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613-263-5144 www.actKIDvity.com Your Not-for-Profit Voice for Local Sport


December 2019/January 2020

Gimme Ten!



Ottawa’s Rebecca Leslie is one of the city’s elite women’s hockey players who’s had to adjust to life post-CWHL.



Sixteen-year-old Florence Belzile had a whirlwind of a 2019 in soccer; What could 2020 hold for her?

Ivanie Blondin celebrates one of her six Fall 2019 World Cup victories in Belarus.



photo: christian -bartke/isu photokaspar ivan rupes

Ottawa speed skater Blondin dominates with 10 Fall World Cup medals, Weidemann wins 6 By Charlie Pinkerton


2016 Olympic wrestling champion Erica Wiebe will fight for a 2020 Tokyo Games spot at home in March.

As two of Ottawa’s top speed skaters peak as they never have before, their former coach’s kitchen gets busier and busier. Rice crispy squares to speed skating doesn’t sound


like the perfect accompaniment, but to Mike Rivet’s racing pupils it’s become one that’s synonymous with elite success. The OG of the Rivet line of international level speed skaters can be thanked for that. When Rivet’s athletes


reached the summit of Mont Ste. Marie after a difficult dryland workout, they’d be rewarded with the renowned Rivet rice crispy squares (which his wife had a hand in making). Years later, Blondin asked for the same bonus if she



broke the two minute barrier in the 1500 metre race at a national team trial, Rivet recalls. The stakes were raised, as she had asked for a full batch instead of a small treat, but Rivet obliged. Blondin broke two minutes and a tra-



dition was born. “It’s kind of been a story now that whenever our top skaters at the World Cup level (win a) medal, they actually get a tray of rice crispy squares,” Rivet said.











Local national level players hopeful for future of women’s hockey By Charlie Pinkerton

Ottawa Girls Hockey Report

OGHA prez James Wojtyk’s Winter update

It has been a busy time for the OGHA since our last report in the Ottawa Sportspage at the end of summer. On Sept. 25, we hosted a Concussion Awareness event in recognition of Rowan’s Law Day. Over 100 participants attended a presentation by Dr. Sunita Nayar-Kingwell, MD, FRCPC (pediatrics) followed by a very informative Q&A. @OGHAhockey A couple of days later, the OGHA facebook.com/Ottawahosted a sold-out All-Female Referee Girls-Hockey-AssociationClinic, with many new officials now OGHA-319499598525472/ sporting their new striped uniforms throughout the Ottawa District. A number of Development programs have also come in to full swing. Our House League sessions, run by the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees female hockey team, are receiving rave reviews, and Goalie Army Academy is busily coaching - what the OGHA considers to be the most important position - our girls who want to try being between the pipes. Our highest-certified coaches have led monthly on-ice coach development sessions for all OGHA coaches, and our female-only sessions have added many new coaches and role models for our players.


From a programming perspective, one of our biggest successes has been introducing 45 new girls to the sport of hockey through the Bauer/NHL First Shift program. In November/December, these girls – all freshly kitted with Bauer gear, from skates to helmet and stick – received instruction from our entire female crew of coaches and on-ice volunteers (all for $199, including equipment!) The improvement has been exponential. While the first step and strides on the ice were tough for some, now they are running out on the ice like an All-Star Game! At the end of this program, players can join a HL team for the rest of the season OR attend sessions to continue building on the basics, but with exhibition games added. Kudos to all of the volunteers helping – the smiles, positivity and excitement radiating from players and parents is truly contagious and really what hockey and sport is all about. Other highlights include: Our top team, the Intermediate ‘AA’ Lady 67’s recently played the South Korean national team. The half-ice Novice transition has been a huge hit. Families are appreciating having more teams but less travel with the expansion of the Metro Ottawa Girls Hockey League. Our Developmental Stream program – a hybrid between HL and Comp – started in November to give more girls the opportunity to increase their time on ice. Both HL and Comp teams at all levels have posted excellent results at out-of-town tournaments. Lastly, and arguably the most important issue that’s surfaced this Fall, is the sudden announcement by the City of Ottawa that they are studying the closure of single-pad rinks in Central Ottawa due to “under-utilization”. If this does transpire, then hockey in our area will become much more expensive given the price of private vs public icetime. We are actively seeking to prevent premature closures. If you have any ideas on how to meet this challenge, please contact me – the OGHA Board will be all ears! As the hockey season flips to 2020, we are planning to have numerous community-based events to celebrate our 20th anniversary, especially during Winterlude and once outdoor rinks open in full-force. Please keep an eye out for news items on our website (ogha.info).


