Snow blankets Merle Logan Field at Beban Park last week. The Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s soccer team won a national championship at the venue earlier this fall. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

’Twas the week before Christmas…

News Bulletin columnist presents his annual sports-themed Christmas poem

  • Dec. 26, 2017 12:05 a.m.

’Twas the week before Christmas, that time of the year

When friends are acknowledged with words of good cheer.

Athletes, like others, call ‘time out’ and pause,

Awaiting the visit of fellow named Claus.

My annual present each year at this time

Is a series of greetings arranged as a rhyme.

The aim is to offer a thank you of sorts,

To folks who are known for involvement in sports.

Yes, time once again for a Thorpe Report rhyme,

Though poetry lovers may think it’s a crime.

With metre so weak it could cause diarrhea,

And rhymes more unstable than Trump and Korea!

But here are my verses for all to peruse,

So lines that are flawed you’ll just have to excuse.

Apologies, though, for names that I’ve missed;

There are simply too many to fit on my list!

Let’s start on the ice where hockey teams play;

Also ringette, will Therrien say.

Hockey for youth has new president Knight,

As Long, MacDonald, and Coulson will cite.

Ostle and Dorman give goaltenders fits;

Major award was presented to Schlitz.

Females had Waugh, with Rodway and Wong;

Referee Gessner could never be wrong!

Old-timers skaters have plenty of might,

Says president Boehm with Edwards and Wright.

Chanin and Ennis help teams hit the ice,

With Ethier, Davies, Wetmore and Tyce.

Johnston wears North Island Silvertips gear;

With VIU hockey did Parsons appear.

Toneff, Levesques, the Buccaneers lead;

Schubert and Jallabert give them great speed.

Fans were relieved to see Clippers stay here;

New owner Mussio’s made it quite clear.

With uncertainly over, the team’s on a spree,

LeNeveu and Vandekamp both will agree.

All players contribute as part of the whole,

Like Wharrie and Crozier, with Burman in goal;

Forwards like Collins and Colley are set;

With Babych and Harris, and also Millette!

Now onto the fields where soccer teams mix;

Phillips and Johnson with Wheaties take kicks.

Girls at provincials achieved quite a feat;

Taylor and Lee had their Storm teams compete.

In soccer for kids, Myhrer gets votes,

With Wassermann, Brown, Cooper and Coates.

Butler with Dawson and Hackett, I see;

And Cameron too, who’s head referee!

Lindo coached women in VIU den,

While Merriman handled the coaching for men.

Cukovic, Takano, on Merle Logan Field,

Saw national title for Mariners sealed!

Men’s team United competes in Div. 1,

Where Adams with Leggett and Stupich have fun.

Cristante was hero and caused quite a din,

Scoring Nanaimo a Jackson Cup win!

Serban as coach could react with some glee,

Especially when named as the team MVP!

Fitzgerald as striker won Golden Boot prize;

Baird to the Islands took Dover Bay guys!

Russell helped Football Nanaimo advance,

With Boese, Marceau, Rasmussen and Fance.

Guiding the bantams could Gurney be seen;

Flag football players had Nickel quite keen.

Stevenson brothers coached high-schoolers here;

Islanders jumped to the Triple A tier.

Bulldogs from Barsby did victory wield,

Hosting first game on brand-new turf field!

Raiders this season were best in B.C.;

Coaching from Hocking was part of the key.

Laberge as the quarterback guided the way,

With Bailey, Arabsky, Hunchak and Shea.

Pioneer Park is where rugby is taught;

Hornets have Wicks, Cumpstone and Scott.

Hadikin coaches as women do train;

Mini-team matches are Perry’s domain.

Division 1 men did opponents outfox;

Winning the Island with coaching from Stocks.

Fisher with Stephens and Marshall did vie;

In provincial final they gave a great try.

Of minor lacrosse, Reynolds will harp,

With Sullivan, Lehman, Bishop and Sharpe.

Coaching award went to Terris this year;

Referee Krassman made calls that were clear.

Hosting provincials kept boys on their toes,

With Stannard and Flemming, Bowman and Boas.

Gold at provincials did bantam girls see,

Say Angell, MacDonald, Wassell and Lee.

For Scobie and Briggs, success was revealed,

As Raiders with Ferguson played on the field.

Academy members for Smith were outdoors,

As Islanders players earned victory roars!

For Timbermen players, Toth made them tick;

The squad missed the playoffs, but started to click.

Eastwood and Cullen were part of the mix;

Senior A team had its best year in six!

Diplock with Shires and Maughan had right stuff,

But senior B T-men found playoffs were tough.

For intermediate team was Johansen big piece;

Masters won title with Morgan and Heese!

