Sept. 21, 2022 – An unprecedented stretch for the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame has culminated with the announcement of the newest class of six inductees.
Three athletes, two builders and one special award winner who have contributed significantly to the athletics history of Lethbridge and southern Alberta will join the ranks of more than 325 past inductees at the 2022 induction ceremony on Oct. 28 at the Canadian Western Bank Lounge in the Enmax Centre.
The 2022 induction class includes athletes Jim Steacy (track and field – hammer/weight throw), Heather Steacy (track and field – hammer/weight throw) and Dennis Chief Moon (boxing), builders Scott Oikawa (baseball) and Errol Smith (soccer) and special award honouree Jody Fisher Meli (curling).
“This is an incredible class of diverse inductees that represent both athletic excellence and community spirit, which are two of the hallmarks of the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame,” says Paul Kingsmith, Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame board chair. “This induction class celebrates both those who have carried Lethbridge’s spirit to accomplishments around the world, and those who have committed to growing sports and athletes right here in our city. Their stories should inspire others to want to follow in their footsteps and we are excited to celebrate them.”
The theme of this year’s induction banquet is “Lethbridge’s Olympic history” which is celebrated both in the induction of the Steacy siblings, who each represented Canada in the Olympic Games, and in a special guest speaker who will be announced in the coming weeks.
This is the first time in the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame’s 36-year history that the induction banquet has not been held in the spring. The induction of the 2020 class was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Hall’s board of directors chose to wait until that class could receive a proper in-person induction ceremony, which was finally held in May 2022. The Hall’s board of directors then undertook its selection process for the 2022 class.
The 2022 induction banquet will take place on Friday, Oct. 28. Ticket information will be released in the coming weeks.
The Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame has inducted more than 325 members since its formation in 1985 as part of the City of Lethbridge’s Centennial celebrations. The mandate of the hall is to identify and honour not only contemporary individuals, but also those who have excelled in sport at some time since the founding of Lethbridge.
Learn more at lethbridgesportshalloffame.ca.
For more information, contact:
Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame board chair
2022 Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame inductee biographies
Jim Steacy – track and field
Jim Steacy is a true hometown hero. The multi-time Olympian was raised in Lethbridge, turned down other offers to compete for the University of Lethbridge, represented the city in multiple Olympic Games and continues to serve the community in his post-athletics career.
One of the greatest hammer throwers in Canadian history, Steacy had unparalleled success at the university, national and international levels. As a member of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, training with long-time coach Larry Steinke, Steacy went undefeated in the weight throw over five seasons with the ‘Horns, winning five Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships, setting a CIS weight throw record that still stands, while also winning three CIS shotput championships before choosing to focus solely on the weight and hammer throw competitions. Steacy was named Pronghorns male athlete of the year in each of his five seasons with the program and was voted the greatest Pronghorn of all-time in celebration of the Pronghorns’ 50th anniversary.
Steacy won 11 Canadian senior hammer throw championships and represented Canada internationally 17 times during his 17-year hammer throwing career. His greatest championship came at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, where he won the title with a throw of 74.16 metres, which was more than a metre further than the silver medalist. Steacy represented Canada at both the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China and the 2012 Olympics in London, U.K. At the 2008 Olympics, Steacy finished 12th, becoming the first Canadian in 84 years to reach the hammer throw final. Steacy also earned gold medals at the 2007 Pan Am Games, the 2005 Francophone Games, the 2004 NACAC U23 Championships and the 2003 Pan Am Junior Championships.
Steacy is a member of the famed Steacy throwing family, which includes his younger siblings and fellow Pronghorns Sean and Heather (who also competed for Canada in the Olympics) along with their late parents Debby and Graham, who were long-time volunteers in Lethbridge’s athletics community. Steacy continues to hold the Canadian hammer throw record, with a toss of 79.13 metres, and was a five-time recipient of the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame’s Kinsmen Sportsperson of the Year award. Following his athletics career, Steacy joined the Lethbridge Police Service, continuing to represent his community with pride.
