Winnipeg SportsLife March/April 2019

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sportslife 2019 | Volume 6 | Issue 2

An Historic New Exhibit at our Sports Hall of Fame Hezekiah and Ambanza: U of W Basketball All-Stars The New Class: Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame Mansaray and Akinola Thrill Fans as U of M Plays Host to Track Nationals

Winnipeg Edition

Serena Buchwald: Pitt’s Diving Sensation A Bonspiel Tribute to the Great Bob Picken

The 2019 Canada Winter Games: A Beautiful (and tasty) Ringette Bronze Medal

Water Polo Page 18

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Contents 4 sports sportslife life

16 25 medals for team toba

06 the starting line-up

Hottest News Stories in Manitoba Sports

20 Curling

Masters Curling Bonspiel Planned to Honour Bob Picken

Serena Buchwald – From Jumping off the Dock to Competing in NCAA

Winnipeg Hosts Western CFFL Regionals in May

Team Toba Wins Bronze with the Same Record as Silver and Gold Teams

10 youth football

22 diving

12 university basketball

24 flag football

Manitoba Selects All-Star Team

Wesmen’s All-Stars

14 MB softball hall of fame

26 cwg ringette

16 canada winter Games

28 University athletics 29 major league water polo

Meet the 2019 Inductees

Solid Performance by Team Toba

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Sisters Claire and Serena Bredin Compete in Major League On Opposing Teams

Photo Feature

Photo Feature

Support Your Local Community

31 Community Billboard

SportsLife is Manitoba’s amateur sports magazine. This is where sports fans will meet the Olympians of tomorrow and the medalists of today and they all compete right here in Manitoba. We exist to pay tribute to those who make sport so important to this province. Published by SportsLife Publications, it is edited by Scott Taylor and is designed and developed by Scott Taylor, Debbie Dunmall and OV Suvajac. SportsLife Magazine is printed by Quantum Graphics. Any opinions expressed belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily express the views of the magazine, or of the publishers. All published work is edited for accuracy, style, and clarity. We do accept unsolicited material as long as it refers to athletes, coaches, or volunteers involved in sport in Manitoba. For all information and advertising rates, we can be reached at 204-996-4146 or 204-296-GOAL (4625). PUBLISHER OV Suvajac Box 66050, Winnipeg Manitoba R3K 2G0 204-996-4146 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Scott Taylor ART DIRECTOR Debbie Dunmall COVER PHOTO Mark Cundict/Canada Games Society CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS James Carey Lauder, Jeff Miller, Sport Canada, Trevor Hagan and Don Voaklander/University of Manitoba, Rich Lam, University of Winnipeg, Softball Manitoba, University of Pittsburgh, Kelly Tarala, Andre Harms, Mel Bollin, Jacquie Matechuk, Mark Cundict, Curtis Polishuk and Mark Holloway/ Canada Games Society, Sport Manitoba, Winnipeg Ringette League CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Scott Taylor, Resby Coutts, Johnston Hall, Nichole Forbes, Rob Walker, Katie Pietracci

Spring is Coming! Honest. It Is. I have it on good authority that spring is coming. Officially, spring begins on March 20, at 4:58 CDT, but I certainly realize that might be hard to believe. Especially now that the white snow has turned to dirty brown concrete and the temperature is still below zero. However, based on nearly 70 years of experience, I’d say spring is right around the corner. That is, if 6-8 weeks is right around the corner. With spring comes the commensurate change in our sporting passions. We put the skates and skis away and bring out the bats, balls and golf clubs. Indoor volleyball becomes (real) beach volleyball. Basketball heads outside. And indoor soccer turns into intense, but invigorating runs on the outdoor pitch. In this issue of SportsLife, we’ll say good-bye to winter and welcome spring with open hearts – and a touch of floodrelated anxiety. We’ll take a look at the 2019 Canada Winter Games and Manitoba’s gold-medal finishes in speedskating (Tyson Langelaar and Alexa Scott), Nordic para-skiing (Jesse Bachinsky) and archery (Austin Taylor). As well, in this issue of SportsLife, we pay tribute to U of W basketball stars Faith Hezekiah and Narcisse Ambanza, introduce you to Water Polo goaltenders Claire and Serena Bredin and diver Serena Buchwald. As well, we have a tribute to the newest inductees into the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame, news of a new curling bonspiel honoring the great Bob Picken and plenty of track and field, ringette, football and basketball. It’s not only our spring issue, but our awards issue, as well. It’s another jam-packed issue of SportsLife to welcome spring. And yes, it will get here. Eventually.

– SCOTT TAYLOR Editor-in-Chief SportsLife is published at least six times a year by SportsLife Publications. All sales are managed by SportsLife Publications. All design and layout is provided by Debbie Dunmall and SportsLife is printed by Quantum Graphics. sportslife 5




Canadian high jump silver medalist Oyinko Akinola

Compiled by Scott Taylor, Photos by James Carey Lauder, Jeff Miller, Sport Canada, Basketball Manitoba, Trevor Hagan/University of Manitoba, Sport Canada and Rich Lam SportsLife Magazine brings you the hottest news stories in Manitoba sports. Once again, we’ll catch up with a number of the star athletes who were sensational in 2018 and continue to be great this year. Here’s the latest in Manitoba sport…


Alhaji Mansaray, completed his five-year University of Manitoba Bisons career in style by winning a U-SPORTS gold medal in the high jump in front of a raucous home crowd at Max Bell Centre. Mansaray, alongside fourth-year star Oyinko Akinola, grabbed hold of the Winnipeg crowd and wouldn’t let it go as the two U of M leapers battled to a jump-off at 2.15-metres. Mansaray was the only athlete to break that mark, earning his second gold in the event. The product of Freetown, Sierra Leone also won U SPORTS gold in the high jump back in 2016-17, which followed silver medals, the previous two years. “It starts with us, you know,” Mansaray said. “We need to pave the way for the little kids. If they see how we show up and how we jump at home, hopefully it can get the little kids going and we get more jumpers here in Manitoba.” Mansaray’s 2.15-metres was the top jump in U SPORTS this season, breaking a 2.11-metre mark set by Alberta’s Wesley Calef. Mansaray is also the provincial record holder, having achieved 2.20-metres previously in his career. Canadian high jump champion Alhaji Mansaray

GILES, FILEWYCH NAMED ALL-CANADIANS Team Manitoba basketball stars Kyanna Giles and Keylyn Filewich were both named All-Canadians at the annual U SPORTS All-Canadian Gala. Giles, from the University of Regina, enjoyed a tremendous third season with the Cougars and was named to the first All-Canadian team. She averaged a team-high 18.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The Sisler High School product also finished second in the conference with 2.6 steals per game while leading the Cougars to a conference-best 17-3 regular season record. “It means a lot to be recognized, obviously. My hard work is paying off and it shows that I’m getting better and better each year.” Filewich, who played at Vincent Massey in Keylyn Filewich Kyanna Giles Winnipeg and was named tio the second All-Canadian team, had an outstanding season finishing fourth in Canada West conference in points (369), third in blocks (22), first in offensive rebounds (86), and tops in shooting percentage at 60.3%. This is Filewich’s second appearance as an all-star after being named to the conference’s all-rookie team in 2016-17. Both players had outstanding careers while in Manitoba and were members of the Manitoba Provincial Team program. Both players have attended a number of National Team ID camps.