As the year in which the curtains unexpectedly closed on North America’s top women’s hockey league comes to an end, two of Ottawa’s top female players are trying to remain optimistic for the future of their sport. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) announced on March 31 that due to financial unviability the league would cease operations. Around 150 players, including some of the world’s best, were left without teams to play for this season. Ottawa’s Jamie Lee Rattray and Rebecca Leslie were both suddenly without a team and a league. Both are now part of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) that was created out of the ashes of the CWHL by players hoping to advocate for the formation of a single, viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America. Rattray and Leslie shared with the Sportspage what their experiences have been like since the folding of the CWHL and what their thoughts are on the outlook for the future of the sport. Leslie, 23, joined the CWHL last season after graduating from Boston University, where she played hockey for four years. Leslie entered the CWHL knowing little of what to expect, which was similar to the mindset that Rattray, 27, had four years before her, when she entered the league. Rattray said last season, the CWHL’s 12th in operation, was “one of the biggest, most productive years” in its history. While Leslie says that during her only season in the CWHL she got the impression it wouldn’t be feasible for the long-term, she still felt blindsided by its closure.

Rebecca Leslie

matthew murnaghan / hockey canada images

Her Calgary Inferno team had won the Clarkson Cup (the CWHL championship) just a week before news that the league would be folding broke. Leslie said the Inferno had been “parading around the city” as champions in the week between. They attended a Calgary Flames game with the cup, visited restaurants and received invites to meet with various girls’ hockey teams. “The next week (the CWHL) folded and it was like what’s this trophy? It’s worthless now,” Leslie recalled. Rattray was in Finland preparing for the IIHF Women’s World Championship when she heard the league was shutting down. When news of the CWHL coming to an end reached Canada’s national team – of whom around two-thirds played in the league – Rattray said they were “shocked.” “I remember sitting in that room and you could hear a pin drop,” Rattray said. By the time of what would have been the start of this CWHL season rolled


Kayle Osborne.

photo: dan plouffe

Ottawa Senators Provincial Women’s Hockey League goalie Kayle Osborne will wish to add to her gold medal collection as she prepares to represent Canada at the Dec. 26-Jan. 2 IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Hockey Championships in Slovakia. The Munster product is fresh off a championship win at November’s U18 nationals with Team Ontario Red. Her rivals-turned-teammates from the Nepean Wildcats and Team Ontario – Sarah Thompson and Charli Kettyle – will rejoin forces with Osborne to wear the maple leaf as well. Backed by Osborne (.944 save percentage) and fellow national champ Michelle Pasiechnyk (.946), Ottawa (12-7-3) and Nepean (10-9-4) sit 4th and 9th respectively in the 20-team PWHL at the holiday break.

around, Rattray and Leslie had decided to stay put (Rattray in the GTA and Leslie in Calgary) where they previously played. Both have spent parts of the fall and early winter attending Hockey Canada training camps. Canada’s women’s team missed out on one of the international competitions it usually competes in each year after the Four Nations Cup was cancelled in the fall. The event was canned after the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation couldn’t come to an agreement with it’s women’s players’ over standards of pay in time. Both Rattray and Leslie hope to land a spot on the national team that will compete at the 2020 World Championship in Halifax in April. Neither Rattray or Leslie were part of a Team Canada roster that lost the opening two games of its “Rivalry Series” against the United States in December. Local netminder Genevieve Lacasse was the lone Ottawa player on Canada’s team in the first of at least five series games. Canada’s roster for Rivalry Series games scheduled for Vancouver and Anaheim in February haven’t yet been announced. It’s assumed that players’ performances in the Rivalry Series will be factored into who makes the team that will play at the world championship in the spring. Outside of Hockey Canada training camps and exhibition events arranged by the PWHPA, Rattray and Leslie have both kept up with near-daily skates this year. Rattray runs her own instructional hockey school that works with teams that are mostly in Mississauga. “I love it. It’s one of my favourite hobbies to go to the rink and help the girls out and be a part of a mentorship role for the young players,” Rattray said. Leslie’s decision to remain in Calgary was partly so she could train with a collection of national team players who live in the city. She said they train five-tosix days a week and have been playing games against high-level midget and junior boys teams. While players like her have been able to make the league-less season work, Leslie said she’s worried about the opportunities available for high-level women’s players who aren’t part of Hockey Canada’s national program. “I don’t think that the women’s game is anything without that type of player. We can’t only have national team players in order for it to be successful. We need all types of players,” Leslie said. Despite the challenging year for their sport, Rattray and Leslie spoke in unison in expressing optimism for the future of women’s hockey. “There’s too many great people in this sport for this not to work,” Rattray said.



