Throughout the 50-year history of the University of Lethbridge, athletics has played a significant role in helping define the identity of the institution, in connecting the community to the U of L and in shaping the southern Alberta athletic landscape.
Over the course of those 50 years, of the thousands of athletes who have worn Pronghorns blue and gold, a select group has separated itself from the herd as the best of the best. In celebration of the University's 50th anniversary, a committee was struck to identify these student-athletes – The 50 Greatest Pronghorns.
The selection committee, consisting of both past and present members of Pronghorn Athletics, University faculty, community members and media representatives was tasked with creating a framework for selection and then, over the course of multiple meetings, hammering out a 50-name list.
"At first glance, it might seem like a pretty easy task but once you start to get involved in the selection process, it becomes extremely difficult," says Ken McInnes, executive director, Sport and Recreation Services, and a non-committee member. "I credit the selection committee for the process they developed to identify these student-athletes and then for engaging in some lengthy debates to finalize what I think is an outstanding list of Pronghorn greats."
For a deeper dive into the selection process, check out this story.
The 50 Greatest Pronghorns
#50 – Murray Hanna (Men's Basketball)
Hanna, from Picture Butte, was the third member of his family to play at the U of L. He spent three seasons with the Pronghorns, earning first-team Canada West all-star recognition in 1984-85, and was named the Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year in 1985.
#49 – Shyanne Shannon (Women's Swimming)
Shannon swam four seasons for the University of Lethbridge during the mid 1990s, and is the only Pronghorn female swimmer to medal at the CIAU/CIS nationals, winning two bronze medals.
#48 – Crystal Patterson (Women's Hockey)
A five-year member of the Pronghorns women's hockey team, Patterson, a goaltender, earned Canada West first-team all-star recognition in her second season, 2011-12. Her six shutouts that year were the third most in one season in conference history and she was named the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year.
#47 – Shannon Finnie (nee: Frier) (Women's Basketball)
Frier, from the Crowsnest Pass, played five seasons with the Pronghorns. She was a second-team Canada West all-star in 1993-94 and a first-team all-star in 1994-95. That year, she was named Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year. She later coached the Horns, winning Canada West Coach of the Year honours in 2001-02.
#46 – Jeff Neufeld (Men's Hockey)
A five-year Pronghorn, Neufeld was a two-time Canada West first-team all-star, in 2001-02 and 2002-03. He also earned Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year honours in 2002 after a season in which he scored 22 goals and 55 points in 33 games in Canada West play.
#45 – Donna Branch (nee: Hanna) (Women's Basketball)
Hanna played three seasons with the Pronghorns before finishing her university career at the University of Calgary. She was a second-team Canada West all-star during the 1977-78 season and earned first-team honours in 1978-79, the year she was also named Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year.
#44 – Mike O'Brien (Men's Soccer)
O'Brien played five seasons with the U of L Pronghorns soccer team, twice earning Canada West all-star honours. A walk-on who wound up his career as team captain, he finished as the highest-scoring fullback in program history. He was also an Academic All-Canadian in consecutive years and Canada West Student-Athlete of the Year for 2009.
#43 – Dalton Harding (Men's Volleyball)
Harding, from Taber, was a two-time Canada West all-star during his playing career at the U of L, including the 1983-84 season, when he was a winner of the Male Pronghorn Athlete of the Year award.
#42 – Lisa DePaoli (Women's Volleyball)
DePaoli was named the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in 1984, capping the year she earned first-team honours as a Canada West all-star. The power hitter was a second-team conference all-star in 1985-86.
#41 – Jeff Nicol (Men's swimming)
Nicol was a five-year member of the Pronghorns swim team and was named Pronghorn Athlete of the Year in 2012. He was a four-time Canada West all-star and was also honoured as most valuable player of the Pronghorns swim team in 2009.
#40 – Lynette Taal (nee: Lilja) (Women's Basketball)
Lynette Taal, a five-year Pronghorn, was a Canada West All-Star in both 1981-82 and 1982-83 and was named Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in 1982. She was inducted, as part of the Lilja family, into the Pronghorns Hall of Fame in 2002.