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Kelsey Wog

Kelsey Wog, was phenomenal at the 2019 U-SPORT National Swimming Championships. On the final day of the meet, the 20-year-old from Winnipeg won the 200-metre breaststroke and set a new U SPORTS record in the process (2:25.50). It was Wog’s fourth gold medal of the meet and her finest performance yet as a member of coach Vlastik Creny’s Bison Swim Team. Wog also swept the other individual breaststroke events, winning the 50-metre (31.80) and the 100-metre (1:06.84). She also placed first in the 200-metre individual medley (2:13.98). The four gold medals are a new personal best for Wog, earning her U-SPORTS First Team All-Canadian recognition. She won three golds (50m, 100m, 200m breaststroke) and one silver (200m IM) at the 2018 U SPORTS Championships. In the final team standings, the Bison women’s team finished 14th with 192.5 points while the men finished 15th with 65 points. “I’m pleased with the individual performance of our swimmers,” said Cerny. “Kelsey’s four gold medals is a first for the swim team and an outstanding accomplishment.”


Tegan Turner at Canada West

At the 2019 Canada West Track and Field Championships, hosted by the University of Alberta, the University of Manitoba Bison men finished in second place with 121.5 points (a 20.5-point improvement from 2018) while the women finished sixth with 58 points. The Saskatchewan Huskies ended the meet as conference champions on both the men’s and women’s side. Overall, 10 different Bison athletes earned individual medals at the Canada West Championships. As well, Manitoba earned five medals in relay events.

RANDALL, BROWNE NAMED CANADA WEST ALL-STARS University of Manitoba third-year guard Taylor Randall was selected as a Canada West Third Team All-Star. This is the second year in a row that Randall has been named to the conference all-star team (2017-18: Third Team). Randall, 21, was the leading scorer for a Bison women’s basketball team Taylor Randall that qualified for the playoffs for the second straight year after eight seasons without a post-season appearance. Meanwhile, University of Manitoba fourth-year guard Rashawn Browne was named Rashawn Browne a Canada West Third Team AllStar. This is the first all-star selection for Browne in his Bisons career and the fourth consecutive season that a Bison men’s basketball player has been named a conference All-Star. Browne, 23, averaged 16.0 points per game, an improvement of 3.2 points over his 2017-18 season. The Toronto product also averaged 5.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.

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BISONS JAMES WAGNER WINS COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD The University of Manitoba’s third-year forward James Wagner, 20, has been named the Canada West Conference’s 2018-19 Student-Athlete Community Service Award winner. “This is a great honour for not only James, but for our program,’ said U of M head basketball coach Kirby Schepp. “I think it says a lot that he’s the first in the history of the Bison men’s basketball program in Canada West to win this prestigious award and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving young man. James is the epitome of what a student-athlete is and what, I think, what U SPORTS is all about. He obviously performs incredibly well at every stage and we’re very proud that James is a model for our program, for Bison Sports, and for what a U SPORTS athlete should be.” On the court, the versatile forward averaged 14.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. In the classroom, Wagner has achieved Academic All-Canadian status in both his years of eligibility with Manitoba. In the community, Wagner has been a volunteer in many places around Winnipeg including Siloam Mission and Deer Lodge Centre Nursing Home.

James Wagner, University Scholarship winner

ROSS AND LACHANCE EARN TRIP TO CFL COMBINE University of Manitoba receiver Shai Ross and defensive lineman Tariq Lachance both impressed scouts enough to earn two of the three available spots to the CFL’s National Combine taking place from March 22-24 in Toronto. Ross was nothing short of spectacular, putting up the best numbers in four of the six testing categories: vertical jump (37.5 inches), broad jump (11-feet-3-inches), three-cone (6.87 seconds) Shai Ross, U of M Bisons and short shuttle (4.17 seconds). He was also second in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.65 seconds. Ross, who played high school ball at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg, has been a consistent Bisons receiver over the past two years, recording 619 yards and six touchdowns. Lachance had a solid testing day as well, finishing just behind Ross and Walker with a broad jump of 9-feet-7-inches The 6-foot-2, 260-pounder’s three cone time of 7.72 seconds was also second among defensive lineman, as was his shuttle (4.66 seconds) and his 40-yard dash (5.08 seconds). His vertical of 30 inches was also third among defensive linemen.


Clara Hughes

in Torino On International Women’s Day, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame opened a historic new exhibit featuring Manitoba’s outstanding women in sport. “This collection, which has been in the works for a long time, is truly special,” said Jeff Hnatiuk, President and CEO of Sport Manitoba. “We’re proud to showcase Manitoba’s great women in sport with this exhibit and celebrate those who have blazed the trail for today’s young female athletes. It’s only fitting to unveil it today – International Women’s Day.” Women in Sport: Celebrating Manitoba Women Past, Present, and Future showcases female athletes, builders, and teams who have contributed to Manitoba’s rich sport history. The exhibit includes artifacts from honoured members of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and many other women who have made significant contributions to the sport community. The exhibit includes: Clara Hughes’s entire Olympic medal collection (on public display under one roof for the first time) and 12 Olympic and Paralympic swimming medals from 10 different games. The exhibit will be featured at the Hall of Fame at 145 Pacific Ave., in Winnipeg, until August. Jennifer Jones in Sochi

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building confidence on and off the field By Nichole Forbes, Photos courtesy Colleen Belisle Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber, Kito Poblah, has turned his drive for athletic excellence on the field to a commitment to seeing student athletes excel in every area of life with his program, Manitoba Selects. Poblah launched Manitoba Selects in the fall of 2017 with the intention of bringing together the province’s top football athletes to form an All-Star team to compete in San Antonio, Texas. “The first year was magical.” Poblah says of the inauguration year, “Coaches from across the community stepped up to help pull those teams and that trip together. It really was a team effort but what we saw, in the end, was results. We beat a team from Dallas Texas and most importantly saw our kids, parents, and coaches go from strangers to teammates in those months. They showed up for each other, worked hard and really got things done.” “This past season we saw the athletes show up ready to work hard right from day one. And it paid off. Our 10U team won their division and faced South Sask in the championship. We took second place but we are glad to see Canadian teams taking some trophies back home.” Poblah credits his management team and head coaches Mike Deneka 10U, Boyd Barrett 12U, Tom Walls 14U and

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assistant coaches for the incredible growth of the athletes as teams and as individuals. “Going into this year we spent a lot of time laying out the program and training up our coaches. We really do have the best coaches. Their commitment to this program and to their athletes is something else.” “Each week our athletes are coached in key elements of developing confidence. We apply these lessons to off field situations as well because, in the end, life is about more than winning a game, its about being prepared for success in every area you choose to step into.” Poblah was offered a full ride athletic scholarship to Central Michigan University after playing high school football. He went on to graduate with a Masters in Business Administration before being drafted into the CFL. He hopes to take his personal experience

and professional contacts and leverage that into scholarships for his Manitoba Selects athletes. “It was my dream to be a professional athlete but it was my mom’s dream for me to get a college education.” Poblah jokes. “I realized that I could do both. It was a lot of hard work but I made my sport work for my education. I knew going in that my football career was only going to last a certain number of years but the education I received would be with me forever. I really feel like I played football for my education. I was always a student first.” Poblah says that what fuels him and inspires him to continue working with student athletes is his passion for football. He says that being part of teams throughout his childhood helped him to develop resilience and self-discipline. It also gave him lifelong friends that were cemented through trips like the trip to San Antonio. “To me, operating the Manitoba Selects program, is just as fulfilling as competing in professional sports. This is an extension of my dream. I am still living out my passion for football but now I get to help others on their journey to living out their dream. It just doesn’t get any better than this!” For more information on the Manitoba Selects you can follow them on Facebook. l

