Amidst all the things that haven’t happened since Covid-19, you’d be forgiven if you forgot the Sport North Awards being handed out in person was one of them.
The awards were back in person for the first time since 2019 with this year’s ceremony taking place at the Explorer Hotel on May 27. It was a packed house for good reason — the winners who were supposed to receive their awards in both 2020 and 2022 were finally given their just due, while the class of 2021, known as the Covid Heroes, were also honoured.
The winners on the night included Kali Skauge, who was named the Robin Mercer-Sproule Junior Female Athlete of the Year for speed skating.
In accepting the award, Skauge got a bit emotional as she thanked everyone who got her to this point.
“All my coaches for always encouraging me in my really busy schedule,” she said. “Especially, my coach, Kerry (Egan), for always pushing me to be the best at everything that I do.”
Kerry Galusha added yet another award to her burgeoning trophy case as she was named the Mary Beth Miller Senior Female Athlete of the Year.
“It’s so nice to see everyone again after the last few years being cancelled,” she said in accepting the award. “It’s a great honour to accept this award. We all know curling is a team sport, so I couldn’t have done it (my teammates). I’ve learned a lot from them and they’re great teammates.”
The Coach of the Year category had the most nominees and the chosen one was Jeff Hipfner for his work in squash.
Spider Jones, outgoing president of NWT Squash, had a few words to say before Hipfner accepted his award.
“Jeff epitomizes what an exemplary coach aspires to: preparation fraught with detail and consideration,” he said. “Execution rife with encouragement and praise, never satisfied with the status quo, continually striving for self-improvement. All to provide his athletes with an experience that resonates with ‘you matter, you’re important, you belong’.”
Bill Othmer, Sport North’s executive director, said being back in person after such a long absence was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate.
“You could feel the energy and excitement in the room as we were able to get together to honour past and current recipients,” he said. “Thanks to the TSOs (territorial sport organizations) who nominated their athletes and thanks to the awards selection committee — made up of TSOs — who chose the winners.”
2023 Sport North Award winners
Youth Female Athlete of the Year
Sofia Ardiles, squash
Youth Male Athlete of the Year
Seiya McEachern, speed skating
Robin Mercer-Sproule Junior Female Athlete of the Year
Kali Skauge, speed skating
Junior Male Athlete of the Year
Sage Acorn, speed skating
Mary Beth Miller Senior Female Athlete of the Year
Kerry Galusha, curling
Senior Male Athlete of the Year
Kevin Cull, taekwondo
Coach of the Year
Jeff Hipfner, squash
Dennis Crane Memorial Official of the Year
Blair Chapman, speed skating
Gastown — owner Jamie Pye
Ruth Inch Memorial Contributor to Sport
Joan Hirons, NWT 55+ Games Association
Delma Kisoun Memorial Community Contributor
Team of the Year
Team Wainman, curling