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Britney Han was all-around champion at a pair of local competitions in March – her home club’s Kanata Cup event and an Ontario Championships provincial qualifier.
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Team Homan became the first rink to go undefeated and win the World Women’s Curling Championship.
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Local basketball teams flexed their muscles to win a pile of provincial and national titles/medals at many levels.
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Kanata & Ottawa rhythmic gymnastics clubs hit new heights with historic showings at Elite Canada By Phi Trinh It’s been a graceful leap for the Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club onto the national stage. In just the second year of its national-level program, the club already has its first allaround medal from a major meet. That came courtesy of rapidly-rising 10-year-old sensation Cynthia Zhang, who won a bronze medal in the novice competition at Elite Canada Mar. 16-19 in Toronto. The podium marks a swift progression from last year when she was 11th
at the Eastern Canadian regionals in her debut season at the national level. “I was less confident (in the past) than I am now,” indicates Zhang, who topped the clubs and free events on the road to her 3rd-place overall finish. “It feels good to improve so much since last year.” Zhang’s medal means she is following in the footsteps of one of her best friends at the club, Haley Miller, who snagged a groundbreaking podium performance of her own last season with a 2nd-place result in the junior open rope event at the Canadian
Championships. At Elite Canada, Miller earned a return trip to nationals thanks to her 8th-place all-around finish. “I felt happy that all the hard work invested by the athletes is showing at the competition,” says KRSG coach Yuliana Korolyova, who joined the 41-year-old club last season to fuel its high-performance objectives. The athletes who entered the national program nearly doubled their weekly training time to 20+ hours. “Consistency comes from repetition and experience,” underlines
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Russian-born Korolyova, also a national-level judge. The demands are daunting, but worthwhile for moments like the Elite Canada triumph, Zhang adds. “Training is always really great. Every training, I learn something new or some things that I can improve,” she notes. “I really love rhythmic gymnastics – my coaches, my club, and just the feeling of being on the carpet. “I will keep pushing myself to my best and see what level I can get up to.”
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– ELITE – ‘I never, ever think about the injury,’ says Cook after comeback season By Alex Quevillon
Dustin Cook & Sierra Smith
With a prominent run named in his honour, an engaging social media presence, and a couple of noteworthy ailments to his knee and his nether regions, Ottawa skier Dustin Cook is anything but boring to track. Recently, Cook made light of his collision with a gate in his World Cup finale on Mar. 16 on social media, tagging his painful experience in Aspen, CO the “Dustin Cook straddle”. “It’s just my personality, I like to be engaging,” smiles Cook, who wrote: “Pretty much sums up my season. Happy to finish with fast skiing, wish I would’ve made made it to the finish in a better way than the above,” while suggesting an equipment manufacturer develop a new protective product. “It’s marketing and it’s fun,” adds the 28-year-old. “You always get people who want to know more about the sport and it’s good to grow your brand.” A resume like Cook’s certainly helps to build a brand. The Nepean High School grad became the first Canadian to win a World Championships super-g medal (silver), while also earning World Cup gold and bronze in 2015. Cook recently finished up a decent comeback year from his first major in-
jury with a giant slalom silver medal at the Canadian Championship on Mar. 25 in Mont-Tremblant. “I was happy to do that in Quebec, with a really good crowd,” signals the Mont-Ste-Marie product who missed the entire 2015-2016 season following reconstructive surgery to repair his torn ACL knee ligament. “To be honest, I never, ever think about the injury unless I’m asked about it. It’s been a textbook recovery. More than anything, it’s just the time off that might have hurt, when I had a few DNFs.” After solid 13th, 6th and 23rdplace performances in December World Cup races, the did-not-finish results took over, with a string of 3 in a row to start 2017. Cook failed to crack the
World Cup top-30 in 2017, dropping his ranking to #18 in the world from #5 at the conclusion of 2014-2015 season in his signature super-g event. Nevertheless, the middle of the Olympic quadrennial is a better time to miss a year and take another to get back into form than at the end for Cook, poised to make his debut at the five-ring circus come PyeongChang 2018. “Going into an Olympic year, you think about it, but the big focus is on every race,” signals the Ottawa Sports Awards 2015 male athlete of the year. “If it is the Olympics, you just have to treat it normal.”
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came outside of any of his races when his childhood home hill named its signature run in his honour. “It’s huge. I never thought about it before it happened,” says Cook, whose Mont-Ste-Marie club spearheaded a fundraising campaign of roughly $200,000 to widen a run and make it possible for the Ottawa region to host top-level international competitions. “It’s amazing,” Cook adds. “It speaks more to the club and its passion.” Mont Ste-Marie played host to its first-ever Nor-Am Cup from March 17 to 20. Serving as a volunteer at that men’s event was Sierra Smith. Earlier this season, the 16-year-old took down university-level competitors in back-to-back giant slalom races on
her home course. That wasn’t the only success the Grade 11 Louis-Riel high school student found against more experienced rivals this season. In her first year in the under-19 division, Smith won the women’s downhill at the early-March U19 nationals in Nakiska, Alta. “It’s always great to compete against older skiers,” signals Smith. Smith’s grandfather was a national team ski racer, while her mother Julie Klotz was a Calgary 1988 Olympian. “The natural goal for everyone is probably Olympics,” Smith notes. “But I’m hoping for another good year after this one and I’ll see where it eventually takes me.” Also at the junior nationals in Nakiska, Camp Fortune’s Hunter Watson of Ottawa was 2nd in the men’s slalom. West Carleton Secondary School grad Jared Schmidt has been selected to compete for Canada at the FIS Junior World Freestyle Championships in Italy. The National Capital Outaouais Ski Team product will compete in the ski cross race on Apr. 7. His sister, meanwhile, was named a first-team all-star for the Carleton Ravens on the Quebec university ski circuit. Hannah Schmidt won 4 medals in 8 races this season.
Goulbourn Special Olympians win world gold By Phi Trinh Two figure skaters from the same local club returned home as world champions, collecting 2 medals apiece from the Mar. 17-24 Special Olympics World Games in Austria. Jack Fan and Katie Xu of the Goulbourn Skating Club won gold and silver medals in their respective singles events, and then combined to win another gold together in team ice dance. “They were excited,” recounts Cathy Skinner, Fan and Xu’s coach at Goulbourn, noting however that Fan in particular didn’t grasp the magnitude of his success, which perhaps served as a great weapon, she adds. “He never seems to get nervous,” Skinner explains. “He just knows his job is to do what he always does day-to-day in practice.” Xu, an Ottawa Public Library employee, is a multi-talented athlete, also swimming competitively in the summer. Both Fan, 20, and Xu, 18, have been skating for eight years, picking up plenty of honours on the way to qualifying for the World Games.
Cathy Skinner, Jack Fan & Katie Xu.
This season provided an additional challenge, however, since international rules and requirements differ a fair bit from the Canadian system. “We had to learn a lot of new skills for both their free-skate program and the compulsory elements portion of their singles events, as well as learning new dances,” highlights Skinner, who wasn’t at all surprised by her athletes’ success given what she sees all the time at practice. “Hitting all their elements is quite normal for them. They are very consistent. “Our numerous repetitions throughout the year help with their muscle memory and getting their programs setup early enabled us to practice them
over and over for months.” Xu and Fan received a colourful welcome upon returning home at the Ottawa airport, supporters waving mini Canadian flags, red pompoms and handmade signs. Fellow Ottawa athletes Michel Roy (gold & silver in nordic skiing) and Kevin Dooks (3 silver in snowshoeing) also brought home hardware from the World Games. “People are becoming more aware and there is more visibility about their accomplishments,” signals Skinner. “Slowly but surely, Special Olympic athletes, or anyone with an intellectual disability are being accepted more readily into mainstream sports, school classrooms etc. However, we still have a far way to go.”