#39 – Leslie Smith (Women's Track)
The Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in 1987 and 1988, Leslie Smith saved her best performances for the national stage. She won silver medals in shot put at each of the 1987 and 1988 CIAU nationals, was named a second-team All-Canadian each year and claimed a Canada West bronze medal in 1988.
#38 – Brian Kannekens (Men's Basketball)
The 1994 Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year, Brian Kannekens was a three-time Canada West All-Star during his five-year run with the Pronghorns. He finished his career with 1,351 points and his 650 rebounds place him fourth on the Pronghorns' all-time rebounding list.
#37 – Spencer Holt (Men's Basketball)
A Lethbridge product, Spencer Holt was a member of the last Pronghorns men's basketball team to qualify for the national tournament in 2000. After transferring from Lethbridge College, Holt earned Canada West first team all-star selections in both 1998-99 and 1999-2000 and was named a second team All-Canadian in 2000.
#36 – Michelle Ratkai (Women's Soccer)
A college transfer, Michelle Ratkai is the only Pronghorns goaltender to be named a CIS All-Canadian and was the first to earn Canada West first team all-star recognition. The 1999 Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year, Ratkai recorded four shutouts in her three years in the program.
#35 – Jackie Stroeve (Women's Hockey)
A five-year Pronghorn, Jackie Stroeve is the only Pronghorns women's hockey player to be named an All-Canadian. In 2004-05, she was the first Pronghorn to be named a Canada West first team all-star before earning a CIS second team All-Canadian award.
#34 – Barnaby Craddock (Men's Basketball)
A four-year Pronghorn, Barnaby Craddock was the Pronghorn Male Athlete of the year in 1997 when he earned Canada West first team all-star and second team All-Canadian recognition. He was also a Canada West second team all-star in 1996. Craddock went on to serve as an assistant coach with both the men's and women's Pronghorn teams.
#33 – Sharon Hamilton (Women's Basketball)
A member of the 1986 national bronze medal-winning Pronghorns women's basketball team, Sharon Hamilton was the first Horns women's basketball player to be named All-Canadian, earning a second-team selection in 1986.
#32 – Gordon Vatcher (Men's Swimming)
The 1999 Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year, Gordon Vatcher was a multiple Canada West and CIAU medal winner. He won a Canada West bronze in 1999 and a CIAU silver medal in the 50-metre freestyle. The next year he picked up Canada West gold and silver medals to go along with a CIAU silver.
#31 – Leona Voth (Women's Basketball)
The 1972-73 Canada West scoring leader, Leona Voth was named the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in both 1970 and 1971 and won a Canadian Junior Nationals title with the University of Lethbridge Chinooks. She was inducted into the Pronghorns Hall of Fame with her Chinook teammates in 2010.
#30 – Ryan Heggie (Men's Basketball)
Named the Pronghorn Athlete of the year in 1987, Ryan Heggie was a member of the Pronghorns' lone Canada West men's basketball championship team in 1986. Over his four seasons with the Horns, Heggie was a two-time Canada West All-Star, being named to the first team in 1987 and second team in 1989.
#29 – Travis Kelln (Men's Hockey)
A member of the only Pronghorns men's hockey team to win Canada West and University Cup championships, defenceman Travis Kelln was named to the CIAU All-Freshman team during the 1993-94 championship season. He was also named a Canada West first team all-star in 1998 and finished his career with 109 career points.
#28 – Chris Meisner (Track & Field)
A Pronghorn for three years, Chris Meisner's career at the University of Lethbridge was highlighted by a pair of national gold medals in shot put and a pair of silver medals in weight throw in 2003 and 2004. He also claimed five Canada West medals, two gold, two silver and a bronze.
#27 – Kim Veldman (Women's Basketball)
A five-year Pronghorn, Kim Veldman was named Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. During her final season, she was named both the Canada West and CIS Student-Athlete Community Service award winner (Sylvia Sweeney Award) and a Canada West first team all-star. An Academic All-Canadian five times, she was also a Canada West second team all-star in 2014. She is the all-time leading rebounder in Pronghorn history with 805 rebounds and had 1,391 career points.
