The last 12 months in the world of NWT sports has been a good one, as it usually is, but some moments and athletes were a sliver above the rest.
Those who were got their just due at the Sport North Awards at the Explorer Hotel on Saturday evening. A total of 12 awards were handed out in such categories as the Youth, Junior and Senior Athletes of the Year, Dennis Crane Memorial Official of the Year and Team of the Year, among others.
Of the best athletes, Emma Leathem was named Youth Female Athlete of the Year for her fine year in gymnastics, capped off by her Canada Winter Games appearance.
Leathem said it was her parents and her coach, John Tram, who helped her the most to get to where she is today and hoped that she would be able to show other gymnasts that it is possible to do what she’s done so far.
“I’m so grateful and appreciative for everyone’s support throughout my gymnastics journey and I hope I inspire other younger gymnasts in the North to reach their goals and never give up,” she said.
Cole Clinton was the Youth Male Athlete of the Year for his exploits on the tennis courts and had perhaps the shortest acceptance speech of the evening.
“I just want to thank everyone very much,” he said before departing the stage.
The Junior Female Athlete of the Year is Ella Kokelj of cross-country skiing while Wilson Elliot claimed his second straight Junior Male Athlete of the Year after another great year on the judo tatami (mat).
He thanked several people and organizations, including his long-time coach, Mario Des Forges, but there was one person he saved big thanks for.
“I want to thank my brother and sparring partner, Nolan, for taking all the throws during practice,” he said to a chorus of laughs and applause. “All of that hard work paid off with a silver medal at nationals.”
Chris Williams was named the Senior Male Athlete of the Year thanks to his winning four gold medals at last year’s Canada 55-Plus Games. He won them all as the lone competitor in his division.
He thinks he knows why.
“I’ve outlived the competition,” he said.
Cross-country skier Clair Littlefair won the Mary Beth Miller Senior Female Athlete of the Year Award.
The Canada Winter Games girls hockey squad won Team of the Year honours thanks to their performance in Red Deer, Alta., back in March, which included them becoming the first team from the NWT – male or female – to beat a province in competition on the ice.
Slavica Jovic won the Ruth Inch Memorial Contributor to Sport Award for her work in tennis while Petersen and Auger was named this year’s Corporate Contributor winner.
Inuvik was a double winner as Twyla Amos won Coach of the Year honours and Stacey Christie was the Delma Kisoun Community Contributor recipient. Sholto Douglas of Fort Resolution won the Dennis Crane Memorial Official of the Year Award for his work in dog mushing.