Even during a pandemic, Nanaimo athletes and teams found ways to play and win.
The Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards were held Wednesday, May 18, at the Coast Bastion Hotel, honouring the best in sport from a challenging 2021.
This year’s Sports Story of the Year was the Dover Bay Dolphins senior AAAA girls’ volleyball team winning the Island championship and hosting provincials in a season dedicated to the memory of teammate Michelle Reilly, who died of cancer the year before.
Team of the Year this year was the Nanaimo White Rapids summer swim club, which won the provincial championship and earned 70 top-three finishes in B.C. while handling the challenges of COVID-19. Junior Team of the Year was the Barsby Bulldogs junior varsity football team, which won the Coastal championship at Subway Bowl provincials.
Team Athlete of the Year winner was Justin Geddie, who backstopped the Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse squad to an Island championship.
Individual Athlete of the Year winners were crossfit competitor Patrick Vellner, runner-up for the World’s Fittest title, and Shelly Stouffer, a provincial and national champion golfer.
Junior Team Athletes of the Year were Nanaimo District volleyball player Tianna Kehler, a provincial all-star, and James Joyce, who batted .521 to help his V.I. Mariners U18 team to a B.C. Minor Baseball college prep championship.
Pole vault record-setter Sonya Urbanowicz and provincial champion golfer Matthew Wilson were chosen as the winners in the Junior Individual Athlete of the Year category.
High-Performance Coach of the Year was Liam Goodall from V.I. Mariners U18 baseball, Grassroots Coach of the Year was Troy Libbus of the Nanaimo Christian School boys’ volleyball team, and Sports Administrator of the Year was Daniel Fraser, president of Football Nanaimo. Hockey referee Matt Caillet was honoured as Official of the Year.
Also, Dr. Steve Beerman was honoured with the Michael Rhode Memorial Award for longtime contributions to sport for his work for drowning prevention and life-saving sport, but also for his past contributions to the Nanaimo White Rapids board and the Nanaimo Clippers as team doctor.
Ivy Richardson of Team 700 boxing club was recognized with the Hero In You award for her work coaching and fundraising for the program dedicated to providing sports and life skills opportunities for Indigenous youths who are in government care or who have aged out of care.
This year’s Steve Smith Memorial Award for contributions to extreme sports went to Andrew Hamilton for his dedication to coaching and promoting mountain biking.
With many sports seasons cancelled during the first several months of 2021, there were fewer games and tournaments, and it meant fewer nominations. In a handful of categories, there were too few nominations to recognize a winner, but in most, there were many outstanding finalists and winners.
This year’s finalists included:
Team of the Year - Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse, Nanaimo White Rapids swimming, VIU Mariners men’s soccer.
Junior Team of the Year - Barsby Bulldogs junior varsity football, Nanaimo Christian School Trail Blazers senior boys’ volleyball, V.I. Mariners U18 baseball.
Male Team Athlete of the Year - Taylor Arbour, VIU Mariners soccer; Justin Geddie, Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse; Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty, V.I. Raiders football.
Female Individual Athlete of the Year - Georgia Cameron, weightlifting; Leila Sadeghi, bodybuilding, Shelly Stouffer, golf.
Male Individual Athlete of the Year - Jakob Brager, Nanaimo Riptides swimming; Ethan Katzberg, hammer throw; Patrick Vellner, crossfit.
Junior Female Team Athlete of the Year - Kamryn Grooms, hockey; Tianna Kehler, NDSS Islanders volleyball; Olivia Phillips, Nanaimo Christian School volleyball.
Junior Male Team Athlete of the Year - James Joyce, V.I. Mariners U18 baseball; Rhondé Lyle, Barsby Bulldogs junior varsity football; Austin Wilson, NCS volleyball.
Junior Female Individual Athlete of the Year - Danielle Barberie, Nanaimo White Rapids swimming; Sonya Urbanowicz, Nanaimo Track and Field Club pole vault; Tihanna Wright, Nanaimo Gymnastics School artistic gymnastics.
Junior Male Individual Athlete of the Year - Lukas Elzinga, Nanaimo White Rapids swimming; Ryder Hennessy, freestyle skiing; Matthew Wilson, golf.
High-Performance Coach of the Year - Liam Goodall, V.I. Mariners U18 baseball; Mason Pynn, Nanaimo Timbermen junior A lacrosse; Curtis Vizza, V.I. Raiders football.
Grassroots Coach of the Year - Shawn Bishop, Nanaimo Seahawks junior bantam football; Troy Libbus, Nanaimo Christian School boys’ volleyball; Rob Stevenson, Barsby Bulldogs junior varsity football.
Sports Story of the Year - Dylan Coghlan scores first, second and third NHL goals in the same game; Dover Bay wins Island volleyball title in season dedicated to memory of teammate; high jumper Mike Mason makes fourth Olympic games.
Proceeds from the sport achievement awards benefit local high-performance athletes. For more information about the awards and to learn how to nominate an athlete for next year’s awards, visit www.nanaimosportachievementawards.com.