Eight Vernon residents have been recognized for their contributions to sport.
SportBC presented Community Sport Hero Awards to Donna Michalcheon (B.C. Games Society), Cheryl Friesen (Special Olympics), Maria Hansen (volleyball), Ann Holmes (softball), Paul Filippi (triathlon), Sam Mowat (hockey), Ralph Dawson (soccer) and Keith Chase (hockey) at a special evening at the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre.
“Celebrating its 13th year, the Community Sport Hero Awards partnered with KidSport,” said SportBC’s Pete Quevillon, the evening’s emcee.
“The program recognizes coaches, officials, mentors and administrators who have dedicated themselves to amateur sport at the community level.”
Holmes is currently the minor director on the Softball B.C. board of directors and, prior to that, she was the director of coaching.
She is a key volunteer in the Okanagan and no job is to menial, from scorekeeping to the Zone B.C. Summer Games softball team. Holmes is also actively involved with curling and volleyball in Vernon and is the funding allocator for KidSport Vernon.
Hansen has built one of the most reputable volleyball programs in B.C.
She has been coaching for 25 years and as a teacher at Kalamalka Secondary School for more than 22 years, she has created a culture of hard work and excellence, both in her classroom and on the volleyball court.
Hansen’s teams have qualified for the high school provincial championships a staggering 16 out of 21 seasons, winning three gold medals, three silver medals and 12 top-five finishes.
Friesen has been a significant part of Special Olympics B.C.’s programs since starting in the Vancouver area in 1999.
She relocated to Vernon and has been a part of the Special Olympics Vernon program since 2011. She has held two positions on the Vernon volunteer executive committee in addition to her coaching contributions.
Friesen was selected to attend the provincial games in 2013 and national games in 2014 as a coach, and is a mentor for a local athlete who is taking part in leadership opportunities and is an advocate for her athletes.
Mihalcheon is currently a member of the B.C. Games Society board of directors and was the director of administration for the Greater Vernon 2012 B.C. Winter Games Society.
She was the vice-president administration for BC Ringette and had related roles as part of the Thompson-Okanagan Ringette League and the Greater Vernon Ringette Association. Mihalcheon was honored with Vernon’s Woman of the Year award in 1993.
Chase has volunteered his time as a coach in minor hockey for 29 years, spending thousands of hours planning for practices and games.
Chase has made sure that every kid that wants to play at a higher level has had the chance to do so.
Dawson has served on the board of Vernon Soccer Referee’s Association as vice-president from it’s inception. As an accredited B.C. soccer referee instructor for years – the last nine in Vernon – he introduced and was the first contact for hundreds of youth and adults, into the world of soccer officiating.
Mowat volunteered to be a non-parent coach when he heard Greater Vernon Minor Hockey wasn’t going to have a second rep hockey team in midget this year, due to a lack of a coach.
He has spent countless hours providing support and development to these players and has gone well beyond what has been expected as a coach in the past.
He engages the kids via classroom sessions, off-ice sessions at a lacrosse box for better understanding of breakouts and other situational plays.
In addition, he has spent a great deal of time researching and sending out e-mails to the team on proper nutrition and other areas to ensure the young athletes are operating at their best at all times.
Filippi played sports in high school and college, ran the Boston Marathon twice since 1970, and started competing in triathlon in 1986.
As a triathlete, he has completed more than 100 sprint and standard distance triathlons, eight long distance events and Ironman Canada. Filippi has been volunteering since the 1970s.
He has also volunteered with numerous sport organizations. His volunteer roles have included board member for a soccer league, soccer team manager, a soccer referee, race director for various road races, race committee member for various triathlon events, community triathlon coach, level two triathlon official and board member for Triathlon B.C.
Since its inception in 2001, 50 provincial sport organizations have honoured 536 sport volunteers in 45 different communities.
In 2015/2016, the Community Sport Hero Awards will make the rounds to four communities – Vernon, Terrace, Port Alberni and Tri-Cities (Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam).