Sports banquet to honour exceptional contributions to Wood Buffalo athletics

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The Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (WBSHF) and Wood Buffalo Sports Connection (WBSC) are teaming up to host the first-ever Multi-Sports Award Banquet at the Shell Place Ballroom on Thursday.

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The collaboration “will recognize extraordinary people within our great region in the arena of sports excellence,” said Jon Turner, WBSCS chair in an April 10 news release.

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The banquet brings together athletes, teams, volunteers, coaches, and officials under two categories: high performance and community.

The event will recognize four inductees into the WBSHF and nine recipients of WBSC awards, all of whom have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in sports excellence within the Wood Buffalo region.

“The winners will have the honor of being the first to ever receive one of these prestigious awards,” said Turner.

The four inductees into the Hall of Fame include Josh Dow, Janet Hatfield, Graeme Killick and Compton Vigilance.

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Josh Dow is a renowned swimmer who established seven provincial records and captured 11 gold and four silver medals at the national level over 14 years of competing. While swimming with the University of Calgary Dinos, he set a record-breaking time of 25.76 in the 50-meter backstroke back in 2016, making him one of the fastest Canadian men in the long-course 50-m backstroke.

Janet Hatfield is a basketball player who led the Father Patrick Mercredi Community High School Trappers to three consecutive Challenge Cup titles. She played post-secondary basketball for the Grant MacEwan Griffins and the University of Victoria Vikes in U Sports. Hatfield finished her U Sports career ranked as a Top 10 athlete and later played professional basketball in Germany and Denmark.

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Graeme Killick started cross country skiing at age five and made his debut on the international stage at the 2009 Nordic Junior World Ski Championships. He recorded 35 top-10 finishes, including 11 podiums and four victories in Nor-Am Cup. Becoming Fort McMurray’s first athlete to compete in a Winter Olympics, Killick raced at Sochi in 2014 and Pyeong Chang in 2018.

Compton Vigilance, a true builder in the world of sports, has coached basketball for three decades at Fort McMurray Composite High School, and then guided the Keyano Huskies women’s basketball team to an Alberta Colleges Athletic League title. Vigilance has influenced countless athletes, coaches, and officials throughout the years, and has a local soccer pitch and high school award named in his honour.

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“We have deep and rich history of sport in the Wood Buffalo region, each of our inductees have shown commitment, respect and perseverance as they have competed, built and mentored at the highest level,” said Matt Pate, president of the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

The nominees for the WBSC awards include 23 individuals and four sports teams.

The Male Athlete of the Year award honours an individual who has excelled in competitions. The 2023 nominees are Gage Roberts, Tristan Parker, and Hunter Colombe.

The Female Athlete of the Year award recognizes a female amateur athlete who has excelled at competitions. The 2023 nominees are Alicia Gladue, Dylan Wiesner, and Taylor Breen.

The Team of the Year award acknowledges a team that has excelled at a provincial or national level. The nominees for this award are Keyano Huskies Basketball, the Cricket Team, and the U13 AA Jr Oil Barons.

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The Coach of the Year award honours a National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP)certified coach working at the local, provincial, national, or international level. The 2023 nominees are Keith Breen, Jeremy Wielenga, and Mike Cox.

The Outstanding Official award acknowledges someone officiating sports who has also contributed to the development of officials at the local or regional level. The 2023 nominees are Darren Yee, Annette Hammermaster, and Marcus Erlandson.

The Special Olympics Athlete of the Year award recognizes a local competitor who has demonstrated significant personal and athletic growth in 2022. The 2023 nominees are Marcel Baron and Colt Wendel.

In addition to these higher performance awards, there are also several community awards, including the Developmental Coach of the Year, Sport Builder, Unsung Hero, and Community Spirit awards.

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The Developmental Coach of the Year category honors a person who is responsible for developing the competitive skills of athletes at the grassroots, regional, or provincial level. The coach must have created an environment for optimal skill development and fun and have completed or be working towards NCCP certification. The 2023 nominees for this category are Brendan Toner, Wayne Kavanagh, and Megan Loxam.

The Sport Builder category recognizes a person who has demonstrated outstanding commitment and longstanding service in developing a club, organization, or sporting event. The person’s efforts should have resulted in a positive, developmentally appropriate impact on coaches and athletes. The 2023 nominees for this category are Dutche Iannetti, Orville Revidad, and Robert Glanville.

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The Unsung Hero category acknowledges the achievements and outstanding contributions made by a volunteer to their community. The volunteer’s contribution should have made a positive difference in the lives of others by providing support and encouragement, often with self-sacrifice and without personal gain. The 2023 nominees for this category are Greg Brayall, Samantha Babenek, and Jeff Kidd.

Finally, the Community Spirit category aims to recognize the contribution and achievements made by an individual or group. The contributions should benefit the community in the spirit of sport and sportsmanship. The 2023 nominee for this category is Fort McKay Northern Spirits Football.

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