– ELITE –
Gloucester speed skater returns to roots with piles of prizes By Daniel Prinn Vincent De Haître returned to his old stomping grounds at Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex - Orléans with a shrine of prizes collected from around the globe, the spoils of a standout 2016-17 speed skating campaign. Yes, he was there to sign autographs for younger athletes, but Canada’s most decorated speed skater this season was also put to work, volunteering to help run the Mar. 25-26 Canada East Short Track Championships hosted by his Gloucester Concordes home club. The Cumberland native says it’s important to help out those who helped him become one of the world’s best, not to mention show the next generation what’s possible. For De Haître, the sky seems to be the limit. The 22-year-old won 5 World
Claire Mallard & Vincent De Haître
photos: daniel prinn
Cup medals this season – including his first individual gold – and finished the year ranked 2nd overall in the men’s 1,000 metres. Perhaps the biggest prize of
the bunch, however, was the World Single Distances Championships silver medal, which he won on the future 2018 Olympic ice in South Korea. “Being the Olympic test event, that was a stepping stone moving towards the Olympics and hopefully performing the same way there,” reflects De Haitre, whose goal
Team Homan captures historic world title By Dan Plouffe In 10 of 13 contests against the planet’s best curlers, their opponents conceded before the game’s scheduled finish. Russia – the one team that managed to earn an extra end before ultimately falling, on the second day of the Mar. 18-26 event held 12 hours ahead of Ottawa in Beijing – wound up twice shaking hands early come the biggest games, downed 7-3 and 8-3 in the 1-2 page playoff and the championship final. By the time it was over, the Ottawa Curling Club rink of Lisa Weagle, Joanne Courtney, Emma Miskew and skip Rachel Homan was officially the most dominant entry ever at the World Women’s Curling Championship – the first team to ever go through the entire event with a perfect record. “People are talking about that a lot. It’s cool. We didn’t know that was a record we were breaking until after the game,” signals Miskew, noting the undefeated mark was a bonus, but winning gold in any fashion was the objective. “It’s pretty amazing. No one can ever take that away from us now. We’ve officially won all the medals at the worlds.” Team Homan’s first world title came on the heels of a silver medal in 2014 and bronze in their 2013 debut. “I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet,” Weagle indicates. “We keep looking at our medals and
entering the season had simply been improved consistency, and hopefully a regular spot in the top-5. “Staying inside the top-6 is a big step moving towards the Olympics,” adds the 2014 Olympian who was Canada’s youngest speed skater in Sochi at age 19. “If you’re in the top-8, you have a shot at the medal on any given day.” De Haître also became the new Canadian record holder in the men’s 1,000 m when he smashed Jeremy Wotherspoon’s mark while competing on home ice for the World Sprint
Championships in Calgary, clocking in at 1:06:72. That record meant a great deal to De Haître, he underlines, though he’s now got his eye on a new benchmark come next season. “With World Cups (on the world’s fastest ice) in Calgary and Salt Lake City, I’m hoping I’m feeling good on those days. I could see myself trying to throw my hat into the ring and see if I can crack that world record,” signals the reigning Ottawa Sports Awards male athlete of the year. “I’m only 3-tenths of a second off right now, and on a good day, it’s a possibility.” The next-most decorated Canadian speed skater this season was fellow Concordes product Ivanie Blondin. The winner of 4 World Cup medals and a World Championships 3,000 m bronze finished the season ranked 3rd in the mass start, her signature event thanks to in large part to her short track background as a youngster on Orleans ice. Several local skaters collected medals of their own at the Canada East event. Gloucester’s Ethan Demel and Edouard Parent won bronze with Ontario in the boys’ age 12-13 3,000 m relay, while Claire Mallard of the Ottawa Pacers earned silver in the girls’ age 14 3,000 m points race.
18 HOLES TO KOREA! - Fundraiser for Olympian Vincent De Haître -
photo: dan plouffe
Emma Miskew (left) and Lisa Weagle got a hero’s welcome when they landed in Ottawa after taking world gold in Beijing. reminding ourselves that we’re see everyone here, and to get world champions. It’s really spe- messages throughout the week cial. from everyone has been a really “It was a great event for our big boost for us.” team and I’m really happy we It’ll be a vastly different excould bring home a gold medal perience come the Dec. 2-10 for Canada.” Roar of the Rings Canadian Weagle and Miskew were Olympic team trials when all greeted by a big crowd at the the supporters who came to airport upon their return home the airport will instead be in the to Ottawa, while Homan and stands at Canadian Tire Centre Courtney got a similar recep- alongside thousands more to tion in Edmonton. back the hometown hope. “It was really special to “We make the best of it come down the escalator and when we’re away. We’re a close see so many people here for team and we spend a lot of time us,” smiles Weagle, whose together,” underlines Weagle, team had earlier escaped with whose team will complete their an extra-end victory at the Ca- 2016-17 season with April nadian championships on Feb. grand slam champions events 26 in St. Catharines. “It was in Toronto and Calgary. “But hard playing in an event in we love playing with the home China and not having the sup- crowd – in Kingston (2013), in port we’re used to having at St. Catharines, and now comevents, but to come home and ing up in Ottawa for the trials.”
• Ottawa Sports Awards 2016 Male Athlete of the Year • 2017 World Single Distances Championships Silver Medallist • 4-time 1,000 m national champion & Canadian record holder • Ranked #2 overall on 2016-17 World Cup speed skating circuit • Nat’l track cycling champ & 2014 Commonwealth Games athlete • Canada’s youngest Sochi 2014 Olympic speed skater at age 19 • Podium contender for PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics
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– UNIVERSITIES & ELITE –
RAVENS MEN MAKE IT 7 IN A ROW
Locals launch Ravens women to new high By Charlie Pinkerton
Surprise, surprise: the Carleton Ravens are the Canadian university men’s basketball champions. Despite a formidable opponent in the Ryerson Rams – who’d earlier beat Carleton for the Ontario crown – the Ravens came up big in the biggest game, riding improved defence and rebounding to a 78-69 victory on Mar. 12 in Halifax. It was the Ravens’ seventh consecutive national crown (tying a record set by Victoria from 1980-86) and 13th in the past 15 years, though Carleton coach Dave Smart insists it isn’t championships that drive him. “That’s not why we do it,” he underlines. “We do it to try to get better and improve day-to-day both on and off the court.” Smart returned from a year’s sabbatical (where his nephew Rob led the charge) and says it felt like he never left. As per tradition, Smart (as coach of the year) and his Ravens dominated the national major awards. Connor Wood was player-of-the-year – the seventh year in a row the nation’s capital has owned the award thanks to past winners Mike L’Africain and Johnny Berhanemeskel of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees, and Ravens Philip Scrubb and Tyson Hinz before that. Kaza Kajami-Keane was the national tournament MVP, and Ottawa native Eddie Ekiyor was chosen for the all-rookie team. But all the hardware doesn’t mean much a whole lot to Smart. He’s already looking at getting better the next day. “You try to win year by year – now we’re into the next year,” explains the Ravens head coach since 1999. “We’re just one of all of the other teams in the country because the season’s over. “It’s kind of fleeting. One day you win, and the next day, your next season starts.” —Charlie Pinkerton
A pair of Ottawa natives powered the Carleton Ravens women’s basketball team to the first national medal in program history in March, bringing home a bronze from the Canadian university championships in Victoria. Team-leading scorer and national tournament all-star Catherine Traer and second-team All-Canadian/Carleton female athlete of the year Heather Lindsay led led the Ravens to the historic feat, though the medal they left the west coast with wasn’t the one they wanted. “Looking back at it, a bronze is a pretty cool accomplishment, but at the time, we were devastated,” signals Lindsay, whose team earlier won its first-ever Ontario University Athletics title and was awarded the #1 seed for the Final 8 tournament. “Our coach said we kind of skipped steps this year. Last year, we didn’t even qualify for the OUA playoffs. This year, we won the OUA championship and we made it to nationals. “Next year, we’ll have a better understanding of what it’s like being there and we’ll have a better shot.” Traer was the lone player in Carleton’s lineup who’d previously attended a national championship
Carleton female athlete of the year Heather Lindsay.
