Lyndon Rush still marvels at how he ended up here.
In both aspects of his life, strange twists and turns lead him to this point.
Friday, he was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame with the class of 2019, just a short drive from where he makes his home in Sylvan Lake.
Each of those things, he surmised were somewhat of a coincidence.
“Another one of those strokes of luck. My folks moved from Saskatchewan to Sylvan Lake while I was in University. I got recruited to do bobsleigh in Calgary. My family was already in Alberta, it seemed like a good fit,” said the 38-year-old former Canadian bobsledder, who added those local connections, especially financially helped keep his career going.
Now a real estate agent in Sylvan Lake, Rush was a huge part of the Canadian bobsled scene from 2008 to 2014. He was a winner of five world championship medals and a memorable bronze in the four-man bobsled at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
Rush noted that looking around at the induction class of 2019, he was blown away by their contributions to sport in Alberta.
“There’s a good balance in this induction class of people who won the awards and people who made those awards possible and that’s really neat they’re recognizing all sides of it, media included,” he said.
“It’s all really a big part of what goes into winning. It’s funny, winning the prize is one award, but being put into a group like this is a pretty cool reward too.”
He added that sitting with the other inductees, which included four other athletes, a team and three builders was a humbling experience.
“It makes it sort of humbling for me, you hear these older guys who have been putting in so much effort for so long and I think back to my journey and how many unsung (people) these same guys,” he said.
“I grew up in Saskatchewan and moved to Alberta and all the different people that helped me along the way, volunteers and officials, that they’re are getting honoured I think that is really cool. Now I’m a coach, when you’re on the other side you realize that there’s so much more to winning than just the athlete going out and doing their performance.”
Rush wasn’t the only one with local ties, as Innisfail product Kreg Llewellyn was selected to the class. Llewellyn built a storied career on the water as one of Canada’s most decorated water skiers. He set 24 Canadian national records, won seven individual world championship medals, three team world championship gold medals and 18 Pan American Games medals.
“Waterskiing is a very individualistic sport. There are some team events… the team element are the ones I feel the most satisfaction when I look back. Competing for Canada, winning a world championship with a team, those are pretty awesome,” he said.
For a kid from Central Alberta who trained on a small lake in Innisfail, Llewellyn was thrilled to be a part of such an exclusive club.
“This is my first time here, my first impression was wow, walking around and seeing some of the legends… just to be able to be mentioned with them (is special),” he said.
“To talk about the sport of waterskiing, I haven’t been able to do that too much… water skiing compared to hockey is not quite the same level… it’s a pretty amazing time to be a water skiier right now and to even go out and watch it, it’s the best time to start.”
Former NHL centreman Mike Rogers was the other athlete inducted in 2019. Rogers played eight seasons in the NHL, as a member of the Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers. Prior to his NHL career, he also played six seasons in the World Hockey Association. During his NHL career, he became one of only four players to surpass the 100-point plateau in each of his first three seasons. He cashed in 519 points in 484 regular season NHL games.
Perhaps the most recognizable name of the group of 2019 inductees was in the team category. The Ferbey four, skip Randy Ferby, along with David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque also got the call to the hall.
They were a force in Canadian curling for nearly two decades, winning four world championship titles, and six Briers between 1988 and 2005. From 2001-2005, they won five consecutive provincial titles and at the time, were the only team to win four Brier titles with the same members.
Rocque said one of the best parts of the run they had was pushing each other to get better and winning alongside a good group of friends.
“There were so many times where you don’t feel like training or playing anymore… you just didn’t want to let your teammates down,” he said.
“I fought hard for them more than I did myself. I did everything I could to help them succeed and I’m sure they all did the same for me.”
The other inductees included James Donlevy (Hockey/Football Builder), Dorothy Padget (Artistic Swimming Builder), Edward Thresher (Wrestling Builder), Herman Dorin (Pioneer Award, Wrestling) George Stothart (Achievement Award), Multisport and Rob Kerr (Bell Memorial Award).