#26 – Shari Jensen (Women's Basketball)
The Canada West player of the year for the 1993-94 season, Shari Jensen spent five years as a Pronghorn and was a member of the 1992-93 Canada West Championship team. Named the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in 1994 and a Canada West first team all-star the same season, Jensen played in 94 conference games as a Pronghorn.
#25 – Greg Urbanczyk (Track & Field)
Named the Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year in 2001, Greg Urbanczyk was twice named the Outstanding Male performer at the Canada West Championships, winning two Canada West gold medals in pentathlon to go along with two CIAU silver medals and a bronze medal.
#24 – Trevor Ellerman (Men's Hockey)
A five-year Pronghorn, Trevor Ellerman was named CIAU Championship MVP on the Pronghorns 1994 University Cup Championship team. During that season, Ellerman was also named the Canada West UBC Hockey Alumni trophy winner for sportsmanship and ability, as well as a Canada West first team all-star. Also recognized as a CIAU honorable mention All-Canadian, Ellerman is second on the Pronghorns all-time scoring list with 210 points, placing him eighth on the Canada West career scoring list.
#23 – Kate Forbes (Track & Field)
While Kate Forbes was only a Pronghorn for two seasons, she was truly a dominant force during that time. After transferring from Western University, Forbes won the weight throw and shot put events at both the Canada West and CIS Championships in 2004 and 2005. She was subsequently named Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year for each season.
#22 – Bill Persley (Volleyball, Golf, badminton)
Bill Persley was a multi-sport athlete who was named Male Athlete of the Year in 1968 while the U of L still competed out of Lethbridge Junior College. He then captured the award the next year, becoming the first Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year in 1969. Persley played volleyball for three seasons, captaining the 1968-69 team that won the ACAC provincial championship. He also played golf and badminton, partnering with Harlan Borgaard to claim the 1969 ACAC men's doubles title.
#21 – Lorraine Methot (Judo)
Inducted into the Pronghorn Hall of Fame in 2001, judokan Lorraine Methot was unquestionably one of the top performers in the history of both the U of L judo program and the Canadian national team. She won two national titles and was named the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in 1985. Methot went on to represent Canada at the Pan American Games and Universiade, where she won a bronze medal. She is also a member of the Canadian Judo Hall of Fame.
#20 – Dori Johnson (nee: Rodzinyak) (Women's Basketball)
A member of the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, Dori Johnson was a four-time Canada West All-Star and a member of the 1985-86 Canada West silver medal team that went to claim a bronze medal at the CIAU Championships. She went on to coach the Pronghorns women's team that won the program's only Canada West Championship in 1993.
#19 – Amanda Riley (nee: Richardson) (Women's Rugby)
Over her five seasons with the Pronghorns women's rugby program, Amanda Riley was a major contributor to the team's success and was named a Canada West All-Star each season. She was a member of four Canada West championship teams and three consecutive CIS championship winners in 2007, 2008 and 2009. At the national tournament, she was twice named to the championship all-star team. Riley was inducted into the Pronghorn Hall of Fame with her teammates from the CIS championship teams earlier this fall.
#18 – Laura Tsujikawa (Women's Soccer)
Recently inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, Laura Tsujikawa was named the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 1994 and was a three-time Canada West All-Star. Named the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in 1994, she was also a CIAU All-Canadian First Team All-Star in both 1995 and 1996.
#17 – Perry Mirkovich (Men's Basketball)
Drafted by the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, Perry Mirkovich was the Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year in 1980, the same season he led the Canada West in scoring and was named both a Canada West First Team All-Star and a CIAU All-Canadian. He was also named a Canada West All-Star during the 1976-77 and 1978-79 seasons. Mirkovich, who earned a spot on the Canadian Olympic team for the 1980 Olympics, is a member of both the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame and the Pronghorn Hall of Fame.
