Best of the Best – BC Edition
Icon - a person or thing regarded as a symbol of a belief, nation, community, or cultural movement
The great thing about sports is that almost everyone can relate to the trials and tribulations that an athlete goes through in order to reach the upper echelon of their respective sport, be it as an individual or member of a team.
Throughout the world, each generation of athlete or fan identifies with an individual who has transcended the sport, whether it be on or off the field of play.
As you will see from the list below (which other than number one is in no particular order) residents of British Columbia should feel proud that they have a long list of individuals that they can refer to as sports icons.
In our three part series, we will take a look at those who have paved the way for today’s athletes, those who are currently setting the tone and those who will lead the next generation of local superstars.
1. Terry Fox
For those that want to be technical, Fox may not be considered a “sports” icon, however for anyone who has ever questioned their commitments and desires has to only look at Fox for the ultimate inspiration.
As a multi-sport athlete at Simon Fraser University and throughout high school, Fox’s story not only inspired BC residents but touched people throughout the world.
Recently, another BC sports icon reflected on how Fox touched an entire country.
1B. Rick Hansen
For those that were inspired by Fox, Hansen left an equally memorable and motivational mark on the province, country and world. Whereas Fox attempted to cross the country, Hansen’s journey took him on a 40, 000km journey around the world.
Hansen’s story doesn’t begin or end with his Man In Motion tour.
Winner of 19 international marathons, a finalist in the 1500 meter wheelchair exhibition at the 1984 Olympics and numerous other international awards for wheelchair competitions, Hansen also competed in wheelchair basketball, tennis and volleyball.
2. Larry Walker
Possibly one of the greatest Canadian baseball players of all time, Walker first hit the major leagues with the Montreal Expos, followed by stops with the Colorado Rockies and retiring as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Walker’s 17 year journey through the big leagues notched seven Golden Gloves, three Silver Sluggers and five trips to the MLB All-Star Game. While Walker had impressive stat lines during his time with the Expos, it was his 1997 season with the Rockies that established his play in baseball history.
A .366 average with a National League leading 49 round trippers, 130 RBI and 33 stolen bases made it hard for voters to give the NL MVP to anyone else. This would be the first time a Canadian would win the award.
While he would fall short in a quest for a World Series trophy, Walker cemented his place as one of the most influential baseball players the province and the country has ever produced.
3. Lui Passaglia
One of the least sexy roles in football, be it north or south of the boarder, Passaglia put in work for over two decades, as he played with the BC Lions for twenty five years.
Unknown to many, Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu wasn’t just “a kicker” when he came into the CFL, as he recorded his first points off of a touchdown as a receiver.
From that game on Passaglia set out to place his name in the CFL record books with 408 games, 3,991 points and 1,045 converts.
On his way out, Lui posted his best field goal percentage in 2000 with 90.9% (40 of 44) and his second career touchdown on a one yard run in his final home game at BC Place.
Along with 9 CFL West All-Star Awards, 4 CFL All-Star Awards, and 3 Grey Cup Rings, the number 5 jersey has found its place in the BC Sport Hall of Fame and the CFL Hall of Fame.
4. Dominic Mobilio
Many will argue that Bobby Lenarduzzi should hold down this spot, and those who do aren’t necessarily wrong, but Mobilio is the name that captured fans hearts throughout the 80′s and 90′s.
Over the course of 14 seasons with the Vancouver 86′ers, DoMo found the back of the net 170 times and set the all time scoring record for the Canadian Soccer League and the second highest goal total in North American Soccer.
During the 1991 season, Mobilio set a single season CSL scoring record with 25 goals on route to claiming the league MVP award.
When Mobilio wasn’t representing the Vancouver soccer scene, he played the indoor game for the Baltimore Blast and Edmonton Drillers to name but a few of the teams he participated on in the Major Indoor Soccer league over the course of 11 years.
After retiring from the 86′ers in 2000 and the Detroit Rockers in 2001, the Vancouver Whitecaps retired Mobilio’s number 10 jersey at Swangard Stadium. Following his unfortunate passing in 2004, Mobilio was honored by the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.
Throughout his early days growing up in Vancouver’s East Side, his professional soccer and finally his mentoring of youth in Coquitlam, Mobilio brought the game of soccer to life for many in the province of BC.
5. Trevor Linden
“…he will play, you know he will play. He will play on crutches, you know he will play and he will play at Madison Square Gardens…..”
Since day one, the C just seemed like it belonged on the front of #16′s jersey (sorry Messier, Naslund and Luongo).
For 19 years, despite his short stints as an Islander, Canadian or Capital, Trevor Linden has always been and will always be the defining identity of the Vancouver Canucks.
Playing a team record 1138 games with the Canucks over the course of his career, Linden set the bar for goals and assists for the club, and while both of those totals have since been broken as it relates to regular season numbers.
Linden still stands on top of the ladder when it comes to playoff goals, assists and overall points.
One of the most respected players league wide during his career, Linden saw his jersey hoisted to the rafters of Rogers Arena on December 17th, 2008.
Off the ice, Linden has made an equally valuable impact in the community with his efforts at Children’s Hospital and Canuck Place.
Although he was never a recipient of any NHL statistical awards and from a numbers game there are more outstanding players from BC, Linden showed that there is more to being an athlete than the game as he was honored with the Order of British Columbia (2003) and the Order of Canada (2010) for his outstanding contributions to Canada and humanity.
HONORABLE MENTION ICONS: