SportNL Name Finalists For 2015 Provincial Annual Awards

Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2015 Provincial Annual Awards. The awards will be presented during the 2016 Stars and Legends Awards Gala on April 16, 2016 at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s, NL.

“These awards recognize the sporting achievements of our province’s exceptional athletes,” said Rod Nicholl, President of Sport Newfoundland and Labrador. “It’s an honour to celebrate the many athletes who are working hard to raise their game and put Newfoundland and Labrador on the map in the world of amateur sport.”

Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s Provincial Annual Awards recognize the best athletic achievements in the past year. Awards will be presented in nine categories, including: Senior Male and Female Athlete of the Year; Junior Male and Female Athlete of the Year; Team of the Year; Coach of the Year; Executive of the Year; Official of the Year; and, Volunteer of the Year.

Three finalists from each category have been selected by Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s selection committee, from a list of nominees compiled by 18 member organizations across the province. The 2015 list of finalists includes (complete biographies for finalists follow below)

Senior Male Athlete of the Year Award
Sean Cleary (Softball), Ciaran Hearn (Rugby) & Ben Taylor (Target Shooting)

Senior Female Athlete of the Year Award
Sarah Davis (Hockey), Heather Healey (Baseball) & Katarina Roxon (Para-Swimmer)

Junior Male Athlete of the Year Award
Liam Hickey (Sledge Hockey, Wheelchair Basketball), Cole Long (Basketball) & Owen McAleese (Soccer)

Junior Female Athlete of the Year Award
Jenna Efford (Figure Skating), Samantha Marsh (Target Shooting) & Nicole Torraville (Soccer)

Team of the Year Award
Clarenville High Cougars (Varsity Volleyball), Galway Hitmen (Senior Softball) & Holy Cross (Men’s Soccer)

Coach of the Year Award
Mark Dwyer (Softball), Keith Randell (Volleyball) & Noel “Jake” Stanford (Soccer)

Executive of the Year Award
Finton Gaudette (Volleyball), Darrin O’Quinn (Baseball) & Doug Redmond (Soccer)

Official of the Year Award
Joan Butler (Swimming), Darryl Butt (Ball Hockey) & Michael Summers (Boxing)

Volunteer of the Year Award
Andrea Barrett (Gymnastics), Brian Hunt (Baseball) & Velma Meuller (Special Olympics)

The 2015 award recipients will be announced at the eighth annual Stars and Legends Awards Gala on April 16, 2016 at 7 p.m. The Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at the Gala as well. Tickets for this event are available for purchase through Sport Newfoundland and Labrador at (709) 576-4932.

“Our Stars and Legends Awards Gala is our way of celebrating the accomplishments of Newfoundland and Labrador’s best athletes, coaches and volunteers and preserving their legacy for those who will follow in their footsteps,” said Nicholl.

Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is the volunteer organization committed to the promotion and advancement of amateur sport throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Sport Newfoundland and Labrador represents 55 provincial sport organizations and more than 70,000 individual members, offering a broad range of programs and services.

Provincial Annual Awards Finalists Biographies

2015 Senior Male Athlete Of the Year Finalists

Hailing from Harbour Main, Sean Cleary enjoyed a golden year on the softball diamond and pitching circle at the local, provincial and national level. In league play, he led his team to a first place regular season and playoff finish, onto a first place provincial finish and was named top batter and most valuable player. Sean’s team, the Galway Hitmen won gold at the Senior Nationals and Sean was again named playoff MVP. Sean pitched Team Canada to gold medals at both the WBSC World Championships and the Pan American (Pan Am) Games.

It was another stellar year for rugby player Ciaran Hearn of Topsail with continued international competition on the World Rugby 7’s Circuit, the Americas Rugby Championship and the Pacific Nations Cup. His impressive performance during the Rugby World Cup in England and Wales saw him voted to the all-star team of the pool stages in his position of outside centre. After a full year of amateur competition, Ciaran signed his first pro-contract with London Irish who play in the Aviva Premiership in England.

