On the same day last month that a handful of Surrey residents were inducted into the Softball Canada Hall of Fame, a few more were appointed to the provincial softball hall, as well.
During Softball BC’s annual general meeting on July 18, the sport organization honoured four Surrey residents and one entire White Rock Renegades team, among seven total inductees.
Longtime Renegades president Greg Timm – the chair of the organizing committee responsible for the Canada Cup, 2016 Women’s World Championships and this summer’s Surrey-hosted Olympic qualifier – was named to Softball BC’s Hall of Fame, alongside former Renegades coach Chuck Westgard and Surrey’s Jackie and Jerry Dugger, who were involved with softball primarily in Burnaby over a decades-long span.
As well, the White Rock Renegades ’91 – arguably the most successful youth girls fastpitch team in Canadian history – were named to the B.C. hall of fame.
Westgard, a Delta native who was inducted into that city’s sports hall of fame last fall, served as the coach of that ’91 squad, which Softball BC called “a team for the ages” in a news release announcing this year’s honourees.
The team, Westgard said, had a core group of players that remained with the team through its entire tenure – Tayla Westgard, Marina Groenewegen, Lisa Fadden, Taylor McBeth and Kelsey Andison – won three provincial championships and four national titles between 2005-2010.
“I coached them right from first-year squirt (U12) division,” Westgard said. “We had the same infield for seven years in a row – that’s how tight a group that team was, that they all stayed together.”
As well, assistant coach Jessica McLeod (now Nelson) was a member of all four national championships, and Ron Clarke was with the team for the last three, Westgard noted.
“Those two were instrumental in us winning.”
The group is still the only Canadian youth fastpitch team to win four national championships – and the only team to ever win at U14, U16 and U18 age divisions. The final three Canadian titles were won in a four-year span, and while Westgard had fond memories of each win, the final one, at U18 championships in 2010, is especially memorable, considering the competition and the fact that it was the team’s final year together.
“We’d won the year before (as an under-age team), so in 2010, they put a ‘super team’ together out of Ontario… they took all the best players from the Greater Toronto area, and around Ontario, and tried to beat us,” he recalled.
“And they did beat us once, on Saturday night of nationals, 7-2, and they thought they had us with this super team, but we came back through the backdoor (loser’s bracket) on Sunday, and then beat them 3-0 in the final.”
The Renegades ‘91 were named Softball BC’s team of the year in 2009, and Westgard was named coach of the year in 2010.
After coaching the ’91s, Westgard moved on to coach White Rock Renegades ’95 – which also won its share on national championships – before retiring from the coaching ranks after the 2013 season.
In total, Westgard – who is also the owner of the BC Hockey League’s Surrey Eagles – finished with seven national championships and five provincial titles. However, he said his hall-of-fame nod would not mean nearly as much to him if his team wasn’t being inducted at the same time.
“It just wouldn’t be the same,” he said. “It’s fabulous to have them in (the hall), too.”
Westgard’s turn at the helm of the Renegades ‘95 included another one of Westgard’s favourite coaching moments – winning a national championship in 2012 with all three of his daughters, Tayla, Tanelle and Toryce, involved.
Westgard’s two youngest daughters were players on the team, while his oldest, Tayla, served alongside him as an assistant coach.
“All four of us were on the field when we won it.”
Westgard was quick to praise his fellow inductee, Timm, who was also inducted into the Softball Canada Hall of Fame this month, alongside South Surrey native – and former Team Canada slugger – Melanie Matthews and umpire Christman Lee.
Westgard called Timm’s pair of hall appointments “long overdue.”
“Greg took over from (former Renegades president) Glen Todd, and he’s turned the Renegades into Canada’s premier (girls softball) organization… and it can be a thankless job at times because he’s behind the scenes, not on the field, and it’s all volunteer,” Westgard said, adding that Timm told him recently that he didn’t want his own induction to take away from Westgard’s or the ‘91 team’s.
“He told me that, and I said ‘Greg, it’s an honour to go in with you.’”
Jackie Dugger, meanwhile, has been “actively involved” in the softball community for 33 years, and worn many executive hats with Burnaby Minor Softball, Softball BC and Softball Canada. She also served as the technical director for the 2016 world championships, which were held in South Surrey, and serves in the same role at the Canada Cup.
She currently serves on Softball Canada’s board of directors.
Jerry Dugger has been a longtime coach and executive. He began his coaching career in 1985 and created the Burnaby Oakeys program, which Softball Canada said “was synonymous with excellence for more than two decades.” He coached teams to national championships in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
He was inducted into the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
The Softball BC Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet will be held in Burnaby on Oct. 19.