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Inductees into the Canadian Volleyball Hall of Fame class of 2024

Inductees into the Canadian Volleyball Hall of Fame class of 2024

The nominees for this year's Canadian Volleyball Hall of Fame have been announced.

The VC Hall of Fame includes athletes, builders, coaches, referees and teams that have made significant contributions to the development of the sport in Canada and abroad. This year the roster consists of five individuals, a mix of builders and athletes.

In some cases, its influence on the game dates back to the 1950s. Others have been competing as recently as the 2016 Rio Olympics. But they all have one thing in common: these individuals embody the winning spirit of Canadian volleyball, leading on and off the court, improving the sport for all Canadians. These are the 2024 Canadian Volleyball Hall of Fame inductees. They will be honored later this year, at a ceremony on June 5 in Ottawa.

Robert Wright – builder
In his early days, Robert (Bob) played volleyball at the Central YMCA in Toronto. There he met his friend – and fellow HoF candidate – David Tweedley. After years at the Central Y, Bob and David started the men's volleyball program at Balmy Beach Canoe Club.

In 1965, Bob helped bring beach volleyball to Canada. Inspired by a trip to California, where he watched a lot of beach volleyball matches, Bob built a set of sand courts and hosted the first-ever international tournament at Palmy Beach, with the help of his friend David.

As it turns out, Bob did a lot in the 1960s. He served on the Executive Board of the Canadian Volleyball Association (CVA) from 1962 to 1968. In 1967, he coached the Canadian men's team at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg. He also played and officiated at the international level.

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David Tweddle – builder
Originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario, David played for the varsity team at George Williams College in Chicago in the 1950s. During his time there, he won the Eastern Collegiate Championship and earned All-American honors, among other accomplishments.

In 1958, David graduated and got a job as director of the Central YMCA in Toronto. From there, he moved to Balmy Beach Canoe Club, helping develop the game both inland and on the beach, alongside Bob Wright.

In the 1960s, David played for Canada in two separate Pan American Cups, in Brazil and Manitoba. He also served as Secretary of the CVA. David passed away in 2021, but his legacy lives on.

Durami Ahling – Building
In the past, Dorami coached the high school volleyball team at Point Gray High School in Vancouver. Her lifelong involvement with Canadian volleyball began in 1980, when Sandy Silver invited her to manage Ottawa's women's national junior team, alongside head coach Michel Gagnon.

From there, she worked as the technical coordinator for Volleyball in Canada. Director of High Performance for the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Association (now U SPORTS); And in the Sports Canada team unit.

In 2004, Dorami returned to Vancouver, where she volunteered with Volleyball BC and helped with the campaign that moved the Women's National Team Center (WNTC) from Winnipeg to Richmond Olympic Oval. Presently, she is the CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation and serves as the President of WNTC.

Gavin Schmidt – athlete
Standing 6'10″ tall with a powerful right arm, Gavin is among the most dominant forwards in Canadian history. But he might never have played volleyball, had he not had a committed coach.

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In Grade 11, Gavin was working at a local burger joint, when a Saskatchewan Provincial team coach noticed his height. Eventually the coach convinced Gavin to take up the sport. Gavin played at the University of Saskatchewan for a year, before transferring to Red Deer College (RDC), where he helped the program win its eighth consecutive national title.

Gavin played for the national team from 2007 to 2016, one of the most successful eras in the program's history. Among the highlights, he led the team to seventh place in the 2014 World League; Bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto; His best ever finish was fifth at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Gavin has also enjoyed a successful professional career, playing in Greece, France, Turkey, Russia and South Korea, where he starred for the Daejeon Samsung Bluefangs. He retired in 2016. A year later, he was inducted into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Hall of Fame, for his contributions to the RDC.

Michelle Sawatzky – athlete
In 1987, Michelle led the Steinbach Regional High School Sabers to the AA Championship. From there, I kept winning. As a setter at the University of Manitoba, she helped the Bisons win three consecutive CIAU championships, from 1990 to 1993. During that time, she was named National Player of the Year twice.

Michelle has had an excellent international career. In the early 1990s, she played for Canada's junior team and competed in the World Student Games. Michelle joined the senior women's national team in 1995, winning a bronze medal at the Pan American Games that year.

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At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Michelle led the Canadian women to a ninth-place finish. In the final match of that tournament, Michele led the team to a 3-2 victory over Peru, the first Olympic victory for the women's program. Michelle is now a motivational speaker and coach.

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