Vikes welcome basketball dynasty alumni to Sports Hall of Fame

Sports Sports | Lifestyle

Cord Clemens and the Vikes Women’s Basketball team of 1984-85 inducted

Cord Clemens, photo sourced from govikesgo.com.
Photo sourced from govikesgo.com.

The University of Victoria Vikes have welcomed new inductees to the 2022 Sports Hall of Fame. The late Vikes basketball alumnus Cord Clemens has been selected to join the collective of accomplished athletes honoured in the Hall of Fame, alongside the 1984-85 Vikes women’s basketball team. 

Clemens was brought in to play basketball for the Vikes in the 1980s, when the Vikes men’s team was known to be a ferocious competitor. The team was defeated at nationals only twice in over a decade, between 1978 and 1989, resulting in a dominating winning streak.  

Clemens was a Vike for four seasons, from 1983-1987. In his time on the team, the Vikes won three national titles. Clemens was named three-time CIAU — now called U Sports — all-star player. He was also the tournament’s Most Valuable Player in 1986, receiving the Jack Donohue Trophy. He was the seventh consecutive Vike to receive this award, as the Vikes undeniably dominated this era of university-level basketball. 

Current Senior Director of Vikes Athletics and former teammate of Clemens, Clint Hamilton, recalls the calibre of athletics Clemens represented.

“Cord was a great teammate and he was a hugely impactful player,” said Hamilton in an interview with the Martlet. “Cord seemed to always rise to the occasion and played at a very high level and some of his best at the national championships.”

Standing at seven feet tall, Clemens was a commanding presence on the court. He was described by his former coach as having been a smart player. Clemens was not particularly gifted in terms of athletics, but he is remembered as having become a remarkable basketball player over his time in the sport. 

After his time at UVic, Clemens went on to spend six years with Canada’s national team, playing at several Jones Cups in Korea, the 1989 Universiade in Duisberg, Germany, and earning a bronze medal at the 1985 Universiade in Kobe, Japan. 

Clemens passed away in March 2020 at the age of 56 of esophageal cancer. He was in Toronto, where he spent his adult life, at the time of his passing. Clemens had been a high school teacher and volleyball coach before he fell ill. 

In a statement on his passing, Vikes Recreation called Clemens “an unselfish, thoughtful student of the game.” The Vikes community is honoured to recognize his life and accomplishments by inducting him into the UVic Sports Hall of Fame 2022. 

Joining Clemens in the Hall of Fame is the Vikes Women’s Basketball team from the 1984-85 season. Coached by Kathy Shields, the women’s basketball program also celebrated a dynasty during the ‘80s. 

The roster consisted of Lori Clarke, Sandy Chambers, Sandy Espeseth, Susie Neil, Janet Fowler, Kim Poland, Sandy Pothier, Tessa Valg, Elizabeth Sara, Sue Loney, Irina Sladecek, Karen McConnell, and Karla Karch. Aiding Shields in the coaching staff was Assistant Coach Tracie Sibbald. 

The Vikes women scored a remarkable 380–228 at home games and 376–274 away. They consistently maintained top five stats during the season, and had a determination to win after missing the champion title for the past two years. 

Defeating Laurentian University 71–52 in the CIAU finals, the Vikes women soared to a national title during the 1985 season. 

Hamilton speaks highly of the recent inductees, acknowledging the high calibre of accomplishments required for induction into the Sports Hall of Fame. 

“The [way in which] this year’s women’s basketball team and Cord met [the] standard is a credit to them, and we’re always proud to be able to honour the past accomplishments of people that help build the program that [we’re all] part of now.”

The outstanding accomplishments from Vikes Basketball during the ‘80s have gone down in Vikes history. It is with great admiration that these Vikes alumni are welcomed to the Vikes Sports Hall of Fame. They will be recognized at the 2022 Celebration of Champions in April.