Kamloops Sports Council honours 2019 athletics award winners in virtual ceremony
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the KSC to alter its gala-style event
Huddled around computers at home is not the same as gathered together for a gala.
There is no substitution for the adulation of a live audience, there to recognize accomplishments.
But the Kamloops Sports Council did its best to honour its annual athletics award winners during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday with a virtual ceremony held in concert with the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame banquet.
Hall of fame inductees were invited to GK Sound Warehouse for distanced festivities and live speeches, while winners of the KSC athletics awards had taped speeches played on a big screen.
The ceremony — adeptly refereed by master of ceremonies Dylana Kneeshaw of CFJC — was streamed live online at kamloopssportscouncil.com and remains available for viewing on the website.
Kate Stebbings took home the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 52 Master Athlete of the Year Award.
She thanked coaches who helped a once terrified beginner triathlete transform into the person who placed fourth in the women’s 55- to 59-year-old division at the 2019 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
“But mostly I want to thank my wing man, my bike mechanic and my sometimes sports psychologist, my husband Bob Sayer, who continues to support my efforts and is critical to my success,” Stebbings said in her speech.
Track and field athlete Miriam Cavani and cyclist Mike Stewart-Smith were also nominated for the masters award.
TRU WolfPack soccer player Jan Pirretas Glasmacher might have come close to setting the record for shortest acceptance speech in banquet history.
He won the TRU Athletics University Award.
The Pack’s captain, Glasmacher did his talking on the field, where his feats helped him become the first player in school history to be drafted onto a Canadian Premier League team, Pacific FC of Victoria.
TRU athletes Olga Savenchuk and Tim Dobbert, both volleyball players, were also nominated.
Greg Stewart, a 7-foot-2 shot, 350-pound shot putter, claimed the PacificSport Interior BC International Award.
He won silver at the World Para Athletics Championships in November in Dubai with a heave of 16.30 metres.
Stewart thanked his coach, former Olympic bronze medallist shot putter Dylan Armstrong, his family, friends and the community of Kamloops for support.
Track and field athlete Sunette Lessing and the TRU WolfPack Team Black cheer squad were also nominated.
Armstrong, who leads a group of provincial- and national-record setting athletes at the Kamloops Track and Field Club, earned the Tim Hortons/Jon Pankuch Coach of the Year Award.
Also nominated were Victor Lizzi, who coached the provincial championship winning 2003 Kamloops Blaze boys soccer team, and Del Komarniski, who guided the South Kamloops Titans to a second consecutive senior girls provincial high school basketball title.
Komarniski was not shut out on Friday, as his Titans claimed the Kamloops Sports Legacy Fund Team of the Year Award.
Maddy Gobeil, who was named tournament MVP for the second straight year at provincials, and star forward Kendra McDonald spoke on behalf of the team during a speech that rivalled Glasmacher’s for brevity.
They thanked the sports council, acknowledged the other nominees — the 2003 Kamloops Blaze boys and TRU WolfPack Team Black cheer squad — and paid tribute to families, friends, coaches and teachers.
Brooke Wills, who earned gold in ladies barrel racing at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer, took home the LN Group Branding and Promotions Female Athlete of the Year Award.
Wills said she hopes she can be an inspiration to all upcoming rodeo and barrel racing athletes, noting mental strength and perseverance are required during long stints away from home, especially when competing in mud, freezing rain and blistering heat.
Her horses, most notably Famey, received special mention as equine athletes who make her dreams come true.
Rugby standout Caleigh Silversides and Gobeil, who won the award last year, were also nominated.
Hammer throw specialist Kian Zabihi — provincial and national champion in his age category — won the Kamloops Minor Baseball Association Male Athlete of the Year Award.
He thanked his family, which has endured great strife, and coach Armstrong, for contributing to his ascent.
High jumper Bazil Spencer and swimmer Ryley McRae, were also nominated.
The final sports council award handed out on Friday went to Carmin Mazzotta, who was head coach of the now-defunct TRU WolfPack cross-country running team.
Mazzotta won the Award of Excellence, in part because of his tireless work with athletes and also because of his courageous fight against cancer.
He thanked the local sports community, his former student-athletes, the WolfPack and his family for supporting him during the fight for his life.
Marty Hastings / Kamloops this Week