Ravens look ahead after disappointment at nationals By Colin Orsak The Carleton Ravens returned from the U Sports men’s soccer championships without a medal, forcing the team’s players to adopt a forward-looking mindsight. The Ravens advanced to the national championships by winning the provincial title for the third consecutive year and advanced to the U Sports semifinals for the second year in a row. Last year Carleton came home from nationals with a bronze medal. After a dominant regular season in which they recorded a record of 13-1 and won the top seed in Ontario’s east division, the Ravens lost 1-0 in overtime against the UQTR Patriotes – the eventual U Sports champions – in the national semifinals. The Ravens controlled the pace from the onset, outshooting and dominating UQTR, but were met by a Patriotes’ defense and goaltending that did enough to keep the game tied. In the eighty-eighth minute, Carleton was subjected to a controversial red card forcing the team to play a man down for the entire 30 minutes of extra time. UQTR scored in the opening minutes of extra time to make it 1-0, which would hold out as the final score. UQTR beat the defending champions and host Montreal Carabins in the finals, while Carleton lost the bronze medal game to the Cape Breton Capers. Ravens midfielder Ricky Comba said he was proud of his team for making it as far as they did, but that the final outcome left a little to be desired. “You can’t get much worse of a feeling. It’s tough when you give your everything throughout the season and then for you to not get over the line, it’s tough,” said Comba. Comba, an Ottawa native, finished second on the team in goals as well as shots on net during the regular season. “I think we gave it everything. We were smarter, fitter, and we have a better understanding of our identity,” he said. It is the Ravens’ identity that truly makes the team special. While most other Canadian universities pull from talent outside of their home city, Carleton is one of the few teams with an almost complete roster of local players. For the Ravens, this puts an extra level

The Carleton Ravens men’s soccer team. of importance on the concept of the team as a collective. The idea is something embraced by Ravens coach Kwesi Loney. “We truly are a representation of Ottawa and I feel we need to celebrate that,” Loney said, adding that the Ravens’ success over the last two years is an indicator of the soccer talent being pumped out of the city. “We wouldn’t have the success that we have if the clubs weren’t producing the way they are producing ... I’m very grateful for what high schools and community clubs are doing. This is a representation of them,” Loney said. Emad Houache, Ravens co-captain and fellow Ottawa native, said representing the city is “very special” to the team. He thinks next year’s U Sports championships, which Ottawa will play host to, will be an opportunity for his team and for the city to shine. The Ravens automatically get a spot in the championships next year as the host team, no matter the result of their regular season. Despite this, Houache thinks knowing they’ll have to host the championships at the end of the year will only add to the difficulty of next season. “Hosting will add a tremendous amount of pressure,” Houache said. Following the abrupt stoppage of operations of Ottawa Fury FC this fall, Loney is hopeful the city will rally around the Ravens next year. He believes that the support of family, friends, alumni and the community as a whole may be the perfect force

photo: carleton university

needed for this team to capitalize on their success. “I feel like, for our nationals competition, I’d love to see our local soccer clubs and schools get behind it. Our team is a representation of the players (they’ve) developed. We’re able to put Ottawa on a stage,” Loney said. Comba’s bought into this notion as well. “I think we are always trying to make a statement that we have good quality football too. We are just as good here as anywhere else in Canada,” Comba said.

GEE-GEE WORLD BEATERS The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees achieved a historic feat to end their season by becoming the inaugural KELME FISU University World Cup women’s champions. The Gee-Gees were chosen as a wildcard entrant and representative of Canada and U Sports in the eight-team women’s tournament because they had won last year’s national championship. They were knocked out of university playoff play in Canada in the OUA semifinals this year, before winning the arguably more-impressive prize at the tournament held in November in Jinjiang, China. The Gee-Gees beat the favoured Paulista University (from Brazil) 1-0 in the championship’s finals. Mikayla Morton, the OUA east division MVP, scored the lone goal in the game, while Margot Shore recorded the shutout for the Gee-Gees.



Back-end runners lift Glebe to overall OFSAA XC crown By Dan Plouffe

Unsung Hometown Heroes Celebrating the Special People who Drive our Sports Community

‘I always knew I’d be a coach’ Gloucester Skating’s Joseph says over 30 years later The first time Darlene Joseph stepped into an arena – following closely behind her parents, who were taking her brother to hockey – she knew this was going to be a place where she would end up spending a lot of time. Just how much time was quickly determined when the young girl took up figure skating. After years of competing – even beside her friend and fellow figure skater with City of Ottawa and Olympic silver medallist, Elizabeth Sports Commissioner Manley – Joseph toured the world, perMathieu Fleury forming in Holiday on Ice and Disney on Ice before coming home to Ottawa in 1984.  But retiring from competitive and performance figure skating wasn’t the end. More than 50 years from the first time she entered an arena, she still shows up - only these days it’s as the director of skating for the Gloucester Skating Club.  Joseph realized her dream and began coaching aspiring young skaters to be everything from a kid who wants to twirl to one who makes it all the way to the Olympics. A rare coaching opportunity came up, and Joseph said she jumped at the chance – the rest, as they may say, is history. “I always knew I would be a coach,” she said. This year Joseph is celebrating 31 years as a coach at the club – something most young figure skaters might not dream about, but in fact, it was something Joseph said, early on, she recognized could be her strength.  “Being away from the sport in a competitive manner (Disney on Ice), I have a better perspective coming back – I was more mature. Understanding that kids are kids, and they can achieve things at their own speed.”  Over the years, Joseph’s love for the sport has never waned – in fact, she has only come to love it more. “Our sport – although at times can seem harsh, it builds resilience and determination. And that gives me the motivation to be the best coach I can be. I mean, I have a career that I get paid for and it’s something I love. How great is that?” And the best part?  “The kids. I do this for the kids,” she said. “It is so rewarding to watch them make that first jump or first triple axel. The fact that I am able to be a part of that journey is rewarding.” Do you know a local sports figure we should feature in the Unsung Hometown Heroes column? Let us know! Contact:

