A local volleyball star and former Olympic athlete will be inducted this year into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame. 

Steinbach’s Michelle Sawatzky-Koop is honoured to be recognized in this manner. 

Sawatzky-Koop joined the Bisons in 1988 and from 1990-1992, the University of Manitoba Bisons claimed CIU Gold. She was named National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. In 1993 she made the National team. Sawatzky-Koop claimed PanAm Bronze in 1995 and then was on the Olympic squad that played in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996. 

In 2019, Sawatzky-Koop was among the first athletes inducted into the newly created Canada West Hall of Fame. 

Sawatzky-Koop says there are many people who supported her along the way and continue to cheer for her. Overcome with emotion, she reflects on the start of her career in volleyball. 

"In my day, back in Steinbach here, if Shannon Kehler had not come into this town, there’s no way this would be happening for me,” Sawatzky-Koop says. “She came from the University of Manitoba, the volleyball system in the city, and she knew what she was seeing, I guess. Because I sure didn’t. And she didn’t let me not try.” 

And she also credits her parents for doing everything they could to allow her to pursue her passion. 

"They put their lives basically on hold so that I could follow my dreams,” she says with her voice filled with admiration and gratitude. “We’re willing to do that for our children but, for them to still be around and to be able to be at the ceremony, I mean, that’s beyond cool. They’re just completely thrilled.” 

Sawatzky-Koop says her parents spent a lot of time on the road, driving her to and from volleyball clinics, practices, tryouts, and games. Even when it meant frequently travelling to Virden. 

“In my Grade 11 year, they drove me, twice a week, four hours each way.” 

She is humbled and honoured to be selected as a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, and is struggling to figure out why she is singled out from a team of highly skilled athletes. 

"I’m not sure how they pick someone. I think that makes me even more humbled and helps me realize how much more incredible the women that I played with were.” 

The ceremony will take place on November 3rd.

2022 Inductees

Congratulations to the entire Class of 2022 on being inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame

Halldor Bjarnason – Athlete – Cerebral Palsy Tricycling 

Andrea Ferguson – Athlete – Ringette

Michelle Sawatzky-Koop – Athlete – Volleyball  

Patrick Jebbison – Athlete – Basketball 

*Don Baizley – Builder – Hockey 

1990 Winnipeg Blue Bombers – Team – Football 

* posthumous induction