tournament, and that came as a member of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. Traer comes from a family of Gee-Gees that includes her father, mother and brother, and was initially nervous to join the rival Ravens. “I walked into the gym upstairs and I was kind of shy,” the political science masters student says of one of her first experiences at Carleton. “A lot of the girls just came towards me and hugged me and were so happy to introduce themselves and shake my hand. From the start, it was great.” Minus her first game as a Raven though. Thanks to pre-
season victories over highlyranked Regina, Queen’s and McGill, Carleton was ranked 1st in the country, but wound up losing their regular season opener by double-digits to the Algoma Thunderbirds, who finished second-last in the OUA. “I think it kind of got to our heads. We were so excited about it,” recalls Lindsay, a Nepean High School grad. “It was devastating. We were all so embarrassed.” Carleton responded with 4 dominant victories, including a 26-point win over #1-ranked McMaster in their final home game before the holidays. That statement win, along with the fire from
Wave women ride massive upset to national silver By Phi Trinh The Capital Wave women slay the reigning queens of Canadian water polo but couldn’t knock off the Prairie powers en route to a silver medal performance at the Mar. 31Apr. 2 Senior National Championships in Markham. The game that won them the silver was a 9-6 semi-final triumph over Montreal’s CAMO, which had gone 12-0 in the Major League Water Polo season and outscored the Wave by a combined 36 goals in their 3 meetings. “I was really happy about that,” underlines Wave coach Adrian Steenkamer, whose team fell behind 5-0 in the 1st quarter to Saskatchewan in the final, falling 12-7 in the end. “We started a little slow. We kept balancing the score, we kept close, but we couldn’t come back.” For a Wave lineup that hadn’t played together much before at the start of the season, a silver medal finish represents an impressive jump. “We had a lot of individual talents,
National silver medallist Capital Wave women.
but we didn’t play as a team,” reflects Steenkamer, who was pleased to see the squad’s rise this year, and the program’s progression in 3 years since the league first debuted, having improved their placing from 6th to 3rd and now 2nd this season. The Wave women are a great mix of veteran talent alongside several teenagers still eligible to play at the youth level, he adds. “The younger athletes are having somebody there to be their role model,” Steenkamer highlights. “They, in turn, provide what I consider the youthful enthusiasm for older ath-
letes to continue to push forward.” The Wave’s roster features several players who have competed for Canada internationally, including 2017 newcomer Dominique Perreault, a past World Championships silver and bronze medallist. “She’s an incredible athlete,” signals Steenkamer, noting Perreault made an immediate impact. “She provides a lot of guidance and instruction to direct our younger athletes.”
OTTAWA TO HOST 16U EASTERN FINALS While the senior domestic sea-
son is over, the youth divisions are just heating up, with the Nepean Sportsplex set to host the 16-and-under eastern conference championship tournament from Apr. 21-23. The 8-10-1 Capital Wave are the local hope in the girls’ event and will slot in as the #3 or 4 seed, while the 11-9 Ottawa Titans are the top local prospects on the boys’ side. Like the Wave senior women, the Titans will face the challenge of knocking off an undefeated Goliath in their league, Toronto’s 19-0 Mavericks Black squad. “There’s definitely a gap between bigger teams and us, but I think we can close the gap,” signals Titans coach Andras Szeri, who was pleased to see how his starting lineup measured up with the Mavericks in a contest earlier this season. “We actually beat them in the first half, so I think the guys just proved to me and to themselves that they’re good enough to beat anybody,” adds the Hungarian-born past Canadian national team player. “They are up there with the top teams.”
the Algoma loss, that turned the season around, highlights Lindsay, whose team didn’t lose once more for the rest of the regular season. After the Ravens squeezed by McMaster by one point in the OUA semi-final, they took on host Queen’s in the Ontario final in front of roughly 2,000 fans. “It was so packed,” recounts Traer, a past Louis-Riel Rebelles provincial high school champion. “The atmosphere was crazy. Every single time I touched the ball, there were fans screaming, calling me a traitor – I didn’t even hear that at Ottawa.” With a masterful defensive performance, the Ravens earned their first OUA gold with a 49-41 win. They’d wind up getting the best of Queen’s again with a 5343 comeback win in the national bronze medal match, which came on the heels a 77-66 quarter-final win over Victoria and a 66-60 defeat to eventual champion McGill in the semis. The Ravens, with every player on their roster eligible to return for at least one more season, are already hungry to take another shot at the top. “If we’re good and healthy next year then there’s no reason why we can’t win that championship,” Traer underlines.
USPORTS VBALL BRONZE Ottawa native Sophie Carpentier won a Canadian university women’s volleyball bronze medal with her Trinity Western Spartans at the Mar. 17-19 national championships in Toronto. The former Maverick Volleyball Club player was also named a 1st-team All-Canadian alongside fellow Mavs product Alina Dormann of the University of Toronto.
3 TRACK ATHLETES MEDAL Three local athletes landed on the podium at the Mar. 9-11 Canadian university track-andfield championships in Edmonton. Carleton’s Telvin Tavernier earned a pair of medals by finishing 2nd in the men’s heptathlon and 3rd in the men’s pole vault, while Ottawa Gee-Gee Tania Bambi took bronze in the women’s 60-metre hurdles and Shyvonne Roxborough won silver in the women’s 60 m for Guelph.
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By Phi Trinh It was their 8th game in 4 days, but the host Nepean Ravens had waited long enough – their entire careers – for the chance to win a provincial ‘AA’ ringette championship, and they weren’t about to let tired legs stop them. “The team was comprised of many excellent athletes who, unfortunately, up until this year, had never been able to be successful enough to make the final step and win a provincial title,” notes Lary Allen, head coach of the under-16 team. With a home crowd behind them on Mar. 12 at Walter Baker Arena, the Ravens exploded out of the gate to build a 4-0 lead before the championship game was 10 minutes old, demoralizing Central Whitby into submission by a final 5-2 count. “We were all pumped up, we were all ready to go,” signals Kira Begin, the tournament’s co-leading scorer with 26 points. “We wanted to have a quick
start because once we got ahead, the other team started to panic,” adds team captain Emma Kelly. Kelly scored the final 2 goals of her astonishing tournament-best total of 19 in the championship game, inspired by the big blue crowd behind them. “We wanted to show everyone in Nepean that we are the best team,” Kelly explains. “Our secret was to stay positive through the entire game and cheer for the little things. When we got to the (intermission): we’d cheer, somebody stabs the ring: we cheer, breakouts: we cheer.” Despite being at home, the team acted a bit like they were on the road by eating together at the end of each day and holding team meetings throughout the tournament. “It seemed to pay off on this occasion,” highlights Allen, calling the championship contest the team’s best game of the year. “Everything came together. Everybody stepped up and did their job.”
COACH/NRL PLAYER PULLS DOUBLE-DUTY Allen celebrated the 12th provincial title of a storied 25year ringette coaching career. He was assisted by Jessica Crouch and Kira Begin’s older sister Sarah-Lynne, who pulled double-duty come the Mar. 27Apr. 1 Canadian Ringette Championships in Leduc, Alta., coaching for Nepean and playing for the Ottawa Ice in the National Ringette League division finals. After scoring a tight playoff series victory over local rival Gloucester to book their trip to nationals, Ottawa finished 7th at the nationals. Gloucester’s Jasmine Leblanc and Ottawa’s Jenna McBride were named the NRL’s top goaltender and defender respectively. Nepean went 5-1 in the round robin at nationals, then beat Regina 5-4 before falling in overtime to the eventual champions from New Brunswick in the quarter-finals. Kira Begin was a 2nd-team tournament all-star, while defender Olivia Simpson made the 1st team.
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– HIGH SCHOOLS –
Special player-coach relationship powers newly-crowned OFSAA basketball champ
Rockin’ Rebelles Wrap
Louis-Riel HS adds new top-of-the line gym floor at Dome
There’s a new gym in town, and it’s raising the game yet again at a school already well-recognized for its innovative approach to sport in a scholastic setting. In addition to North America’s lone 400-metre indoor track, a full-size soccer field, fitness and physiotherapy centres, the Dome LR now features a new gym floor that can be used as a fullsize FIBA regulation basketball court or side-by-side volleyball/badminton courts. A $200,000+ project, the first-class Pulastic Sports Flooring surface opened on the heels of winter exams at Louis-Riel. “We are very pleased to have the continued commitment of the CEPEO (French public school board) to invest in our facilities and to further augment our leading position in the sports-études domaine,” says Louis-Riel high school principal Roch Pilon. “Our students and the community are sure to draw an enormous benefit from this, and we’re very proud to offer them this additional enhancement to our excellent athletic facilities.” Located in the far tip of the track infield, the rubberized floor makes it easier on joints, backs and whatever other diving body parts may hit the ground during
sports activities. There is lots of room to jump-serve in volleyball, and there are no ceiling height restrictions inside the mammoth Dome, which has been brightened thanks to reflected lighting on the new surface. “It adds an extra gym to our school, which is really needed,” underlines sports-études coordinator Ken Levesque. “We were really lacking practice space at lunchtime, after school and in the morning for both our volleyball and basketball programs. This gives them the opportunity to practice at both venues.” Louis-Riel can now host interscholastic games inside the Dome as well as its gymnasium, with spectator bleachers and player benches set to arrive soon. Eventually, they’d like to host tournaments, and longterm, the vision is to add a new triple-gymnasium facility at LR – perhaps on land that could fully connect the school to the Dome – which could then open the door to hosting even bigger national or international-level competitions. “We’re really excited,” Levesque highlights. “The new gym floor doesn’t quite complete everything we want to have, but it certainly helps all our sports teams and our programs and permits them to practice and train at a high level, and it also allows our whole student body to experience top-notch classes and facilities. Everyone loves it.”
