In 1991, swimmer Bob Hamerton was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. Four years ago, his daughter Lesley was nominated to the Hall, but didn't get inducted.
But patience is a virtue, as we all know, and so earlier this year, when former Canadian national women's basketball team member Lesley Hamerton-Divers was informed that she had finally been chosen for induction into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, it not only gave her a warm, special feeling - a feeling that very few people will ever experience -- but she and Bob will become one of the few father-daughter duos ever inducted into the Hall.
"My dad was such a great athlete," Hamerton-Divers said recently, from her home just outside Toronto. "This will be so special to come to Winnipeg and be inducted into the same Hall of Fame as my dad. I'm already in the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame (co-incidentally, she was inducted in 1991) and my dad is the Manitoba Swimming Hall of Fame. Now, we'll both be in the Sports Hall of Fame together.
"I remember when I made the national basketball team for the first time. My dad was so proud. I'm sure he'd be proud of this." The late, great Bob Hamerton, one of the finest swimmers in Manitoba history and a member of Canada's 1936 Olympic team, passed away in 1990, but when his daughter Lesley was dominating the hardwood here in Manitoba, he was a big part of her success.
As were the two other men she calls "the most important men in my basketball life:" John Coutts and Gerry Ilchyna. "John was my high school coach at Silver Heights and when I was in Grade 10, he asked me to play on the varsity team," Lesley recalled. "I couldn't even make a jump shot in Grade 10, but he had faith in me and really taught me the game. And then, later, I played for Gerry on the St. Vital Grads and he was just the nicest, funniest man I think I ever knew. He taught me so much."
Lesley Hamerton led the Silver Heights Huskies to consecutive provincial championships in 1967 and 1968 and was the school's MVP in 1966,'67 and '68. At 6-foot-2, she has been called, "one of the first truly effective big women to play the game in Manitoba."
At the national level with the St. Vital Grads and St. James Lakers, she played in five Canadian Championships. Internationally she played on Canada's national team in 1969 for tournaments in Mexico and Cuba, at the World Championships in Brazil in 1970 and at the Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia in 1971.
"It's funny, I guess, but as I look back, every aspect of my basketball career was great," she said. "I have so many great memories. I just had the most amazing time."
Leslie Divers is also a member of the Manitoba Basketball Hall of Fame.