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Big Year for Two Wesmen Stars

By Johnston Hall, Photos courtesy University of Winnipeg Athletics While both the University of Winnipeg Wesmen men’s and women’s basketball teams had solid seasons, it was sure a big year two of their stars – Faith Hezekiah and Narcisse Ambanza. Hezekiah was named a First-Team Women’s Canada West All-Star while Ambanza was named to the Men’s Second Team. Hezekiah had a career for the Wesmen. She recorded a career-high 23.8 points per game to lead all of Canada West and also also averaged 10.3 rebounds per game, second in the conference. She became the first Wesmen player in Canada West history to average a double-double in backto-back seasons. Hezekiah averaged a career-high 3.1 steals per game, which also led the conference.

Narcisse Ambanza

A product of East St. Paul, Man., she finished Faith Hezekiah second in Canada West in WOMEN double-doubles with 14 Sep 8the conference vs. Saskatchewan 7:00 PM and led in games 30 points, scoring 30-plus an amazing Sep 9 with at least vs. Regina 7:00 seven times. Her 35 points in a win over Brandon in December were the second-highest in Canada West this season. With Hezekiah leading the way, the Wesmen were knocked out of the post-season in a loss to the No. 1-seeded Saskatchewan in a quarter-final series, but not before they pulled off a first-round upset at UBC, knocking off the No. 5-seeded Thunderbirds. It’s the first time on the first team for Hezekiah, who earned her first all-star award last season when she was named to Canada West’s second all-conference team. “Faith stepped into a leading role as a fourth-year and guided our team through the season,” said Wesmen head

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coach Tanya McKay. “Not only did she lead our conference in scoring, but she was No. 2 in rebounding and No. 1 in steals. Faith is a gifted and talented player who elevated her SCHEDULE play to push our program to make playoffsHOME and upset UBC WOMEN in the first round.” Sep 8 vs. Saskatchewan 7:00 Sep 9 vs.was Regina joined on the 7:00 All-Star squad by two Hezekiah other Manitobans – UBC’s Keylyn Filewich and Regina’s Kyanna Giles. Meanwhile, for the third time in his three years as a member of the Wesmen, Ambanza was named to a Canada West all-star team. The conference’s 17 men’s basketball head coaches selected the post-season all-star teams. A 6-foot-2 guard out of Toronto’s Eastern Commerce Collegiate, Ambanza had his best year for the Wesmen, scoring a career-high 18.8 points per game to lead the team while dishing out a career-high 6.2 assists per game, which ranked second in the Canada West conference. In addition, Ambanza was second on the Wesmen in rebounds per game with 6.1. The combo-guard posted five double-doubles, which ranked second on the team, and topped the 30-point mark twice, including a career-high-tying 36-point effort in a Feb. 7 playoff win over Manitoba. Ambanza also set a singlegame career-high in a Jan. 31 win over Manitoba when he handed out 16 assists, which was one less than the highest single-game assist total in Canada West in the past 20 years. The Wesmen finished the season with a 13-7 record, their highest win percentage since the team went 13-5 in 1993-94 while still part of the former Great Plains Athletic Conference. They knocked off Manitoba in the first round of the conference playoffs before being eliminated by undefeated defending national champion Calgary in the conference quarter-final. Calgary went on to lose the gold medal game to the Carleton Ravens at this year’s national championship tournament. Ambanza was named a third-team all-star last year and the conference all-rookie team in 2016-17. “Narcisse had a tremendous season and was impactful at both ends of the floor for us,” said Wesmen head coach Mike Raimbault. “We asked a lot of him every night and he did a great job of leading our group.” l PM


Manitoba Basketball Club Championships Announced for Ages 1319 on May 9-12, 2019 The 2019 Manitoba Club Basketball Championshipwill be held on May 9-12, 2019 in Winnipeg. The 4-day event will involve male and female teams in the 13-19 age range. Deadline to register a team is Friday, April 19, 2019, at 4:30 pm at a fee of $400 per team. Discounted rates are offered for

Manitoba teams based outside of Winnipeg. At the 14U age level, the Manitoba Club Basketball Championships will be used as an official qualifier as part of the Jr NBA Global Championships.

The winning male and female teams from the 14U age ‘A’ division level will go on to play the Saskatchewan club winners. The winners from there will move on to the Jr NBA Canadian Championships in Ontario with one male and one female Canadian winner going to the Jr NBA Global Championships. All details on the Club Championships can be found at http://www.basketballmanitoba. ca/2006/06/club-basketballprovincial-championships.html

May 24-26 at UW Duckworth Centre The summer of 2019 will see a total of 6 Provincial Teams formed at the male

and female 17U, 16U and 15U age levels. All six teams will compete in warmup events in Canada and the USA prior to heading to their respective National Championships or Western Canada Games later this summer. Manitoba will be sending a male and female basketball team to attend the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games in Swift Current, SK. More information on the 2019 WCSG can be found at basketball/

The 2019 Provincial Team Tryouts for the upcoming summer will occur May 24-26, 2019 at the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre (400 Spence Street in Winnipeg, MB). For detailed info about the Manitoba Provincial Teams visit: https://www.basketballmanitoba. ca/2019/03/manitoba-provincialteam-basketball-age.html

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The Class of 2019

By Scott Taylor with biographical notes provided by Softball Manitoba, Photos courtesy Softball Manitoba who he played with in the International Softball Congress World Championships in Kimberley, Wisconsin in 1998.

The kid from Portage who played with the world-renowned California Cuties, the daughter of All-American Girls Professional Baseball League star Olive Little and another all-star from the amazing Winnipeg Colonels will lead eight individuals and three teams into the Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame. The group of inductees includes four athletes, three all-around contributors, one Builder and three teams and will officially inducted on May 11, 2019, at Winnipeg’s Victoria Inn. The athletes are Darryl Beamish, Michael Blackburn, Rollie Boucher and Leanne (Scott) Papineau. The all-around contributors are Charlie Brown, the late Frankie (Little) Cochlan and Larry Dewis and builder Brett Turner as well as the 2002 – 2007 Bison Blondes Women’s Slo-Pitch Team, the 2002 -2006 Smitty’s Senior Open A Women’s Fastpitch Team and the 2006 – 2011 St James Canad Inns 55-plus Mixed Slo-Pitch Team.