613-580-2482 • mathieu.fleury@ottawa.ca

They didn’t exactly have a ton of hardware to bring home, but the Glebe Gryphons nevertheless left the Nov. 2 OFSAA Championships in Sudbury as the province’s top cross-country running program. After six races (novice, junior and senior girls and boys), Glebe won the overall team points chase 61-60 over St. Catharines’ Sir Winston Churchill Secondary. It was a special achievement for the group because every single runner’s performance is so crucial to a one-point victory, underlines Gryphons coach Kirk Dillabaugh, saluting several athletes who initially weren’t sure they could make it to OFSAA due to commitments in other sports, but ultimately made the trek. “The key to our success is the depth, and we couldn’t have done it without them,” highlights Dillabaugh. “It’s always exciting to have the hard work you’ve put in rewarded, but what’s really fulfilling for us is we’re there competing for that overall title every single year now.” It’s not unusual for a school to have a strong crop within a four-year cycle of athletes, but Glebe has maintained its spot near the top since its first overall crown in 2012. “We’re always in the hunt. We have that consistency year after year, even after cohorts have graduated,” Dillabaugh explains. “That brings us a big sense of pride.” The 2019 Gryphons lineup didn’t carry quite the same star power as past Glebe squads, though they did record four individual top-10s – Cara MacDonald (7th, junior girls), novice girls teammates Caitlin Gormley (8th) and Zoe Wojtyk (9th), and Adam Sanger (7th senior boys), who finished just behind Ridgemont’s Joe Fast in 5th. Since each school’s top-4 runners’ placings are added together to produce a team score, this was a title won on the backs of athletes who finished around the 100th-place mark.

Callum Saravanamuttoo.

photo: dan plouffe

“That’s one of the things I love so much about cross-country running,” Dillabaugh notes. “Sure the top runners are getting accolades all year, but when it gets to OFSAA, it’s that third and fourth runner that really, really makes the difference. “They’re the swing. Because that first runner, whether they have a good race or a poor race, they’re probably only going to make a difference of 4 or 5 or maybe 10 points. But that fourth runner, a great race or a poor race could make a difference of 30 or 40 points, which is all the difference in the world. “I hope that the fourth runners are the ones who really appreciate the impact they’ve had on the team performance. They’ve earned it.” The frigid weather was not pretty in Sudbury, but that suited the team of Gryphons grinders just fine. “And about half of them are nordic skiers,” Dillabaugh adds. “They love that stuff.” That’s exactly what senior boys’ runner Callum Saravanamuttoo realized after

many Gryphons were initially “freaked out” by the “ton of snow on the ground,” and the “super cold and wet” conditions, he recalls. “I was kind of thinking in the back of my mind, ‘Hey, maybe this will help me,’” says the Nakkertok Nordic skier who came up with a huge career-best 14th-place OFSAA performance (he was 60th as a novice, failed to qualify as a junior, and was 69th as a first-year senior last season. “Everything went my way that day. It was great.” Though they didn’t know how tight the overall race was at the time, the Glebe senior boys’ silver medal team performance (the lone local podium) was the essential piece to the championship. “As soon as we crossed the line, we all hugged each other. We’d all raced really well,” Saravanamuttoo recounts. “At Glebe, (winning the overall title) is usually one of our big goals. “I find it’s motivating when you know you’re not just racing for yourself. That’s super cool. I love that it’s a team sport and I love having my teammates there.”

Silver not so sweet for 3-time defending OFSAA boys’ volleyball champs

Louis-Riel Rebelles By Martin Laruelle The Louis-Riel Rebelles captured a silver medal at the Nov. 21-23 OFSAA ‘A’ Boys’ Volleyball Championships, but their seniors’ drive for four consecutive provincial high school titles in four years came up just

photo provided

short in Pain Court, outside Chatham-Kent. “For sure the guys were disappointed not to finish as high as the previous years,” signalled coach Alexandre McLellan. “The majority of the tournament went well. We performed really well in pool play and we made it all the

Franco-Cité Faucons way to the final. The team we faced there had several really strong players. It was a good game and our guys played well.” The Rebelles blasted through pool play with four straight-set victories, their opponents scoring more than 15 points just twice. They then

photo provided

won each set by no less than 25-20 in the quarter-finals and semis against Quinte Christian and Brampton Christian to advance to the final, where they ultimately fell 22-25, 22-25, 21-25 to Smithville Christian.