ÉSP Louis-Riel revêt le gymnase du Dôme d’un plancher dernier cri
By Phi Trinh On Mar. 8 in Sault Ste. Marie, Noah Kirkwood capped his career as an Ashbury Colt with a dazzling 39-point final performance to lift his team to an OFSAA ‘AA’ boys’ basketball championship and cement his legacy as one of his school’s all-time best athletes. “I have known Noah since he was in Grade 6, and I knew he was special from the first time I saw him playing against players 2 or 3 years older than him,” recalls Ashbury coach Ian McKinnon, whose Colts downed Markham’s Thornlea 76-62 in the gold medal game to complete their perfect record in league play, playoffs and provincials. “Noah is a once-in-a-lifetime player and he has what it takes to be very good at the next level,” McKinnon continues. “He was key to our team’s success, but also a great teammate and always played for his team.” With scholarship offers on the table to many of the NCAA’s top basketball schools, Kirkwood is poised to make a splash well beyond the Ottawa hardwood. He thanks McKinnon, who drove him to early-morning practice every weekday for the last 4 years, for playing an enormous role in that success. “I have never really had this close of a rela-
6’ 7” Ashbury senior Noah Kirkwood scored 39 points in his final game as a Colt.
photo: dan plouffe
tionship with a coach,” underlines Kirkwood, who helped Canada to a 5th-place finish at last summer’s FIBA U17 World Championships in Spain. “He has supported me and helped me through my ups and downs.” Kirkwood states that his long-term objective in basketball is to play in the NBA. “I am still very far away from achieving that goal, but I know it just takes hard work and dedication to your craft,” says the 17-year-old who has yet to pick his university destination. “(McKinnon’s) advice has just been for me to not listen to a lot of the outside noise and make sure this decision is mine. He knows what my goals are and he just reminds me that he is there for me every step of the way.” Kirkwood is one of nine Colts set to graduate this year with the gold medal they sought after taking silver last year. The team overcame the loss of key players Lloyd Pandi and Liam Niznick for 5-week stretches due to injury to nonetheless post a perfect record in league play, playoffs and provincials.
REBELLES TAKE SURPRISE SILVER Il y a en ville un nouveau gymnase dans une école déjà reconnue pour son approche novatrice du sport en milieu scolaire. En plus d’être équipé de la seule piste intérieure de 400 mètres en Amérique du Nord, d’un terrain de soccer pleine grandeur et de centres de conditionnement physique et de physiothérapie, le Dôme de l’école Louis-Riel a revêtu son gymnase d’un plancher tout neuf, qui peut autant servir de terrain de basketball grandeur nature conforme au règlement de la Fédération Internationale de Basketball que de terrains parallèles de volleyball et de badminton. Coûtant plus de 200 000 $, ce sol sportif Pulastic Sports de première classe a été inauguré peu après la séance d’examens hivernaux de l’école. « Nous sommes très heureux que le CEPEO continue d’investir dans nos installations et d’allonger la longueur d’avance que nous avons déjà en conciliation sports-études, déclare Roch Pilon, directeur de cette école secondaire. Il va de soi
que nos élèves et la communauté en profiteront grandement. Nous sommes très fiers de leur présenter ce dernier ajout à nos excellentes installations sportives. » Situé à l’extrémité de la zone intérieure de la piste, ce plancher caoutchouté amortit les chocs pour les parties du corps (articulations, dos, etc.) qui frappent le sol pendant les activités sportives. On y trouve tout l’espace qu’il faut pour les services smashés du volleyball et le Dôme, aux vastes dimensions, ne comporte aucune restriction quant à la hauteur du plafond. De plus, il est mieux éclairé, car les lumières se reflètent sur la nouvelle surface. « Notre école est ainsi pourvue du gymnase supplémentaire qui lui manquait, souligne Ken Levesque, coordonnateur sportsétudes. Nous avions grand besoin d’espace pour nos pratiques de volleyball et de basketball à l’heure du dîner, après les cours et le matin. Nos athlètes ont ainsi la chance de pouvoir le faire dans l’un ou l’autre des deux gymnases. »
L’école Louis-Riel peut désormais tenir les jeux interscolaires à la fois dans le Dôme et dans son nouveau gymnase, dont les gradins et les bancs des joueurs arriveront bientôt. Elle aimerait aussi y organiser des tournois. Son objectif à long terme consiste à bâtir un gymnase triple – éventuellement sur un terrain reliant complètement l’école au Dôme – ce qui lui donnerait la possibilité de tenir des compétitions encore plus importantes, de calibre national ou même international. « Nous sommes très excités, ajoute Levesque. Si le nouveau plancher n’est pas tout à fait le dernier article de notre liste d’achats, il est d’une grande aide à nos équipes et programmes sportifs, il leur permet de s’entraîner à un niveau supérieur et il offre à tous nos élèves des classes et des installations hors pair. Bref, tout le monde l’adore. »
photo: dan plouffe
Louis-Riel’s Megan Roy (in photo) set championship meet records in each of the junior girls’ 300, 600 and 1,000-metre races as her school hosted the Franco-Ontario Track-and-Field Championships on Mar. 9 at the Dome LR. De La Salle’s Élodie Drew broke records in the senior girls’ 60 and 150 m and also won the long jump, while Louis-Riel’s Renata Kingston established new benchmarks in the SG 600 and 1,000 m, as did Rebelles teammates Kadiatou Wann (JG 60 m hurdles & high jump), Kayla Vieux (JG 60 & 150 m) and Amara Bagate (Grade 8 boys’ 60 m hurdles & shotput), along with De La Salle’s Yannick Meredith (Grade 7 boys’ 600 & 1,000 m). Other record-setters included De La Salle’s Isabelle Guillemette, Alexandre Smith and its Grade 7 4x100 m relay team, Lycée Claudel’s Vanessa Lu Langley and Eden Ndenzaka, Louis-Riel’s Dylan Cameron, Japhet Divita, its junior and senior girls’ 4x100 m relay teams, and Franco-Cité’s Tristan Godmaire.
At the OFSAA ‘A’ Championships in Windsor, it was the Louis-Riel Rebelles making some noise on a Cinderella run that landed them a memorable silver medal. “For many kids on the team, it was gonna be their last chance to play organized basketball, probably in their life,” highlights Rebelles coach Alex Éthier, a past Louis-Riel/University of Ottawa Gee-Gees player. “Make sure that when you’re coming out, you play harder than the guy in front of you,” was the simple message he delivered to his troops. The 7th-seeded Rebelles rode that strong work ethic to vastly exceed expectations, downing opponents from Pickering, North York, #2-ranked Cornwall and #3 Windsor en route to an appearance in the championship game, won by #1 Central Toronto Academy. “If you win a game, you move on, and that’s what we did from the first playoff all the way to the final,” Éthier adds. “The kids really understood that and they just outworked their opponents.” In other OFSAA action, All Saints’ Savanna Mouat and Ashbury’s Alex Bui won bronze medals at the Mar. 7-8 swimming provincials in Windsor. And Glebe was the dominant force at the OFSAA nordic championships (see next page for more details).
– COMMUNITY CLUBS – Nakkertok nordic national streak at 7 Ben Milley leads the pack in the Rockies.