ROLLIE BOUCHER, ATHLETE Rollie Boucher was a dominant force on the Manitoba Fastball scene in the 1970s and 1980s. He pitched in Provincial Championships at the C level, B level and finally A level in his rise to the top of softball hierarchy. He pitched for the Winnipeg Colonels and then the Winnipeg Internationals in the Western Canadian Fastball League, which featured the premiere fastball players in Canada. CHARLIE BROWN, ALL ROUND Charlie Brown began his long and successful fastball career in 1956. Charlie was a mainstay and the “ace” pitcher of most of his teams through the sixties playing with Ashdowns, Concord Hotel, Kiewels Seals and later Ste. Anne Saints. He began

Let’s meet this year’s inductees: MANITOBA SOFTBALL HALL of FAME INDUCTEES 2019

Darryl Beamish

DARYL BEAMISH, ATHLETE Beamish began his fastball career in 1963 playing in south-western Manitoba. He competed in several Senior B Provincial Championships and was part of teams that represented Manitoba in Western Canadian Championships at the Senior B and Masters levels. He won two Silver and two Bronze medals at Western Canadian Championships. MICHAEL BLACKBURN, ATHLETE Michael Blackburn was born in 1971 in Portage la Prairie, and began to play fastball with his high school team at Arthur Meighen in Portage la Prairie and his fastball education continued while hanging around the Senior Portage Diamonds Fastball Club. He played in the Portage Fastball League from 1989 to 1991 and moved on to play with Dakota Plains through to 1995 before moving on to play with Sioux Valley Dakotas,

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Larry Dewis

pitching at the Senior A level in 1965 and continued to take the mound in Senior A or Senior B competition until 1983 when he along with several other future hall of famers, formed the first Manitoba Masters Fastball team. FRANKIE (LITTLE) COCHLAN, ALL-AROUND Frankie (Little) Cochlan was born in Portage la Prairie and began to play organized softball at the age of 12 in her hometown, Poplar Point. She was coached by both her mother and father, George and Olive Little and quickly learned to love the game of fastpitch. At 16 years of age Frankie was recruited to play for CUAC Blues from 1964 to in the Winnipeg Senior Girls Softball League and one year later in 1965 Frankie pitched in the final game of the Canadian Senior Women’s Championships helping her Manitoba team win the Gold Medal. LARRY DEWIS, ALL-AROUND Larry Dewis played in Portage la Prairie until 1974 when he moved to Winnipeg and joined the Junior Colonels Fastball Club and was honoured to be named Captain of the inaugural team. He went on to play with the Winnipeg Colonels in the Western Major Fastball League where he won several provincial and league All-Star Awards and continued to be a dynamic player and leader as his career continued from Junior to Senior to Masters to Slo-pitch levels of play. LEANNE SCOTT, ATHLETE From Leanne’s first years in 1992 as a 14-year-old Midget player, with Smitty’s Terminators, to her retirement from competitive Senior fastball, with Smitty’s Senior Women, in 2003, she was able to earn several individual awards, as well as being a member of many Gold and Silver Medal winning teams at the Western Canadian Championships or Senior National Championships. She was honoured to be selected to be a member of the Junior National Team that represented Canada and placed 5th in the World Championships in 1995. BRETT TURNER, BUILDER Brandon’s Brett Turner was actually born

The Bison Blondes

and raised in Boissevain and started playing Fastpitch in 1974 in the South West Fastball league with the team later to be Brett Turner known as the Boissevain Canadians before he moved on to play in the Brandon Commercial League until 1988. He played one year in Winnipeg before returning to play in Brandon until he retired from playing competitively when he turned 50 years of age. BISON BLONDES WOMEN’S SLO-PITCH TEAM From 2002-2007 the Bison Blondes played locally in the Winnipeg Women’s and Waverly Slo-Pitch Leagues, as well as being a Women’s team competing in the John Blumberg Co-Ed League. This team won Silver in 2002 and Gold in 2003 at the Western Canadian Slo-Pitch Championships. SMITTYS SENIOR OPEN A WOMEN’S FASTPITCH TEAM The Smitty’s Senior Open A Softball

team was formed by coaches Roy and Evelyne Holenski for the 2002 season and was comprised of former Smitty’s Senior, Junior and Midget players. The team enjoyed great success, winning five consecutive Gold Medals at the Western Canadian Open Championships. This Smitty’s team won the Gold Medal in 2002 at the Western Canadian Open Championships in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Gold in 2003 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba; Gold in Richmond, BC in 2004; Gold in 2005 in Nanaimo, BC and they won the Gold Medal in 2006 in Carnduff, Saskatchewan. ST. JAMES CANAD INNS 55-PLUS SLO-PITCH SOFTBALL TEAM In 2004 the St James 55-Plus Senior SloPitch team split into two teams so that the team could compete at the 65-Plus and the 55-Plus categories. The 55+ team became Canad Inns and went on to win the Provincial Championships for seven consecutive years. The 18th annual Manitoba Softball Hall of Fame induction banquet will be held at the Victoria Inn, 1808 Wellington Ave., in Winnipeg on May 11, 2019. Tickets, at a cost of $75, are available from Les Newman at 204-235-1674, or by email: l sportslife 15


Manitoba Has Another Very Good Canada Winter Games By Johnston Hall, Photos by Kelly Tarala, Andre Harms, Mel Bollin, Jacquie Matechuk, Curtis Polishuk and Mark Holloway/Canada Games Society and Sport Manitoba Jeff Hnatiuk, the President and CEO of Sport Manitoba, could barely hide his enthusiasm. Now, remember, Hnatiuk is one of those veterans of amateur sport who long ago stopped gushing at the performances of Manitoba’s athletes and started looking at them with both a discerning and an objective eye.

A beautiful bronze ringette selfie But after Team ‘Toba returned from Red Deer and the 2019 Canada Winter Games, he sounded as enthusiastic and energized by Manitoba’s performance. “I thought our kids did fantastic,” said Hnatiuk. “If you go back to the Summer Games of 2013 in Sherbrooke, which was one of our best medal performances. Since those Games – both Winter and Summer – we have improved every year. That says a lot about what we’re doing in Manitoba. “A big part of the reason for this improvement is what we can now offer our athletes in terms of training and coaching. It’s really made a difference.” After two weeks of competition in February, Manitoba completed the 2019 Canada Winter Games with 25 medals – nine gold, seven silver and nine bronze. For a small province in the middle of the country with about one million souls, it was an incredible finish. At the last Canada Winter Games in 2015, Manitoba won six gold medals, three silver and

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seven bronze so this year’s haul – 10 more medals – was quite impressive. As well, in the battle for the Canada Games Centennial Cup, awarded at each Games to the most improved team, Manitoba finished second to the host province, Alberta, in a very close race. With 25 medals, Canada was fifth overall, trailing only the four “monster” provinces of Quebec (146), Ontario (105), Alberta (100) and British Columbia (87). Amazingly, Manitoba had more gold medals than Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut combined. “We did well in Speedskating (two athletes won seven gold medals), but we’ve always been strong in Speedskating,” Hnatiuk said. “We were very good in curling and ringette, but we’re kind of expected to do well in those sports. However, in these Games, we won a gold medal in archery. We sent three boxers and all three were fighting for a medal on the final day. We did well in judo. It’s really nice to see Manitoba perform well in those sports in which no one expects us to perform well.” The two heroes of the Games were clearly Speedskaters Tyson Langelaar and Alexa Scott. Scott, who hails from Clandeboye, won three gold medals – one each in Mass Start, 1000-metres (1:22.26) and 3000-metres (4:33.83). Scott’s winning time in the 3000 was a Games record. Langelaar, meanwhile, won four gold medals and one silver as he dominated men’s Speedskating. He won gold in Mass Start, in the 1,000metres (1:12.79), in the 500-metres (1:14.73) and the 1,500-metres. He won the 1,500 in the middle of a driving wind storm in bitter cold and won the 1,000-metre race in a Canada Games