VBALL cont’s next page



U-17 midfielder ends busy year with Team Canada By Brendan Shykora You would be pressed to find a local amateur athlete who had a busier 2019 than Florence Belzile. To cap her year the 16-year-old soccer player was invited to the Women’s National U-17 Excel camp in Mexico City. Her first international level appearance comes at the tail end of a number of months of program-to-program bouncing and call-ups. Ahead of being invited to the national junior camp, Belzile started her year with Ottawa TFC before moving to the Ottawa Fury, followed by Ottawa South United. Then came a call-up to Team Ontario and recruitment to the national program from the Ontario Regional Excel Super Centre – all this while moving to Markham away from family and switching to an English-speaking school for the first time. It’s a list of different teams, competition levels and lifestyles that’s hard to fit into one breath, which begs the question: how much of a toll does it take to switch between so many different environments? “Not a lot to be honest, because I love soccer so much,” said Belzile, fresh off her visit to Mexico. “Being away isn’t that hard because I love what I do.” The U-17 Canadians played two games at the camp, which had results of a 3-1 loss and a draw. Though her team came home without a win, Belzile calls the excursion the highlight of her jam-packed year. “Mexico was just a dream. I’ve always wanted to represent my country and I played my first cap for Canada which was really cool,” she said. Belzile went to the eight-day national team camp alongside fellow Ottawan and Regional Excel teammate Sheridan Michel. The centre back has spent most of her competitive days with Ottawa TFC and was one of four players who made their debut in Canadian colours at the camp. “She’s very physical, she’s a really good athlete and she sees the play very well,” said


falls in final to familiar foe

continued from last page At the OFSAA ‘AA’ Boys’ Volleyball Championships in Stratford, many of the Louis-Riel players’ club teammates with the Ottawa Mavericks earned a matching provincial silver medal with their Franco-Cité Faucons. Franco-Cité powered through pool play without dropping a set in four victories over E.L. Crossley, Adam Scott, Monsignor Percy Johnson and Westgate. The Faucons swept their quarter-final over Port Perry and prevailed 3-1 over Ingersoll to setup their practically perennial ‘AA’ gold medal showdown with Eden. Eden wound up winning their 11th title in the past 14 years (Franco-Cité owning 2 of the 3 blemishes on that record), taking the final 29-27, 25-19, 27-25.

Florence Belzile

photo: soccer canada

Belzile. Having played together in Ottawa for two years, Belzile and Michel had time to share dreams of playing at higher levels – dreams they can now say they were able to live out in lockstep. “When we were playing for OTFC we were talking about how cool it would be to represent our country and being in the REX program, being on Team Ontario,” recalled Belzile. “Everything happened for us so quickly and it’s just so overwhelming, but we’re so thankful.” When moving from home to Toronto to play soccer at the highest level it’s good to have a familiar face alongside you, and the two have become close on and off the field. “She’s one of my really close friends,” said Belzile. “She’s shy but when you get to know her she’s very outgoing.” Belzile, on the other hand, is not someone you could call shy. While playing for Ot-

tawa TFC she decided she needed more of a challenge, and so she switched to playing with the boys. “It helped me physically and the play was so much faster, so it made me better.” Switching to the boy’s team would seem like a daunting undertaking for a young teenager, but Belzile said she wasn’t fazed. “I’ve lived through so many changes in my life ... when I got there I wasn’t nervous, I was still playing like myself.” Belzile’s father is a military man, which means throughout her life she’s commonly stayed in one place for just a few years at a time. It’s why she’s been able to adapt so seamlessly to different teams and cities. “He helped me so much,” she underlined. “That’s why I’m here, it’s because of my dad.” Belzile’s dad also helped her find her future soccer destination. He made a highlight package of her soccer games and sent it to colleges across the United States, which led to her receiving interest from the University of Nebraska – a Big Ten school – where she’s since declared her intent to play. In the NCAA the Cornhuskers-commit will have the opportunity to display the game-changing offensive skills that she possesses on a larger scale. “I’m very creative and wanting to have the ball. I love to look forward and attack and be dangerous,” Belzile said in describing her own game Belzile still has much ahead of her before she settles south of the border – including a 2020 that might make the year that’s coming to a close seem tame in comparison. Canada’s U-17 women will play in the Concacaf Championships for the right to earn their place at the FIFA World Cup for their age group later in the year. It’s Belzile’s goal to make the team that takes its shot at qualifying. “I’ll hopefully make the team because it’s not for sure yet, but hopefully I can play and make an impact in a positive way.”


photo provided

The Ottawa St. Anthony Futuro under-14 boys’ team were the lone local division winners at Ontario Soccer’s Regional League Championships, held Oct. 11-13 in Guelph. Futuro was undefeated en route to the East Region’s league and Cup titles, and continued their unblemished run facing off against the champions of the province’s other regional-level leagues. St. Anthony topped Bolton and Windsor, and tied co-champion Etobicoke in Guelph. The St. Anthony men’s team came one step short of winning a Canadian crown at Canada Soccer’s Oct. 9-14 Toyota National Championships in St. John’s, NL. St. Anthony won 4 games by a combined 11-1 total to reach the Challenge Trophy final before falling 2-0 to a club from Surrey, B.C.

