Santa Claus celebrates a goal at Frank Crane Arena with Nanaimo Clippers forward Matt Hoover.

’Tis the night before Christmas

’Tis the night before Christmas, and all through the town,
Not an athlete is stirring, as leagues are shut down.

’Tis the night before Christmas, and all through the town,Not an athlete is stirring, as leagues are shut down.Teammates and others call time out and pause,Awaiting the road trip of someone named Claus.

Now my annual gift every year at this time,Is a series of greetings composed into rhyme.The aim is to offer a thank you of sorts,To folks who are known for involvement in sports.

To honour achievements of year that is past,Names of some people I’ve quickly amassed.Apologies, though, to those that I’ve missed:There are simply too many to fit on my list!

So my effort at verse I hope you’ll accept,Though much of the rhyming is somewhat inept.Critics may moan, but this I do know:My poem is as ready as Justin Trudeau!

With hockey we’ll start, as kids love to skate,Which Davis, MacDonald, and Long will relate.There’s Becia, Coulson, Paziuk, Russell;Dubyna and Boehm get players to hustle.

Girls on the ice have Whitford with heart;For Robinson, Islanders women take part.Brother and sister named Hardy could cheer;Both siblings at Canada Games did appear!

Old-timer hockey has icing with Cake;Tyce passes to Briggs, on knees that may ache.Edwards and Monk will the teams oversee;Ethier watches as head referee!

In rec team division, Shockers went far,With Wynia, Falk, Granholm and Tarr.Brzovic helps to make ball hockey run;Ringette type of ice sport for Therrien’s fun.

North Island Silvertips answer the call,With Heathcote and Davis, Sexton and Krall.Levesques are the owners of Bucs junior B;Lemmon’s now coaching, so wins they will see.

As for our Clippers, the fans can delight;Nanaimo this season has first place in sight.Vandekamp’s players have been on a streak;Ten wins in a row was extremely unique!

Defencemen like Kaldis and Reilly are set;Johnson and Walter are solid in net.Hoover, Brousseau, are quick to give chase,But Rempal as scorer is setting hot pace!

Now soccer has matches for young and for old;For men and for women, in heat or in cold;Youngsters with Hackett and Evans hone skills;Mini Cup tourney gave Kirby some thrills.

Youth soccer has Coates, Wassermann, Myhrer;Blumenthrath, Francis, and Brown never tire.Butler at Beban keeps track of the scores;Landry’s in charge of the referee chores.

Coastal Cup girls to provincials did swarm,With silver awarded to U18 Storm.Robertson, Kirk, and Horsley could smile;Whiting and Baird were coaches with style!

Men’s team United for Greenaway shoot;Andre was winner of league Golden Boot!Fitzgerald as coach had the women United;Strebel with Martin and Chase were delighted.

Mariner women had Kang as their guide;Second in province gave Rodgers great pride.Fourth at provincials the men’s team did get,With Merriman, Brown, and captain Arnett.

Football Nanaimo has Russell and Wright;Roden and Bryson were also in sight.With Faickney, Borserio, Miller on field,MVP honours did Dennis-Orr wield.

Raiders this season in league did just fine;Erdman was coaching, as Conn did resign.O’Brien and Atwall both warrant a toast;Bowles and Rodriguez of honours can boast.

To playoffs provincial the Bulldogs did glide,But three-peat for Barsby was sadly denied.Cooper had Fletcher as defensive cog;Stevenson coaching was really ‘top Dawg!’

At Pioneer Park, where rugby teams come,Perry encouraged new players to scrum.Division 1 Hornets had Marshall take kicks,For Milford and Stokes, and president Wicks.

In arenas each summer, lacrosse teams do show;Junior A players had captain named Roe.Bowmen and Couling helped light the team fire;Intermediate players were sparked by O’Dwyer.

Swanson and Diplock, on team senior B,With Patterson, Maughan, had reason for glee.A championship banner the team could hold up,Advancing to play at the Presidents Cup!

For Timbermen entry in league senior A,Came Ratcliff and Nicholson leading the way.Missing the playoffs gave Toth some concern;Ranger with Shamrocks a Mann Cup did earn!

