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Mahon-Sliworsky enters Canada West Hall of Fame

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The Canada West Hall of Fame was established in 2019 to highlight excellence in university sport across western Canada.
The 2019-20 season marked the 100th anniversary of the first university sport championship in western Canada, as the University of Manitoba captured the Western Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union (WCIAU) men’s hockey title in 1919-20.
To commemorate this historic milestone, 100 inductees were enshrined in the Canada West Hall of Fame during the 2019-20 season.
This year, Tammy Mahon-Sliworsky of Meadow Portage is one of 23 inductees for the class of 2020-21.
Mahon-Sliworsky had a stellar volleyball career with the University of Manitoba Bisons. The two-time national champion was named the 2002 CIS National Championship MVP. And she was named the top female athlete of the last 50 years (1962-2012) by the Manitoba High School Athletic Association.
About a month ago, her Bisons coach, Ken Bentley, told Mahon-Sliworsky he had nominated her for the honour. She admits she forgot about it and was reminded of the honour when the press release came out with the announcement.
“I just thought, ‘oh that’s very nice. Thank you for nominating me. That’s really great.’ And then the press release cam out,” she said.
Mahon-Sliworsky was honoured Bentley thought to nominate her ahead of some other people who played before her time with the Bisons.
“I’m sure in the future, he will continue nominating players that I played with and players who came before me who were great players. But I felt very honoured,” she said, adding she and Bentley have always had a close relationship.
“He’s always been a big mentor for me, even as my career continued. He basically turned me into a volleyball player. When I came there in Grade 12, I was a good athlete. I wasn’t a good volleyball player,” she said.
“It was a nice recognition considering I came into the U of M a pretty raw volleyball player to finish after five years and then, this many years later, still be considered a successful player at that stage.”
Her time with the Bisons was important to her development as a player as she spent 10 years playing on the national women’s team.
Volleyball was not her best sport in high school, but it was the sport Mahon-Sliworsky loved the most.
“There was a very large learning curve there for me, but improvement happened fast in my first year, year-and-a-half. I had the discipline. I had the work ethic. I just needed to catch up on a lot of skills, because I came from a small town and I hadn’t played a lot of high level volleyball when I got to the U of M,” she said.
Mahon-Sliworsky’s teammates also played a big role in her development. As a high school player, she was the best player on her team, but with the Bisons, she was surrounded by some of the best in the province.
“And even out of the province. We had girls from Alberta and Saskatchewan on our team and I learned a lot from those players in my first years at the U of M,” she said.
In recent years, Mahon-Sliworsky has passed her knowledge down to local volleyball players at camps run by longtime coach Ted Rea.
Giving back to the sport is something she believed in right from the beginning.
“It didn’t take retirement for me to feel like I needed and wanted to be connected to the volleyball community, especially in smaller areas. Even in my first couple of years with the national team, I wouldn’t say I was a great instructor of volleyball, because I was still learning so much myself. But I always have thought it was so important to come back to small town rural Manitoba and share my experiences and share the passion I had for sport in general,” she said, adding she wanted to be able to communicate how great it is to be able to play at a high level.
“Because I think people don’t realize how impactful it can be and all the lessons you can learn,” she said.
After retiring, Mahon-Sliworsky returned to her roots as a farm girl. She and her husband Terry have a cattle ranch in the Meadow Portage area, which is close enough to Dauphin that she can help out with clinics or coaching.
“Because that is a special time for me. I love connecting with the athletes and I always appreciate that Ted wants to get me back in the gym,” she said.
While it is a nice honour, in a team sport such as volleyball it is never about one player.
“It really is a group and a team effort. And for me, that always started with my team at home. My family and my friends in my small town,” she said.
“And then when I got to the U of M, I was surrounded some very elite players, powerful players who really helped pave my way into what turned into a really long volleyball career. It’s just a tip of the hat to all the people who played a role in my journey.”

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Doug Zywina
REPORTER
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