By Phi Trinh Ben Milley won an aggregate Canadian crown and his Nakkertok Nordic club won its eighth consecutive club title as local cross-country skiers left their mark on the Mar. 18-25 nationals in Canmore, Alta. “I never expected to be the national champion for my age,” underlines Milley, who won the 2000-born junior men’s class. “It seems surreal.” The Glebe Collegiate Institute student’s triumph was particularly improbable given that he trailed the standings heading into the last event of the championships – Milley’s first-ever 15 km classic race. “Distance skate is what I’m best at, but I was very nervous going into a race that I had never done, knowing I had to win,” recounts the intermediate
free winner and sprint classic 3rd-place finisher. “Nonetheless, I decided my best course of action would be to stick with the front pack and just see how I was feeling. Apparently I felt really good.” Hitting the finish line was a particularly special moment, he adds, since so many from Nakkertok – which held off a strong push from host Canmore to clinch the overall club title – were cheering him on. “Nakkertok is always fantastic at support throughout races,” Milley highlights. “Along the course, there are always coaches and teammates who cheer, offer equipment if you break a pole, and, in longer distances like the 15 km race, offer food and drinks to keep you energized. “In the final sprint, the fact that Nakkertok is the biggest
Persistence pays with podium
photo: scottie t / itu media
Carp native Joanna Brown earned the first International Triathlon Union World Cup podium performance of her career in New Zealand, scoring a silver medal in tough weather on Apr. 2. “This isn’t rain (on my face), it’s tears. I’m so happy about the podium,” Brown, who is now based in Victoria, B.C. with a national training group, said during a detailed interview for Triathlon Canada. “My support team helped to build me up, give me courage and pushed me to believe in myself. I wouldn’t have had this performance without them.”
photo: doug ranahan club in Canada definitely shows.” Two other Ottawa athletes also landed on the overall podium – the brother-sister duo of Pierre and Claire Grall-Johnson. Claire upgraded her bronze medal from last year to silver in the junior women’s 1997 competition, while Pierre replicated his 2016 silver in the junior men’s 1999 category. “It feels great having my sister also winning at the race,” underlines Pierre Grall-Johnson. Earlier in March, the Glebe student powered his high school to their perennial dominant showing at the OFSAA nordic provincials Feb. 28-Mar. 1 in Timmins. The individual silver medallist led the Glebe lineup of Ezra Pierce, Finnbar Perrault and Tommy Omura to the senior boys’ team title. The next day, Glebe’s supposed ‘B’ team of Teagan Harris, Evan Kealey, Liam Powers-Kelly and Nicholas Dolcetti-Koros upset their team-champion counterparts in the relay event, winning a neck-and-neck Gryphon battle to the finish line by less than one second. Glebe’s Cameron Pouw, Carter Saunders, Sam Lyon and Aidan Westdal swept both the junior boys’ team and relay competitions, while the Nepean junior girls won double-silver and the Glebe senior girls earned team bronze and relay silver. Local skiers also made their mark at the university level for the Carleton Ravens. Zoë Williams was 1st overall amongst 1997born junior women, the Ravens men placed 2nd in the college/ university team championships, and Aidan Kirkham was 3rd individually in university competition.
BYTOWN STORM BULLETIN Ottawa International Triathlon volunteer profile: Salwa Eljaji
Whether you’re a high school student looking to fulfil community involvement hours, you know someone competing or you’re just glad to support our community or the sport, there are volunteer roles of all kinds to be filled for the June 17-18 Ottawa International Triathlon. “It’s a great opportunity,” signals Salwa Eljaji, one of the core volunteers leading the charge to organize the event for the second year in a row out of Dows Lake. “We need a lot of help. It takes a lot to put on. I really didn’t know until last year how much effort it all took to do all that.” Quite a few volunteers are needed out on the race course, the transition area and at the finish line, and others to handle registration, food and other logistics. Five-hour shifts are possible, with roughly 600 slots to be filled in total. No prior experience is needed. On top of unique swag, an orientation pizza party, and catered raceday food, volunteering guarantees a front row seat for the two days of action, featuring a wide range of races from Kids of Steel and senior age group up to the elite continental series and Canadian Championships.
The Eljaji family all volunteer for the Ottawa International Triathlon.
“I think my favourite part is just watching all the athletes,” Eljaji underlines. “It just amazes me how strong they are and how dedicated they are to actually be able to do that. It’s quite impressive to see the atmosphere, the athletes coming in for the race, and the energy of it all.” Eljaji was motivated to volunteer by her daughter Suehayla’s positive experiences in the sport with the Bytown Storm, her home club for the past 5 years. “It’s given her confidence and makes her feel really good about herself,” Eljaji reflects. “She’s done the soccer, she’s done the dance, she’s done all those, but this is the only one where she’s really felt confident and has connected with all the other athletes.”
Volunteering is a family affair for the Eljajis. Her younger girls, age 10 and 13, get behind their older sister by helping out at water stations and with cleanup, while her husband can be found managing the course or flipping burgers on the grill. That type of spirit permeates throughout the triathlon community, Eljaji adds. “It’s really a great big family,” she indicates. “It goes from young to old, and they all step up to help each other out when somebody needs it. Just great people, and it’s inspiring to see everyone come together and make it all happen.” See ottawatriathlon.ca/volunteer for more details, or sign up via: ottawatriathlon.ivolunteer.com/ott_int_tri
– ELITE – Why Hockey Players Local TFC trio tackling new terrain together
Should Play Lacrosse
Anyone serious about hockey should be playing lacrosse.
From Gretzky to Tavares, Shanahan to Stamkos, Canadian-born NHLers recommend playing lacrosse in the summer to improve hockey skills. @griffinslax Take their word for it: “It’s lacrosse that helped teach me to spin off checks, take shots and protect the puck under pressure. My stick skills, the way to read the play quickly comes from lacrosse. The hand-eye coordination, is just one of the little things that helps you in hockey.” – John Tavares I could hardly wait to get my lacrosse stick out and start throwing the ball against the walls and working on our moves as we played the lacrosse equivalent to road hockey. All the good hockey players seemed to play lacrosse in those days and everyone of them learned something from the game photo: steve to carry over to the other - things kingsman athletes can only learn by mixing up A former Gloucester Griffin, the games they play when they are Ottawa Senator Cody Ceci is young.” just one current NHLer who played lacrosse growing up. – Wayne Gretzky Both hockey and lacrosse are high tempo, physical team sports that have similar elements to the game. Both sports utilize 5 players and a goalie, three periods and a strategy of developing odd-man situations to create scoring opportunities. Hockey players excel in Lacrosse, and, in turn, they become markedly better hockey players. Comparatively, lacrosse is a much less expensive sport than hockey and uses much of the same protective upper body equipment.
HOCKEY PLAYERS BENEFIT FROM LACROSSE BY DEVELOPING: • Stick handling creativity • Creativity in tight areas • Reading the play offensively • Strong, dynamic defensive tactics • Strength and endurance • An appreciation for a new, fast-paced sport • The use of both hands • Better hand-eye coordination • Heads-up play - teaches players to play with their head up and to be more aware of their surroundings
• Quickness and agility around the net • Self esteem, respect, integrity and fairness • Leadership skills • Both offensive and defensive positions and the ability to make a quick transition from defense to offence and vice versa • Scoring skills are honed by shooting at smaller targets and picking corners • Creativity of fakes, back passes and shots
HOCKEY STARS WHO PLAYED LACROSSE: • Wayne Gretzky • Bobby Orr • Gordie Howe • Sam Gagne • Mike Gartner • Doug Gilmour • Pail Kariya • John MacLean • Steve Larmer
• Joe Nieuwendyk • Jonathan Toews • John Tavares • Steve Stamkos • Dave Andreychuk • Paul Coffey • Adam Oates • Brian Bellows • Mike Ridley
• Gary Roberts • Cliff Ronning • Joe Sakic • Brendan Shanahan • Kyle Turris • Sean Monahan • Cody Ceci and the list keeps going...
ONE MORE REASON TO PLAY LACROSSE:
REGISTER ONLINE NOW FOR 2017 SEASON!
