockey to prepare for the hoops season. She remembered one time when Witzel had trouble adjusting to the changing conditions outside.
    “She (Witzel) came from B.C. and froze, absolutely froze because of our weather,” said Wilson. “Lucky devil her, she got to go in and have a hot shower before basketball practice where none of the others did.
    “We had very good times. I still go out to (Vancouver Island) to see Heather.”
    While Wilson cemented her star status on the provincial golf scene after leaving university becoming a member of the Saskatchewan Golf Hall of Fame in 2015, she still kept tabs on the U of S women’s basketball program, which has been known as the Huskies women’s basketball team for a lengthy stretch of time.
    Under current head coach Lisa Thomaidis, the Huskies have won five Canada West titles and a U Sports national championship in 2016.
    Remembering how different things were in the early 1970s, Wilson was amazed to see the attention Thomaidis’s teams have drawn and admits she wished her hoops teams could have drawn that same attention.
    “It is a good thing that she projects her team as one of the best if not the best,” said Wilson. “We were very good in our time with Pat Jackson, very good.
    “I don’t think we ever got any credit for that as what is going on now. That is alright.”
    While she has great memories from her university days, Wilson has countless memories playing golf. In a perky and upbeat way, she said it was really nice to be announced as an inductee to the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
    She also wants to get back to playing that sport on a more frequent basis. Since winning her last Saskatchewan senior women’s amateur title in 2005, Wilson was pulled off the golf course due to a battle with cancer.
    Having won her battle with cancer, Wilson said this year she feels ready play on a more regular basis again.
    “Golf is great,” said Wilson. “I started to golf when I was 12. I kept golfing all the way through.
    “I love that sport. I absolutely love it. I was hoping I could keep going on it.
    “I am getting back there now. I am going to go into a few tournaments this year, so we should see.”
Bryan Kosteroski listens to his Hall introduction.
    Also going into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame this year is Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association president Bryan Kosteroski under the builder’s category. Kosteroski has held numerous roles during a lengthy involvement in the city’s softball scene. He was pretty pleased to get the call to the local Sports Hall of Fame.
    “It is very exciting,” said Kosteroski. “I look who is all in the Hall of Fame it gets very overwhelming.”
    Currently, Kosteroski is the volunteer chairperson of the Friends of the Bowl Foundation not-for-profit group, which is continually working to keep refurbishing the Gordie Howe Sports Complex. He said working with the Friends of the Bowl, which was formed in 2013, has been very rewarding.
    “It has been awesome with the people we got to know, the goals we have and the all the sports groups working together,” said Kosteroski. “You don’t see that anywhere in Canada.
    “This project in Saskatoon is something special, and you are going to hear a lot more special things coming upon here in the fall. Working with all these different groups is tremendous.”
    Other athletes that are part of the 2017 Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame class include Cam Baerg in rowing, Erin Cumpstone in softball and ringette, the late Ted Dushinski in football and Joanne Jones Vause in track and field.
Some of the inductees for the 2017 Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
    Also being inducted as builders are late Keith Allen in hockey, Chris Baraniuk in artistic gymnastics and Huw Morris in soccer. 
    The 2007 Canadian Junior Football League champion Saskatoon Hilltops will enter in the team category.
    Curl Saskatoon was named the Sports Organization of the Year by the local Hall of Fame.
    The Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held Nov. 4 at TCU Place.

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