BY IAN THORPE
’Tis the night before Christmas when athletes all pause,
Awaiting the road trip of player named Claus.
Teams are relaxing with holiday fun,
Recalling events from the year nearly done.
My annual present each year at this time,
Is a holiday greeting composed as a rhyme.
The aim is for recognition of sorts
To folks in our city connected with sports.
So a Thorpe Report poem is again on display,
Though critics will likely react with dismay.
My meter is wonky, so reader beware,
With rhyming more frightening than climate change scare!
There are hundreds of athletes and coaches it seems,
Involved with a sport, or maybe on teams.
I’ve checked with great care while compiling my list;
Apologies, though, for names that I’ve missed…
Skating takes skill, so it’s there we will look;
Knight leads that way, with Long and with Cook.
Dennison, Bowman, McArthur have say,
With Harilstadd, Bailey, Rauh and McKay.
Top players were Pham, Winchell and Green;
Moody and Schlitz could also be seen.
Davies wants ice time for females to skate;
Refs and their linesmen to Gessner relate.
Boehm has adult league skaters in sight,
Like Davies and Ennis, Campbell and Wright.
Pirozzini and Chanin are also on ice;
Edwards runs league, with treasurer Tyce!
VIU hockey had Parsons and Paul,
As Dunlop and Creighton and Moore will recall.
Of Bucs junior B, now Gosling can tell;
Robinson’s owner, and coaching as well!
Our Clippers this season were quick from the gate;
On top in division, which fans think is great!
Mussio’s happy as owner of team;
Of championship season coach Naylor does dream!
Scardina is captain, so forwards are set;
Kovich and Bourne will head straight to the net.
Drazner, LeDonne, help defence to jell;
Goalies are Naylor and Bennett as well!
Now out to the pitch, where soccer is king;
As MLS draft pick, Montgomery can sing.
Club named United does Coates oversee;
Cameron blows whistle as head referee!
Youth teams are aided by Richardson true;
Kirby and Brown, and Wassermann too.
With Rafuse and Hackett do coaches relate;
Of technical tactics, Fitzgerald will state.
Men’s team United competes in Div. 1;
On sideline is Jorgensen watching them run.
With team in Div. 2, coach Neibel is seen,
For players like Mitchell, Mulder and Keen.
Premier League women had plenty to say,
With Battie and Jones, Martin and Rey.
Watson and Greig could both lift a glass up;
Nanaimo was winner of Terry Price Cup!
Coach Lindo and VIU women have told,
That PacWest provincials saw medal of gold.
Mariner men with a silver could cheer,
With Stefanek chosen as Coach of the Year!
For Football Nanaimo, now Boese is the boss;
Redmen and Lions the pigskin do toss.
There’s Bascom and Fraser, also Marceau;
South Side has Cooper, as players all know.
Raiders this season had playoffs in view;
Give credit to Vizza, with coaching so true.
Laberge as the quarterback proved he was brainy;
Aided by Taylor, McGarvey and Rainey.
Stevenson brothers coached high schoolers here,
With Islanders playing in triple-A tier.
Bulldogs like Wilson, Wakely and Browne,
With Vollas and Torres earned all-star renown.
For Fisher and Scott, now rugby’s the thing;
Fitzgerald ensures that the Hornets will sting.
There’s Patten and Foot, Bradley and Clark;
Rugby for women brings Pinda to park!
For Reynolds and Terris, lacrosse teams do play,
As Sullivan, Sharpe, and Sutton will say.
Bishop and Dougan helped coaches gain skill;
To register players, McEachen got thrill!
Angelucci and Abbie their talent did prove;
MacDonald as player was quick to improve.
Coaching top honour saw Palmer the best;
Lacrosse Boy was Clark, outshining the rest!
At peewee provincials, Nanaimo won gold;
MVP honours to Price did unfold.
Turley and Merner wore referee gear;
Gizsas and Smith led a field lacrosse cheer!
Of junior A Timbermen, Bremner will sing;
Vaesen’s hot scoring gave plenty of zing.
Shires and Diplock led club senior B,
As manager Swanson will quickly agree.
Senior A Timbermen tied final game,
And as a result, did playoff berth claim.
Now Nicholson, Toth, have sights on next year;
With Eastwood and Claxton, the future is clear.
When seasons are changing and weather is warm,
Ball fields are often where players will swarm.
Spencer and Nichol with softball relate;
Slo-pitch has Hunt taking swings at the plate.
For fastpitch on diamond does Robillard yearn;
Rodway and Bassett help Breakers to learn.