By Phi Trinh
Three Ottawa players and friends have set off to chase their soccer dreams together. Antonio Carlini, Danny Assaf and Mehdi Essoussi are a couple months into their tenure with Toronto FC’s academy, having joined the Major League Soccer Club in January. “It feels great having my teammates and best friends with me,” signals 16-year-old Carlini. “It makes it more comfortable having familiar faces around me when I’m so far from home.” Before they setup shop in T.O., the trio left their mark in the local soccer history books, playing key roles in capturing Ottawa’s first Ontario Player Development League championship to conclude their careers with the Ottawa South United Force. “It gives a boost mentally, knowing you have people with you that you were playing with since the age of 12,” highlights Assaf, who laughs at the memory of Carlini being his enemy not so long ago. “Back
(From left) Antonio Carlini, Danny Assaf & Mehdi Essoussi. when he used to play for the who’d previously been to VanNepean Hotspurs, there was couver, England, France and his a huge rivalry between me birth country, Egypt, for trials. and him, and now we are best Essoussi says it hasn’t felt friends who left home to play like a true goodbye though since soccer in Toronto.” he stays in touch frequently with The three amigos have his coaches at teammates at spent plenty of time in Toronto OSU, who frequently offer their in recent years, whether as encouragement. members of Team Ontario, or “I am doing great at this for previous visits and guest ap- level,” he signals. “The first week pearances with TFC. was a challenge but I found it They’ve become accus- easy to adjust myself and start tomed to being on the road progressing as a player.” for weeks at a time for various Carlini says his “amazing” opportunities in Canada and billets have played a big role in abroad, though moving away adapting to the new setting. from home remains quite differ“They treat me like I’m part ent, they note. of the family and make me “This time is weird because feel at home, which has really you always get that thought: helped me adjust from being ‘This is my life now,’ and you just away from my family in Ottawa,” have to move on,” details Assaf, adds the centre-midfielder.
Canada goalie glad to grow game in Ottawa By Austin Stanton With a 3-1 defeat to Les Canadiennes de Montréal, the Clarkson Cup weekend didn’t end the way Geneviève Lacasse and her Calgary Inferno teammates wanted. But, being able to return to Ottawa and see her friends and family, was a treat on its own. Combine that with growing women’s hockey in the nation’s capital, and despite not coming away with a victory from the Mar. 5 contest at Canadian Tire Centre, Lacasse calls the event as a whole a positive experience. The Team Canada goaltender trains in Ottawa during the off-season with Limoges as her summertime home, though she’s now based in Calgary most of the year, playing with the Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and training at the national team’s home. She is currently in Plymouth, MI for the Mar. 31Apr. 7 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships. “I want to play in the gold
photo: steve kingsman Geneviève Lacasse. medal game, so every game and practice leading up to that, I try to be in the best position to be the starting goalie,” underlines the #3 goalie from Canada’s Sochi 2014 Olympic triumph. “Obviously making the Olympic team and heading to South Korea is the long-term goal.” At first glance, it may seem strange for the CWHL to host their championship in a city that doesn’t have a team in the league (Ottawa was given the boot from the owner-free loop in 2010 after repeated poor seasons), but
Lacasse sees value in exposing another area code of young women to the top players in the world. “When I was younger, I wanted to win the Stanley Cup, and as I got older, I realized that might not be possible, then it changed to winning an Olympic gold medal,” recalls Lacasse, who served as a backup for the Clarkson Cup on the heels of her 8-1 regular season record and 2-0 playoff mark. “I think the more girls are aware of the Clarkson Cup, and are able to interact with those role models, it will change to, I want to win the Clarkson Cup.” On the Saturday before the final, the CWHL held a community day, featuring hockey clinics, speaker sessions, and open skates throughout Ottawa. “I think it’s great for the city and the young girls in the city to aspire to something and get to talk to the players and ask them questions, and have great role models all around for the week,” Lacasse adds.
“And my teammates at TFC are great. I’m starting to gain really strong relationships with a lot of them.” Their group trains 6 days a week, with games on Sundays, creating a competitive environment between players seeking to earn a place in the lineup for the matches. The main goal, at present, is to gain a regular role on TFC’s Provincial U21 Elite Ontario Soccer League team. “Competition here is super high,” underlines Assaf, a 2015 OPDL scoring champion. “Players here are all amazing, and come in day-in, day-out, ready to compete, impress and win everything there is to win.”
LEAGUE1 SKED OUT The West Ottawa Warriors will host the first game of the Soccer Ontario League1 women’s season. Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Beckwith Park. The other new local entry in the top provincial league, the Ottawa South United men, start with two road games before their 3 p.m. home opener on May 13 at Carleton University’s MNP Park.
PRIMED TO PEDAL
photo: steve kingsman
Coming off the biggest success of her career yet – a World Cup track cycling medal with the Canadian team pursuit squad – Ariane Bonhomme is psyched to continue her rise in the bike world with her road cycling seeing on the horizon. Set to return to the Ottawa-based Cyclery-4iiii women’s team, Bonhomme and her mates will again have some of their biggest races in town this season, with the May 1920 UCI Grand Prix Cycliste Gatineau competition and the June 24-28 Global Relay Canadian Road Championships in Ottawa/Gatineau. See SportsOttawa.com to read the full version of this story by PHI TRINH.
OTTAWA SPORTSPAGE SNAPSHOTS LOCAL PRO TENNIS PLAYER SCORES BIGGEST TITLE OF CAREER WITH FIRST-TIME DOUBLES PARTNER Ottawa native Gabriela Dabrowski celebrated her 25th birthday by winning the biggest title of her tennis career a day later on Apr. 2 at the Miami Open. Teaming up with China’s Yifan Xu for the very first time, the new pair entered the top-flight tournament unseeded but emerged with 5 victories over many of the world’s best women’s doubles teams to earn a $385,170 payday.
WOLVERINES BAG BASKETBALL BRONZE AT ATOM PROVINCIALS The Gloucester-Cumberland Wolverines under-11 atom boys’ basketball team earned a bronze medal in the top division of their Ontario Cup provincial championship tournament on Apr. 2 in Windsor. The Wolverines downed Mississauga 41-37 in their opener, beat Cambridge 49-40, fell 65-44 to Kitchener-Waterloo, and cleaned up 62-38 in the bronze medal match against Durham.
OSU Force Academy Zone
20 more OSU grads to play varsity soccer
JR. SENS ALIVE AND WELL, WILDCATS FALL IN 2ND ROUND OF JUNIOR HOCKEY PLAYOFFS The Ottawa Jr. Senators jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the Central Canada Jr. ‘A’ Hockey League semi-final playoff series with the Cornwall Colts thanks to 5-1 and 2-1 victories on Mar. 30 and Apr. 1. The dominant Yzerman Division regular season champions knocked out the Brockville Braves 4-1 in the first round. In the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, the Nepean Wildcats missed a chance to clinch their second-round playoff series with Durham West in a shootout heartbreaker before bowing out with a 4-2 defeat in the deciding contest. The Wildcats had experienced the reverse fate in the first round when Coralie Larose scored the shootout winner in the deciding game against Aurora. Nepean finished 5th overall in the regular season – but just a point out of 2nd – in the 20-team league with a 26-9-3 record.
FEMALE COACH & MEN’S YOUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARDS FOR LOCAL RUGBY Ottawa natives scored three major honours as Rugby Canada dolled out its annual awards for 2016 in March. University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and national under-20 women’s coach Jen Boyd was named female coach of the year, Ottawa Indians product was chosen as young male player of the year, and Ashbury College grad Julianne Zussman (who was introduced to the sport by Boyd) received the Gillian Florence Trophy for the player who best represents the qualities of Canadian rugby as voted by her teammates.
LOCAL XC STAR HELPS CANADA TO 6TH AT WORLD JUNIORS Ottawa Lions runner Shona McCulloch was part of the Canadian junior women’s team that produced the best result out of all countries from Europe or the Americas at the IAAF World Cross-Country Running Championships on Mar. 26 in Uganda, placing 6th overall. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda combined to take the first 14 individual positions to finish 1-2-3 in the team standings, while McCulloch placed 86th.
SKELETON ATHLETE 5TH ON OLYMPIC TRACK, 3RD OVERALL FOR SEASON With a 5th-place performance on Mar. 17 at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic track, Ottawa-raised skeleton slider Mimi Rahneva finished her breakthrough rookie World Cup season ranked 3rd overall. “I can’t believe I ended up 3rd overall,” the 28-year-old said in a Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton media release. “It’s very exciting, but I also am looking for more next year. I have a ton more work to get to where I’d like to be, but that’s what summer is for.”
CANADA EARNS 3 WOMEN’S FIGURE SKATING OLYMPIC BERTHS
About the only person with near as big a smile on her face as Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman on opposite sides of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships podium must have been local skater Alaine Chartrand seeing it happen. With their respective silver and bronze medal performances at the Mar. 29-Apr. 2 worlds in Helsinki, they earned a third Canadian women’s entry for the 2018 Winter Olympics, thus making Chartrand’s path to PyeongChang considerably easier. Chartrand, 21, has finished on the national podium for the past 3 years, including this year’s event in Ottawa when she earned a bronze medal by a comfortable margin over 4th place despite injuring her ankle just days before the competition.
