Some find the time and energy to excell at more than one high school sport. Others spend all their gym hours striving for excellence in one game.
They are all exceptional and were rewarded at the third annual Rotary North Okanagan Athletic Awards Tuesday night.
“Every athlete puts in hours and hours of dedication… it makes you feel like it was all worth it,” said award-winner Victoria Grahn.
A total of 27 awards were presented at the Vernon Atrium Hotel to student athletes and coaches in a conference room that was filled with roughly 250 people.
Most outstanding female and male athletes were: Grahn and Ben Hladik.
Grahn excels at both volleyball and basketball, coming from Charles Bloom Secondary and Hladik is in his third season as starter for the senior Panthers at Vernon Secondary.
“It’s nice to be recognized for doing stuff, and we come from a small school so we don’t expect to win the big ones,” Grahn said.
Having three older brothers inspired Grahn to excel.
“The competitive edge was always there,” she said.
Top academic male and female athletes were Jakob Marshall and Ravinder Vliet.
Marshall was a captain and starting-point guard for the VSS Panther basketball team. He has been on the principal’s list every term with a 93 per cent average.
Vliet is one of the top overall student athletes at Pleasant Valley Secondary; in the top five per cent of her graduating class.
She qualified for the provincial championships in cross-country running and competed in alpine skiing at a national and international level.
Her trick to achieving it all is “lots and lots of chocolate, and motivation, and I don’t sleep,” she said.
Staying organized is another factor. “Everything has a specific time in the day.”
Vliet was excited to be recognized for her efforts.
“I really appreciate (Rotary) doing this. My coach was so excited.”
Guest speaker and world class Ironman Triathlon competitor Mel Spooner gave the young athletes words of advice.
She discussed her time in high school, and said she was fortunate to be surrounded by a sports group that helped her prepare for the future.
“We know that some things don’t go according to plan. So when it happens we evaluate.”
Winning isn’t the most important aspect of competing, she said, because growth comes from unplanned circumstances.
“I learned more from races that I didn’t win, I think we all hear this, than from races I did win.
“Finishing races first is awesome, crossing the finish line is really cool…but then you still have to go back and do it again… we keep continuing to seek these things that allow us to explore.”
Spooner emphasized the importance of the high-school athletic career.
“Take the information that you gained from your years of high school…take them into your future,” she said.
The W.L. Seaton Senior Jazz ensemble played throughout the evening.
Retired NHLer and guest speaker Jason Podollan was unable to attend the event, but master of ceremonies Keith Johnston stepped into his place with inspiring words.
“You will probably recall the emotions you felt as the final seconds ticked down… you’re never going to forget those emotions,” he said.
Lessons learned on the field will be the lessons that are carried throughout life, he said.
“Most of those lessons will be the foundations of your beliefs.”
To achieve goals, one must put in the effort, he said.
“You can get anything in life if you want it badly enough.”
The list of awards:
– Most outstanding female and male athletes: Victoria Grahn and Ben Hladik
– Top academic female and male athletes: Ravinder Vliet and Jakob Marshall
– Most outstanding girls and boys volleyball players: Courtney Becker and Daniel Aspenlieder
– Most outstanding girls and boys cross-country: Hannah Bennison and Joey Kohut
– Most outstanding girls and boys basketball players: Jordyn Cullum and Seth Blundell
– Girls and boys newcomers of the year: Claire Oordt-Bosman and Nathan Banga
– Girls and boys teammates of the year: Nicole Olson and Jacob Molitwenik
– Most outstanding tennis players: Baylea Purcell and Hayley Wiebe
– Most outstanding girls and boys soccer players: Cayleigh Graham and Mika deVin
– Most outstanding girls and boys track and field: Trinity Hansma and Landon Matties
– Most outstanding football player: Levi Nicholas
– Most outstanding golfer: Braeden Cooper
– Most outstanding rugby player: Christian Harpe
– Patrick Nicol – Booster Award: Carson Labrecque
– Coach of the Year: Sean Smith
– Girls team of the year: Vernon Secondary Girls Basketball Team
– Boys team of the year: Clarence Fulton Boys Volleyball Team