Trio of Blues inducted into CCAA Hall of Fame

L-R: CapU Manager of Athletics & Recreation Milt Williams, coach inductee Doug Abercrombie, athlete inductee Melissa Artuso, coach inductee Joe Iacobellis
L-R: CapU Manager of Athletics & Recreation Milt Williams, coach inductee Doug Abercrombie, athlete inductee Melissa Artuso, coach inductee Joe Iacobellis

Two former Capilano Blues coaches who won multiple national championships and one former player who was a three-time All-Canadian were inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame on Tuesday night in Abbotsford. The three were a part of a 2017 induction class that consists of 10 individuals from the Pacific Western Athletic Association – one of the five conferences in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association.

In the Coach category, former Capilano women’s soccer head coach Doug Abercrombie was inducted after a 16-year career during which he won five CCAA National championships. After joining the Blues in 1995, Abercrombie promptly led his team to national gold in his first two seasons, before winning again in 1998, 2000, and 2001. Capilano also won silver in 1997, meaning they played in the national final six times in seven years.

At the provincial level, Abercrombie also won eight BCCAA (now PACWEST) championships, and was named BCCAA Coach of the Year twice. He coached two CCAA Players of the Year, as well as 13 CCAA All-Canadians, and his success also helped Capilano win the CCAA Soccer Supremacy Award (25 years) for women’s soccer in 1999.

“Doug is a tireless volunteer who has dedicated well over 25 years to the development of female athletes, at various levels of competition, through the sport of soccer,” said Milt Williams, CapU Manager of Athletics & Recreation. “His motivation and central source of satisfaction has its roots in molding and guiding his athletes to reach success in life by balancing their athletic endeavors with a commitment to academic achievement and community involvement.” 

Also being inducted in the Coach category is coach Joe Iacobellis. During his 18-year career as head coach of the men’s soccer team, Iacobellis led Capilano to three national championships and two national silvers – which included making the final in four straight seasons (1988-91). He was also named CCAA Coach of the Year in 1991.

At the BCCAA level, Iacobellis won nine provincial championships and was twice named BCCAA Coach of the Year. He also built the women’s volleyball program at Capilano and coached the team to a BCCAA gold medal in 1984-85, and later became the school’s Athletic Director – being named CCAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2009. There is also an endowment fund established in his name that is awarded annually to Capilano student-athletes. 

“Joe has a ‘Midas Touch’ when it comes to the longevity and success of the school’s athletics program both at home and abroad,” said Williams. “Though he has fostered success in the sports arena, he is first and foremost an educator; someone who is committed to helping young athletes reach their full potential both on and off the field.”

“Joe is a tireless individual who has dedicated well over 30 years to the development of young athletes at various levels of competition. During his time at Capilano, Joe played a crucial role in not only the development, but also the advancement of athletic programs for men and women, both locally and provincially.”

In the athlete category, former women’s soccer standout Melissa Artuso will join 11 other athletes in the Hall. A three-time CCAA All-Canadian, Artuso was named CCAA Player of the Year in 1996 and led the Blues to national championships in 1995 and 1996. She was named a Tournament All-Star both years, and in 1995 also earned the Individual Fair Play Award.

One of three Artuso sisters who starred for the Blues in the ‘90s – Diana and Michelle the others – Melissa scored 30 goals in 31 total games with Capilano, including 18 in 13 games in 1996. Among her other accolades, Artuso was named BCCAA Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996 and Capilano Blues Female Athlete of the Year in 1995 and 1996.  

“Melissa was the driving force for the Blues during the mid-1990s,” said Williams. “She demonstrated consistent success on the playing field and made those players around her better, which allowed them to reach their objective of national champions. She always got the job done, but she would not sacrifice character for the sake of a win. The fact that she had the work ethic to back it up made her the player that everyone wanted to have; coachable, honourable and skilled.”

The CCAA established their Hall of Fame in 2014, which “distinguishes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Canadian collegiate athletics, either by virtue of their performance on an athletic team, or by meritorious efforts on behalf of the CCAA.” Abercrombie, Iacobellis, and Artuso are the first members from Capilano to be inducted.