Lacrosse for the kids featured Bishop and Boas;Lehman and Turley wore referee clothes.Stannard and Lassam are part of the story,With Ferguson, Terris, Bowman and Ory.

Angelucci and Krassman won national gold;MacIntyre, too, was part of the fold.McGonigle, Clark, could not be ignored;Fulton this year won Lacrosse Boy award!

Slo-pitch in summer has games every day;Annesley, Woods, and Rogerson play.Softball for girls took Spracklin on road;As best in B.C. did the Bomb Squad explode!

Nichol and Poystila fastball condone;Cornborough’s minors have league of their own.Larsen and Kenney keep juniors in line;East gave direction for Diamonds to shine,

For fastpitch did president Robillard yearn,With Bassett and Currie, Rodway and Byrne.To score at provincials, Breakers did hurry;Foglietta was batting for Fletcher and Murray.

Fastball for men featured Belton at park;Bates and Mainwaring would play until dark.Pitching by Spooner was cause for renown;Playoffs saw Wheatsheaf awarded the crown!

Up at Serauxmen, where baseball is king,Coal Miner league with MacKinnon did swing.From college-aged players like Schroter we hear,Blundell and his Mariners had a great year.

Leaf and MacNeil help to run minor ball;With Neff and Holyk, they’re volunteers all.Buckle’s involved, Humphreys and Vance;Eade behind plate took an umpire’s stance!

Premier League Pirates for Rogers took aim;Finishing second in championship game.Rainey and Goodall were part of the scheme;Burgmann was chosen for national team!

Outside or in, some players cavort,With racquets or balls, for games on a court.Shahi and Dorman play tennis with verve;Calvin at Westwood some aces will serve.

At tennis on table can Lawrence be seen;Squash club has Birks as pro that is keen.Pickleball action gives Stewart much joy,With Thomson and Bettney, Easton, Savoy.

Binns and McGuire at badminton smash,With Henderson, Foster, Goa, Ramash.Walker when coaching for team VIU,Saw national silver for Robb and for Liew.

It’s volleyball matches that Bevis does like;Where Orton and Tang, and Nelson can spike.Rounis in coaching with club team Express,With Philip and Nichol can savour success.

Mariner players are ready at net;Avender, Hyde, as coaches are set.Harder and Webb, of sand courts will preach;Greene and Behie captured medals on beach!

Others use hoops, and basketballs throw;Kuzminski, McWhinnie with Mariners know.Hiemstra and Stevens run league Friday Nite;Lennox and Letham coach players with height.

Let’s move to an alley where Brittain holds sway,As bowlers at Brechin throw strikes every day.Burgmann and Theedom of talent can gloat,With Coulson and Keaist, Radelja and Sloat.

But leading the way to the victory ramp,Eby made history as national champ!She credits assistance from coach Charbonneau;Patterson, too, and also Boudot.

Hagstrom and Park, at Splitsville do bowl,Where tenpins saw Gruninger get on a roll.But bowling outside is Urbaniak seen,With Mitchell and Dawkin at Bowen Park green.

Coach Sherry with Staddon a gold medal shared,At national bowling for vision impaired.Elsewhere on grass, Niamath likes cricket;Field hockey action for Eby’s the ticket.

To target with arrow, Baldassi draws bow;An ultimate Frisbee is Schein set to throw.Gourlay at dartboard will take careful aim;McFarlane is head of the club Fish and Game!

Now golf can be fun but it gives you grey hair;It drives you to drink, and makes people swear.But Harper and Wilson both had a great year;Anjarwalla was stellar in championship here.

Morris and Symbaluk drive to the green;I’m in the rough where my ball was last seen.MacDonald has talent, with Davison, Hill;Ruth whom I love scored a hole-in-one thrill!

Now into the water where Ebbtides get wet;Masters with Burvill and Ryan are set.Diamonds in water made spectators blink;Richards and Jones, for Scott were in synch!

In summer White Rapids set records in pool;For Johnson, McGonigle, Kossey, O’Toole.Saunders and Trajan as coaches concur,With Goodman and James, Kirkhope and Der.

With Irwin and Flood, Riptides do train,Like Orton and Moore, Wilson and Crane.Berg, Della-Rosa, and Shoesmith can tellThat Irvine’s in charge, and Convey as well.