ONLINE VOTING TO DETERMINE HOMETOWN HOCKEY CONTEST WINNER The Cumberland Dukes Atom hockey team is one of 23 finalists from across the country for a Rogers Hometown Hockey “cheer like never before” contest that will see the winner receive a prize dubbed “the ultimate NHL experience.” The winner will be selected based on online votes received from Apr. 2-7 at hometownhockey.com/cheer .
Family fuels wrestling fire for new OFSAA champ By Phi Trinh Klara Patel’s climb up the provincial podium is complete. On the heels of 6th place and bronze medal performances, the Merivale Marauders senior this time earned a gold medal from the OFSAA high school wrestling championships Mar. 1-3 in Brampton. “We had a moment at the podium, but we didn’t really celebrate it,” recounts the 67.5 kg division champion who went 4-0 on her way to gold. “I went home and ate a lot. I guess that’s how wrestlers celebrate. Then the next day I’m back to the mat to train.” Family was the source of inspiration behind Patel’s first foray onto the mat, her brother Andrew in particular. “He’s 5 years older than me,” Patel notes. “When he started high school, he joined the wrestling club and I had to go with him because I was too young to stay at home alone. I was like, ‘This is cool! I’d like to do it.’” Her father was also heavily involved in the sport with her future National Capital Wrestling Club, and coaching the team at Nepean High School. “Early on, when I started becoming competitive, we decided that ‘dad was dad’ and he wasn’t going to do the coaching,”
the podium were Jessica Hong, a Grade 10 Sir Robert Borden student (silver, 44 kg), Cairine Wilson’s Devan Larkin (silver, 64 kg), Brookfield’s Ibrahim Ayyoub (bronze, 83 kg) and Grade 9 Maurice-Lapointe student Matthew Vecchio (bronze, 38 kg).
Klara Patel & brother Andrew.
WRESTLER WINS SENIOR SILVER
photo: phi trinh
signals Patel, whose mother also carried a strong sports background as a runner. “But having parents who understand athlete’s life definitely helps me.” The OFSAA gold may well stand as the pinnacle moment of Patel’s wrestling career. The lone member of Merivale’s wrestling program is unsure if she’ll continue to wrestle in university; she’d prefer to go to school in Ottawa, but there are no varsity wrestling teams in town. “For me and my family, education first,” underlines Patel, who went on to place 5th at the junior nationals later in March. Patel was one of five local wrestlers to claim medals at OFSAA. Also standing on
Adam MacFadyen earned the top result for a local athlete at the Mar. 24-26 Canadian Junior/Senior Championships in St. Catharines, but his silver medal performance still left him unsatisfied. “It’s an improvement from last year (a bronze medal), but it’s still a little upsetting,” says the 22-year-old who’s enjoyed past success nationally and internationally in judo and sambo. With the goal of becoming a better-rounded grappler, MacFadyen moved to London, Ont. 2 years ago to work with his uncle, 2-time Olympian Ray Takahashi, the long-time head coach of the University of Western Ontario Mustangs wrestling team. “It has helped so much,” underlines MacFadyen, who is eyeing a spot on Canada’s team for the inaugural Under-23 World Championships later this year. “I didn’t have much wrestling skills before. My wrestling has improved leaps and bounds.” —with files from Anil Jhalli
Ottawa South United Soccer Club hosted a reception to honour its graduating youth players set to move on to play varsity sports at many universities/colleges throughout North America on Mar. 9 at Minto Recreation Complex - Barrhaven. “This is a big accomplishment,” OSU President Bill Michalopulos told the sizeable crowd of players and parents gathered for the event. “I want to congratulate you on behalf of the club and wish you all the best in the future.” Amongst the 20 committed players – with more possible signees still to come before the fall – are an impressive crew of 16 girls. They’ve reached the main carrot dangling for young female soccer players of a paid education, notes OSU Coach Dom Oliveri, though he believes several have the potential to move on farther yet and join national team programs. “I’m really proud of this group,” underlines Oliveri, whose under-17 girls’ team went undefeated to win the Ontario Youth Soccer League’s east division this past summer. “It’s one of the best groups I’ve ever coached in my career, bar none. It was quite a pleasure.” The players are headed to points scattered throughout North America. One of the farther destinations is Memphis, where 4-time OYSL scoring champ Clarissa Larisey will play for the top-30-ranked Tigers. “I’m really proud of everyone. They deserve it. We’ve all worked hard for it,” signals the swift striker who scored 12 more goals than anyone else in the top provincial league in back-to-back seasons. “Every school that all these girls are going to are so lucky to have such amazing people.” It’s an exciting time, adds Larisey, though also somewhat bittersweet since she and her teammates will not longer be together practically on a daily basis. She guarantees they’ll stay in touch, however. “It’s definitely ‘sisters-for-life’ with all these girls,” Larisey smiles.
OSU LIFETIME UNI/COLLEGE CREW PASSES 200 With big numbers heading off each year, OSU has now eclipsed the 200 mark for college/university-bound soccer players since the club’s inception in 2003. That sustained track record of success doesn’t happen overnight, Michalopulos notes, and the fact that many of the grads have been with OSU since they began competitive soccer showcases the quality of programs, coaching and developmental opportunities the club offers. It’s also a big help that so many players have moved on in the past and been successful at the next level, Oliveri adds, since the relationships and networks with varsity coaches are already in place, and they now know where they to look for talented players. “It just speaks volumes for the OSU program and the contacts that we have,” highlights Oliveri, who heads a unique college prep program to amp up training at the point where most youth clubs are winding down. “And also the motivation of the athletes – we can only do so much as coaches. They’ve got to do the work, and credit to this group of players, they’ve been exceptional.” The list of OSU’s 2017 commitments includes: Chelsea Abbots - Eastern Michigan Anna Larkin - Western Cameron Brodie - Nipissing Scott Mazzotta - Carleton Noah Campagna - Queen’s Shona McCulloch - Washington (track) Amelia Carlini - Cape Breton Paige McNeil - Nipissing Ricky Comba - Carleton Annie Ritchie - uOttawa Shalene Denovan - Algonquin Luc Rowlands - Carleton Chloe Doherty - Jacksonville State Micha Salhany - uOttawa Amy Jenkins - McMaster Marian Taiwo - North Dakota State Emma Kovacs - Western Julia Tardioli - uOttawa Clarissa Larisey - Memphis Meghan Tierney - Carleton
– EDITORIAL & COMMUNITY –
YMCA-YWCA OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION STARS OF THE MONTH
Mailing address: 345 Meadowbreeze Dr. Kanata, Ont. K2M 0K3
Which sport will he choose?
Contact: Editor: Dan Plouffe 613-261-5838 Editor@SportsOttawa.com OTTAWA COMMUNITY SPORT MEDIA TEAM Board of Directors Josh Bell Anne Duggan John Haime Josh Karanja Dan Plouffe (Executive Director) Mohamed Sofa Doug Scorrar The Ottawa Sportspage is a not-for-profit publication devoted to shining a spotlight on local amateur sport. Under the direction of the Ottawa Community Sport Media Team, our group also promotes access-to-sports initiatives for local youth who live in social housing communities.
Ottawa Sportspage Editor/Dad Dan Plouffe, Mom Cheryl, and Big Sister Karina welcomed Andre Vincent Plouffe to the family on Mar. 19 following a big sprint to the finish where the little speedster took aim at the record for fastest birth after arrival at the hospital. In this photo, Andre shows that he’s just as ready to embrace LTAD principles of a multi-sport childhood, though at present he’s most concerned with proper recovery by getting lots of sleep. Special thanks to Ashley Scott of AWS Photography for the awesome newborn photos! And welcome Baby Andre!!
