Diane Schuetze spun more records than a MuchMusic deejay with the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) WolfPack women’s basketball team in Kamloops.
The Kalamalka Lakers senior AA girls volleyball team was so good people said it could have won the AAA provincial title as well.
Jim Wilson spearheaded two major soccer projects in the last two decades, the renovation and additions to the MacDonald Park clubhouse, and the VantageOne indoor facility at Marshall Field.
They were all honoured with awards and applause at the Tim Hortons Athlete and Team of the Year ceremony Wednesday night at Lakers Clubhouse.
Schuetze, who is playing pro hoops in Australia, starred five years for TRU, joining the Pack after a miserable 1-22 season. She was a Canada West first team all-star two seasons ago and took the TRU Female Athlete of the Year trophy.
The VSS grad was a first-team CIS all-star this season, sparking the 15-7 WolfPack to a second straight playoff berth. The Tourism major finished her career with 1,399 points, double that of the closest teammate.
Well known by her peers as being humble and respectful, Schuetze sent a letter with her mother, Cynthia, to the ceremony. It was read by emcee and awards director Kevin Mitchell.
“Thank you,” she wrote. “This is an amazing honour to win this award, due to how many remarkable athletes there are from Vernon…Though I have spent thousands of hours training over the last 12 years, it is a team sport which shows how many thank-yous I need to mention.”
The 6-foot-3 post player gave props to Dave Tetrault, Mike Bertram, Lonny Mazurak and Bobby Mitchell from the VSS coaching program. She also thanked TRU athletic director Ken Olynyk for recruiting her, and head coach Scott Reeves and assistants Chuck Ferguson and Cindy Mavety, along with her teammates, family and community for stellar support.
“Hopefully I can encourage all athletes of all sports. We’re only limited by our desire to succeed.”
World-class longboarder Quinn Finocchio and national team freestyle skier Noah Morrison, were athlete of the year finalists.
The Lakers stopped the Pacific Academy Breakers of Surrey 3-1 for provincial gold last December in Nanaimo.
“We really pulled together as a team at provincials,” said Laker captain and first team all-star Toni Vandenbrink, who will play at Douglas College in New Westminster next fall. “We bonded at provincials and it was definitely the right timing.”
Jeff Huggins stepped in as head coach of the Lakers, who were previously guided by Chris Bennett and Maria Hansen.
“They just turned it into a different gear,” said Huggins. “It was, ‘OK, it’s playoff time and here we go.’ I think we dropped three sets in 11 playoff matches and when you do that, good things happen. They believed they could win and they just did it.”
Huggins said tournament MVP Daralyn Schepp was a catalyst with contagious hard work and big-game plays.
The Junior B North Okanagan Knights, based in Armstrong, were the team of the year runner-ups after losing to the Castlegar Rebels in the KIJHL playoff final.
Wilson, who has been involved in soccer all his life, took the Builder of the Year award ahead of football guru Bill (Lumpy) Tarr.
“Somebody had to do it, that’s what it boils down to,” said Wilson, 56. “There’s much more qualified guys than me. I just got guys like Jimmy Sparrow and Bobby (Mann) and the guys who knew what they’re doing, together. Once there was the first load of lumber on the site at MacDonald Park, it just came together.
“And the only reason we got the indoor out here was because we had the background of building at MacDonald Park. That gave us the credibility for the city elders.”
Youth soccer technical coach Carli Tingstad received the new Pacific Sport Female in Sport $250 bursary from Charlene Smart of Smart & Associates. The bursary goes to a female who has empowered women and girls to participate and be active.
Chairman Mel Briggeman and directors John Topping, who started the awards in 1993, Betty Selin, Shannon Mazereeuw, Pete McIntyre and Dan Currie of Tim Hortons round out the voting committee.