No massive blisters. No exhaustion. No chlorine burns. She’d been there, done that.
Vernon’s Shanda Hill, instead, was quite comfortable and quite humble, accompanied by family, partner and goat Sparky Tuesday, June 23, as she accepted the 2019-20 Tim Horton North Okanagan Athlete of the Year award at Spirit Square at City Hall.
Hill, in 2019, became the first Canadian to complete a Double Deca triathlon, finishing an event in October in Leon, Mexico. Hill finished second in the female division and fifth overall, covering the equivalent of 20 consecutive Ironman triathlon races – 76 kilometres swimming, 3,600 kms cycling and finishing with an 844 km run – in 26 days (a little more than 646 hours).
Hill was one of 18 nominations for the annual award, which also recognizes the top team and leadership in sports.
“It takes a huge group of people to support the athletes so thank you to my family, my partner, Jacs, my son and to our community. This is really incredible. Thank you,” said Hill, who joins Olympic snowboardcross brother Kevin with the Hill name on the trophy. Kevin, who was on hand to see his sister recognized, won the Athlete of the Year honour in 2015-16.
Carl Vardon choked back tears as he accepted the Leadership Award for his work with Vernon Baseball Association.
Vardon spent 14 years on the executive as field manager, equipment manager, vice-president and T-ball director. He also coached for 18 years. The New York Yankees fan has spent the past eight-plus years training coaches throughout the association, built the four dugouts at Lakeview Park, resurfaced and rebuilt the Creekside Park fields in Coldstream and has volunteered hundreds of hours maintaining the diamonds.
He has created a culture throughout Vernon of baseball being a fun activity open to all.
“A couple of people along the way helped me out,” said Vardon of Dan Oxnard and John Green, then pointed to his family who was on hand for the presentation. “I grew up with the Vernon Tigers lacrosse team and they were the ones that showed me you have to give back. They were the leaders I followed…I appreciate everything. Thanks a lot for this.”
Team of the Year honour went to the Vernon Christian School Royals high school boys volleyball team, back-to-back winners of the B.C. A division championships, each year capturing the provincial title without losing a match at the provincial tournament.
This past year, the Okanagan champion Royals went wire-to-wire as the No. 1-ranked A school in B.C., and beat several higher-level school teams at various tournaments. They finished the year with a record of 44-6.
Coaches Chris Bannick and Dwayne Remple were joined by players Liam Remple, Shaun Huizinga, Devin Hofsink and Josh Hall in accepting the honour.
“The past four or five years, we couldn’t have done it without the coaches,” said Hofsink, first team all-star at the provincials. “All the guys became really tight, basically like brothers. It’s been fun.”
Award committee chair Jack Gilroy said the community response for nominations was at an all-time high.
“I wish I could give everyone a trophy,” said Gilroy. “But there were so many nominations this year, it was great.”
The athlete of the year award was first handed out in 1993-94 (hockey player Brent Gilchrist). The team award was added in 1995-96 (Vernon Vipers, hockey) and the first leadership award was presented to current committee member John Topping (softball) in 2010-11. The awards have been sponsored by Tim Hortons since 2008.