Lethbridge Sport Council announces 2018 Achievement Award Recipients

By Aaron Mahoney (@Mahones93 on Twitter)
March 5, 2019 - 3:33pm Updated: March 6, 2019 - 12:14pm

LETHBRIDGE, AB – Some of the best in sport in Lethbridge were honoured on Tuesday, Mar. 5, as the 9th annual Lethbridge Sport Council Achievement Awards winners were announced.

The awards recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements on and off the field, which support and demonstrate respect of the game, a love of sport, respect for others and a commitment to fair play and ethical sport.

Lethbridge Sport Council Executive Director Susan Eymann says Lethbridge has a history of being well represented at all levels of sport, provincially and nationally.

“It is our honour to host these community sport awards to celebrate the achievements of our local athletes, coaches and sport leaders. We’re always very excited at this time of year because we get to celebrate not just athletes, but volunteers who are usually behind the scenes but do so much. As you’ve seen today, the calibre of our volunteers, administrators and athletes in Lethbridge is second to none,” Eymann said.

All of the 2018 Lethbridge Sport Council Achievement Award winners are below:

2018 Junior Male Athlete - Solen Wood (Triathlon): Wood’s dedication to excellence in sport is second to none. In 2018, he had victories in a number of triathlon races and represented Canada in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Wood is currently ranked among the top junior triathletes in Canada and has been invited to train at Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Center in Victoria, BC in the fall.

2018 Junior Female Athlete - Maren Evanson (Wrestling) (Co-Winner): In 2018, Evanson had several outstanding accomplishments in the High School Wrestling 90 kilograms category. She won a Rural Gold Provincial Championship, a Silver Provincial Medal, and a Silver National Medal. In addition, Evanson registered a 12 and 1 record in High School Competition and was instrumental in helping the LCI High School Girls Team win the 3A High School Provincial Champion Banner for Rural Wrestling.

2018 Junior Female Athlete - Haylee Johnson (Olympic Weightlifting) (Co-Winner): Johnson is a powerful athlete. At the 2018 Alberta Junior Provincials, she finished 1st in the 55 kilograms category with a total life score of 167 kilograms and was awarded the “Female Best Lifter” trophy. At the 2018 Canadian Junior National Championships, Johnson finished 2nd in the 58 kilograms category with a total lift score of 159 kilograms. Currently, she holds the Provincial record for Clean and Jerk at 96 kilograms and the Provincial record in the total lift score of 168 kilograms for the 55 kilograms division.

2018 Senior Male Athlete - Benjamin Ingvaldson (Track and Field): In his third year with the Lethbridge Pronghorns Track & Field Team, Ingvaldson was named the 2018 U SPORTS Male Athlete of the Year in Field Events. He was a double gold medalist in 2018 at the Canada West Track and Field Championships in shot put and weight throw and went on to be named Canada West Field Athlete of the Year. In his shot-put win, he set a new personal best with a throw of 15.99 metres and narrowly missed his personal best in his weight throw win.

2018 Senior Female Athlete - Sophia Nowicki (Cross Country): In only her second year of competing at the collegiate level, Nowicki went undefeated in all the races she competed in and won the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Champion Title. She was a gold medalist at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) and was awarded the ACAC Runner of the Year Award. In addition, Nowicki also helped her team earn the ACAC Gold Medal and the CCAA Silver medal.

2018 Amateur Team - Lethbridge College Kodiaks Women's Soccer Team: The 2018 season was a remarkable turnaround year for the Kodiaks Women’s Soccer program. After finishing second last in the ACAC South Division in 2017, the team worked hard all season to secure a spot at the ACAC Championships. At the Championships, the women’s soccer team won a Bronze medal in a dramatic penalty kick upset match, to earn the programs first medal since 1994.

2018 Coaching Excellence - Tim Cooney (Speed Skating): Coaching excellence is something that anyone involved in speed skating automatically thinks of when Tim Cooney’s name is mentioned. In 2018, he was the recipient of Speed Skate Canada’s Coaches Award of Excellence. Cooney is also a founding member of the Kelowna Speed Skating Association, and in 2002 revived the struggling club when he moved to the city. Under his guidance, Speed Skating in Lethbridge has expanded from 4 to over 50 registered skaters. He has over 25 years of coaching experience under his belt and regularly attends seminars to continue improving his skills and share his technical knowledge with skaters and coaches.

2018 Officiating Excellence - Nicole Cooney (Speed Skating): Nicole Cooney really is the epitome of Officiating Excellence. Her dedication to the sport through her officiating role is unparalleled in terms of quality and commitment. She officiates at all levels of the sport including Club, Provincial, National, and International. Cooney has recently served as the President of the Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association and as the VP of Officials Development. In addition, she has been instrumental in supporting the development and advancement of many other officials, who have gone on to officiate at national, regional, and provincial level competitions such as the Canadian Western Speed Skating Championships and the Alberta Winter Games. She just returned from officiating at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.