Canada Games TeamNL alumni and gold medalist Ben Taylor of St. John’s continues to make his mark in target shooting. He secured several more first place finishes in 2015, including gold at the 10 Meter Rifle North American Championships, the 10 Meter Nationals and the 10 Meter Pan Am Trials. He went on to a twelfth place finish in a field of 23 shooters at the Pan Am Games.

2015 Senior Female Athlete of the Year Finalists

Sarah Davis of Paradise was the first woman from this province to be selected to a National Women’s Hockey Team, picked twice in 2015 and capturing two silver medals in both the Four Nations Cup and the Women’s World Hockey Championships. She also enjoyed a successful season and second place regular season finish with the Calgary Inferno in the elite Canadian Women’s Hockey League, playing 24 games with seven goals and six assists. Sarah’s accomplishments have turned her into a high-profile role model for aspiring hockey players in the province.

As a member of the Feildians Baseball Team, Heather Healey of Paradise enjoyed a successful season, starting as an outfielder and joining the pitching staff mid-season. Heather made history last summer when she started at second base for the Senior Feildians, becoming the first female to play in a Senior League game in St. John’s Amateur Baseball history. She was also among the final roster of invitees to the Pan American Games tryouts in Toronto and was picked up by TeamBC for the Baseball Canada Senior Women’s National Championships. As the starting pitcher for the bronze medal game she allowed just one hit and led the team to victory capturing a bronze medal.

It was yet another phenomenal year for para-swimmer Katarina Roxon from Kippens with an IPC World Record in the 200m Butterfly and a National Record in the 200m Individual Medley. At the IPC World Championships she captured bronze and an Americas and National Record in the 100m Breaststroke. At the Parapan Am Games she won six medals, including a gold medal and a Games record in the 100m breaststroke, silver plus a record in the 200m individual medley, silver in both the 50m and 400m freestyle, and 400m and bronze medals in 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle.

2015 Junior Male Athlete of the Year Finalists

Liam Hickey of St. John’s has had a tremendous year as a sledge hockey and wheelchair basketball athlete. He is the first player in Newfoundland and Labrador to be named to national teams in both wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey and one of a very few to be named to both teams in the same year. Liam has represented Canada in wheelchair basketball at the Parapan American games in Toronto placing second and qualifying for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Brazil. His sledge hockey skills lead him to become one of twenty players to represent Canada for the 2015-2016 team as they build the next team for the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea.

Cole Long has been very busy as a senior at the Athlete Institute in Ontario playing with their preparatory basketball team. The Athletic Institute provides elite level competition to talented players and offers them exposure to develop technical and basketball specific training. Cole has had the opportunity to participate in the Grind Session prep/high school basketball circuit within the United States, as well as playing with the GTA Ontario Club Team on the Adidas Circuit. He played in various prestigious tournaments, such as the Hall of Fame Invitational in Springfield and Pit Jam Fest in Pittsburgh. Cole averaged 16 points a game and led his team to the semi finals and, in one case, the finals.

St. John’s soccer player Owen McAleese has had a successful year competing in the Senior Men’s Challenge Cup league and the Provincial U-18 team. His leadership and skilled play had him named Rookie of the Year and named to the All-Star team. He participated in the AUS soccer circuit, helping his Memorial University team to its first winning season in nine years. He was a First Team All-Star for his outstanding abilities.

2015 Junior Female Athlete of the Year Finalists

Figure skater Jenna Efford of Bareneed had a busy 2015 that saw her compete at several provincial and national events. She placed first at the Skate Canada NL Sectional Championships and had strong showings at several events throughout the country including first place finishes at the Minto Summer Skate in Ottawa and the Championnats Quebecois in Quebec. She was also a member of the 2015 Canada Games team and won the Skate Canada Competitive Skater award for the province. Jenna is currently furthering her skating skills in Montreal as she is enrolled in an elite sport study program.

Target shooter Samantha Marsh of Mount Pearl had an incredible 2015 that saw podium finishes both provincially and nationally. Samantha captured second overall in the 10m Rifle Provincial championships, third overall at the 10m Rifle Atlantic championships and then first at the Canada Games 10m Rifle competition and 1st in the team event. Her outstanding showings lead her to compete internationally as she took part in the 10m and 50m Junior Cup, and the 10m and 50m Universiade.

