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Sport Newfoundland and Labrador name finalists for the 2015 Provincial Annual Awards

March 6, 2015

ST. JOHN’S – Sport Newfoundland and Labrador has announced the finalists for this year’s Provincial Annual Awards. The awards will be presented during the 2015 Stars and Legends Awards Gala slated for April 11, 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel in St. John’s, NL.

“These awards celebrate sporting achievement at the highest level in this province. It’s a chance to honour exceptional athletes who are helping put this province on the map,” said Rod Nicholl, President, Sport Newfoundland and Labrador. “It’s a wonderful and powerful event. Those athletes who are working so hard deserve this recognition and we are very proud to make that happen.”

The Provincial Annual Awards recognize the best athletic achievements in the past year. The Awards comprise eight categories: Senior Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Junior Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year, Executive 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 Provincial Sport Organizations across the province. The list of finalists can be found below and their biographies are in the backgrounder attached.

Senior Male Athlete of the Year Award:
Sean Cleary (softball), Gavin Dyke (swimming), Ciaran Hearn (rugby)

Senior Female Athlete of the Year Award:
Jillian Forsey (athletics), Hannah Jardine (basketball), Katarina Roxon (swimming)

Junior Male Athlete of the Year Award:
Clark Bishop (hockey), Emmanuel Dolo (soccer), Liam Hickey (wheelchair basketball & sledge hockey)

Junior Female Athlete of the Year Award:
Anna AuCoin (soccer), Heather Healy (baseball), Rebecca Squires (gymnastics)

Coach of the Year Award:
John Hill (softball), Allison Kirby (gymnastics), Dragan Mirkovic (soccer)

Team of the Year Award:
Memorial Sea Hawks Women’s Soccer (soccer), NL 3Cheers Pub Bud Light Men’s Fastpitch (softball), The Rock Under 19 Men's (rugby)

Executive of the Year Award:
John Cowan (rugby), Gord Dunphy (soccer), Mark Healy (baseball)

Volunteer of the Year Award:
Tracey Critch (gymnastics), Mark Healy (baseball), Ryan Kelly (sailing)

This year, Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is again combining two major events – the Newfoundland and Labrador Annual Awards Ceremony and the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – into one celebration, the Stars and Legends Awards Gala.

“The Stars and Legends Awards Gala really pays tribute to the dedication and accomplishments athletes, coaches and volunteers have made in our province,” said Mr. Nicholl. “It’s all about preserving their legacy to inspire generations to come.”

Tickets for this year’s Stars and Legends Awards Gala are available for purchase by contacting Sport Newfoundland and Labrador by phone at (709) 576-4932 or by email at sportnl@sportnl.ca. To learn more information about this year’s Gala, please visit www.starsandlegends.ca.

Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is a volunteer organization committed to the promotion and advancement of amateur sport throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Media Contact:
Troy Croft, Executive Director
Sport NL
(709)576-4932
troy@sportnl.ca

Backgrounder: Provincial Annual Awards Finalists Biographies


2014 Senior Male Athlete of the Year Finalists

Harbour Main softball player Sean Cleary continued to shine at the local, provincial, national and international level in 2014. In the St. John’s Senior Men’s Fastpitch League Sean lead his team to the regular season title, playoff title and provincial championship winning the MVP award in all three. As a member of 3Cheers Bud Light team, Sean won his 3rd consecutive national title and was named playoff MVP. Sean also had the privilege of suiting up for Team Canada at the Men’s Pan Am Championships and where he was a member of the bronze medal winning squad. In December 2014, Sean was named to the Senior Men’s National Team Athlete Pool for 2015. In recognition of his fine season, Sean was named the Softball Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Male Player of the Year.

