Outstanding achievement in local sport was celebrated this week in Nanaimo.
The Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards were held Friday at the Coast Bastion Hotel and as always, a wide range of sports were represented in the room.
One of the big winners Friday was Vancouver Island University’s national-championship-winning men’s soccer team, selected as Team of the Year. Bill Merriman, coach of that side, was honoured as High-Performance Coach of the Year.
Male Team Athlete of the Year went to V.I. Raiders all-Canadian receiver and return specialist Brycen Mayoh, while Female Team Athlete of the Year went to Team B.C. baseball player Veronica Wong.
Male Individual Athlete of the Year was VIU golf standout Wyatt Brook; Female Individual Athlete of the Year was world-champion kettlebell competitor Rachel Robertson.
Junior Male Team Athlete of the Year went to Nanaimo District Islanders all-star Anders Cederberg, with Female Team Athlete of the Year going to Nanaimo Timbermen MVP Chantelle Lee. The Junior Male Individual Athlete of the Year category was won by national-champion hammer thrower Ethan Katzberg, while Junior Female Individual Athlete of the Year was won by Amelia Cooper, a world champion in karate.
Junior Team of the Year went to the Nanaimo Christian School senior girls’ volleyball team, Island champions.
Sports story of the Year was Brandon Leigh in the Harris Auto Group bathtub winning the great race the day after Tom Harris’s celebration of life.
The special guest speaker at this year’s awards was distance runner Erin Burrett, who has won Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards twice in past years.
“Sport is not always easy,” she said. “As athletes and coaches, you’ll learn that sport isn’t a linear line of progression where you just continue to improve. You generally have some ups and downs and sometimes a lot of heartbreak.”
She said there will be races won and lost, sponsorships gained and ended, and times of good health and periods recovering from injury.
“We’re constantly striving to improve our performance. Ultimately, though, it’s the love for our sport that keeps us pushing through the hard times,” Burrett said. “So if I can suggest one thing to all the athletes here, it’s to never lose your love for the sport.”
The evening included three special awards. Nanaimo White Rapids swimming volunteer Don Goodman won the Michael Rhode Memorial Award for longtime dedication to sport; multi-sport scorekeeper Don Millar won the Hero In You award for special contribution to sport and Ben Leslie won the Steve Smith Memorial Award for achievement in extreme sport.
Other award winners include: Partners of the Year, Jeff Webb and Isaac Bevis, beach volleyball; Masters Athlete of the Year, Dennis Lynch, cross country skiing; Grassroots Coach of the Year, Joel Smith, field lacrosse; Sport Administrator of the Year, Kurt Nordli, karate; and Official of the Year, O-Lin Metz, soccer.