Ottawa TFC Telegram

1st year as TFC affiliate fuels big dreams

While they were making an unexpected run to the MLS Cup final, Toronto FC got a lift from their little fans in Ottawa. During the Major League Soccer playoffs, every TFC player received a bundle of notes from admiring youngsters, including a pile from their affiliate club in the nation’s capital. “‘You mean, Jozy Altidore’s gonna get my card?’” was the reaction of many Ottawa TFC players when told of the opportunity to write to their heroes, recounts OTFC General Manager Pavel Cancura. “It was pretty neat. It allows us to connect the kids to the big club. It helps them bring that dream closer.” The love went both ways. Just before the OTFC U17 girls left on their trip to make history as the region’s first national champions in their age group, TFC sent them off with a pile of free gear for each player (see photo above). It’s been a successful first season of the partnership between the MLS giants and the local Cumberland and Capital United clubs who merged under TFC’s brand, says Cancura, noting that their strong relationship goes well beyond the fun of cheering each other on. “It’s the full spectrum,” he explains. “They open their door and show what they do: ‘Here’s our curriculum and here’s how we run it.’ That’s very cool because it’s very hard to get access to that.” Ongoing coach development has been especially valuable. TFC Academy staff came to Ottawa on numerous occasions for classroom sessions with local coaches, and on-field training with players. OTFC coaches also went to Toronto to get a live look at how the TFC brass talk to their players and work with them in the Academy. “I don’t think we were astronomically apart to begin with, but obviously when you gain that level of insight into how a club of that stature works with their kids, you borrow any relevant pieces that you can,” signals Cancura, previously Cumberland’s leader of a decade.

OTTAWA PLAYERS INVITED FOR TORONTO FC ACADEMY OPPORTUNITIES TFC has also shared their library of resources, including videos of their first-team stars demonstrating skills that the young players are then eager to replicate. While in town, TFC staff kept an eye out for promising prospects, and roughly 20 local players were invited to train for a week at the Academy. TFC was pleased to gain an affiliate club in Ottawa so that not every player with potential has to move to Toronto at a young age. TFC also welcomed many Ottawa squads on weekends for a tour of the club grounds, a friendly match with an Academy team, and to watch a TFC first team home game. “Their facility is incredible,” highlights Cancura. “It’s an inspiring place. Just to be able to get the tour, walk in, play the game, and leave, it puts it in every kid’s mind: ‘I want to be there.’” The clubs are working to begin similar trips for OTFC girls’ teams in the future, paired with a visit to Ontario REX (the Canadian women’s national team’s centralized regional training centre), along with several more exciting opportunities and initiatives for the new year. “The biggest thing that came out of the first year I think was just the confirmation that both our organizations’ values are aligned. You can never underestimate that,” Cancura underlines. “Everyone’s comfortable and has delivered what they said they’d deliver, so now it’ll be about taking steps to become closer and closer.”




Rockin’ Rebelles Wrap


Student-athletes shine at one of Ontario’s top academic schools They are a renowned leader in incorporating highlevel sports into the school setting, but Louis-Riel high school is slowly earning recognition as a major player in producing high-achieving students as well. “We’ve kind of become known as the ‘sports school,’” signals principal Andréa Mathieu. “And 100%, we take great pride in the success we’ve had, and that physical activity is synonymous with Louis-Riel. But there’s sometimes a perception that we must not be as strong an academic school, when in fact it’s the opposite.” The Fraser Institute independently ranks LouisRiel among the top-10 French-language secondary schools in Ontario – in the 89th percentile out of all the province’s schools overall. That comes as no surprise to school staff – long-time believers in the correlation between athletic and academic success since their innovative sports-study program launched 15 years ago. “No doubt there’s a link between a healthy body and a healthy mind,” says Grade 7/8 teacher Léo Dignard, whose students have a physical education period every day. “At our school, it’s all about finding the best balance between sports and academics. To keep their grades up while following their athletic passions.” Louis-Riel’s exploratory sports program exposes

middle school students to a wide range of sports and activities. The fundamentals of an active, healthy lifestyle are taught, enabling student-athletes to participate in physical activities with confidence, and build the foundation to pursue high-level training if desired. The formula has produced piles of national team athletes and university sports scholarships, backed by a dedicated team of coaches, support staff and teachers who understand the commitments required in high-level sport. Likewise, the school also supports high-performing students with enrichment classes. “There are activities available that allow everyone to push themselves to new personal heights,” adds Dignard, who teaches in the school’s brand-new 12-classroom intermediate wing. “That’s true for both sport and school here.” The same applies for students’ attire as well. LouisRiel is part of the exclusive Nike Team program, which provides world-class sportswear for Louis-Riel studentathletes, who also sport sharp black-and-red school uniforms when they’re in class. “It’s very popular with our students and parents too,” indicates Mathieu. “No matter what your background is, everyone is equal here and everyone feels like they’re a part of the same family. It’s fun to see how excited the Grade 7s are when they first put on their Louis-Riel wear. We have a saying here: ’Once a Rebelle, Always a Rebelle’. It’s really special to see that school pride grow and grow and grow throughout their time with us.”