Mount Pearl swimmer Gavin Dyke had a fantastic 2014 as a member of the Memorial University Seahawks varsity swimming team. Gavin enjoyed great success at the Atlantic level winning multiple medals at meets throughout the season, followed by a strong performance at the Atlantic University Sport Championships by winning 3 gold medals and 1 bronze. He then competed at the nationals for Memorial and placed in the top 20 in 4 different events. His strong season culminated in the Swim Canada Nationals where Gavin qualified for the National Junior Prospects Team as one of Canada’s top 30 swimmers. As a result of his many accomplishments, Gavin was awarded Memorial University Rookie of the Year Award.

Rugby player Ciaran Hearn of Conception Bay South continues to be a key member of Rugby Canada’s 7’s and 15’s squads. While competing for Canada at the International Rugby Board World 7’s Circuit Ciaran helped his team finish in 6th place, the highest placing for Canada in the event’s history. He also suited up for the 15’s squad and played against Japan in a series in June 2014. In addition to his international play he helped his team to a 2nd place finish at America’s Rugby Championships and a 4th place at the 2014 Canadian Rugby Championships.

2014 Senior Female Athlete of the Year Finalists

Kippens runner Jillian Forsey was the first Newfoundland and Labrador woman to ever be selected to compete at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Track and Field event, which was held in Oregon on July 22, 2014 where she placed 9th in the 5000m and currently ranks as the top Canadian runner. Leading her to the Worlds was a stellar performance at the National Cross Country Championships, where she chose to move up and run the 8km senior race, where she placed 6th out of 64 and was named to the Worlds. At the North American Central American Caribbean Cross Country Championships she placed 2nd individually, while helping her team to a gold medal finish. An excelling honors student in her sophomore year at the university of West Virginia, Jillian raced at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Mid Atlantic wining a silver medal individually, leading her team to a second place finish overall. At the NCAA National Cross Country Championships she finished 14th out of 254 runners. Jillian is an exceptional runner who has a tremendous work ethic to achieve and excel in both athletics and education.

St. John’s basketball player, Hannah Jardine has earned her varsity letter with the University of Delaware after an impressive freshman campaign in 2014. Appearing in 29 games with the university basketball team she started for the final 18 of 19 games played averaging 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, tallying 26 assists, 23 steals and 8 blocked shots in her first collegiate season. In February 2014 Hannah was named CAA Co-Rookie of the Week and further into the season was named Joyce Perry Coaches Award selection and voted the University of Delaware’s Team Sportsmanship Award honoree. Hannah is currently Team Delaware’s American University Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative where she advocates for an inclusive athletic environment that values the welfare of each student-athlete. Hannah is an engaged and well-rounded athlete and student who continues to excel on and off the court.

Kippens athlete, Katarina Roxon continues to excel on the international Paralympic swim scene and in 2014 has accumulated some impressive results. At the 2014 Spring Can-Am International Championships she won 4 gold and a silver medal. At the Winter Can-Am International Championships she tallied 5 gold and 1 silver medal, while holding 2 national records in the 50m and 200m breaststroke. Swimming for Canada at the 2014 Pan-Pacific Para Swimming Championships she took home 1 gold, one silver, 2 bronze medals and the national record for the 100m breaststroke. Katarina also swam at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland where she secured another national record in the 10m breaststroke. Outside the pool Katarina is heavily involved at the community level where she was recently appointed to the Provincial Advisory Council to the minister of Advanced Skills and Education and the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, while also volunteering as an advocate for the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the War Amps of Canada.

2014 Junior Male Athlete of the Year Finalists

Hockey Player Clark Bishop of St. John’s had an eventful 2014 that saw him represent Canada on the international stage and be selected in the annual National Hockey League entry draft. As a member of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League he was named “Hardest Working Player” for the 2014 season. During the season he was named to the Quebec league all-star team which competed in an exhibition series against the Russian all-star team and also named to the Canadian Hockey League’s “Top Prospects Game” which features the top draft eligible players in the CHL. Clark also had the opportunity to play for Team Canada at the U18 World Championships and took home a bronze medal. His year was topped off by being selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 5th round of the 2014 NHL draft.