#16 – Trevor Kruger (Men's Hockey)
The 1994 Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year, Trevor Kruger led the men's hockey team during its 1993-94 CIAU Championship season. During the run to the program's only Canada West and University Cup championships, Kruger was named the Canada West MVP, Canada West First Team All-Star goaltender, a CIAU All-Canadian and shared the Adam Kryczka Memorial Trophy with teammate Derek Babe for the lowest goals against-average in Canada West men's hockey.
#T15 – Evelyn McGunigal/Brandi Van Eeuwen (Women's Rugby)
A pioneer for the women's rugby program, Evelyn McGunigal was the first Pronghorn to win both a conference and national individual award, being named both the Canada West and CIS Rookie of the Year in 2001. She was also a two-time All-Canadian and a four-time Canada West All-Star, laying the foundation for the future success of the program.
Brandi Van Eeuwen was also named Canada West and CIS Rookie of the Year, and was a force with the women's rugby Program for five seasons, being part of four Canada West titles and two CIS titles. She was named a Canada West All-Star five times and a CIS All-Canadian in 2010.
#14 – Greg Gatto (Men's Hockey)
A five-year Pronghorn and the Male Athlete of the Year in 1996, Greg Gatto was the 1992-93 Canada West Most Outstanding Freshman and named to the CIAU All-Freshman team. Gatto was a member of the 1993-94 Canada West and CIAU Championship men's hockey team. He was named a Canada West First Team All-Star and All-Canadian in 1995-96 and represented Canada at the FISU Winter Games in 1996. Gatto went on to coach the Pronghorns men's hockey program for nine seasons.
#13 – Ken McMurray (Men's Basketball)
A two-time Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year (1984 and 1986), Ken McMurray was named a Canada West First Team All-Star in three of his four seasons with the Pronghorns and was named a First Team All-Canadian during the Pronghorns men's basketball lone Canada West Championship season in 1986.
#12 – Dean Kondziolka (Swimming)
In 1993-94, Dean Kondziolka became the only swimmer in program history to be named the CIAU Outstanding Male Swimmer of the Year and a Sprinters Cup winner. Kondziolka was a dominant force in his short time with the Pronghorns, winning back-to-back CIAU gold medals in the 50-metre freestyle. He went on to win seven Canadian titles and represent Canada at the World Championships, World Cup and World University Games, where he won a bronze medal.
#11 – Andrea Hlady (Women's Basketball)
A member of the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, Andrea Hlady was the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year in 1992 and 1993. She led the Pronghorns women's basketball team to its only Canada West title in 1993. A two-time Canada West first-team all-star and All-Canadian, Hlady led Canada West in scoring during the 1991-92 season when she was named Canada West MVP.
#10 – Jarrett Zukiwsky (Men's Hockey)
One of the most prolific scorers in Canada West men's hockey history, Jarret Zukiwsky was a three-time Dave "Sweeney" Schriner Trophy winner as the Canada West scoring champion. Despite only playing four seasons, Zukiwsky still ranks as the Canada West all-time goal scoring leader with 124 and is seventh on the points list with 220. A member of the 1993-94 University Cup championship team, Zukiwsky was the CIAU Freshman of the Year that season. He earned three Canada West All-Star nods, twice on the first team and once on the second, and was also a three-time All-Canadian.
#9 – Kelsey Willoughby (Women's Rugby)
Kelsey Willoughby was a key part of three Canada West and one CIS Championship women's rugby teams. Named the Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2009, Willoughby was also named Canada West Player of the Year in her two other seasons. The Lethbridge product was named a Canada West All-Star all three times and an All-Canadian during both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. After injuries derailed her rugby career away from the U of L, Willoughby returned to Pronghorn Athletics for one season as a member of the women's basketball team.
#8 – Jay Langager (Men's Hockey)
While he was only part of the Pronghorns men's hockey program for three years, Jay Langager left a lasting legacy, exemplifying what it is to be a true student-athlete. Twice a Canada West All-Star, Langager was named both Canada West and CIS Most Valuable Player and Defenceman of the Year during his senior season. He also netted first team Canada West All-Star and All-Canadian recognition. Langager was then named the Canada West Randy Gregg Award winner for combining hockey, academics and community service, representing the conference on the CIS Academic Top 8.