LR classée l’une des meilleures écoles académiques de l’Ontario

Elle est reconnu pour son succès en l’intégration des sports de haut niveau dans le cadre scolaire, mais l’école secondaire publique LouisRiel reçoit lentement une réputation comme endroit où l’ont produit aussi des élèves de haute-performance. « Nous sommes devenus célèbres en tant qu’école sportive », signale la directrice Andréa Mathieu. « Et nous acceptons 100% le succès que l’on reçoit, et on est bien fier que l’activité physique est synonyme de LouisRiel. Mais il y a parfois une illusion qu’on ne peut pas être aussi fort comme école académique. Cependant, c’est l’inverse en réalité ». L’institut Fraser classe indépendamment Louis-Riel parmi les 10 meilleures écoles secondaires francophone en Ontario – dans le 89e centile parmi toutes les écoles de la province entière. Ce n’est pas une surprise pour le personnel de l’école – des croyants de longue date entre la corrélation athlétique et réussite scolaire depuis l’innovation du programme sports-études, débuté 15 ans auparavant. « Il n’y a pas de doute sur le lien entre un corps sain et un mental d’acier », souligne le professeur de 7e/8e année, Léo Dignard, dont les élèves ont une période d’éducation physique tous les jours. « Dans notre école, tout est de trouver la meilleure balance entre sports et études. Garder leur niveau académique et suivre leurs passions dans le sport ». Le programme sports-exploratoires de Louis-Riel expose les élèves de l’école intermédiaire

à une vaste gamme de sports et d’activités. On y enseigne des notions fondamentales relatives à un mode de vie actif et sain, ce qui permet aux élèves-athlètes de participer à des activités physiques en toute confiance et d’obtenir les fondements nécessaires à la réalisation d’entraînements de haut niveau, si souhaité. La formule a produit un tas de bourses universitaires sportifs et athlètes d’équipes nationaux, soutenu par une équipe dédiée d’entraîneurs, de personnel de soutien et d’enseignants qui comprennent les engagements requis dans le sport de haut niveau. De même, l’école soutient également des élèves très performants avec des cours d’enrichissement. « Des activités sont à disposition pour le surpassement de soi », ajoute M. Dignard, enseignant dans la toute nouvelle aile intermédiaire de 12 classes de l’école. « C’est vrai pour le sport aussi bien que pour

les études, ici ». Il en va de même pour la tenue vestimentaire des étudiants. Louis-Riel fait partie du programme exclusif Nike Team, fournissant des habits de classe mondiale aux étudiantsathlètes de LR, qui portent également des uniformes scolaires en noir et rouge lorsqu’ils sont en classe. « C’est très populaire avec nos étudiants et les parents aussi » indique Mme. Mathieu. « Peu importe leur passé, tout le monde est égal ici et se sent comme de la même famille. C’est amusant de voir comment enthousiastes sont les élèves de 7e année quand on leur donne leurs premiers tenus Louis-Riel. Nous avons un slogan ici : ‘Une fois Rebelle, Toujours Rebelle’. C’est vraiment spécial de voir cette fierté scolaire grandir et grandir tout au long de leur passage avec nous ».


photo: wrestling canada

For the first time since high school, Rio 2016 Olympic champion Erica Wiebe will be wrestling back in Ottawa when she wears the maple leaf for the 2020 Pan-American Olympic Qualification Tournament Mar. 13-15 at the Shaw Centre. Wiebe earned Canada’s entry in the women’s 76 kg division thanks to her victory at the Dec. 6-8 Canadian trials in Niagara, where she won her first two bouts 10-0 and then took down 2018 72 kg world champion Justina Di Stasio 5-2 and 2-1 in the best-of-3 final. “It’s going to be different. I’ve never wrestled in my hometown of Ottawa, and a lot’s on the line,” Wiebe, 30, said via Wrestling Canada. “Until then, I’ll just do a lot more of what I do every single day – get that 1% better.” The Calgary-based Sacred Heart Catholic High School grad missed her first chance at an Olympic ticket with a last-second quarter-final defeat at September’s World Championships. The top two finishers in each weight class at the Pan-Am qualifier will secure Olympic berths for their country. Two other local wrestlers were also victorious in the men’s greco-roman competitions at the Canadian trials. Ottawa native Adam Macfayden topped the 60 kg division, while Ioannis Narlidis of the new Carleton (University) wrestling club dominated the 87 kg class. Unseeded Carleton wrestler Alex Brown-Theriault took down 3 opponents in the men’s 86 kg freestyle competition at the trials before falling 2-1 to Clayton Pye from host Brock in the best-of-3 final. Reigning Canadian junior champ Ismail Ayyoub of the National Capital Wrestling Club also recorded a victory in the men’s 86 kg freestyle division before falling in the quarter-finals.



