The City of Brantford kicked off the third Youth Sports Week with a flag-raising in Harmony Square followed shortly by the 17th Annual Youth Sports Awards on Saturday, March 11, 2023.
Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis was joined by Bill Harding and a number of members from the sporting community, as well as councillors Michael Sullivan, John Sless and Mandy Samwell as the Brantford Sports Council flag was raised.
Davis spoke of the skills, community, dedication and drive that comes with youth participating in sport and he also acknowledged the commitment of those that make youth sport possible within the community.
“The week is also about recognizing all those volunteers that make youth sport possible in our community, and we have awards later this morning recognizing a lot of those volunteers because youth sports doesn’t happen without them,” said Davis.
Bill Harding, Chairman of Brantford Sports Council, thanked City staff members for all their work and support for making this week and its events happen. He spoke of the return of in-person sports and the role of sport in the city.
“Youth sport is a key element of what the social fabric is of our community,” said Harding. “Everyone is engaged in sport and it’s an important facet of all our lives, it affects everybody.”
After reading the official proclamation, Davis and Harding raised the flag as those in attendance cheered and clapped before heading to the awards.
The 17th annual Youth Sports Awards was held at the Stedman Community Bookstore located in Wilfried Laurier University’s Research and Academic Building, and many local youth, family and volunteers were in attendance.
Master of Ceremonies, Carmine Romano welcomed attendees and kicked off the ceremony before a land acknowledgement and the national anthem.
“This is a special day because we are here to celebrate the people that make sports a reality every day in our community and sometimes you see those people, and sometimes you don’t,” he said. “We are here to pat on the back some of the athletes that have been nominated as well as the coaches that are really the unsung heroes of what happens every day, every week, every month and every year – the difference they make sometimes just doesn’t get enough of a pat on the back. The volunteers, the people that organize, the schedulers, the fundraisers, those who order the uniforms, and the referees that go unnoticed – we just don’t recognize them enough. So today, this is our small but big-little way of recognizing all those people that make sports in Brantford and our community happen.”
After both Harding and Mayor Davis addressed those in attendance, Romano began the award ceremony by welcoming up the presenter of each award, as well as all those who were nominated before announcing the recipient.
Some of the many awards and recipients were as follows:
Hunter Payne won the Kevin Finney Memorial Award for sportsmanship and dedication in swimming.
The winners of the Phyllis Gretzky Memorial Award for female youth leadership were Cassidy Chapin for multisport and Marissa Wheeler for artistic swimming.
Hunter Ballantyne won the Frank Bricker Memorial Award for male youth leadership in baseball.
The Dave Levac Award for excellent sports officiating was given to all of the nominees including: D.J. McQueen for his work in hockey, Jim Chmiel in basketball, Shannon Scheffel in aquatics and Sue Grinton in hockey.
Steve Petrella won the John Macklin Memorial Award for coach of the year for his work in basketball.
The winners of the George Churchill Memorial Award for sports volunteer of the year were: Connie Martin for artistic swimming and Sandra Gage for her work in community hockey.
The Jack Calbeck Memorial Award for lifetime sports sponsorship was given to all of the nominees including Giant Tiger, Cowan Insurance Group and Renway Energy.
The George Jones memorial Award for lifetime sports volunteerism was given to all of the nominees including: Rick and Sandy Beedham for volleyball, Suzanne Paulins for aquatics and Thom Foster for his work in hockey.
The BCI junior boys rugby team won the Jimmy Wilkes Memorial Award for team of the year.
To end the event, Rick Mannen presented Garrett Riley, a Paralympic hockey player the Frank Tomlin Memorial Award as Brantford’s Sportsperson of the year.
Harding wrapped up the event by once again thanking the City staff and the Brantford Sports Council for all of the hard work and recognition, and congratulated those who were both nominated and awarded for their excellence.