Speedskater Tyson Langelaar won four gold

record time. He also won a silver medal in the 5,000-metres in a time of 6:56.36. He was so good at these Games, he won a gold medal on his 20th birthday. Manitoba’s other two gold medal winners were archer Austin Taylor in Individual Male Compound with a score of 148. The Winnippeger was featured in the January/February 2019 edition of SportsLife. Austin went on to win a silver medal with his partner Bryanne Lameg in a final shoot off against Quebec in Compound Team Mixed. It was Bryanne’s first Canada Games medal, but the honors continued for Taylor when he was chosen as Team Manitoba’s Flag Bearer for the Closing Ceremonies. “Austin’s incredible performance at these Games makes him an excellent representative for Team Manitoba at the 2019 Canada Winter Games’ Closing Ceremonies,” said Team Manitoba Chef de Mission Marcie Halls-Stronciski. “Our team set out to build on past experience and successes these Games and we’re proud of the hard work our Herd put in to helping us achieve this goal.”

It’s gut-check time for Manitoba’s bronze medal-winning Bergmann curling team As we learned back in January, Taylor, 18, started in archery five years ago. He’s the reigning Canadian junior-

aged outdoor target archery and field archery champion. He set a Canadian record in field archery at the national championship in Nova Scotia in August of 2018. In the last year, he has won second place at the NFAA Vegas Shoot in the Championship Young Adult category, won the Alberta Summer Classic, and won a bronze medal in team play at the World Archery d medals Indoor Championship. He also has a busy year ahead, with appearances scheduled at the World Archery Senior Championship in the Netherlands in June and the World Archery Youth Championship in Madrid in August.

gold medals and one silver medal. She was selected as a tournament All-Star for four consecutive years. She’s also a ringette coach, who plays soccer, hockey, and flag football. She’s a full-time student-athlete at the University of Manitoba and hopes to pursue a career in either Business or Nursing. “Alana’s determination, leadership, and willingness to mentor and support her team solidified her as an excellent representative for Team Manitoba at the 2019 Canada Winter Games’ Opening Ceremonies,” said Team Manitoba Chef de Mission Marcie Halls-Stronciski. “Our team has been training over the last couple of years for these Games. We’re proud of our Herd and are excited see the results of their hard work and intense preparation.” The fact that Alana and her teammates won bronze was another reason why Manitoba did so well in Red Deer. Among the other medal winners were: Women’s Curling: Team Bergman – Hayley Bergman, Payton Bergman, Cheyenne Ehnes, and Anastasia Ginters – won silver after losing 8-3 to Ontario in the final.

Champagne Trampoline silver medallists Tyler sen Klas h Isaia and Meanwhile, the Opening ceremonies flag bearer was Ringette star Alana Lesperance of Winnipeg. She not only carried the flag but also helped her team beat B.C. 6-4 in the Bronze Medal game. Oak Bluff’s Taylor Hildebrand and Grosse Isle’s Olivia McCowan each had two goals for Manitoba while Winnipeg’s Kaylee Spearing and Celeste McElroy each added a goal. Lesperance, along with Alexsi Kavvadas, Celeste McElroy, Nicole Girardin, Milica Oravec, and Brett Van Nieuw-Amerongen each tallied assists. Lesperance was one of 208 athletes who competed in all 19 official Games’ sports for Manitoba. The athletes were joined by 46 coaches, 14 managers, eight tech support workers, and 20 mission staff. She has played ringette for 15 years and has participated in five Canadian Ringette Championships, winning two

Men’s Curling: Team Loewen – Graham Loewen, Zack Bilawka, Adam Flatt, and Sean Flatt – won bronze after beating Newfoundland and Labrador 8-7 in the Bronze Medal Match. Trampoline: Winnipeg’s Tyler Champagne and Niverville›s Isaiah Klassen won silver in men’s synchronized trampoline. Nordic Para-Skiing: After winning gold in the Para-Nordic standing 2.5-kilometre race (7:28.30), Jesse Bachinsky, who was last year’s Manitoba Skier of the Year, won bronze in the ParaNordic standing sprint (4:33.60) and then won a second bronze in the Para-Nordic standing 5-kilometre race (17:13.30).

Manitoba’s Silver medal-winning boxer Justice Harborne (blue) Sam Urich won Silver in the plus70-kg individual female event. And Selkirk’s Justin Ekosky of the Selkirk Judo Club won Bronze in Judo’s under73-kg individual male event. His sister, Sarah Ekosky, won Bronze in Judo’s under -57-kg individual female event. And New Bothwell’s Kadin ChristBonnell won Silver in the under-55 kg individual male event. Boxing: Winnipeg’s Jawad Miakhail defeated Nova Scotia’s Matthew Fraser by decision to win a Bronze medal in the 56-kilogram final while Beausejour’s Justice Harborne lost a tough gold medal bout and won Silver in the 60-kilogram competition. “I’m pleased with the progress our team made in Red Deer,” said Hnatiuk. “We put together our top high-performance athletes and they all competed extremely well. And interestingly, 35 per cent of the kids who made up this team were from rural Manitoba and I think that’s really great. “There really are all kinds of reasons for us to be excited for the future of all of these up-and-coming athletes.” l

Nordic Skiing: Winnipeg’s Conor McGovern won Bronze in cross country skiing’s 1.25-km race (2:30.39). Judo: Michael Akbashev of Winnipeg won Bronze in the under-81-kg individual male event. Winnipeg’s

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In the Heart of the Action By Scott Taylor, Photos by James Carey Lauder Claire Bredin has always loved being in the thick of the action. If there is a scoreboard and two teams are playing for keeps, she loves it. That’s why she loves water polo and loves being a goaltender even more. “I have an older sister and an older brother and they play water polo,” said Bredin, shortly after a Major League Water Polo match with Saskatchewan. “I really had no choice but to become a goalie because my sister was a goalie and still is. In fact, she played this weekend for Calgary.” Serena, now 29, still plays Major League Water Polo. She played university water polo at the University of Hawaii, played professionally in Holland and was a long-time member of Canada’s national team. It could be argued that, along with Shae Fournier, Claire’s older sister is the most successful water polo player ever produced in Manitoba. And Claire is pretty good, too. A member of Team Manitoba in Canada’s MLWP, a highly competitive four-team loop in West Canada that includes clubs from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Calgary and Edmonton, Claire, 23, has played the sport for 15 years and, while she has represented Canada in age-group competitions, she admits she is still improving. Although, to be fair, playing in the MLWP isn’t the same as playing in the CFL or NHL. “I work in a day care and I love it,” Claire said. “But I graduated from university in the fall with a

