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CapU Blues celebrate 50 years of athletics with inaugural Hall of Fame

As the North Vancouver college has grown to a university, 15 people are being honoured for making its athletic program shine
Women’s national soccer champions Diana Elligott (née Artuso) and Melissa Artuso, with former women’s volleyball coach Wayne Desjardins, national badminton champion Kiran Bogavelli and former athletic director Joe Iacobellis are all inductees into the Capilano University Blues Hall of Fame. | Nick Laba / North Shore News

When it comes to sports, Capilano University has a lot to celebrate.

To mark 50 years of the school’s athletic program, the Blues are recognizing 15 individuals in its inaugural Hall of Fame.

The list of honourees was first revealed at a banquet in April, and their names are set to be immortalized on the walls of CapU’s athletic building when the completed Hall of Fame is unveiled at an alumni event on Sept. 7.

The first class of outstanding contributors to the Blues program includes athletes, coaches and “builders,” people who were instrumental to growing the school’s athletic community.

There’s been a desire to have a Hall of Fame for some time, and the 50th anniversary of the program was the impetus to finally make it a reality, said Brent Mutis, spokesperson for the CapU Blues.

“I think the inaugural class really celebrates excellence over the first 50 years of Blues athletics,” he said.

CapU has had notable success in basketball, volleyball and even badminton, but it’s soccer that the school is most known for.

“Obviously, there’s been a ton of achievement in soccer over the years – I think 11 national championships between men’s and women’s soccer,” Mutis said.

Six of the inaugural inductees come from the soccer program. Included in those ranks are cousins Diana Elligott (née Artuso) and Melissa Artuso. Both are two-time national champions, and played on the same winning team in 1997.

Artuso was named the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Soccer National Player of the Year in ’96 and ’97, and inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame in 2017.

With 48 goals in 35 games, Elligott is the Blues women’s soccer all-time scoring leader, and was named B.C.’s top female college athlete in ’98.

After watching CapU grow from a local college to the multi-campus university that it is today, it was exciting news to be in the first class of hall of famers, Elligott said.

“And then also to hear that I was going to be inducted with my cousin, it’s pretty cool. We had a fantastic year together. And it’s just neat to be appreciated for something you didn’t ask for,” she said.

For Artuso, being back at the school stirred up memories of all the relationships she made there – the friends from soccer and beyond.

“It was a really good experience, one that I’ll remember forever. I really did enjoy it,” she said. “So to have that recognition is pretty amazing because it’ll be here as long as university is.”

Playing at CapU was also a stepping stone for Elligott into competitive soccer, playing for Whitecaps FC. Much of the success in her early career Artuso credits to the late Doug Abercrombie, who is also being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

“We were blessed to have Doug Abercrombie as our coach,” she said. “He was always an advocate, pushing us forward.”

As a women’s soccer coach, Abercrombie led the team to five national championship victories. He’s an inductee into the CCAA National Hall of Fame, and a two-time BCCAA Coach of the Year.

Star athletes, coaches and builders of athletics program in first Hall of Fame class

Here are the other inductees into the Blues Hall of Fame:

Soccer player Corey Birza is the all-time men’s leading goal scorer with 63 goals in 84 games, and was named the provincial and national collegiate player of the year in 2007.

Badminton star Kiran Bogavelli is a two-time national singles champion and a three-time provincial singles champion, acting as both player and coach for the Blues. He’s also a two-time player of the year at the provincial and national level.

Choyal Brown is the Blues’ all-time leading scorer in basketball. He ranks fourth in all-time conference scoring with 1,278 points in 67 games (19.1 points per game).

Jennifer Knight (née Dickson) was the women’s volleyball MVP at the national championship tournament hosted by CapU in 2007. She holds second place in all-time kills for the Blues with 836 and third in digs with 910.

Women’s basketball player Jenna Ralston was the 2012 BC College Female Athlete of the Year, PACWEST Player of the Year and a two-time provincial conference all-star.

The first and only coach of CapU men’s rugby, Bob Bagshaw led the Blues to six provincial titles from 1975 to 1980.

Paul Dailly coached the men’s soccer team for 16 years from 2002 to 2018, leading the team to two national championship victories. He was named Coach of the Year twice at the national level and seven times provincially, the most of any coach ever at CapU.

Wayne Desjardins is a three-time BCCAA Coach of the Year and the only Blues women’s volleyball coach to ever win a medal at nationals. His players were recognized on 33 occasions as conference all-stars.

In the builder category, former instructor Nicholas Collins is an avid soccer fan and active philanthropist for several CapU scholarship initiatives.

Joe Iacobellis won two CCAA Quarter Century Soccer Supremacy Awards for the top men’s and women’s soccer teams in the country between 1974 and 1999. Named both athletic director and coach of the year at the national level, Iacobellis has introduced several athletic programs at the school.

Jeri Krogseth was CapU’s first collegiate golf coach, and drove several funding initiatives for student athlete scholarships. She’s also contributed to several scholarships herself.

Greg Sharpe was the first women’s basketball coach, helping develop the program from infancy to conference champions. Apart from leading the team to two provincial titles, he was chair of the sportsplex funding drive in the community in 1990 and 1991.

Showing current student athletes the school’s legacy of success over the years is something CapU puts a great deal of emphasis on, Mutis said.

“It’s important to show that the university takes it seriously and wants to honour the excellence, and give students something to shoot for over their careers here,” he said.