2018 Volunteer in Sport - Brad Brown (Football): Brown has been a key member of football in Southern Alberta for over 35 years, with local teams, Summer Games and Team Alberta. He has served as President of the Lethbridge Minor Football Association and is currently the driving force in the creation of a football-only field in Lethbridge. In 2018 all regular season home games for Lethbridge teams were played at Atso Towaawa Field, something that will continue in 2019. Brown puts a lot of his extra time into the football community not only because he loves the sport, but also because he takes great pride in shaping the young men and women into better people.

2018 Shaun Ward Sport Champion - Bob Bartlett (Hockey): Bartlett’s passion for hockey at all levels is unmatched and his dedication to the athletes runs deep. He’s currently the Director of Player Development and Senior Scout for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and a former General Manager for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He has been inducted into the Lethbridge Sport Hall of Fame, the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Lethbridge Hurricanes Hall of Fame. In his various roles, he has been a fantastic mentor for players as well as parents and sport leaders. His level of influence reaches from the lowest levels right up to the top where he creates a culture of inclusion as well as fairness and support.

2018 Sport Administrator - Mike Tamura (Judo): Tamura’s commitment to the sport of Judo in a leadership role in unmatched. He has been active in judo for the past 45 years as an athlete, coach, referee, volunteer, and administrator at the local, regional, National, and International level. He’s currently the President of Judo Canada, General Secretary of Pan American Judo Confederation, and the President of the Lethbridge Judo Club (LJC). It was also Tamura’s vision and foresight to have Lethbridge as one of the sites of Judo’s Canada’s Regional Training Centre awarded to the LJC which has brought athletes from all over Canada to train here in Lethbridge.

2018 Sport Organization - Lethbridge Ringette Association: Five years ago, ringette registrations had diminished such that two age divisions were combined to form one team. Since that time, the Lethbridge Ringette Association (LRA) has increased registration by 25% per annum through committed promotion, while continuing to support female empowerment, friendship in sport, and fitness for life. The Lethbridge Ringette Association is embracing this growth, with at least one team at each age division. In addition, the coaches are well supported by training programs through Ringette Alberta and annual local clinics. Notably, Ringette has achieved gender equity in their coaching ranks with 60% of coaching staffs this season being female, compared to a national average of 25%.

2017 Knud Petersen Spirit of Sport - Colleen Gunnlaugson (Lethbridge Skating Club): Gunnlaugson is a longstanding member of the Lethbridge Skating Club and is well-known in the skating community. She served on the club’s executive board from 1983 to 1995 in a number of positions including registration chair, secretary, vice-president, music chair, precision chair as well as in her current role officiating competitions. In 1999, Gunnlaugson was inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame. Colleen’s passion for the sport is unmatched, and her positive energy is felt by all. She has spent her lifetime celebrating everyone else, and now it’s our turn to celebrate Gunnlaugson.

Servus Credit Union Outstanding Sport Citizen - Ryker Morrell: After the tragic bus crash involving the Humboldt Bronco’s organization in 2018, a then 8th-grade student Ryker Morrell created a non-profit charity in memory of local Humboldt victim Logan Boulet. With the blessing of Logan’s dad, Toby Boulet, Ryker started a bottle drive, aptly name “Bottles4Boulet.” To date, Bottles4Boulet has raised $2500 which were donated in Logan’s name to KidSport. This charity is one that Morrell plans to spearhead every year of his high school career, with the hopes that it will continue beyond that, and raise more money.

Eymann says sport is thriving in Lethbridge, with a number of groups that are growing, and they’re able to grow because of the support from the City of Lethbridge in building facilities.

Not just for the more mainstream sports either, as these awards help recognize all athletes in a number of different sports.

“Many athletes have said if it’s not a school sport, people just don’t know about it, but it’s not done intentionally,” Eymann continued. “In a number of the individual sports, it really takes dedication for the sport to keep going. When you look at Solen [Wood], his main coaches are not in Lethbridge, so for him to go day in and day out just for the love of being active and competing is very nice to see.”

When the Lethbridge Sport Council developed the awards, they really wanted to celebrate all of sport.

“That includes the spirit of sport, and most often you hear about the athlete achievement or the results that get posted on Monday morning, but there’s more to it. Things like what Ryker [Morrell] is doing, and what people like Bob [Bartlett] have done in developing sport behind the scenes, it’s nice to see them get some recognition.”

A formal award ceremony for all of the winners will take place on Monday, April 8 beginning at 7 p.m. in the Canadian Western Bank Lounge at the ENMAX Centre.

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