Joining the men in the rafters

By Scott Lepp

Scott Lepp
If you wandered the halls of the University of Calgary anytime during the late ’70s and early ’80s, chances are you’ve heard of Janis Paskevich, (now married as Janis MacDonald).

The then-Paskevich came out of Calgary’s St. Mary’s High School, joined the women’s basketball team in the fall of 1977 and had an instant impact. Paskevich held a starting role throughout her five years in a Dino uniform, never missing a game. Her accomplishments would not go unnoticed as she was an All-Canadian for three seasons, suited up for the Canadian National team four times, and topped it off by receiving the Nan Copp Memorial Trophy as Canadian Female Basketball Player of the Year in 1981. Despite her numerous individual achievements, Paskevich is quick to deflect any compliments she received.

"It’s a team game," she said. "You can’t achieve any level of success on your own."

All of these accolades prompted the U of C Department of Athletics to retire her jersey, making her the fourth person in school history bestowed with the honour.

"I feel very privileged and blessed," enthused Paskevich. "It’s been 24 years and to have my number retired first out of all the great female athletes is an honour."

The evening opened with a standing ovation when Paskevich entered the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, welcomed by former teammates, her family and MC Ken Newans. Former coach Donna Rudakas and former teammate Jane Anne (Kosten) Smith both reminisced about their time with the third highest scorer in school history. Smith commented on Paskevich’s desire and work ethic.

"Right out of high school Janis was determined to be the best in Canada," she explained. "And by the end, she was." Paskevich’s #15 will now join the prestigious company of Greg Vavra’s #17 (football), Karl Tilleman’s #30 (basketball), and Richard Bohne’s #11 (basketball), who have all had their jerseys retired.

Just one question, what the hell’s Laura Jablonski going to do now?

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