Claire Bredin

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Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the U of M and hope to get into teaching. Playing water polo is anything but a fulltime job, but I really love it. I’m hoping to make Canada’s FISU Games team. That’s kind of my short-term goal.” Team Canada is looking at four goalies, including Claire, and it’s likely she’ll find out soon whether she makes the travelling team. The 30th FISU Summer Universaide will be held in Naples, Italy from July 3-14, so she has reason to continue working hard with her club team, Bushido, and Team Manitoba. “There are four goalies listed on the team and I’m one of them,” she explained. “We’ll go to Regina for our tryouts soon. And hopefully I’ll earn a spot on the team.” Like so many other goalies in hockey, ringette, soccer and water polo, Claire started her career playing “out.” Being an outstanding swimmer is one of the most important skills for a goalie and Claire learned the game swimming up and down the pool chasing the ball. “When I got to the U-14 level, that’s when I started playing goal,” she said. “From the first time I went in net, I loved it and I’ve loved it ever since.” She also loves the competition. Even though Manitoba failed to qualify for a spot at the National Championships,

Bredin believes her team will be right in the thick of the national picture next year. Manitoba was a first-year team in MLWP and next year Bredin is convinced that with a little more experience, Manitoba will compete with the country’s best. After all, they were only one win away from qualifying this year. It also helps that the team’s goaltender loves to play and loves to take on the best the sport has to offer. “I’m a competitive person by nature,” she said. “I love how

Winnipeg’s Serena Bredin playing goal for Calgary, faces Edmonton at a tournament in Winnipeg

competitive this game is. I love how tough it is just to play. To be successful at water polo takes hard work and dedication and there is no better feeling than to know you can be highly competitive playing the toughest sport in the world.” See more photos from the event on page 29 l

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Planning Underway For Bob Picken Masters Bonspiel By Resby Coutts When the curling season begins next fall, one of the first events on the calendar will be the Bob Picken Valour Road Masters Bonspiel at the Thistle Curling Club. Soon after the legendary sportscaster passed away in early 2019 a group of friends and curling fans, headed by Brian Kushner and Bob Minaker, began talking about finding a way to honour Bob Picken and his contributions to curling over a long career as broadcaster and leader. The conversation turned into plans for the early season BOB PICKEN VALOUR ROAD MASTERS BONSPIEL at Thistle. The event name recognizes Bob’s long time affiliation with the Valour Road Curling Club going back over half a century when Bob Picken of Valour Road was a name to be reckoned with in Manitoba competition. His loyalty to Valour Road continued through his career and transferred to the Thistle when the Valour Road story ended and the club on Burnell became the new location of that

original Manitoba curling club. “We remember Bob as a great curler and broadcaster but we also remember him as a good friend and an organizer who ran our Senior league at Thistle. He was there with us filling in the draw and taking care of the league’s details right up until the last few weeks,” say co-chairs Kushner and Minaker. “Even with his advancing years, his was a larger-than-life presence among us.” In order to extend Bob’s curling legacy into the future, plans are being developed for proceeds from the event to be used to support identified Junior Curling projects. Details are still being finalized and will be announced prior to the bonspiel. The daytime-only bonspiel will be played Monday, September 30 to Friday, October 4, 2019 with a maximum entry of 40 teams. All Masters-age curlers (60 & over - men’s, women’s, mixed, stick) are welcome. The entry fee is $160 on a first paid, first in basis. Entries should be submitted to Brian Kushner by email (bkushner@mymts. net) and phone 204-786-5944 or 204257-5643. Interested persons are invited to seek further details by contacting Kushner; Bob Minaker (bdminaker@; Norm Magnusson (; or Resby Coutts (

Remembering A Legend By Resby Coutts and Scott Taylor

Bob Picken in the hack, way back in the day

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When Bob Picken passed away on January 30 of this year, his memory was saluted across the entire sports community. His contributions have been honoured by his inclusion in no fewer than nine Sports Halls of Fame and Honour Rolls. In addition to Manitoba, Canadian and World Curling Halls of Fame, the legendary broadcaster with the

remarkable voice was also included in Manitoba Baseball, Golf, and Hockey Halls of Fame; The Winnipeg Blue Bomber Wall of Honour and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame; and the Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Roll of Honour. His life in Manitoba sport stretched from 1948 to 2018. His career covering Manitoba sports spanned six decades – from his first job writing about high schools sports and minor hockey for the Winnipeg Citizen in 1948 to his last talking about golf and curling for CJOB up to his second retirement over 60 years later. His career as a sport administrator, sometimes volunteer and sometimes paid, spanned an even greater period – from the early ’50s when he was, for a short time, the secretary of the Manitoba Midget Hockey League to late 2018 when he was still making regular appearances as organizer of the Senior Curling League at Thistle Curling Club. In an interview with Scott Taylor “a few years ago”, Bob Picken explained his first sports-journalism job. “I was in high school at St. John’s Tech in 1948 and the Winnipeg Tribune and Winnipeg Free Press typesetters went on strike – you know that strike has never been settled to this day. When that happened, a lot of unemployed journalists in town started the Winnipeg Citizen. It was a morning paper and a pretty good one that lasted for about two years. “I was 16 and doing some work at the student newspaper at St. John’s Tech and I guess somebody liked my work because they recommended to the new editor at the Citizen that I’d be a good person to cover high school sports, golf, minor football and all the minor hockey over at the old Olympic rink.” There were other jobs but “Pick”, as he became known to friends and colleagues, was blessed with a great voice and was always destined to work as a sportscaster. He began at CKY in the 1950’s, had a short stint at CBC in the early 60’s before

working at CJOB from 1963 to 1969 when CBC called again. He stayed until 1991 when he took early retirement. To occupy himself, he went to work as media relations director for the U of M’s Bison Sports program and wrote about golf and curling for the Winnipeg Sun. His second broadcast career took him back to CJOB covering golf and curling from 1994 until second retirement 16 years later. Over his career, Bob Picken was the play-by-play voice of the Winnipeg Junior Jets (forerunner to the WHA Jets) and the Canadian National Hockey team when it was headquartered in Winnipeg as well as the Grey Cup game in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In a career that took him around the globe, he covered four Olympic Games, 32 World Curling Championships, and a couple of Masters golf tournaments in Augusta, Georgia. His first Canadian curling championship was the 1963 Brier in Brandon, not long after he had lost the Manitoba Men’s championship final game and the chance to compete in that very event. Subsequently he covered “about 50” Canadian men’s and women’s curling championships. Away from the microphone, his sport administrator resume has almost as many highlights. Among them were: In his youth, he was a Manitoba Juvenile baseball champion as catcher with the Elmwood Giants in 1951. That led him into umpiring, eventually

becoming Umpire-inchief and later President of Minor Baseball. He played a central role in bringing the National Junior Baseballs Championship and World Curling Championships to Winnipeg. He was an executive committee member and eventually President of the Manitoba Curling Association. He was the first media relations officer for the World Curling Federation. He was first coordinator of the Manitoba Curling Tour. He was the long-time secretary of the Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters. He played a key role in the organization of the Grey Owl Golf Tournament for over 40 years Robert Picken was born in St. Boniface, Man., in 1932 and spent his entire 86 years in Winnipeg. He is survived by his wife Barbara, sons Shane and Bob Jr., daughter Kelly, and six grandchildren. He “almost” moved to Edmonton once, “almost” took a job as the play-by-play announcer of the Minnesota North Stars once and “almost” moved to Toronto twice, but Winnipeg sports fans were lucky to have “Pick,” on the air here in Manitoba for his entire remarkable career.