In 2014, soccer player Emmanuel Dolo of St. John’s had an impressive season. His creative play and goal scoring ability within the provincial league and during Atlantic competition resulted in silver medals at both events. Based on his play at Atlantics, Emmanuel was named to Team Atlantic to compete at the National Championships and was chosen to play in the ‘Match of Distinction’ game during the event. His outstanding play throughout the season resulted in invitations to the U15 national team tryout camp and to Youth Academies of the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver White Caps of Major League Soccer. The Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association rewarded Emmanuel with their Junior Male Player of the year award for his tremendous 2014 season.

Wheelchair Basketball and Sledge Hockey player Liam Hickey of St. John’s is excelling in not one, but two sports at the national level. After being a part of the Junior Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball team in 2014 and years prior, Liam at 16 years of age became not only the first Newfoundland and Labradorean to be named to the Senior Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team but also the youngest in the team’s history. On the hockey side, Liam was a member of Team Canada’s Men’s Developmental Team and took part in 2 three game series against the USA. During this competition he was the youngest member of Team Canada. His performance with the development team led to an invitation to try out for the Senior Men’s Sledge Hockey team; however he was forced to decline due to conflicts with the Junior and Senior National Basketball Program. Liam continues to excel in both sports and represents our province with pride.

2014 Junior Female Athlete of the Year Finalists

Conception Bay South soccer player Anna AuCoin enjoyed great success in 2014 while competing for a number of teams. Anna was team captain of the provincial high school champions, a member of the provincial Jubilee Trophy winning Kirby Group team and she represented the province at the 18U Atlantic championships. Because of her success on the field she was nominated for Rookie of the Year in Jubilee Trophy season and was named the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association’s Junior Female Player of the Year.

Conception Bay South baseball player Heather Healey had a historic 2014. Locally, Heather became the first ever female to be drafted and to compete in the St. John’s Amateur Baseball Association’s Intermediate League. Her outstanding play lead to an invitation to play with Team Nova Scotia at the Baseball Canada Senior Women’s Championship where she was one of the team’s top hitters with a .500 average. Following the National championships Heather was invited to the Baseball Canada National Senior Team selection camp with 30 of the top players in the country. Heather was successful in making the team and in the process became the first female from Newfoundland and Labrador to play for Team Canada when she participated in 2014 World Senior Women’s Championship in Mayazaki, Japan.

Portugal Cove- St. Phillips gymnast Rebecca Squires made history in 2014 by winning Newfoundland and Labrador’s first ever gold medal in women’s gymnastics at National competition in the Vault category. Along with her national success, Rebecca also had a very successful year in local and provincial competition. She finished in first place in Vault and Floor at the Snowball Invitational in St. John’s and first in Bars and second in Beam and Vault at the Frosty Flip while capturing the silver medal all around at both events. While competing at the provincial championships she was 1st place overall and awarded provincial champion.

2014 Executive of the Year Finalists

Rugby’s John Cowan is no stranger to the sport in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. As president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Rugby Union for the past four years and a board member for numerous years prior to his role as president, has led him to a successful and dedicated career growing the sport of rugby provincially. Cowan’s passion for rugby can be seen through the time he dedicates to the grass-roots level of the sport, he is always active in looking for new resources in supporting and promoting existing programs within the province. John Cowan has focused on sport development in the province and works diligently to ensure that the proper rules and regulations are implemented in games, tournaments and championships. Cowan is the voice for Newfoundland and Labrador at the National level with Rugby Canada and recently has completed a proposal to Rugby Canada to introduce Flag Rugby into the school system. He is a true advocate for the game of rugby and under his guidance rugby is continuing to grow and thrive in this province.

