Raised to the rafters

The retired jerseys in the King's gym. (Photo: Nicholas Frew)

The retired jerseys in the King’s gym. (Photo: Nick Frew)

Two more Blue Devils were honoured last month by getting their jerseys retired in the Kingdome.

Former men’s basketball player J.D. Howlett and former women’s footballer Marika Mckenzie now join Matt Fegan as the only jerseys in the rafters. 

As a Blue Devil, Mckenzie was unanimously voted as Player of the Year by the coaches in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA). She was also named a Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) all-Canadian three times. But she only scored one goal in her career.

Neil Hooper, the University of King’s College’s athletic director, says Mckenzie controlled the ball like Sidney Crosby controls the puck.

“They ran everything through her.”

Mckenzie was part of the 2011 ACAA championship team and made two other conference finals appearances.

J.D. Howlett played his first two years at Acadia University before transferring to King’s. But he ate up the competition as soon as he stepped onto an ACAA court.

At 6 ft. 7 in., Howlett already had the size needed to be a dominant force. But he had the handles of a guard, and Hooper says he could bury a jump shot from up to 30 feet out. In the ACAA, those are intangibles that create an all-Canadian basketball player — and that’s what he was named, once.

When considering who gets their jersey retired, Hooper said “it’s loosely defined,” but if you’re named all-Canadian multiple times, you’re a strong candidate.

That technically makes Howlett an exception to the rule. But there was one season where he led the country in scoring for eight weeks and didn’t get voted as an all-Canadian, so Hooper (and Trish Miles, King’s athletic coordinator) factored that in their decision.

Matt Fegan

For years, Matt Fegan’s number was the only retired jersey in the gym.

People new to King’s would ask “Who’s Fegan?”

“I don’t know,” was usually the reply.

It’s an older jersey, so it was tough to tell what sport he played. But Matt Fegan was a soccer player in the late 90s. Hooper says he was born in Scotland, grew up mostly in Japan and came to King’s on a whim because he heard of the school while in Scotland.

Fegan was a three-time all-Canadian, voted the country’s Player of the Year in his final season and is in the CCAA Hall of Fame.

“He pretty much re-wrote the record books around here, in terms of the contribution he made,” Hooper said. “He was probably one of the most exciting soccer players to ever lace up a pair of cleats here.”

Hooper says two former athletes are currently up for consideration to get their jerseys retired. He couldn’t give any names, but he says they are a former women’s soccer player and men’s basketball player, respectively.