Senior men’s fastball had Belton as boss;
For Wheaties on mound, McCormick did toss.
Softball for minors will Cornborough pump,
With Nickolet, Smith, and Kenney as ump.
For rep teams of Diamonds, Huneault was in place;
Johnson and Alyward got players on base!
Holyk in baseball for kids got his bats;
Anderson, Dunn, and Gonyer kept stats.
Peters and Holmes helped the all-stars advance;
Heeding the calls of chief umpire Vance!
U18 team won provincials with glee,
As Goodall and Rounis quite plainly could see.
VIU team featured Mariners quick,
With Salahub, Ballance, Martin and Dyck.
Mid Island Pirates had things in high gear,
Winning league pennant, then Team of the Year!
Rogers as manager taught them their craft,
While Burgmann was taken in major league draft!
We turn now to courts, with hoops or with walls,
For racquets and netting, birdies and balls.
Tennis at Westwood has Yung at the net;
Shahi’s at Beban, where Erickson’s set.
Tennis on table has Lawrence and Ford;
Birks at the squash club will get you on board.
Pickleball seniors are Stewart and Stern;
Edgar and Eaton will help you to learn!
Badminton juniors are Jankovic, Brar;
Lewis and Lambert as seniors went far.
Bui is a Mariner teammate with Woo;
Walker is coaching, and shows what to do.
Webb and Letourneau at volleyball serve;
Orton and Owen add plenty of verve.
Mariner club features Bevis with pep,
While games on a sand court are favoured by Epp!
VIU players competed with pride;
Men’s coach is Avender, women’s is Hyde.
At PacWest provincials the story was told,
That Mariner volleyball won double gold!
A national bronze was the men’s team reward,
While women continued with golden accord.
Back-to-back titles earned national fame,
As Cumming and Wickson will quickly exclaim!
On basketball court was a similar story;
Provincials gave Mariners gold-medal glory.
Coach Bryce for the women saw effort increase;
With Johnson and Snider, and MVP Lease.
Kuzminski coached men to a national crown,
With Fayle and Gay earning all-star renown.
Cederberg, Barfoot, deserved to rejoice;
Radliff was honoured as MVP choice!
Coaches in schools did their knowledge impart,
Like Brown and McRae, Letham and Hart.
First at the Islands were girls from ND,
With Johnson and Jensen, Saywell, Dupuis.
Players in wheelchair like Maltby could rave,
As Maffin was part of a Tsunami wave.
Marr supports Swish, so youngsters can train;
When Tang referees, let no one complain!
Splitsville has alleys where bowling’s a lark;
Tenpins are rolled, and glow in the dark!
Robbins and Singer could nationals claim;
Radelja gave coaching to strengthen their game.
For escape and some bowling, there’s Brechin, you bet!
With Brittain, Boudot, strikes are a threat.
Provincials were here, so Eby showed worth;
Walker and Spracklin earned nationals berth!
Now lawn bowling happens outside on the green,
Where Dawkin, Urbaniak, Tester are seen.
Sherry coached Ruckman with vision impaired;
Valchar with Phillips gold medal declared!
And also outside, with bats and a wicket,
Niamath is wishing revival of cricket.
Field hockey women can navigate well,
With sticks that are curved, as Eby will tell.
Solloway, Brenton, throw darts to the ring;
Ultimate Frisbee sees Schein take a fling.
Disc golf in Bowen has Humby take part;
Ringers in horseshoes will Rondow impart.
McFarlane takes charge at the club Fish and Game;
With black powder shooting, Baldassi takes aim.
There’s Wheatcroft and Bennie, Brown and Burnett;
New archery building has Brownhill all set.
Now can’t forget golf, that can drive you insane,
But Mariner players did Hrabowych train;
For Turko did championship title appear;
Foston won gold for a second straight year!
Bishop and Hermans with titles could cheer;
Harpers in triplicate had a great year!
Cienciala and Betz, with talent set forth,
Like Wilson and Berry, Jarvie and North.
MacDonald has prowess, and likewise does Hill;
Winchelsea sees Symbaluk birdie at will.
Prokopenko from tee box can drive the ball far;
Me, I just wish I could manage a par!
Let’s plunge into water where swimmers cavort;
Pendergast, Ryan, have Ebbtides support.
Synchronized swimming gives Diamonds their gleam;
With Barberie, Jones, forming part of the team.
Hudon and Mueller see Riptides get wet;
With Prlic and Irwin, the club is all set.