#7 – Heather Steacy (Women's Track)
Named the Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year twice in her four seasons, Heather Steacy won Canada West and CIS medals in each of her four years of competition. She took top spot in the weight throw event at the Canada West Championships all four seasons and followed that up with four CIS medals, including two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. In both the 2008-09 and 2010-11 track seasons, Steacy was awarded Outstanding Female Performance of the Meet. Steacy went on to represent Canada at the London and Rio Olympic Games.
#6 – Shawna Kolaczek (nee: Molcak) (Women's Basketball)
Shawna Kolaczek, a Cardston product, dominated women's basketball in her five seasons with the Pronghorns. She was Pronghorn Female Athlete of the Year for four consecutive campaigns (1987-91), was a five-time Canada West All-Star, was named an All-Canadian on three occasions, and in 1989, was the Canada West Player of the Year. Kolaczek still holds the record of 1,551 career points for the Pronghorns, placing her 11th on the Canada West all-time scoring list. A mainstay with the Canadian national team, Kolaczek competed at the World University Games, World Championships and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
#5 – Peter Millman (Men's Track)
Recently completing his university career, Peter Millman was named Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year on three occasions. A four-time Canada West Male Field Athlete of the Year and two-time CIS/U SPORTS Male Field Athlete of the Year, Millman finished his career with five Canada West weight throw and four shot put gold medals. He added three CIS gold medals in shot put and a bronze medal in weight throw. Millman was named Canada West Rookie of the Year in 2013 and won the Canada West and U SPORTS Student-Athlete Community Service Award in 2017.
#4 – Guy Pomahac (Judo)
A three-time Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year, Guy Pomahac won four Canadian University Championships during a stellar judo career. During his tenure (1977-1980) as captain of the University of Lethbridge Judo Team, he won three individual Canada West championships and was an integral part of two Canada West team titles. Pomahac is a member of both the Pronghorn Hall of Fame and the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame and represented Canada numerous times internationally, including at two World University Games and as an Olympic team alternate. Sadly, Guy Pomahac passed away in August 2017.
#3 – Danny Balderson (Men's Basketball)
The all-time leading scorer in Pronghorns men's basketball history, Danny Balderson had a decorated five-year career. The 1994 Canada West and CIAU Rookie of the Year, Balderson was named to four Canada West All-Star and three CIAU All-Canadian teams. He was twice named the Canada West Player of the Year and capped his career by being named the CIAU Player of the Year in 2000. Twice named the Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year, Balderson is a member of the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame. His 2,000 career points place him fifth in Canada West scoring history.
#2 – Ashley Steacy (nee: Patzer) (Women's Rugby)
The only Pronghorn to be named CIS Women's Rugby Player of the Year, Ashley Steacy will be remembered as one of the best women's rugby players to ever compete in Canadian university sport. During her five-year Pronghorn career, Steacy led the U of L to their first of four consecutive Canada West championships and three straight national titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She was named the Canada West and CIS Rookie of the Year in 2005 and the Canada West and CIS Player of the Year in both 2006 and 2009. She won CIS Championship MVP honours in 2008, was a three-time CIS Championship All-Star, and a four time Canada West All-Star and CIS All-Canadian. Steacy went on to star internationally with the Canadian Sevens program, winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games.
#1 – Jim Steacy (Men's Track)
Truly a dominant force during his university career, Jim Steacy will go down as one of the most decorated track athletes in CIS history. The Pronghorn Male Athlete of the Year in each of his five years of competition, Steacy was never beaten in the weight throw event. He captured five Canada West and CIS titles, all while setting new records each year. In addition to his weight throw prowess, Steacy medalled in shot put all five years, earning a silver medal his freshman year and gold medals the final four years at both the conference and national level. Named the Canada West and CIS Rookie of the Year in 2002-03, he was named Canada West Field Athlete of the Year five times and CIS Field Athlete of the Year on four occasions. Still the Canadian record holder in the hammer throw, Steacy had numerous national team appointments, including representing Canada at the Beijing and London Olympic Games.