Heather Steacy – track and field
Picking up a hammer in her hometown of Lethbridge provided Heather Steacy the opportunity to see the world, as she racked up accolades in the biggest competitions her sport has to offer. A two-time Olympian, a multi-time Canadian champion, a Pan Am Games participant, and a highly decorated university star, the youngest member of Lethbridge’s famed Steacy throwing family carved out a career all her own.
Steacy was just 17 years old when she first represented Canada in the hammer throw at the 2005 IAAF World Youth Championships. Just two years later, she won a bronze medal at the 2007 Pan American Junior Championships and followed it up with a hammer throw gold medal at the 2009 Canada Games. Joining her hometown University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, Steacy became the first woman in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) history to throw further than 20 metres in the weight throw. During her four-year CIS career with the Pronghorns, she won four Canada West championships, two national championships, and CIS silver and bronze medals.
On the senior circuit, Steacy built a resume as one of Canada’s greatest hammer throwers of all-time. She won three straight national hammer throw championships from 2010 to 2012 and represented Canada at both the IAAF World Championships and the Summer Universiade in 2011. In 2012, Steacy qualified for her first Olympic Games in London, U.K., where she placed 34th. Continuing to cement her place as one of Canada’s top hammer throwers, Steacy earned a silver medal at the 2013 Canadian championships and a bronze medal in the 2015 nationals, while qualifying for both the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she placed 23rd, an 11 place improvement from her 2012 Olympic experience. Heather is a member of the famed Steacy throwing family, which includes her older siblings and fellow Pronghorns Jim (who also competed for Canada in the Olympics) and Sean, along with their late parents Debby and Graham, who were long-time volunteers in Lethbridge’s athletics community. A unique talent, Steacy proudly represented Lethbridge at the highest levels of her sport.
Dennis Chief Moon – boxing
The Blood Reserve in southern Alberta has a long history of producing acclaimed boxers, and as both a competitor and a coach, Dennis Chief Moon plays a key role in that legacy. Chief Moon battled his way to the highest ranks of the sport in Canada, earning a national championship and representing Canada internationally, before returning to his roots to mentor the next generation.
As a young boxer, Chief Moon learned the sport as a member of the Blood Reserve Boxing Club. Separating himself from the competition, Chief Moon quickly climbed the amateur ranks and became one of Canada’s top boxers. The highlight of his career was the 1971 Canadian National Boxing Championships, where Chief Moon shocked the nation by winning the 57kg championship. Now a national champion, Chief Moon was selected to represent Canada at the 1971 Pan Am Games in Cali, Colombia.
In 1972, Chief Moon returned to the ring and won the Provincial Indian Boxing Finals 125-pound open division championship. Less than a month later, Chief Moon entered the southern Alberta championships in Breton. Slated to compete in the 125-pound division, Chief Moon missed his weight and had to move up to the 132-pound division. Despite this challenge, Chief Moon won the division with a second round TKO in his final match and qualified for the provincial championships. Chief Moon continued to compete on-and-off for most of the next decade, competing in events in both Alberta and Montana. Even as he continued to pursue his own boxing career, Chief Moon gave back to his community, training young boxers at the St. Paul’s residential school, helping to cement the Blood Reserve’s reputation as a boxing hotbed that produced some of Canada’s greatest young talent.
Scott Oikawa – baseball
Lethbridge’s baseball community has long been recognized as one of Alberta’s best, and a massive part of that is because of one man who has now coached multiple generations of young ball players over more than three decades. Scott Oikawa, affectionately known as “Coach O” by the hundreds of players who have gone through the city’s American Legion program, has built a championship resume and carved out a role as a mentor since his coaching career began in the mid-1980s.
Oikawa began coaching with the Norcrest Little League program in 1985, and led the 13-year-old Norcrest Allstar Team to the 1987 prairie championship and a third place finish at the national championships in Moose Jaw, Sask. Oikawa moved up to join the city’s American Legion program, the same program he had come through as a player, in 1989. He became head coach of the single-A level American Legion Lethbridge Miners in 1989 before joining the double-A level American Legion Lethbridge Elks in 1995, where he has now been head coach for more than 25 years.
