There won’t be any Sport North Awards this year. It’s awfully tough to hand out awards when not a whole lot has happened both within and outside the city/territory sports-wise.

In its place, Sport North will be handing out something called the COVID Hero Awards, which are being given to athletes/teams, coaches and sport contributors who went above and beyond and persisted during these difficult/troubling/interesting/weird/awful times. The deadline for submissions has passed — territorial sport organizations were able to submit a nomination for each of the three categories. At this stage, I can make a case for who should get these awards.

Now, like all of my other prognostications, this is not meant as a slight toward any group or organization. You are all wonderful, unique and beautiful in your own way and I have seen and heard about all you do.

You know what? Now that I think about it, I’m just going to rhyme off a whole whack of people who I think deserve an award. No guarantee they will get it, but they deserve something for what they’ve done to try and preserve some semblance of normalcy in our lives. Here goes everything:

Athlete/Team

I’ll start with the hockey players because they managed to find a way to keep on trucking and not have it affect them too much. People like Logan Cunningham, Ethan Anstey, Kyra McDonald, Kiah Vail, Zach Zorn, Liam Tereposky, Lonan Bulger and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more.

I can look at soccer and teams like the Yellowknife Bay Soccer Club (Sundogs) and how they kept doing their thing through all this garbage. The Yk Galaxy Soccer Club did the same thing.

Curling has Team Galusha (Kerry Galusha, Sarah Koltun, Jo-Ann Rizzo, Margot Flemming and Shona Barbour) and how they’ve managed to keep firing on all cylinders and train while jumping through hoops to represent the territory. Greg Skauge and his rink of Tom Naugler, Brad Patzer and Robert Borden did the same thing on the men’s side.

Wren Acorn, Danica Taylor and Gracie Brennan deserve a special mention in this section because they managed to come up with a way to help athletes keep training virtually when they couldn’t do it in person. These three ladies could be in the coaching section below. I’m putting them here among the athletes because they are athletes helping other athletes.

Coach

This gets a bit tricky. There are some notable mentions, such as Joe Acorn with the Sundogs. The only way he doesn’t coach is if there’s no soccer. I’m convinced he would go outside at -40 C if it didn’t mean his players would come down with severe frostbite or hypothermia, or a combination of both.

Kerry Egan and her crew at the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club kept on motoring, even with all of the regulations in front of them. The club was able to put on as full of a program as anything. I could also say the same for hockey (Yk Minor Hockey), volleyball (Crush Volleyball and Potential Volleyball), basketball etc.

Contributor to Sport

Here’s where we can open up the floodgates because without your contributors, you have nothing.

I’ll start with the Yellowknife Ski Club and the crew there. I’ll forget some people, for which I apologize in advance, but there are folks like Kerry Wheler, Bernadette Knox, Alyssa Titus, and if I ever forgot John Stephenson, I would probably never be allowed back there ever again.

The Yellowknife Golf Club remained open all year long thanks to the work of Cole Marshall, the club’s general manager and head pro; Kyle Frederick, the club’s assistant pro; Shaun Morris, the club’s president and anyone else who made sure people had something to do in the summer.

One of the perhaps unintended “benefits” of COVID-19 was the explosion of outdoor sports and one of the big beneficiaries of that was tennis. Slavica Jovic has performed wonders at keeping things rolling along at the Yellowknife Tennis Club along with Tami Johnson, the club’s general manager. I would be remiss if I didn’t throw in Dr. Nittin Gohil, who runs the barbecue for every tournament, and Anna Coles, who wrangles the tournament brackets. Oh, and Alex Godfrey is a great model for photos. Just ask him.

There wouldn’t be any softball without the work of people like Garrett Hinchey and his board with the Yk Fastball League, Rebekah Clarke and the Yellowknife Slopitch crew and Yk Minor Fastball with people such as Kristal Melanson, Jenn Lukas and Steve Thomas. They also have a lot of people behind the scenes who do their thing to keep the motor running.

Others off the top of my head include Mike and Jeannie Mathison, who helped put together a beach volleyball series this past summer; Brad Anstey and Darren Wicks with the Yellowknife Sporting Club and its summer hockey camp; Jessica Smith and the Yellowknife Gymnastics Club for getting its programming back as best as it could; anyone who looked after a 2023 Canada Summer Games training camp and anyone who I have forgotten.

Almost everyone on this list doesn’t go looking for an award, but they are deserving. Whoever gets one will have earned it.

Thank you for your attention. You may now yell at me.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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