By Lethbridge Herald on January 23, 2024.
By Justin Seward
Two athletes, two coaches and one team were inducted into the Kodiaks Hall of Fame for 2023 on Friday night at Lethbridge College.
One of the coaches was Bertil Johansson, who began coaching the Kodiaks Cross Country teams in 1987 where he led the women’s team to its first ACAC (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) championship in the fall of 1988.
The former two-time Swedish decathlete champion saw his cross country student-athletes win 54 gold medals over his 32 seasons at both the league level in the ACAC and at the national level with the CCAA (Canadian Colleges Athletic Association) and compile over 100 conference and national honours.
“For me to have that opportunity to coach them all, it’s amazing,” said Johansson.
“I just take it like an everyday job, you go to work, you teach academics and then at end of the day you’re able to coach and travel throughout Canada. So that was a great opportunity for me to see Canada.”
Johansson had a competitive nature himself having been an athlete.
“And then tried to do the best I can with what I have and inspire other kids to do better themselves,” he said.
His favourite part about his time with the Kodiaks was seeing the athletes.
“I brought in quite a few from Kenya, probably 25 (to) 30 athletes over 20 years, and now they’re living here,” he said.
“They’re nurses, they work in the industry, they have kids, they have families and I try to keep in contact with them.”
He won ACAC Coach of the Year in 2003-04, 2015-16 and the ACAC Al Bohonus Award in 2018-2019.
Johansson will be inducted into the ACAC Hall of Fame in May.
The 2003-2004 women’s basketball team was inducted into the Hall of Fame for their championship that year, having an All-Conference team of Tara Griffith and Mickey Folsom, Folsom took home an All- Canadian and ACAC Player of the Year and Brad Karren was named ACAC Coach of the Year.
“I had go out and find players that were good enough to compete at that level and win and I did,” said Karren.
“I found these girls and they were awesome, and so going to a national championship and winning that is a pretty tough thing to do and these girls were able to do it.”
A memory that stuck out to him that year was losing their only game of the year to then Mount Royal College and then beating them in the national final.
“They were just a very unselfish good team,” said Karren, when reflecting on that year.
“They played hard together and they never quit and so when you do that, you’re pretty successful.”
Former golf coach Trent Matson was inducted under the coaches category for guiding the golf team to nationals in five consecutive years beginning in 2010.
Inductees under the athletes category included Mary Kamau, who won gold at provincials and nationals in 2003 and 2004 and volleyball star Travis Killian, who was a two-time ACAC All-Conference player and CCAA Academic during his tenure with the Kodiaks between 1991-1994.