Rowing club members now come into sight;Rutherford coaches Malainey and Knight.Nikitovic, Caron, of kayaking rave;Provincials were venue for young Antifave.

Paddleboard lessons see Vroom on the lake;Wakeboarding waves will Champion make.Pleasure from sailing does Gorrie derive;Singer with scuba will go for a dive!

When winter arrives, then skiers show skill;Trimmer on Washington races downhill.Bergvinson’s Riders out snowboarding go;Blazers with Erickson motor through snow!

Hawkes and Ahmadi will take a strong stance,That skaters need ice, for figures and dance;Pallard and Kedves attracted some stares;Competing together at national pairs!

At centre for curling, now Horton will say,That ice has been pebbled and ready for play.Masters’ provincials were held with success,As Obee and Franklin could probably guess.

On Torgerson, Brice, and manager Wood;Davies and Whittam with draws that are good.On Gallo and Gummer, two sweepers so strong;On Adams whose shots almost never go wrong!

For Nanaimo Gymnastics, fortunes have soared,Again being given the top club award.Brenner and Mould, with Conway are seen,Tumbling on mats, or on trampoline.

Boxers have Creswell to teach them to spar,Wisniewski and Pegues are set to go far.Wrestlers like Robson and Broz could exclaim:Tuck earned a silver, and national fame!

Malone and McDonald of jiu-jitsu dream;Biernacki is coaching for Island Top Team.Walker, Arnott, can kickboxing show;Kim as Grand Master will teach taekwondo!

Karate has Semple who’s really quite skilled;Nordli is hoping new dojo to build.Fiandor and Kruger on judo are sold;Clark was a winner of Winter Games gold.

Gilks as a trainer, of fitness has sung,Boot camp has Wengel; Northridge has Jung.Merrett is keen that pilates is taught;Butler does yoga, where some like it hot!

Butcher and Boon enjoy cycling on road;Thibault and Simms are in cyclocross mode.Erwin and Johnson set BMX pace;Kubacki, McGarrigle, mountain bikes race.

Hansen and Young like to walk quite a bit;Stilwell and Abbott in wheelchairs stay fit.Special Olympics has Taylor quite keen.Stevens on rollers in derby is seen.

Race-walker Ramage in fitness prevails;Clegg is a runner in motion on trails.Thibodeau, Ross, at Westwood are set;Marathon title was first for Burrett!

Durkin and Debelic, Davies and Drope;Bastion Club runners from Trajan get hope.Palfery, Hollingshead, both love to race;Campbell and Goodman will set a good pace!

Track club with Heisterman honours did win,Say Andersen, Doughty, Katzberg and Pynn.Miller and Johnston showed plenty of flair;On national team there was Mousseau and Clare!

Doctors like Kurytnik and Cline will admit,That people stay healthier when they are fit.Regional centre does Cooper inspect;Parks and rec programs earn Harding respect.

Athletics on campus does Hunter applaud;VIU programs have Dunlop and Dodd.For fitness and wellness there’s Alden and Hyde;Cormie and Kellow run classes outside!

Sports hall of fame saw Bianchin get in;Johnson and Manson induction did win.Lacrosse legend Fulla the Timbermen led;Goalie with nickname of ‘Fabulous Fred!’

Now to those people who cover all sports;They witness the games, and bring us reports.On radio waves it was Marshall who scored;For broadcasting talent he earned an award.

McKenzie is writer with Daily sports news;Sakaki at Bulletin gives us his views.As editor here, he writes with great flair,Filling up columns with stories to share.

And now that my poem is nearing its end,Some timely reminders I’d like to extend:To keep yourself healthy, get out and take part;Being more active will strengthen your heart.

When everything’s over it’s nice to have won,But games for the kids should always be fun.Let everyone play, no matter the score;To ‘win at all costs,’ I really deplore.

No matter what sport, one rule is the same:Always play fair, whatever the game!And try to remember that when you compete,Be humble in winning, show grace in defeat.

Give it your best, whatever you do,But always show class – good sportsmanship too.And now I’ll exclaim to all readers in sight:Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Thursdays in the Nanaimo News Bulletin. This is his 34th annual Christmas poem.

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