Newfoundland & Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA) Vice-President for Senior Men, Gord Dunphy follows the principle to get things accomplished. In his position Dunphy is responsible for the scheduling and operations for all senior competitions of NLSA, including Challenge Cup, Intermediate and Masters. In addition to managing all senior competitions, Dunphy also serves on the Rules and Regulations Committee, the Discipline Committee for Senior Competitions and the Hall of Fame Committee with the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, in addition he sits on the Burin Peninsula Hall of Fame Committee. Nationally, Dunphy serves as the Newfoundland and Labrador Rep for all provincial and national senior men’s tournaments. Gord Dunphy’s dedication to NLSA, specifically the senior men’s program is key to the success of men’s soccer both provincially and nationally.

Baseball executive Mark Healy was influential in the success of St. John’s hosting the 2014 National Senior Men’s Baseball Championships. As Co-Chair of the planning committee, he spent countless hours meeting with Federal, Provincial and Municipal government officials to ensure the fields were prepared and renovated for the tournament. His hard work and dedication has given so much to the sport of baseball from technological advancements at the ball fields to extensive media coverage and fundraising for amateur baseball programming. In addition to his role with the Nationals, Healy also served as president of the St. John’s Amateur Baseball Association as well as its Senior and Intermediate Leagues. He was co-chair and organizer of the Annual Provincial Senior Club Teams Tournament and was the 2014 recipient of the Les Noseworthy Award for outstanding contribution to baseball growth and development in Newfoundland and Labrador. Mark Healy is a pioneer in the sport of baseball as an athlete, advocate, coach and executive.

2014 Team of the Year Finalists

The Memorial University Women’s Soccer Team had an outstanding 2014 on the field. Finishing second in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular season league play earned them a bye to the semi finals. The club defeated the University of New Brunswick in the final, winning its first ever AUS women’s soccer title and earning them the right to represent the Atlantic Conference in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) National Championships. The Ladies Soccer team was also named Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association’s (NLSA) Team of the Year.

NL 3Cheers Pub Men’s Fastpitch Team successfully defended their Canadian Senior Men’s Fast pitch Championship, for the third consecutive year, with an 8-1 win over the Kelly’s Pub Molson Bulldogs in Charlottetown, PEI. With an impressive overall record of 8-1 this team dominated the national softball field from the moment they stepped on it. As a result of this outstanding play NL 3 Cheers Pub tallied 67 runs for, 29 against for a plus minus of +38 and received 5 individual awards: 3 All Star Selections and 2 Most Valuable Player Award’s. For this team to come out and win gold for a third straight year was no easy task, however hard work and flawless play gave them the results they were looking for in taking home gold to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Rock Under 19 Men’s Rugby Team had a phenomenal 2014 on the pitch, winning the bronze medal at the 2014 Canadian Rugby Championships. The Rock were leading the Ontario Blues for three quarters of the game before the blues capitalized with a soft score to take the lead and advance to the finals. The team’s performance at the tournament was a stellar one, which in turn allowed seven players from Newfoundland and Labrador to be named to the National Under 20 squad and 1 over ager named to the National Senior Men’s long list.

2014 Coach of the Year Finalists

Softball coach John Hill has seen his share of success in 2014 on the field. As head coach of the 3 Cheers Pub Bud Light Senior A Fastpitch Team, he led them to an 8-1 record at the Canadian Men’s Fastpitch Championships. Hill was also the Field Manager of the Hill United Chiefs where he guided them to a perfect 4-0 record at the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) National Championships and a perfect 6-0 record at the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Tournament. John Hill was named 2014 Softball Canada Coach of the Year, Softball Newfoundland and Labrador Coach of the Year and was named an Assistant Coach to Softball Canada’s Seniors Men’s National Team. John Hill has devoted his life to the game of Softball and through his professionalism and dedication his teams are always well prepared both on and off the field, which has proven him to be a world class coach.

