UBC’s athletics department announced six new inductees to the UBC Sports Hall of Fame last week — three athletes, one team and two “builders.” Among those inducted into the athletes category were track and cross country star Jeff Schiebler, quarterback Jordan Gagner, and women’s basketball career scoring leader Erica McGuinness.
“I’m very excited, it’s a fantastic honour,” said McGuinness about her induction into the Hall of Fame this year. “I was ... a bit struck when I found out. I definitely wasn’t expecting this.”
“It’s very humbling at this age to even be mentioned this many years later. It’s pretty cool,” said Gagner. “When you have kids and they never had a chance to see you play, it’s the only connection they have to your playing career. It’s really awesome to be recognized this way and for the family to be able to share in it.”
Erica McGuinness - Women’s Basketball (2004 - 2008)
In her five years with the women’s basketball team at UBC, McGuinness led the team to three CIS National Championships and still holds the school’s record for most career points scored in women’s basketball with 2,523 points.
“Over the five year period going from an 18-year-old to a 23-year-old, it’s a big change in anyone's life,” said McGuinness when asked about her time with the team. “Individually, there was a ton of growth. But from a program standpoint, we went from not having won a championship since the ’70s to, in my first year, being the underdogs and bringing home a national championship to UBC.”
“That era was ... UBC basketball returning to the forefront of women’s basketball across the country. It was neat to be a part of that and see how that developed over time too,” said McGuinness.
When she got to UBC after high school graduation, McGuinness was immediately placed into a small category of students playing both varsity sports and working towards a degree at Sauder. The combination posed its own challenges as there weren’t many student athletes at Sauder at the time. As McGuinness explained, players were forced to really find a balance between school and sport.
For example, McGuinness recalls having to run to her coaches office to write an exam after winning the Canada West Final in her last year with the team.
“I had to start the exam before everyone had finished writing theirs, which meant I basically had to go up to the office in my uniform.”
“I was happy we won because I was in a good mind frame and felt like I could tackle anything at the time,” said McGuinness. “If it had gone the other way, it would’ve been a tough thing to force myself to do for sure!”
Post graduation, McGuinness continued her basketball career in the Czech Republic for a season before getting settled into a business career here in Vancouver.
When asked if she had any advice for current varsity athletes, McGuinness said the biggest thing is making the most of the experience.
“The teammates you meet, the other individuals you meet in the athletics program, they’re going to be lifelong connections of yours,” McGuinness said. “Make the most of it and try to build as many great relationships as possible while competing for UBC.”
Jordan Gagner - Football (1984 - 1988)
Winner of the Hec Crighton Award for most outstanding player in university football in Canada, Jordan Gagner spent five years on the T-Birds team and led them to back-to-back Vanier Cup matches in 1986 and 1987, winning the title in ’86. He also set 12 passing records and was drafted into the CFL.
When asked what his most memorable moment was with the team, Gagner said, “Winning the Vanier Cup — for sure 1986. To go undefeated in Canadian play, run the table and cap it off with a Vanier Cup, I have to say that had to be the highlight of the career.”
“Back in those days, students would pelt you with snowballs and ice-balls while you were trying to play. It was quite the environment,” Gagner said about the 1986 Vanier Cup win. “For us to pull out a last minute win ... it was probably one of the most exciting games that’s played in Canadian university history.”
After UBC, Gagner moved on to play with the Calgary Stampeders, playing both on the special teams and as a quarterback for them before settling into a business career, much like McGuinness.
“I had fun, I learned a lot and I’m glad to say I’m one of the few Canadian quarterbacks that got drafted into the CFL. But for me, it just wasn’t the time to stay in the CFL and it was more about getting my life going at that point.”
Today, Gagner continues to follow the team online from Phoenix, Arizona. He is incredibly proud to be a T-Bird and see the current team doing so well.
“On the one hand, I’m so excited for where the team is going to go, but I realize that four years from now any records I hold are long going to be forgotten and Michael [O’Connor] is going to be the beneficiary of all those passing records,” said Gagner. “I’m glad that my kids are old enough to see those in print, but he is something special. He is going to break every record that UBC has at this point if he just stays healthy and continues to lead the team.”
Jeff Schiebler could not be reached for comment.