York University Athletics and Recreation and the School of Kinesiology and Health Science officially welcomed six new inductees to the York University Sport Hall of Fame on Sept. 29 at the annual induction ceremony.
Four former student-athletes, one coach and, for the first time ever, a team were welcomed into the Class of 2018. This year’s inductees were basketball player Mark Bellai, track and field athlete Craig Cavanagh, field hockey player Tammy Holt, rugby player Cheryl Phillips, tennis coach Eric Bojesen and the 1969-70 men’s hockey team, which entered the Hall of Fame as its inaugural team inductee.
The induction ceremony was held at the Second Student Centre on the York University Keele Campus. As part of this year’s ceremony and in honour of the Hall of Fame’s 25th induction class, all past inductees were provided with commemorative York Sport Hall of Fame rings. Those in attendance were given their rings during a special presentation that featured the greatest student-athletes, coaches and builders in York history.
Mark Bellai (BA ’93) starred with York’s men’s basketball team for five years and graduated as one of the most prolific scorers in league history. A team captain for four of his five years with the team, Bellai averaged 19.9 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game, earning three Ontario University Athletics Association (OUAA) first-team all-stars and three team MVPs in his career. He graduated from York as the second leading scorer in OUAA history and is still currently ranked in the top 20 in the OUA. A deadly shooter with range, Bellai is York’s all-time leader in three-pointers made and remains fourth all-time in scoring. He also attracted national attention during his time at York and was invited to participate in selection camps for both the Canadian national and Olympic basketball teams.
Craig Cavanagh (BSc ’00) is one of the most prolific jumpers in York history. A well-rounded athlete and long jump specialist, Cavanagh earned four Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) medals (two gold, two sliver) and four OUA gold medals in long jump during his four years at York. He also picked up a silver medal in triple jump at the 1998 OUAA championships and stepped onto the track to claim a silver medal in the 60-metre dash at the 1999 CIAU championships. Cavanagh was named to five CIAU all-star teams (two first-team, three second-team) and five OUAA all-star teams (four first-team, one second-team) during his career. He also helped York win one CIAU team bronze medal and three OUAA team bronze medals and was named York male athlete of the year in 1998-99.
Tammy Holt (BA ’95) experienced success at every level of field hockey throughout her career and became one of the most decorated players in York history. She spent five years with the Yeowomen from 1989-91 and 1994-95, and helped the team win two CIAU silver medals, one CIAU bronze medal, two Ontario Women’s Interuniversity Athletic Association (OWIAA) championships, two OWIAA silver medals and one OWIAA bronze medal during her York career. A speedy and gritty player with scoring touch, Holt earned three CIAU first-team all-Canadian selections and three OUA first-team all-star selections throughout her career at York. She experienced success at the national level, earning a silver medal for Canada at the 1991 Pan American Games, and participated for Canada at the 1990 and 1994 World Cup, the 1995 Olympic qualifying tournament and the 1991 FISU Games.
Cheryl Phillips (BA ’06) was a standout on the women’s rugby team during her university career and is the first Hall of Fame inductee in the history of the York women’s rugby program. Phillips was a dominant force on the field for the Lions, becoming the first OUA Russell Division most valuable player in school history and only the second first-team all-Canadian. She was twice named an OUA first-team all-star and was the OUA’s leading scorer in 2005, accounting for 65 of the team’s 69 total points. She was also a member of the Canadian 7s and 15s rugby team and competed with the national team at multiple international events.
Eric Bojesen coached the York tennis team for 16 seasons (1987-2002) and led both the men’s and women’s programs to elite status in Canadian university sport. Bojesen was instrumental in developing the men’s program and had the team reinstated to the OUAA in 1987 after several years of absence. He led the tennis teams to the most dominant stretch in program history in the 1990s, as the men’s team captured medals at the OUAA championships for seven straight years from 1991-97 (three gold, three silver, one bronze) and the women’s team won medals at the OWIAA championships for five straight years from 1992-96 (one gold, two silver, two bronze). Bojesen also ended his York tenure on a high note as the women’s team won the bronze medal in 2000 followed by back-to-back championships in 2001 and 2002, and the men’s program picked up the silver medal in 2002. Overall his teams won 16 medals in his 16 years as head coach and 12 of his players were named OUAA/OWIAA all-stars. In recent years, Bojesen has made a name for himself as a player on the senior tennis circuit, winning multiple senior national championships as a singles and doubles player, and becoming ranked as high as 44th in the world in the senior men’s rankings.
The 1969-70 men’s hockey team etched its name in the history books in the winter of 1970 by becoming the first York team to compete for a national championship in a team sport. Led by head coach Bill Purcell, the team was dominant through the Ontario Intercollegiate Athletic Association (OIAA) regular season as they went undefeated with a 10-0 record, outscoring their opponents by a total of 74-23. The team defeated the Laurentian Voyageurs by a score of 8-2 in the OIAA championship game to end the Voyageurs’ five-year OIAA championship-winning streak and qualify for the CIAU national championships. The Yeomen dropped their first game at the CIAU tournament to Saint Mary’s, but rebounded to win successive games by a combined score of 18-6 and finish in third place.
As the first York team to compete on the national stage, the team created a great deal of excitement within a university whose varsity athletics program was in its infancy stages. The team’s high-scoring roster was anchored by centre Murray Stroud, who led the league in scoring with 35 points and was named national player of the year. The roster also featured three provincial all-stars in goalie Bill Holden, Dave Kosoy and left-winger Steve Latinovich. Stroud, Latinovich and Purcell have all been inducted as individuals into the York University Sport Hall of Fame.
The success of the 1969-70 team ushered in a new era of excellence for the men’s hockey program that saw the Yeomen become a national power, winning three national championships and four OUA championships throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
About the Sport Hall of Fame
Created in 1980, the Sport Hall of Fame honours individuals who have significantly contributed to York’s interuniversity sport program as athletes, coaches and administrators, and who have exemplified the spirit and ideals of York University sports in their professional and community lives. The selection committee consisted of varsity alumni, current student-athletes and several university administrators.