St. John’s soccer player Nicole Torraville excelled at both the minor and senior age groups in 2015. She led Newfoundland and Labrador to the gold medal at the U18 Atlantic Championships where she was second in team scoring and was named team MVP. She also competed in the local Jubilee Trophy circuit where she finished second in league scoring. Nicole’s efforts in 2015 resulted in her participating in the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association’s High Performance Centre.

2015 Team of The Year Finalists

With a tremendous volleyball season, the Clarenville High Cougars Varsity Volleyball Team compiled a 56-4 record with competition culminating with a gold medal at the 18U Boys National Championships in Calgary. Other achievements included their third consecutive Dalhousie Classic win in Halifax and their fourth consecutive provincial High School 4A title.

The Galway Hitmen Senior Softball Team captured the provinces fourth straight Canadian Senior Men’s Fastpitch Championships edging out Nova Scotia 4-3 for the gold medal. The win makes Newfoundland and Labrador one of only two provinces to capture four consecutive wins (British Columbia being the other). The team’s overall record at the nationals was an impressive seven wins and one loss.

In 2015, the Holy Cross Men’s Soccer Team continued to dominate the Provincial Challenge Cup Soccer League with their sixth win in seven years. Representing the province at the National Challenge Cup Championships the team was just a couple of breaks short of a medal possibility, finishing in sixth place. Holy Cross was selected from among some 100 teams as the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association Team of the Year.

2015 Coach of the Year Finalists

Softball coach Mark Dwyer of Torbay lead the Galway Hitmen Fastpitch team to great success locally and nationally in 2015. He guided the squad to the finals of the St. John’s Senior Men’s Fastpitch League and became part of Softball Canada history as he lead the Hitmen to the fourth consecutive national title for Newfoundland and Labrador, which joined the province with British Columbia as the only other province to win four straight senior men’s national titles.

Clarenville volleyball coach Keith Randell of Clarenville had a very successful 2015 locally, provincially and nationally. Keith coached the Clarenville Middle School Boys Grade 9 team and the senior boys team at Clarenville High. In total, Keith’s team won a total of 14 tournaments, most notably the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Associations U15 provincials, Volleyfest, Juvenile A championships and the School Sports NL 4A title for the fourth consecutive year. The year was capped off when Clarenville High travelled to Calgary for the National Championships and took home the Tier 2 gold medal. Between his two teams, Keith’s coaching record in 2015 was 86-4 and his teams were awarded Junior and Senior Team of the year by the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association.

St. John’s soccer coach Noel “Jake” Stanford of St. John’s had another outstanding season coaching a number of local high performance teams. He coached the Holy Cross Men’s Team to the Challenge Cup title, the Holy Cross Women’s Team to second place in Jubilee Trophy play and led the Memorial University Men’s Varsity Team to their first winning season in nine years in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) competition. As a result of Stanford’s continued success, the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association named him Coach of the Year for the fifth straight year.

2015 Executive Of The Year Finalists

Finton Gaudette of Corner Brook has served as first Vice President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association for 15 years and is a member of the High Performance Beach Committee. He also holds the office of Chair of the Corner Brook Beach Volleyball Association and Co-Chair of the Corner Brook Ladies Indoor League. As a former Canada Games TeamNL coach, Finton mentors current coaches and convenes performance camps across the province. Even with this focus on development he still finds time to referee for many competitions and serve as referee assignor for provincial events.

Under Darrin O’Quinn’s leadership as President of the Corner Brook Baseball Association, there has been tremendous membership growth from 187 members in 2014 to peaking at 275 members in 2015. He was the driving force behind the Marble RV Hit, Run & Throw Contest for kids, baseball’s participation in SportFest West and the “Bring a Female Friend Day” that drove female membership to an unprecedented 65 members. In addition to his leadership role with the association, Darrin managed coaching roles with the 12U and 14U Barons Girls Teams, the Pee Wee Barons and the Corner Brook Senior Barons.