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Bob Picken on the course

“After awhile you set down your roots and you don’t want to leave,” he said. “Your home becomes comfortable. I was always comfortable here. I’ve been a very lucky guy.” The fact that Manitoba was lucky to have him among us was underlined the day in July of 2017 when he was invested in the Order of Manitoba; an honour accorded to a rare few individuals for their contributions and service Bob Picken at work. to the Manitoba community. l

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Late to the Party

By Scott Taylor, Photos courtesy Sport Manitoba and University of Pittsburgh By her own admission, Serena Buchwald was a late starter. It wasn’t until she was 11-years-old and some friends saw her diving off the dock at her parents’ cabin that the seed was planted. “I was a gymnast, and there is this pier near my family’s cabin in Matlock,” she recalled. “I was doing flips and jumps off of it and there were a few instances where people would come up to my mum and suggest that I take up diving. I was about 11-years-old and, eventually, I went to a trail assessment and I loved it and have been hooked to the sport ever since.” In a city that has produced its share of outstanding nationally-ranked divers, Buchwald could be the best of the bunch. Now, in her freshman season at the University of Pittsburgh, the 18-year-old graduate of Balmoral Hall, has taken her talents to the NCAA. So far, so good. “So far, the overall experience has been great,” she said, during an interview from her dorm at Pitt. “The gear, the hype, the treatment staff available, are all fantastic. There have been some adjustments, such as competing almost every weekend. Diving down in the US is different than in Canada so there have been some adjustments to how I approach competitions and training. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed it and think I’m competing well with the other divers in the Atlantic Coast Conference.” Buchwald earned her stripes diving for head coach Dallas Ludwick with Revolution Diving Club in Winnipeg. Last year, Buchwald earned herself an opportunity to compete in her first Olympic Trials, where she got a taste of Canada’s worldSerena Buchwald in action

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class talent. Although she’s skilled in each of diving’s three events, Ludwick believes Buchwald’s best comes out on the 10-metre platform. “The difficulty Serena Buch and quality of Serena’s wald, Pitt Pa nthers skills on 10-metre will give her an edge in terms of qualifying for the NCAA National Championships,” Ludwick said in a written statement announcing Buchwald’s commitment to Pittsburgh. “I know that moving to Pittsburgh and diving in the NCAA program is an exciting new life adventure that she is ready for.” Buchwald comes by her diving successes honestly. Known as an extremely hard worker, she also has a solid base in other sports and that’s given her the skills and courage to grow and develop on the platform. “Being a gymnast prior to diving definitely had its advantages,” she said. “I was already quite strong and flexible and had a feeling for flipping. But being a gymnast meant I also had a lot of bad habits to break in terms of technique. The technique between gymnastics and diving is very different and I know that can be a tough transition for some gymnasts. Luckily, I had a very good first coach who helped me break those habits right away. “I had also played a lot of sports as a kid. I did track and hockey at school, was quite competitive in tennis and speedskating, but gymnastics was my main sport before I took up diving.” Buchwald has also been fortunate to have some positive and influential people involved in her diving career. Without them, her success may not have come at all, or at least, might not have arrived as quickly as it did. “There are a lot of influential people in my life,” she said. “Olympian Roseline Filion is a (now, former) diver I looked up to early on in my career. She was also known to be an extremely hard worker and even if she didn’t have the most natural talent, she worked harder than anyone else to become an Olympic medalist. “And my old coach Dallas Ludwick shaped me into the athlete and person I am today and definitely had an influence in my career.” Coach Ludwick, meanwhile, has nothing but praise for Buchwald, whom she says, “just loves the sport and always has fun.” “She joined diving at age 11 and then moved to my group when she was 12,” said Ludwick, 37, who has been coaching for 20 years. “She was one of the youngest divers in our group and it was a pretty good group of athletes, including some highly-rated national champions and potential

“I had also played a lot of sports as a kid. I did track and hockey at school, was quite competitive in tennis and speedskating, but gymnastics was my main sport before I took up diving.”

Olympians. But she was never out of place. She’s just such a hard-worker. I saw something in her at a very young age. She had immeasurable talent but she also worked so very hard at improving and there is no better combination than that.” Now that Serena is out of her hometown and diving with a big time NCAA program like the Pitt Panthers, life is much different. “College diving is a bit different than what I did at home, there are specific NCAA rules that need to be followed, such as that we have to train 20 hours or less a week,” Buchwald explained. “We always do roughly an hour of dryland (gymnastics-type skills and conditioning) a day, then at least two hours of water training (skills and progressions on top of our competition dives) and an hour of weight lifting all in one training day. “Not only does Pitt have a great diving coach, but this is also one of the top public universities in America. I’ve really enjoyed my classes and my teammates make the hard

training and lengthy competition season so much fun.” Some of it will have to be fun. Especially with the study load she’s taken on this year. “I plan on majoring in neuroscience,” she said, matterof-factly. “They have a really great program here at Pitt. I’m really interested in cognitive repair and development so if I got to do research in that area that would be a dream. Med school is definitely in the back of my mind, and majoring in neuroscience gives me all the prerequisites I need to apply and write the MCAT should I choose to.” In the meantime, Buchwald has a number of upcoming meets for which to prepare and with that heavy school load plus all the practice time, it’s a good thing she loves what she does. “Yeah, I love the adrenaline rush that you get after doing a new dive or a harder dive,” she said. “The best feeling in the world is hitting the water and knowing that you nailed the dive.” l

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Flag Football Competition Heats Up in Manitoba By Kate Pietracci Pulling flags is a tough job but if you want a berth at the Regional Championships in May, you better be practicing your flagging. Squaring up the ball carrier, going for both flags, and using both hands are new skills for a lot of touch and tackle football players, but thanks to newly formed Canadian Flag Football League (CFFL), teams can hone their skills in advance of the Regional Flag Football Championships. An initiative from Football Canada unveiled back in December, the CFFL promotes provincial iterations of flag football leagues as qualifying rounds so that provinces can promote competition and determine who will represent them at Regionals. Football Canada’s Executive Director, Shannon Donovan, said “Football Canada and the Provincial Sport Organization are proud of the growth of flag football nationally and internationally and believe the CFFL will provide an opportunity to highlight this growth through the leagues taking place across the country. The league will also help prepare our national teams for international competition.” Football Canada and Football Manitoba partnered with Winnipeg’s PIT Football League to offer Manitoba’s CFFL

