Olympic hockey star Jayna Hefford headlines Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame 2020 class

The new inductees to the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame include Kingston’s most decorated Olympic athlete.

Hockey star Jayna Hefford won four Olympic gold medals in 18 seasons with Canada’s national team, scoring 157 goals. Last November she was honoured with the Order of Hockey and inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The class of 2020 was unveiled on Tuesday night at Kingston City Hall.

Joining Hefford in the Limestone City shrine will be youth basketball builder Roland Billings; baseball coach Randy Casford; Tim Irwin, an athlete and builder in sailing; and hockey player George Patterson, who enjoyed 20 years in the NHL and American Hockey League.

Patterson has the distinction of scoring the first goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs, in 1927.

“It’s such a humbling experience,” said Billings, who has been a part of Kingston basketball for most of his life.

He was a member of the local referees’ association for 37 years and for more than four decades has been involved with the Pete Peterson Minor Basketball League.

“Were so blessed to have the volunteers to make it work, year after year,” Billings said.

“Every volunteer understands what the league is all about… It was always about the kids and still is. I’m being recognized but this is truly a league award.”

Casford was cited for his 30-plus years of coaching baseball at the minor league, senior and university levels.

“My dad, Sonny, was a baseball coach and I took after him,” said Casford.

“My dad made a difference in people’s lives and I hope I’m doing the same. As a coach, you’re also a counsellor and mentor. I love working with kids who have a passion for the sport. I’m just following in my dad’s footsteps.”

Irwin has been recognized at both the provincial and national levels for his volunteer work with the Kingston sailing community.

He has volunteered with the Canadian Olympic Sailing Regatta (CORK) since its inception in 1969.

“I’m just one of many volunteers who work every summer at CORK,” said Irwin.

For the past 10 years, Irwin has served as the operations manager for the annual regatta. It is regarded as one of the largest annual sailing competitions in the world.

“It’s a great thrill to be named to the Hall of Fame,” added Irwin.

“The credit for CORK’s success goes to so many people. I’m just one person. I’m just building on what other people started.”

Irwin was also a world-class sailor. He represented Canada in the Dragon class at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.

The official Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for May 1.

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