When weather is warm, a ball field’s the place,

Where Larsen and Hunt get players on base.

Caljouw and Woods promote slo-pitch with style;

Fastball for men causes Belton to smile.

Of fastball for minors will Cornborough talk,

With Nickolet, Smith, Poystila and Knock.

In softball came Breakers with teams that did well,

As Robillard, Rodway, and Bassett will tell.

For softball that’s mixed, Spencer does care;

In umpiring colours, Nichol is there.

Team Canada players were given the nods;

Dean was selected, with teammate named Dodds.

Serauxmen’s the setting where baseball is king;

For Mid Island Pirates, Rogers did swing.

MacKinnon and Ballance helped Cardinals to jell;

Mariner players were coached by Blundell.

For kids playing baseball, Holyk was at park,

With Laukkanen, Buckle, Lansdell and Clark.

Wins for the tadpoles gave Peters relief;

Vance had position of umpire-in-chief!

To basketball now, with coaches we start;

Like Carver, McRae, Letham and Hart.

Games at provincials did local schools play,

As Giske and Thom, and Johnson will say.

Spillman and Williams, Lennox and Kirk;

Tang on the court does the referee work.

Davidson, Mjaaland, Clouthier and Brown,

Are masters in age, but never slow down!

Mariner teams both won medals this year;

Bryce for the women, their efforts will steer.

Kuzminski with men did achieve some renown;

Claiming a three-peat of PacWestern crown.

For volleyball players, Beck coaches at camps;

MVC girls were B.C.’s Tier 2 champs.

Formaniuk, Merner, serve over the net,

Where Somerville, Hutchison, Bembridge are set.

For VIU men’s team does Avender teach;

Provincials saw medal of silver in reach.

Mariner women got coaching from Hyde;

Tops in the province, then national pride!

Title for Dover caused Owen to grin;

Zitek and Welte helped Aspengrove win.

Bevis and Webb like to volley on sand;

At Canada Games, gold medal was grand!

Eaton and Stewart will pickleball show;

New courts at Beaufort will help the sport grow.

Squash club has Birks who competes as a pro;

Brown with his racquet for workout will go.

For tennis there’s Shahi to show what to do;

Westwood has Yung, and a restaurant too!

Erickson, Murphy, and Kern are quite able;

Lawrence and Ford enjoy tennis on table!

Berry and Binns hit a badminton bird;

McGuire and Walker as coaches are heard.

The VIU team added medals to roster,

For Cheung and for Qui, for Robb and for Foster.

Of bowling on alley the praises I sing;

Brittain’s at Brechin where five pins are king.

Boudot supplied coaching to major extent,

As Stephens and Eby to championships went.

Ten pins has Gruninger help people bowl;

Singer at nationals went on a roll.

Radelja at Splitsville throws strikes or a spare;

Swailes is another with plenty of flair.

Lawn bowling happens outside on the green;

Urbaniuk, Dawkin, at Bowen are seen.

Sight-impaired bowlers from Sherry get aid;

Valchar with Phillips at nationals played.

Eby’s an expert with field hockey stick;

Niamath when batting at cricket is slick.

Rondow for horseshoes gets passion across;

Ultimate Frisbee does Schein like to toss.

To sports with a target we now take our aim;

Gourlay hits bullseye with darts as his game.

McFarlane, Baldassi, put arrows to bows;

Maltby the secret to trap shooting knows.

Let’s swing into golf, and try for a par;

Jensen and Hatchwell both hit the ball far.

Nanaimo picked Wilson as head pro to soar,

As Davison drove through retirement door.

Hrabowych won title, as did Anjarwalla;

Anderson, Reimer, and Cienciala.

Hermans and Roden can strike the ball true;

Brook was a star on the Mariners crew.

MacDonald and Symbaluk birdie at will,

Prokopenko does too, with Murray and Hill.

Morris scores well at Winchelsea or Pryde;

The Harpers have talent that I am denied!

Some athletes need water before they are set;

Swimmers and divers enjoy getting wet.

Irwin and Flood of the Riptides extol;

With Orton and Irving, and also DePol.

White Rapids in summer do train in the pool,

For Boulding, McGonigle, Johnson, O’Toole.

With Poulin as coach, provincials went well,

As Barberie, Morch, Laturnus will tell.

For polo in water was Schellinck on team;

Burvill and Ryan do Ebbtides esteem.

Synchronized Diamonds are valuable stones,

Like Jepson, Provencher, Parcher and Jones.

Knight enjoys rowing, and Rutherford too;

Duifhuis and Isnor were part of the crew.

Then Presslauer and Antifave come into view,

Paddling in kayak, or maybe canoe!