Gymnastics coach, Allison Kirby enjoyed tremendous success as head coach of Cygnus Gymnastics Training Center and at the National and International level. Her leadership for the province is showed though her duties as a member of the Gymnastics Newfoundland and Labrador’s Elite Athlete Development Committee, as one of the Canada Winter Games Coaches and as lead coach during the winter and summer Advance and Future Stars Camps. She has also attended numerous National and International Training camps to improve her professional development including the Gymnix Internationale and the Gym Momentum National Training Camp in Boston. Allison was named team coach to Cygnus’ National Open team leading them to a gold medal at the provincial championships. She was also a coach at the 2014 Eastern Canadians where her team received bronze and at the Canadian National Championships, where one of her athletes achieved the provinces first gold medal on Vault and a silver at the Gymnix International Competition.

Soccer coach Dragan Mirkovic has shown his success on the pitch and in 2014 guided his Kirby United Ladies Team to the Provincial Jubilee Trophy Championship for the third straight year. Short handed he managed to motivate his team to a second place finish in the division and fourth place in the National Jubilee Trophy competition. Dragan was also head coach of Team Atlantic Under 16 girls guiding them with an impressive 2-1-1 record at the Western Canada Invitational Tournament in BC. In 2014, Dragan was appointed to the Canadian Soccer Associations Technical Committee, Dragan is dedicated to the sport of soccer and goes above and beyond to volunteer his time to coach the teams he coaches throughout the year.

2014 Volunteer of the Year Finalists

Gymnastics enthusiast Tracey Critch of Labrador City is the president of the Snowbirds Gymnastics Club in Labrador West. In 2014 the Snowbirds Club was faced with the task of finding a facility to operate their programing and because of Tracey this task was completed. She was then responsible for implementing the program, therefore gathering people to move equipment, decorate the gym and ensure it was up to par for safety. Tracey assumed responsibility for hiring coaches and organizing the level 1 training, as well as promoting the programing and registration. She was vital to the rehabilitation of the recreation programs increasing gymnastics registration for the club from 20 to 250 athletes. Tracey Critch has dedicated a considerable amount of time developing the gymnastics program in Labrador and it would not be where it is today without her commitment. Her vision, passion and competence have helped serve the community better and she is a definitive asset for the gymnastics organization and its growth and sustainability in Labrador west.

Mark Healy of St. John’s has been instrumental in the growth and development of Baseball in the province and has many roles in its community. Along with his role as president of St. John’s Amateur Baseball Association he is also head coach of the Trapper Johns Holy Cross Senior Team and Chief Instructor of St. John’s Minor Baseball’s winter and spring indoor training programs. Healy is a learning facilitator and evaluator with National Coaching Certification Program courses and head instructor for the NL 16 and under Bantam Girls Team Identification Camp. Mark Healey was co-chair of the 2014 National Senior Baseball Championships hosted in St. Johns and head coach of the St. John’s Winmar Capitals that won the provincial Senior A and B Championships and competed in the 2014 Nationals. It is evident that Healy is a vital part of the baseball program in St. John’s and in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and his dedication and commitment to the sport is outstanding.

Sailing’s Ryan Kelly is an accomplished athlete, coach, trainer and volunteer. His unsurpassed dedication to his sport is evident in the countless hours of volunteering he contributes to the sailing community. Ryan is the President of Sail Newfoundland and Labrador and under his dynamic leadership the provincial sailing organization has been completely transformed through initiatives such as rebranding, the adoption of social media, implementation of a “Leader in Sailing Summit”, the completion of a 5-year strategic plan and stakeholder outreach. He is a Sail Canada Master Learner Facilitator and a certified national coach. He is trained in competitive theory development and is currently working on his Technical Competitive Development Certification. He uses this knowledge and expertise to train and certify sailing instructors and coaches throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Ryan has recently been selected as race coach for the newly formed MUN Sailing Team and is responsible for coaching this team to represent Memorial University at National and International Intercollegiate sailing regattas. Ryan’s volunteerism embodies all aspects of his sport and he is well respected in the sailing community for his knowledge and strong work ethic.

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