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Second annual youth sports week inspires action for local athletics

FeaturesSecond annual youth sports week inspires action for local athletics

The Brantford Sports Council is focusing on bringing new life into youth sports in Brantford after their Youth Sports Appreciation week and sports awards ceremony on Saturday, March 12.

The 16th annual sports awards and recognition program were held at the Sanderson Centre and welcomed 230 athletes, teams, sponsors and community members to celebrate accomplishments in 2021.

Bill Harding, chairperson of the Brantford Sports Council, said that while the awards ceremony signifies the end of a year, it also marks the beginning of a new one.

“The last two years have been difficult on everyone, we’ve all been impacted one way or another,” Harding said. “But there is really no way to measure the effects that the pandemic has had on our youth. Now that we have closed the chapter on 2021, we are looking to getting kids back to play, to get back a sense of normalcy.”

The Brantford Sports Council is made up of sports organizations that work to provide ongoing development, education and promotion of benefits of sport in the community. Harding said that they recognize the importance of sport in Brantford and are excited to continue to see growth in the area.

The Brantford Sports Council welcomes attendees to 16th annual sports awards and recognition program at the Sanderson Centre on Saturday, March 12. Photo courtesy Brantford Sports Council.

“We want to try to keep the momentum going from our awards ceremony,” he said. “We want to really build up from the grassroots level. Our youth sports are the social fabric of the community. We have seen athletes from the area go on to compete at the highest levels of their respective sports, because they built their foundation in Brantford.”

Harding acknowledged Erika Polidori, this year’s Frank Tomlin Memorial award winner for Sportsperson of the Year. Polidori grew up in Brantford, where she started playing softball. Last summer, she represented Canada at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where she won bronze with her teammates.

“Brantford is a hub for sports, and it is only growing,” Harding said. “We have excellent organizations, facilities, sponsors and volunteers that continue to make the city’s athletic programs thrive.”

Harding explained that the pandemic and other recent events have created a shift in interest in different sports in Brantford.

“Hockey has always been Brantford’s most played sport, but recently we have seen new families moving into town from all walks of life and with that we have seen an increase in registrations for other athletics,” he said. “Soccer is creeping up on hockey as one of the most played sports, especially after the Canadian women won gold, and now that the men have qualified for the World Cup. Believe it or not, we also have a huge cricket community coming together in Brantford.”

Harding said that the Brantford Sports Council is looking forward to continuing to support the local athletics organizations and hopes that with COVID-19 restrictions lifting, registration begins to rise across the board.

“We are focussed on getting back to normalcy,” he said. “At the end of the day it is all about the kids. It’s important for us to help these organizations rebuild after the challenges that they have all faced. We are looking forward to the future, we hope to get back to establishing tournaments, because the local hotels and restaurants have been feeling the economic impact of not having them.”

The following is the list of winners and nominees from the 16th annual sports awards and recognition program on March 12:

• Frank Tomlin Memorial Award– Sportsperson of the Year: winner, Erika Polidori, softball.

• Adrian Scherders Memorial Award – Sportsmanship and Dedication: winner, Maddie Campbell, Brantford Girls Hockey; also nominated, Aidan Agnew and Aidan Turcotte, both Brantford Galaxy Soccer.

• Phyllis Gretzky Memorial Award – Female Youth Leadership: winner, Kara Hughes, Laurier Athletics Brantford; also nominated, Jessica La Ronde, Brantford Minor Softball; Brianna Vamos, Brantford Track and Field.

• Jack Calbeck Memorial Award – Lifetime Sports Sponsorship: winners, Aucoin Investments Inc.; Brant Mutual Insurance Company; Strode’s BBQ and Deli; The Sherwood Restaurant.

• Frank Bricker Memorial Award – Male Youth Leadership; winner, Josh Linington, Brantford Track and Field.; also nominated, Aidan Agnew, Brantford Galaxy Soccer; Isaac Cherewka, North Park Collegiate football and Bisons Football; 

• Dave Levac Award – Excellence for Sports Officiating: winner, David Beech, Brantford Minor Hockey; also nominated, Shannon Scheffel, Brantford Aquatic Club; Rob Welsh (1951-2020), Brantford Football Officials.

• The Jimmy Wilkes Memorial Award – Team of the Year: winner, Brantford Collegiate Institute senior girls’ basketball; also nominated, Brantford Minor Hockey under-10 AAA, Laurier women’s cross country, North Park Collegiate senior football.

• John Macklin Memorial Award – Coach of the Year: winner, Alison Purkiss, Brant Skating Club; also nominatedCory Currie, Laurier Athletics Brantford; Dale Harrison, Brantford Minor Hockey;

• George Churchill Memorial Award – Sports Volunteer of the Year: winners, Jen Nagy, Brantford Girls CYO Basketball, and Brandi Schott, Brant Skating Club; also nominated, Sandra Gagne, Brantford Community Hockey League: Randy Meggs, Brantford Minor Baseball;

• George Jones Memorial Award – Lifetime Sports Volunteerism: winners, Janet Clarke, Brant Skating Club; Dennis Duce, Brantford Community Hockey League and Brantford Minor Hockey; Brent Hutchinson, Brantford Track and Field; Jason Nagy, Assumption College Football.

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