Under Oikawa’s guidance, the Elks have become one of the most stable and successful American Legion programs in the Montana circuit. A teacher and school administrator for more than 30 years, Oikawa used his summers to coach the Elks. His on-field highlights include two Montana State Championships, in 1999 and 2004, and three Montana State Coach of the Year awards, in 1995, 1999 and 2004. Many of his players have graduated onto higher levels of the game, joining college and minor pro programs across Canada and the United States. Oikawa has now coached multiple sons of players who had previously come through his program, a testament to his longevity and reputation as a coach who gets the best from his players. Oikawa has kept his baseball community close, with long-time assistant coaches Jim Kotkas and Chad Layton each putting in multiple decades by his side, while his parents, Mary and Tricky, were staples at the ballpark, helping with scorekeeping or any other jobs needed to support the team. With a motto of “better person, better player,” Oikawa has prepared his players to succeed in both baseball and in life.
Errol Smith – soccer
For a community sports program to truly prosper, it needs volunteers who care about every small detail and every person who takes part. For more than 40 years, Errol Smith has been that person for soccer in Lethbridge. He first got involved in the local soccer community as a coach for his daughter’s team, and Smith’s involvement grew and evolved from there. His coaching career with the Lethbridge Soccer Association (LSA) lasted 10 seasons and included a provincial championship as part of the coaching staff for the gold medal winning 1989 76 Chargers U14 team.
His most lasting impact on Lethbridge’s soccer community comes off the field though, where he took an active role as an LSA board member beginning in 1989. One of his key roles during that time was fundraising and seeking sponsorships for a permanent indoor soccer facility in the city. Smith led lobbying efforts for the project at City Hall and his efforts paid off with the opening of the Lethbridge Soccer Centre in 1997. Later renamed the Servus Sports Centre, the 58,000 square foot facility boasts two indoor soccer fields, grandstand seating for 2,000 people, a full-size outdoor field and has become the home base of the Lethbridge Soccer Association.
Smith’s efforts were recognized by those involved in the LSA, as he was elected board President in December 2000, a position he went on to hold for seven years. Committed to showcasing the city and its facilities, Smith was part of the organizing committee for the 2011 U16 National Championships held in Lethbridge. Always willing to do what needs to be done to ensure youth have a place to play, Smith stays active as facility manager at the Servus Sports Centre, doing everything from building maintenance to cutting grass to painting lines on the field. His hands-on care has directly benefitted many generations of Lethbridge soccer players.
Jody Fisher Meli – curling
Deep in the heart of southwestern Alberta, the city of Lethbridge has carved out a reputation as a hotbed for hosting successful major curling events. Much of this reputation is thanks to the work of Jody Fisher Meli, who has worked tirelessly to both attract and run championship events in the city.
Meli was co-chair of the 2005 Alberta Women’s Curling Championships, held in Lethbridge, which served as a dry run for other major events to come. Lethbridge is one of just four Canadian cities to host each of the four major “Season of Champions” events, including the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Tim Hortons Brier, and the women’s and men’s world championships. The first of these major events to come to the city was in 2007, and again, Meli was at the helm as organizing committee chair for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Lethbridge’s first foray into major curling events was a huge success, boasting the fifth highest attendance in Tournament of Hearts history. From this event, the seeds were laid for Lethbridge to host multiple other major events over the next 15 years.
In 2012, Meli returned to the organizing committee chair role as Lethbridge hosted the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship. Featuring teams from 12 countries, Meli oversaw a committee that handled more than 400 volunteers – many of them returning from the 2007 Tournament of Hearts. Meli was back at it in 2019 as vice-chair of the organizing committee and director of facilities for the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship. Meli has also used her passion for curling to advance the game at the provincial and national level, as a board member for Curling Alberta and as chair of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation. She was named Kinsmen Sports Person of the Year in 2012 by the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame. With a focus on strategic planning, communications, leadership and facilitation, Meli’s involvement has boosted Lethbridge’s reputation as a big player on Canada’s curling scene.