Head coach was Flood, with plenty of smiles;
Stannard, De Pol reached national trials!
White Rapids in pool, Boulding does know,
With coaching from Moore, and also Munro.
Provincials saw swimmers with gold medal claims:
Sheppard, McPherson, Laturnus, and James.
Nikitovic and Schroeder can show what to do,
As Pady goes paddling in kayak, canoe.
Rutherford’s coaching helps rowers to zoom;
Paddleboard experts are Nugent and Vroom!
Goehringer, Smith, hold yacht club appeal;
Sailing regatta was captured by Keel.
Singer and Richer with scuba will dive;
Behn and Lasota help dragonboats thrive!
Now that it’s winter and snow hits the ground,
Skating at Beban is Paterson found.
Of figures on ice, Etherton talks,
With skating club coaching provided by Hawkes.
Ice at the curling club Horton does make,
And members all read it without a mistake.
On Konyer, Trepanier, Whittam and crew;
On Obee and Neff, club champions true!
On Gale-Seixeiro, who worked with great might,
As masters’ provincials were brought into sight.
On Adams and Gummer whose shots always score;
On Ruth who is skip, and is wife I adore!
For Brenner and Harbo, coach Conway could cheer;
Nanaimo Gymnastics School had a great year.
At nationals level did talents unfold,
By medallists Howell, Bodnar and Mould.
Creswell and Wyse, in ring show their flair;
Boxing club fighters were Tomkins and Fair.
At club Inner City coach Pegues bears down;
Croasdale as boxer won Golden Glove crown!
For jiu-jitsu athletes, medals did gleam;
Biernacki and Miller led Island Top Team.
Arnott for instruction will kickboxers go;
Large is a master to train taekwondo!
Supporter of judo, now Larsen will speak;
Fiandor is coaching with expert technique.
With Darmadi, Sanzana, the story is told;
Arenburg, Boulding won medals of gold!
Yoga has Carroll, Murphy and Green;
At pilates are Merrett and Jakobsen seen.
Karate saw Cooper with Nordli achieve,
But passing of Semple caused students to grieve.
t Tempo Health Fitness is Crawford on show;
Hamilton, Harvey, will wall-climbing go.
Skailes at the gym will help you lift weight;
Firouzli with Aitken and Bowker did great!
Fencing sees Newsome with parry and thrust;
For Lethbridge and Crowe, zumba’s a must.
McNeil and Deluca teach fitness in chair;
Coultish in saddle shows horse-riding flair!
Edmond and Seccombe both wander and hike;
Freedman for exercise cycles on bike.
Thibault and Simms, of cyclocross say;
Mountain bike riders with Wacker will stray.
Riders at Wastelands give motocross show,
As Wiltsey and Johnson and Lenko all know.
On pump track was Leslie a BMX boss,
But death of young Webber was terrible loss.
Running is fun, will Campbell insist,
But Bastion Club members say Hollingshead’s missed.
Trajan and Drope, with Bonin keep pace;
Rutherford’s job is director of race.
To cross country gold did the Barsby boys dart;
Zanette and Putz, Watson and Hart.
Girls from ND silver medal did get;
Martin and Cameron, Jensen, Gillette.
With track and field action at Rotary Bowl,
Setting new records was Heisterman’s goal.
Katzberg and Croome, with Lundman were back;
Redman administered meets on the track.
Vannini at masters’ provincials did well;
Bannister, Donaldson, Hendrie were swell.
At Legion youth nationals did medals unfold;
Urbanowicz, Lundman, and Paris won gold!
VIU programs for fitness and fun,
See Worthington, Hunter, and White on the run.
Cumming and Fayle had good reason to cheer,
Honoured with title as Athletes of Year!
Harding rates credit for parks and rec team;
PacificSport centre earns Cooper esteem.
Fitness in general for health is a key,
As doctors like Kurytnik and Goodall agree!
Now greeting to people whose business is sport;
They cover the games, and scores they report.
Holmes on the radio gives us the news;
Major and Marshall both offer their views.
And here at the Bulletin covering his beat,
Sakaki does sports from his editor’s seat.
Checking his stories and facts with great care,
Meeting each deadline with moments to spare!
And now to conclude this holiday rhyme,
Some favourite themes I’ll state at this time:
Fitness has value for health and for heart,
So keep yourself active and try to take part.
Games that are fun, more kids will enjoy,
But ‘win at all costs’ can pleasure destroy.
For players when young, learning’s the goal;
Improvement and effort should coaches extol.
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 your 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!