Kerry Galusha has won plenty of awards over the course of her curling career but the latest honour she received late last month is one which she said ranks right up there.
Galusha was named as the first winner of the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT’s annual awards. News of the distinction got out a little earlier than planned, admitted Carson Roche, the Sports Circle’s events manager.
He said he was hoping to have all the awards handed out before making any sort of announcement.
“Kerry put it up (on social media) and let the cat out of the bag, so we’ll let that one slide,” he joked.
Galusha’s award ceremony was held at Bullock’s Bistro in Old Town and it was a dinner party-type atmosphere with friends and family on hand to see her receive the honour.
“It felt really special,” said Galusha. “I got to organize everything and invited my teammates and my family and friends were there — just a really nice evening.”
The Sport Award goes to an Indigenous athlete who, according to the Sports Circle’s description, has excelled in their respective sport at various levels of competition and has displayed commitment and dedication to training and competition. Galusha’s commitment to curling has never been in question as she’s been playing the sport for decades, but she’s also moved into the coaching ranks, working with junior curlers at the Yellowknife Curling Centre two nights a week.
“I’ve really tried to contribute to the community and to the sport of curling,” said Galusha. “I have my team but I’m now involved with the younger curlers, including my daughter, and make sure they get to love the sport like I do.”
Getting the call from the Sports Circle informing her of the win was a surprise, she added.
“They told me I won and congratulated me and I had no idea I was even nominated,” she said. “One of my really close friends had put the nomination together and I had a chance to read it afterward. It talked about how I coach and curl and my work on reconciliation, which is a very important part of my life. It was really nice to read all that.”
While this is the first time Galusha has been honoured by the Sports Circle as a solo athlete, it’s the second time she’s received accolades. The Koe family as a whole was honoured several years ago with a special award in recognition of their work in curling.
The plan for the awards this year was to return to the annual banquet at the Explorer Hotel but the Covid-19 outbreak in Yellowknife in the early fall scuttled those plans, said Roche.
That means the awards are being handed out the same way they were one year ago: one each week.
“We aren’t handing them out in any special order,” said Roche. “What we’re doing is giving the Yellowknife winners their awards first — three of them — and the others who live in the communities are getting theirs in January.”
The Sports Circle’s board of directors liked that format and were happy that it was being done this way again, he added.
“We had lots of good feedback and I’m glad they liked it,” he said. “We were pushing to have the dinner in November but the (Covid) cases were rising so we made the call to cancel it. I actually prefer doing it this way because you get to go to the events and see how they celebrate something like this. It’s more intimate and more personal.”