Athlete of the Month: Catherine Boyer
About: Catherine Boyer set a new provincial record at the Mar. 3-5 Dive Ontario Spring Provincials in Windsor. The Ottawa National Diving Club athlete scored a total of 298 points in the girls’ age 11-and-under 3-metre springboard event, besting her nearest Team Members: Agak Lual, Nigel Kuma Mintah, Aiden Warnholtz, Khaleem Sarazin, Jackson challenger by just under 40 points. Bayles, Lual Akot, Muon Reath, Manel Ayol, Aiden Burns, David Mulia, Ricky Houle, Graddy Boyer also won the platform competiKanku, Vince Dejala, Coaches Aaron Blakely, Willy Manigat, Alain Cadieux & Director Tony House. tion and added a bronze medal for the About: The Canada Topflight Academy boys’ basketball team emerged as the first-ever cham1 m while earning national championpions of the National Preparatory Association with their triumph at the national champiships qualifying scores in all three of onship tournament Mar. 31-Apr. 2 in Mississauga. The first-year ensemble based out of Noher events. Boyer was part of a 6-memtre-Dame Catholic High School debuted with 5 consecutive losses before reeling off a streak ber team from ONDC alongside Audree of 13-straight victories to earn the title. At the national finals, Canada Topflight downed Howes, Kathryn Grant, Talia Wootton, OFSAA ‘AAA’-champion St. Michael’s 82-69 in the quarter-finals, outlasted Toronto BasketEmma Corrigan and Sofia Perrey, who ball Academy 69-67 in the semis, and then scored a final 105-95 win over London Basketball all posted national scores of their own Academy in the championship game. and won 11 medals on top of Boyer’s 3. To nominate Stars of the Month, go to SportsOttawa.com and follow the link on the right-hand bar under the Stars of the Month feature. Courtesy of the Ottawa Sportspage and the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region, the selected Stars of the Month will receive free passes to the Y.
Team of the Month: Canada Topflight Academy Boys’ Basketball Team
RHYTHMIC: Star leaves group rhythmic legacy ORGC group rhythmic.
By Dan Plouffe
photo: dan plouffe
continued from Cover The Ottawa Rhythmic Gymnastics Club added another piece to the sport’s local history themselves at Elite Canada. For the first time, Ottawa entered national-level group rhythmic gymnastics – a trio of 4-member squads that competed at each of the novice, junior and senior levels. Much like Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games double-medallist Lucinda Nowell helped inspire her childhood Kanata club to pursue national-level programming, Ottawa drew encouragement from one of its own shining stars, Cleo Page. The 3-time provincial champion was also in action at Elite Canada, now as a member of Canada’s Toronto-based national group rhythmic team. The 18-year-old is set to make her World Cup debut May 5-7 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Being biggest city hurt Ottawa 2021 bid: Mayor
“(Cleo’s success) demonstrated to the girls that even though ORGC is one of the relatively smaller clubs in the province, with dedication, hard work and placing your trust in your coaches, any girl can achieve their goals,” signals ORGC head coach Xinhong Jin. On top of national pursuits, provincial-level athletes were also in action locally in March. The annual Kanata Cup invitational took place Mar. 11-12 at Bridlewood Community Elementary School, while ORGC hosted an Ontario Championships qualifier Mar. 24-26 at its Ashbury College home base. Alongside Level 6A, Age 16+ champion Britney Han from Kanata, host Ottawa Rhythmic had 3 athletes top division all-around standings at Ashbury: Mikayla Johnson (L4A, A1012), Jessie Yang (L5A, A13-15), and Meara Donovan (L6C, A16+). Kanata’s Kacy Zhao, Alanna Lu and Serena Nie also won gold in individual apparatus events.
There wasn’t a parking space to be had at Ben Franklin Place (though most were there for business other than the host announcement viewing party), sport coats overpowered team jackets in the gathering devoid of Canada Games-age athletes, and Ottawa was unable to become the largest city to host our national multi-sport games as Niagara Region was chosen to welcome the 2021 Canada Summer Games. “One thing that I think worked against our Canada Games bid is we were the biggest city,” Mayor Jim Watson said after watching the Mar. 30 announcement via live-feed from Toronto. “I think the committee likes the smaller cities because it’s a bigger impact in a small city, but I’ve always said Ottawa is a city with 40 or 50 small communities or neighbourhoods within the
Mayor Jim Watson at Centrepointe studio theatre.
photo: steve kingsman
city. But it’s not possible for us to win every time.” Watson noted that Ottawa has hosted a pile of major sports events recently, with many more big ones to come in 2017 alone, such as national championships for triathlon, cycling, track-and-field, whitewater canoe-kayak, football, volleyball, golf, curling, water polo and electric wheelchair hockey, plus the outdoor Ottawa vs Montreal hockey game at TD Place. “We’ve been really blessed and we have a really good track record. Unfortunately this time we were not successful, but that’s not going to prevent us from bidding on other things,
like the Ontario Summer Games,” Watson indicated. “Every time we bid and every time we host, and even every time one gets away from us, it is a learning experience, and it (contributes to) our success to get more events, activities and festivals to come to Ottawa.” Ottawa won’t be coming out guns-a-blazing in search of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, recently stripped from South Africa, however. “That’s a big decision to take, and I think we’d have to think long and hard about the impact,” Watson said, noting Ottawa has indeed bid to host Commonwealth Games in the past (for the 2014 event ultimately awar-
ded to Glasgow, Scotland). “I know Toronto is now musing about that as well. There is a significant cost, and we have to make sure it’s the right fit for our city.” Despite being “disappointed with the result obviously,” Watson underlined his pride in the collective efforts of everyone involved with the Ottawa 2021 bid. The images from public events – such as the bid kickoff at City Hall, the bid book delivery relay down the Rideau Canal to the Canada Games office, and the bid selection committee visit – provided an impressive showcase of the local sports community working hand-in-hand, he noted. “We’re proud of the facilities and volunteers that came together from across the city to put in a really, really good bid for the 2021 Canada Summer Games,” Watson added. “The sports community did a great job and they should hold their head high.”
– COMMUNITY CLUBS – Home crowds lift gymnasts higher They were different ages and at different stages of progressing through the sport’s levels of competition, but a consistent theme for local gymnasts taking part in a pair of March provincial championships qualifying meets in Ottawa was the stack of medals they won. “I had two little kids that did my old routines and it made me feel like I’m one of the older kids now and I need to set examples for them,” highlights Ottawa Gymnastics Centre Level 10, Age 16+ athlete Sarah Hu. “It’s cool to see. And they did so well. I was just so happy to watch them.” Having a big meet at Hu’s home club provided a rare opportunity to be in the same rotation as OGC teammates of hers – unusual since she’s the only one in the top L10 category. “It just kind of lightens the
OGC qualifier champ Sarah Hu.
photo: dan plouffe
mood,” indicates Hu, who’d been stressed for earlier meets since the increased difficulty of L10 skills required makes falls and mistakes much more difficult to avoid. “I found I wasn’t as nervous,” she adds. “We were making jokes and it was just way more fun than when you’re by yourself and don’t really know anyone. “It’s nice. Especially since I’ve know them a long time, we all get along really well and we know what pushes each other and what makes them think more positively before their turn.”
Tumblers Classic champ MichelleRose BerubeConway.
photo: daniel prinn
The friendly setting launched the host clubs to big results, with OGC competitors topping over half of the divisions L6 and above at their Mar. 3-5 meet, and the host Tumblers combining with OGC for a complete local sweep of L6+ at the Mar. 24-26 Tumblers Classic. “It took off a lot of stress,” signals Level 8, Age 12-14 winner Georgia Ditommaso, one of many division all-around champs from host OGC along with Jenna Lalonde, Emma Christie, Laura Palmer, Elizabeth Mckee, Erika Meyerovich, Sophie Ludington, Lucie Robert and Sienna White. “I just felt more calm and chill than the first qualifiers of the year.” Mackenzie Capretta also fed off the hometown support to boost her standing in L10, Age 12-15. “It was really great having them cheer for me,” says Capretta, who was backed by a big gang of younger gymnasts from her new Kanata Gymnosphere club. “Sometimes when I get nervous, it helps me concentrate because I know they’re watching.” It was a similar story at the Tumblers Classic, which served as a provincial qualifier for the top levels for the first time. From roughly 400 athletes at the biggest Classic yet, Camille Hurteau, Jessica Mallett and Michelle-Rose Berube-Conway emerged as division champs for the host Tumblers, while Cecily Whitla, Erika Meyerovich, Grace Gorman and Kaitlyn Russell joined their OGC clubmates as qualifier category winners. The Ontario Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships go Apr. 6-9 in Toronto.
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By Dan Plouffe
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