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men’s and women’s divisions this winter. PIT Football President Jon Franklin said “We are proud to partner with Football Manitoba and Football Canada on the new national Flag Football League. Flag football is the fastest growing recreational sport in North America and is being considered as a future Olympic Sport. PIT Football wants be at the forefront in creating new opportunities for players of all skill levels and backgrounds to play the sport of football.” PIT Football will now offer flag football, in addition to touch football, coed, high school, and U18 divisions as part of the largest touch and flag football league in Canada. Following round robin and playoff games, the top two teams in the men’s and women’s CFFL divisions will be selected to represent Manitoba at the Western Regionals over the May long weekend. On the women’s side, three teams registered for the inaugural season, including a team comprised of members of Manitoba’s 2018 U18 Girls’ Provincial Flag Team who earned Bronze at Nationals last summer. The competition has been excellent on the women’s side, with especially strong defensive talent on display. On the men’s side, Team Manitoba returns following their National Championship victory in Regina last summer, where they knocked off the reigning champions and heavy favorites from Saskatchewan, a team fortified with CFL talent. As defending Canadian champions, Team Manitoba is already guaranteed a berth at Nationals this year, meaning two additional spots are still up for grabs at the Western Regional Tournament. Team Manitoba sits in first place in the CFFL heading into the playoff round. Teams don’t want to get ahead of themselves, with a long road through the Manitoba CFFL, then Regional Championships, and finally National Championships

before them, but the ultimate prize of a trip to the 2020 World Flag Football Championships in South Korea is providing lots of motivation to local players. Team Canada finished 6th at the last World Championships in Panama, and the National Team hopes to fair even better in South Korea. Winnipeg has been selected to host the Western CFFL Regionals May 18-20th, 2019. Eastern and Central Regionals will take place simultaneously in Sackville, New Brunswick and Ottawa, Ontario respectively. The winners of each qualifier, along with Team Manitoba, will compete at the National Championships in Saskatoon July 26-28th. You can see the schedules and results from the local CFFL playoffs at “Our goal in year one is to successfully establish the CFFL’s National Championship pathway while strengthening our National Team,” explained Aaron Geisler, Football Canada’s Manager of Development. “In year two and moving forward we intend to grow the scope of the CFFL as well as strengthening a standard national adult flag football brand.” l

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Team Toba Wins Bronze! By Rob Walker, Photo courtesy Winnipeg Ringette League In February of 2015, the bar was set high for future players and coaches in Manitoba – Team Toba Ringette had just won a Gold Medal at the Canada Winter Games. Manitoba’s U20 ringette players set the standard by which the next 4 years of high-performance development and training would be held to. In February of 2019, Team Toba showed the country that Manitoba Ringette is most definitely “for real”, finishing as the Bronze Medal winner at the Canada Winter Games – finishing with identical records as the Silver and Gold medalists and firmly cementing Manitoba as a ringette force in the country. Timeline Ringette Manitoba selected the identical staff from the winning 2015

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CWG team to lead the 2019 CWG effort and the process was underway. Over 100 girls registered their interest to be considered for the program. All registered girls were scouted by the coaching staff at some point either at tournaments, championships, league and play-off games or the Winnipeg Ringette League all-star games. 60 players chosen to attend the first round of tryouts in the fall of 2017 were narrowed down to a group of 30 that would continue to be scouted as they played for their regular club teams in the 2017/18 season through the Canadian Ringette Championships. On the May long weekend in 2018, the final selection camp was held in Saskatoon where the group went through a series of exhibition games against the Saskatchewan and BC hopefuls. Team Manitoba was

announced following this camp. From August through to the Canada Games in February; the team practiced 3 times weekly; trained twice a week at Sport Manitoba’s Canada Games Sport for Life Centre; played a number of training games against the previous 2015 Canada Games team, some of Manitoba’s Open Elite players and Manitoba’s National Ringette League team – Manitoba Intact. Through Sport Manitoba, a series of sports psychology/ mental training and nutritional education sessions were conducted for the team.

Three “lead-in” tournament events were hosted by provinces to provide an opportunity to gage and train against the competition. Halifax – where they faced NS, NB, PEI, AB and QC. The team finished with a 2nd place finish to Alberta. Toronto – where they faced ON, QC, NS and PEI. The team finished with a 1st place finish over Quebec. Montreal – where they faced QC, ON, NB and NS. The team finished with a 1st place finish over Quebec. A fourth tournament was held in Winnipeg – “Meet in the Middle” featured all 9 teams that would be competing at the Games. A round robin was held where each team played all 8 competitors. Manitoba finished tied for 2nd with Alberta, behind Quebec. [Here’s a quick look at how Manitoba has fared over the last four years leading into the Canada Games year. These girls were part of the next round of players to be looked at in forming the next Team Toba for the 2019 Games... • In April of 2015, the Angels U16AA

team took home the Gold medal at the Canadian Ringette Championships. • In April of 2016, all Manitoba teams finish in the Top 9 of 20 teams across Canada. • In April 2017 and 2018, Manitoba continued to show its strength on the national level taking 2 Golds and 2 Silvers.] At the Games in Red Deer, the teams were divided into two pools based upon the 2015 rankings: Pool A Pool B Manitoba Ontario New Brunswick Quebec Alberta BC Nova Scotia Saskatchewan PEI Manitoba finished undefeated in its Pool A round Robin after coming back from a 5-1 deficit at half time to defeat Alberta 8-7 in double overtime. The crossover game with Pool B in the first game of the elimination round saw Manitoba come from behind again to defeat Saskatchewan and move into the semi final with Quebec. Manitoba and Quebec had met 5

times prior with Manitoba owning a 4 and 1 record in these games. The teams exchanged goals throughout the match, never separated by more than one until Quebec was able to hit the open net with the Manitoba goaltender pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute to even up the score. Quebec defeated Manitoba to move on to the Gold Medal and Manitoba would move on to the Bronze event, where they would defeat BC with a 6-4 showing. All 3 medalists finished the Games with identical 5 wins, 1 loss records. l


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sportslife 27

Miguel Morrison wins silver

High jump Silver medalist Oyinko Akiniola competes in the long jump

Simon Berube named first-team all-Canadian

BISONS SHINE AT OWN NATIONAL MEET By Scott Taylor, Photos by Trevor Hagan and Don Voaklander, courtesy of John Gaudes/University of Manitoba Bison Sports

Madisson Lawrence in the long jump

There were plenty of heroes for the University of Manitoba Bisons when the Bisons played host to the U-SPORTS national Indoor Track and Field Championships from March 7-10. In all, the Bisons earned medals in six events, improving on five from 2018. There were 29 Bison athletes who had qualified for this year’s nationals, and in the end, the men’s team finished third while the women were ninth. As gold medal winners, fifth-year athlete Alhaji Mansaray, fourth-year Simon Berube, fifth-year Matt Van Schepdael, fifth-year Connor Boyd, and second-year Jack Taylor earned U-SPORTS First Team All-Canadian honours while Miguel Morrison, Oyinko Akinola, and Emily Blackner earned U-SPORTS Second Team All-Canadian awards. This was the first time Manitoba had played host to the National Athletics Championships. The U of M sent Trevor Hagan and Don Voaklander out to shoot all the action. l

Emily Blackner wins silver in the pole vault

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Miguel Morrison wins his heat in the 600

Jean Luc Perron sizes up the long jump in the heptathlon

All eyes on the ball as Manitoba faces Saskatchewan

Now that’s using your head

Major League Water Polo Comes to Winnipeg By Johnston Hall, Photos by James Carey Lauder Back on the weekend of Feb. 14-17, while everyone was freezing outside, the action was hot at the Pan Am Pool as Team Manitoba played host to a weekend of Major League Water Polo. This year, there were four MLWP teams across the West in Major League Water Polo – Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Calgary and Edmonton – and the schedule was pretty tough for the younger, lessexperienced squad from Manitoba. However, it was a good year for the players in the province to see where they stood and to find out how much work they need to do to reach the National Finals. SportsLife Magazine sent photographer James Carey Lauder out to record the action. l

A great save by Calgary’s Serena Bredin

The shot

Setting up the defense

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