Doug Redmond of St. John’s has been a tireless worker for soccer, serving as President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association for many years and with some 40 years of administrative experience with the sport. Doug has an active role with all major committees and finds time to attend provincial training camps, tournaments, jamborees and festivals. A career highlight this year was Doug’s appointment as the Canadian Soccer Association’s Head of Delegation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, liaising with the Moncton Local Organizing Committee.

2015 Official of the Year Finalists

2015 was an extraordinary year for Joan Butler of Kelligrews as a swimming official. Nationally, Joan is regarded as one of Canada’s top swimming officials. She was one of just seven to be nominated by Swimming Canada’s Technical Swimming Committee to be granted the title of a F.I.N.A. (Federation Internationale de Natation) official. Now eligible to officiate at international swim meets, Joan was asked to officiate at the Canadian Pan American Trials in April 2015, as well as the Pan American Games held in Toronto. Locally, Joan has volunteered her time to referee at various club level meets.

Darryl Butt of Goulds began officiating ice hockey at the age of 14 and has continued to do so to this day. In 2012, he decided to start officiating ball hockey, which lead to him being recognized as an outstanding referee. In the summer of 2015, Darryl was selected to officiate in the Eastern Canadian Championships held in Mount Pearl and was selected to work the gold medal game in the Men’s B final. Shortly after, he was selected as a representative of Newfoundland Labrador Ball Hockey Association at the Men’s, Women’s and Masters National Championships held in Ottawa, ON, giving him the chance to officiate some of the greatest ball hockey in Canada. Darryl had the opportunity to officiate the quarterfinals in the men’s division and had the honour to officiate the gold medal game.

Michael Summers of Torbay started officiating early in his career and has progressed his way up to being one of five officials in Canada who are qualified to officiate at the four top AIBA competitions. He has officiated at the Commonwealth Games in India, the Pan Am games in Guadalajara, Mexico and the Men’s World Championship in China. He has also officiated a number of Olympic qualifiers for the Americas and traveled to international competitions with the National Team representing Canada. This past year, Michael represented Canada as an official at the Pan Am trials in Tijuana, Mexico, was the Canadian official in a Canada vs. USA dual match in Regina, SK and officiated at Boxing Canada National Championships in Quebec. Michael has worked hard this year to build an excellent team of officials as Boxing NL is enjoying growth in their membership. He has headed the Newfoundland and Labrador team of officials in seven local competitions, as well as competitions in Sydney, NS.

2015 Volunteer Of the Year Finalists

As the Vice President of Saltos Gymnastics, Andrea Barrett of Corner Brook has been the driving force behind its success. She works alongside staff to ensure registration, coaching and bookkeeping are in order. Her dedication ensures the club is always on track to meet revenue budgets for the year, while managing the day-to-day tasks like training staff and developing policies and communications. Through her continuous focus on strategies to build a new training facility, one was completed in July 2015. She attended multiple meetings with city officials and was able to show them through her passionate words what gymnastics meant to the community of Corner Brook. Once the city was on board, she shifted her focus to finding funds for new equipment and creating the design for the new facility. Without her, this new facility would not have been possible.

In 2015, Brian Hunt of Mount Pearl was the driving force behind many of Mount Pearl Minor Baseball initiatives to make the sport better for all involved. He is the face of minor baseball in Mount Pearl and has steadily increased registration and programming, making it the second largest association in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is heavily involved in bettering the game and is the Eastern Director for Baseball NL (BNL) making him responsible to ensure all BNL sanctioned tournaments on the Avalon Peninsula have BNL representation. He works tirelessly to ensure things are done properly on top of his nightly baseball activities and lobbying for several major infrastructure upgrades for facilities in this province. He has secured funding for the new, lit baseball field currently under construction in Mount Pearl and has secured funding for several other renovations to multiple fields, giving players safe and inviting fields for their sport.

Velma Mueller of Torbay has volunteered with the Special Olympics for the past 20 years as a head coach, associate coach, team/program manager, social representative, club registrar and fundraiser. She is instrumental in organizing competitions, teams and socials for both Special Olympics St. John’s and Special Olympics NL. She tirelessly mentors young coaches and volunteers and has helped create snowshoeing programs, taken the lead with swimming in the St. Johns Special Olympics Club, and developed a bocce program in St. John’s.

Source: SportNL