This year marks a new milestone for the Gee-Gees women’s basketball team, as they introduced a women’s basketball Hall of Fame and welcomed its first inductees including former players/coaches Wanda Pilon and Fabienne Blizzard as well as the 2004-05 Gee-Gees women’s basketball team.
Aiming to recognize some of the most respected and deserving individuals and teams in the program’s 39 years of history, the Hall of Fame will include three different categories: a builder’s category, a player’s category and a team category.
This year’s inductee in the builder’s category is Wanda Pilon. Pilon played guard for the Gee-Gees from 1974-78 and helped the team as assistant coach in the 1980-81 and the 1983-84 seasons. She then became head coach for the Gee-Gees in 1986 and remained head coach for 11 years, from 1986 to 1997, after which she became assistant athletic director and worked in the alumni office until 2004.
Inducted this year in the player’s category is Fabienne Blizzard. She played the guard position for the Gee-Gees from 1989-1993 and she also coached the team from 1994-1996. Current head coach Andy Sparks described her as a well respected player and coach. “She was well respected by alumni and [the] girls who played for her loved her.”
In the team category, this year’s inductees are the 2003-04 and 2004-05 women’s basketball teams. The 2003-04 team, lead by head coach Angie McLeod and assistant coaches Carol Rosenthal and Patrice Bellerose, is the only team in the program’s history to have ever claimed an OUA championship. They also finished sixth at the CIS championships that year. The 2004-05 team, lead by head coach Carlos Brown and assistant coach Murray Shoup, finished second in the OUA, and improved to a fifth place finish in the CIS finals.
“It’s something that I think is just overdue,” said Sparks, with regards to the Hall of Fame. In previous years, there has been a dinner organized at the school for alumni and friends; however, this year’s event is the first to be recognized as a Hall of Fame dinner and highlighted some of the program’s greatest accomplishments. “There is enough history now that we should be looking at doing this,” he added.
“It is a nice way to recognize the efforts of players and teams who have helped build the program,” said Pilon, who was both surprised and very honoured to be nominated as one of the first inductees. She believes the Hall of Fame is a great initiative and a great way for current players to get to know some of the history behind the team.
The next step in the development of the Hall of Fame will be the creation of a committee of alumni to decide on new inductees for the upcoming years. This committee will be in place for next year, which will also mark the team’s 40th anniversary at the University of Ottawa.
The Hall of Fame dinner was held at the Sandy Hill Arena on Saturday, October 17 at 6:00 p.m. and all Gee-Gees women’s basketball alumni were invited to join in celebrating the first inductees into the Hall of Fame. This event also served as a fundraiser for the 2009-2010 women’s basketball team, who will begin their regular season play on Tuesday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. when they take on the Ravens at Carleton University.