By Evan Midford, Website & Social Media Coordinator
November 3, 2022 – Winnipeg MB – For over four decades, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame has celebrated sport by preserving and showcasing the extraordinary achievements of those who have made their mark on Manitoba’s rich sports history.
Tonight’s Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony honoured those who have dedicated their lives to sport as athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers. We are pleased to welcome Don Baizley, Halldor Bjarnason, Andrea Ferguson, Patrick Jebbison, Michelle Sawatzky-Koop, and the1990 Winnipeg Blue Bombers team as worthy honoured members.
“If my dad were here tonight, he would say he was so lucky, and then start to list all the people he owed thanks to. It’s an honour to have him a part of this class, and he’d be truly happy for you and all your accomplishments.”
– Gord Baizley, on behalf of the late Don Baizley (photographed)
The late Don Baizley was one of the most respected player agents in professional hockey. His role in opening the doors for Europeans to come and play pro hockey in North America began with the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets in the mid 70s. He also played a critical role in mediating the 2004-05 lockout between the NHL and NHLPA, and frequently appeared in The Hockey News as one of its 100 People of Power and Influence between 2003-07.
“Thank you for this amazing honour. I was always told “he can’t” and I still get a small sense of satisfaction when I hear “oh, I guess I underestimated him.” It is all possible, and you can suceed.”
Halldor Bjarnason was a trailblazer for people with disabilities to participate and excel in sport. In 1985, he helped start the Manitoba Cerebral Palsy Association, and went on to collect medals and set records all over the world as an athlete. At the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, he capped off his athletic career with a personal best and fourth place finish in the 1500m.
Halldor is the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame’s first-ever inductee from Cerebral Palsy sport.
“For almost as long as I can remember, ringette has been a huge part of my life. From the second I started playing, I was hooked. And now, I am so honoured to be a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.”
Andrea Ferguson began playing ringette at age seven and it has taken her around the world. She competed in Nationals in eight consecutive years as a player, coach, or both, and was selected for the all-star team twice. She’s played for Canada on the international stage, winning player of the year in 2002-03, and she’s currently coaching Canada’s U22 team.
Andrea is the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame’s first-ever inductee from the sport of ringette.
“If it wasn’t for my great teammates and coaches, I wouldn’t be here tonight, so I owe a lot to them. It’s one of the great honours of my life to be inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.”
Patrick Jebbisonplayed for the Brandon University Bobcats from 1984-89. In his second year, he made the GPAC Second All-Star team and was BU’s Most Improved Player. He racked up the accolades, earning GPAC First All-Star selection, GPAC MVP, CIAU All-Star, First Team All-Canadian, and the Mike Moser Award as the top men’s university basketball player in the country.
“This is unbelievable. I’m not sure I belong here, but thanks for thinking that I do. An honour like this isn’t just about volleyball, it wouldn’t be possible without those who supported me, my family, my teammates, and my coaches.”
Michelle Sawatzky-Koop started to excel as an athlete in high school, winning Athlete of the Year in her senior year. She committed to playing for the University of Manitoba Bisons and instantly became the starting setter. After graduating, Michelle was named to the Senior Women’s National Team, where as the starting setter, she helped lead the team to a bronze medal at the 1995 Pan Am Games and then helped Canada qualify for the 1996 Olympics.
“This team was in first place from the first day to the last day, and they were picked last in the preseason poll. This really was a great team, and everyone here and not here is included in the creation of a championship team. It’s such an honour to have all the guys here to celebrate and I want to thank the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame for honouring us.”
– Mike Riley on behalf of the 1990 Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team
After a disappointing 1989 CFL season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers turned things around in 1990. With a new QB and a defense that allowed the fewest points overall during the regular season, the team earned its bye into the eastern final. A win over Toronto sent them to the Grey Cup, where they cruised to a 50-11 victory over Edmonton. QB Tom Burgess was named MVP and fullback Warren Hudson was named the Most Valuable Canadian. It would be the franchise’s last Grey Cup until 2019, when the Bombers ended a 29-year drought.
“It was a moving and inspiring evening, where we recognized the accomplished class of 2022 among their family, friends, and peers. This class has had a remarkable influence in sport in Manitoba and around the world. It’s through their stories and contributions we can see and feel the positive impact sport can have on people and community. Congratulations once again to tonight’s inductees!”
Janet McMahon, President and CEO, Sport Manitoba
“Tonight, we celebrated excellence in sport, and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame is honoured to be able to welcome its newest members. Congratulations to our outstanding class – Don Baizley, Halldor Bjarnason, Andrea Ferguson, Michelle Sawatzky-Koop, Patrick Jebbison, and the 1990 Winnipeg Blue Bombers team.”
Don MacDonald, Board Chair, Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame