Six Nations softball star and Onondaga Nation lacrosse advocate named to sports hall of fame

Thursday, September 14th, 2023 12:11pm


Image Caption

At left is Oren Lyons who will be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in the Builder category. At right is the late Phyllis Bomberry, who will be inducted into the hall in the Athlete category.


“I was kind of waiting for something to happen. I wasn’t sure how to do it. So, this was like a godsend the way it worked out.” — Ivan Bomberry on a stranger nominating his sister Phyllis for induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ivan Bomberry is understandably thrilled that his late sister will be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Bomberry wishes it could have happened sooner.

His sister Phyllis Bomberry, a softball star from Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, died in 2019. She will be inducted posthumously via the Athlete category during a ceremony that will be held Oct. 19 in Gatineau, Que.

“It’s great,” Ivan said of the announcement made on Sept. 8. His sister is one of 11 individuals in the hall’s 2023 class of inductees. Ivan will accept the Order of Sport, presented to all Hall of Fame inductees, on behalf of his sister.
Ivan said that Julia McCrea, a woman that nobody in his family is familiar with, is the one who sent in a nomination application to hall of fame officials on behalf of his sister.

“Nobody (from our family) knows her,” Ivan said. “She was doing research on Phyllis and decided to nominate her.”

He said McCrea did contact him last December seeking permission to nominate his sister. And he wholeheartedly agreed. Ivan had not considered nominating his late sister himself.

“I never even thought about it,” he said. “I was kind of waiting for something to happen. I wasn’t sure how to do it. So, this was like a godsend the way it worked out.”

Phyllis Bomberry, who was born in 1942, played various sports while growing up, including badminton, football, hockey, lacrosse and volleyball. But it was in softball where she earned her most sporting accomplishments.

For starters, she was a member of the Ohsweken Mohawks, a team in her community that captured back-to-back Ontario Intermediate B championships in 1960 and ’61.

Ivan, who was 10 years younger than his sister, served as a bat boy for those championship teams.

After moving to Toronto to complete her schooling, Phyllis joined the Carpetland Senior A squad, which participated in the Ontario Senior Women’s League.

She and her Carpetland teammates won the national women’s softball crown in both 1967 and ’68.

Bomberry was selected as the most valuable player at the ’67 national tourney. She was also named as the event’s top batter and picked as the all-star catcher.

Bomberry also won a national title in 1969. She was on the gold-medal winning squad at the first Canada Summer Games, held in Halifax.

Her accolades also include being the first woman to win the Tom Longboat Award in 1968.

These days the Aboriginal Sport Circle annually presents the Tom Longboat Award to the top female and male Indigenous athletes in the country.

Another hall of famer for 2023 is Oren Lyons, a member of Onondaga Nation in the state of New York. He is one of two individuals being inducted via the Builder category.

Lyons co-founded the Haudenosaunee Nationals lacrosse program back in 1992. The program, which includes players from Canada and the United States, has competed at numerous international tournaments at various age groupings since then.

Lyons, who is 93, says he’s lost track of how many halls of fame he has been inducted into, but believes the Canadian sports one will be his tenth.

“It caught me by surprise,” Lyons said of his induction. “I think it’s amazing. And it’s an honour for an old guy like me.”

Lyons, who still lives in Onondaga Nation, plans to attend next month’s induction ceremony. He has yet to find out, however, who nominated him.

“I have no idea. This is all new to me,” he said. “It’s quite an honour. And I will be there for the induction ceremony for sure. It’s quite a humbling experience.”

Judo coach Hiroshi Nakamura is the only other individual being inducted via the Builder category this year.

Besides Phyllis Bomberry, the other athletes to be inducted are mixed martial artist Georges St-Pierre, figure skating ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, wheelchair basketball player Danielle Peers, and the curling foursome of Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer and Marcel Rocque.

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada