Another year, another batch of deserving winners from the world of NWT sport.
The Sport North Awards were handed out in Yellowknife on Nov. 18 with athletes, coaches and volunteers receiving their just due for a job well done.
The Athletes of the Year all hailed from Yellowknife as Madison Penney and Gabriel Leclerc were named the female and male winners respectively. Aodhan Mooney of Yellowknife kept the winning going for swimming as she copped the junior female version of the honour. Kerry Galusha nabbed the Mary Beth Miller Senior Female Athlete of the Year for her exploits in curling, which included a fairy-tale run at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this past February.
The Coach of the Year was Aaron Wells for basketball while Annie Esteban was named the Delma Kisoun Memorial Community Contributor for her work behind the scenes in basketball. Speedskating got in on the act as the husband and wife duo of Robin and Colleen Greig were named the co-winners of the Dennis Crane Memorial Official of the Year.
Table tennis had a couple of winners this time around, including Tamara Jovic and Aurora Fraser winning Team of the Year thanks to a fine showing at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games, while Thorsten Gohl of Fort Providence took the Ruth Inch Memorial Contributor to Sport Award. Gohl has been the face of table tennis in recent years, travelling the territory to introduce the sport and spearheading the start of Table Tennis North, the 30th official territorial sport organization (TSO) in the NWT.
Gohl admitted he wasn’t surprised to hear that he had been nominated because of all that’s gone on with the sport recently.
“We’ve done lots in the public eye and we’ve had plenty of our events published by agencies such as News/North and other outlets,” he said. “It’s important to show that anything is possible and we’ve done a lot of things right in the last few years.”
The sport has seen a boom in communities with clinics, teachers incorporating table tennis in phys-ed classes and clubs being formed and Gohl is hoping to have that momentum continue in the next five years.
“We just want to do the same thing we’ve been doing so far: getting kids playing the game, growing the grassroots,” he said. “We want to create role models in communities. If we can engage one kid and get them interested, have them step up and show what they can do, it spreads like wildfire and that’s how you sustain the sport in communities.”
The evening included Michael Gilday as the keynote speaker, who talked about his time as an elite athlete and what it means coming from the North.
The awards were held later than normal. They’re usually held in May in conjunction with Sport North’s annual general meeting but the meeting was pushed back to November this year, meaning the awards were pushed back as well.
Doug Rentmeister, Sport North’s executive director, said it was just a one-time thing and things will return to normal in 2018 with the awards dinner back in its familiar May spot.
If you noticed some categories missing winners, you aren’t mistaken. There were no awards handed out in the Junior and Senior Male Athlete of the Year this time around and that came down simply to a lack of nominations in both categories.
“We did get a lot of names that came in after the deadline but they’ll be in consideration for 2018,” said Rentmeister. “There’s a variety of reasons why we didn’t get names: the change of date in the annual general meeting, changes in executives for TSOs, some apathy in nominating. We’re going to be a bit more aggressive going forward in encouraging TSOs to nominate worthy people.”
FACT FILE: Sport North Awards recipients
Youth Female Athlete of the Year
- Madison Penney, swimming (Yellowknife)
Youth Male Athlete of the Year
- Gabriel Leclerc, swimming (Yellowknife)
Junior Male Female Athlete of the Year
- Aodhan Mooney, swimming (Yellowknife)
Mary Beth Miller Memorial Senior Female Athlete of the Year
- Kerry Galusha, curling (Yellowknife)
Team of the Year
- Tamara Jovic and Aurora Fraser, table tennis (Yellowknife)
Dennis Crane Memorial Official of the Year
- Robin and Colleen Greig, speedskating (Yellowknife)
Delma Kisoun Memorial Community Contributor
- Annie Esteban, basketball (Yellowknife)
Coach of the Year
- Aaron Wells, basketball (Yellowknife)
Ruth Inch Memorial Contributor to Sport
- Thorsten Gohl, table tennis (Fort Providence)
- Rowe’s Construction (Hay River)