Daniel helps Jeffers and Morris to sail;

Wiebe at the helm will see yacht club prevail.

Behn has a passion for dragon boat race;

Diving with scuba does Singer embrace!

When winter arrives, and snow’s on the ground,

Erickson riding with Blazers is found.

For Pond up at Washington, skiing’s a cinch;

Cross-country racing earned medal for Lynch!

Ebdrup thinks skiing and snowboarding’s nice;

Skaters like Patterson glide on the ice.

Skating club features Ahmadi and Cox,

Hopewell and Hodes, and coach who is Hawkes.

Now curlers need ice, which Horton makes true,

For Davies and Wood, Whittam and crew.

Sweeping with force are McRory and Rice,

Obee and Osler, Rumo and Brice.

Duffell draws in, as head of the board;

Team with Van Osch, to nationals soared.

Larsen helps curlers to throw with a stick;

In wheelchair was Tull as Team Canada pick!

On Adams whose take-outs will never go wrong.

On Gummer and Gallo, those sweepers so strong.

On Carter and Howk, whose talent is clear;

On women’s skip Ruth, my wife who is dear!

Now into a setting where gymnasts do reign,

As Conway and Schuler and Brenner explain.

Bodnar at Westerns won tumbling gold;

Trampoline champions were Howell and Mould.

Young boxers in ring, for Cresswell do fine;

Richardson, Seehra, and Sanderson shine.

Wrestling has Colyn and Hovey on board;

Tuck was deserving of coaching award!

Arnott has attention on kickboxing fixed;

Malone at Top Team prefers martial arts mixed.

Biernacki has belt in jiu-jitsu that’s black;

Kim and his students have taekwondo knack.

Shima Karate had need to expand;

For Nordli as sensei, new dojo was grand.

Semple and Marshall, karate skills mold;

Cooper at worlds was a winner of gold!

MacDonald and Morland of judo may dream;

Fiandor was training on national team!

With weightlifting title, Korkowski stands tall;

Fitness sees Hamilton climbing the wall!

Gilks is a trainer, Sugiyama as well;

Wengel of workouts at boot camp will tell.

Fitness at Ridge, Hancox Barr will explore;

Pilates with Merritt can strengthen your core.

McNeil instructs seniors on how to stay fit;

Butler and Murphy at yoga will sit.

Crowe and Yarocki at zumba are skilled;

Crawford with Tempo helps bodies to build.

Cycling comes Boon, and Freedman keeps pace;

Sulyok at Wastelands does motocross race.

Thibault goes racing in cyclocross gear;

Lunney with Kuntz and Kay will appear.

Of BMX racing can Erwin relate;

New Stevie Smith bike park at Beban is great!

Mountain bike riders have trails at Doumont,

So Wacker, McGarrigle go for a jaunt!

Anderson, Young, for hiking are keen;

Coultish out riding on horseback is seen.

Allin with Wanderers goes for a stroll;

Competing in derby, Stevens will roll.

Campbell’s out running; Trajan as well,

As Bonin, Burrett, and Palfrey will tell.

As triathlon champion was Rudson inclined;

Drope was the winner of Mount Benson Grind!

At Rotary Bowl, the track club has flair,

With Heisterman, Paris, Katzberg and Clare.

Fashina-Bombata on track won the dash;

As pole-vaulting senior was Giegerich a smash!

VIU programs do fitness promote;

Dunlop and Alden with students take note.

Masse and White had reason to cheer;

Rosenlund, Brouwer, were Athletes of Year.

For fitness and wellness should people embark,

Say doctors like Kurytnik, Poteryko and Mark.

Athletes in wheelchair do Stilwell inspire;

With medals from Rio, she chose to retire.

PacificSport’s Cooper helps athletes prepare;

Harding with city gives parks and rec care.

To Sports Hall of Fame, additions could smile:

Raiders and Smith, Nichol and Guiel!

Now credit to people who bring us the sports;

They see all the games and give their reports.

On radio station can Marshall be heard;

As voice of the Clippers, he gives us the word.

Holmes writes online with some local sports news;

Sakaki at Bulletin gives us his views.

As editor now, he writes with great flair,

Filling each paper with stories to share.

And now that my poem is nearing its end,

Some timely reminders I’d like to extend:

Keep yourself active, get out and take part;

You’ll feel a lot better, and strengthen your heart.

Games should be fun for young kids to enjoy,

But ‘win at all costs’ can their pleasure destroy.

With youngsters involved, enjoyment’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 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 on Thursdays in the Nanaimo News Bulletin. His Christmas poem is a long-standing tradition – this year’s version is his 36th annual poem.

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