Gloucester athlete dreams of following his grandfather’s tracks By Stuart Miller-Davis National championshipbound Joshua Dore has figure skating in his blood. The 17-year-old Gloucester Skating Club athlete started skating when he was five, following in the tracks of his grandfather David Dore. The elder Dore was the national gold medalist in figure skating in 1964 and after retiring from competition became a judge, a second phase of his career in the sport that saw him score international competitions including the 1984 Olympics. He eventually became the youngest president of the Canadian Figure Skating Association (now Skate Canada) and a vice-president of the International Skating Union. David Dore died in April 2016. He was 75 years old Joshua remembers his grandfather standing at the window in the heated lobby overlooking the ice at the Elizabeth Manley Figure Skating Arena watching him at almost every practice when he was growing

David (right) and Joshua Dore.

photo provided

up. “If I ever had a question about anything, I could always go to him,” Joshua said. “Like not just about skating. Life or anything else on my mind.” Darlene Joseph, the director of skating at the Gloucester Skating Club, talked about David’s influence when she sat down with the Ottawa Sportspage.

“He was a real icon for figure skating in Canada. He wanted his grandson to skate,” Joseph said. “They had a very special bond and he’d be very proud Joshua is going to his first national championship.” For Joshua, it’s been a tough path to get to his first national competition. “He’s had his ups and downs,” his mother Shannon

Prevost said. “He’s had some pretty big injuries and he’s always fought through it. It’s super inspiring because he could’ve quit at any time.” Prevost also talked about the challenges a young boy faces in figure skating. “To be a boy in this sport, to continue to want to be a part of this sport is not always easy. He was the only boy competing at his level at this club for a long time.” Joshua competes in both singles and pairs with the Gloucester Skating Club, but it’s the pairs competition that he prefers. “In competition it makes you less nervous because there’s another person going through the same thing with you in the same moment,” Joshua said. “When you don’t have a good practice and thoughts are running through your head, being able to hold their hand just calms you down.” Joshua and his partner Lilly Napier compete in the pre-novice pairs division and came in

1st place at the 2020 Ontario Sectional Championships back on Nov. 7-10, which qualified them for the Skate Canada Challenge Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Edmonton. The pair placed 7th in the event that is the national championship for the division. In his singles competition he finished in 5th place at the Ontario Sectional, and finished in 8th place in Edmonton. He will be skating at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championship in Mississauga from Jan 12-19. “It’s a pretty big deal for me because I’ve never made it to anything this big before,” Joshua said about the event in January. “I think whatever way it goes for me I’ll be grateful to get the experience and be able to compete.” Joshua said his eventual goal is to someday represent Canada internationally in the pairs’ competition.

CLUB SUCCESS At the upcoming national championships for singles skaters, he’ll be joined by four team-

mates from the Gloucester Skating Club. Each qualified based on their results at the Skate Canada Challenge. Jessica Lui finished in 10th place in novice women division, Hayley McGuire finished 18th in the same event, Emmanuelle Proft finished 11th in the junior women division and David Shteyngart finished 15th amongst novice men. It’s the first time the club is sending five skaters to the national championship in 16 years. Looking up at the banners on the wall outside the arena, Joseph points out how special this is for the club. “Going back to 2001 there’s usually one, sometimes two entries,” she said of skaters going to the national championships. “One time we got three. Sometimes there were none.” Joseph said it’s great for the club to be sending so many athletes to Mississauga next month. “That’s great because it’ll motivate and inspire another generation of skaters to attain that,” she said.



Canadian ringette team falls short at worlds, sees bright future By Cameron Chaddad Although they came up short of winning a gold medal in the World Ringette Championships, a revamped training program is giving Ottawa’s members of Team Canada hope going forward. Barb Bautista, who is originally from Ottawa, is the head coach of Canada’s national team, which also featured three players with ties to the nation’s capital: Allison Biewald, Kaitlyn Youldon and Jasmine LeBlanc. Ever since the previous World Championships that were held in Mississauga in 2017, Biewald has been focused on training and improving her game. The 2017 tournament was her first time being a member of Team Canada and she said it was the best ringette she’s ever been a part of. Just before the 2017 tournament, Biewald and Youldon were shuffled to the Gatineau Fusion through a National Ringette League players draft that

was carried out when their Gloucester Devils team folded. Biewald and Youldon remain on the Gatineau team today and say they’re happy with how the situation unfolded. “The team’s been awesome,” Biewald said. “Obviously I miss my Gloucester team and it’s tough the way it happened but moving forward it’s been good.” Youldon said her new Gatineau teammates have been welcoming and made the transition to the new squad very easy. Between world championships, which are held every two years, Youldon and Biewald competed in High Performance Challenge Cup events. The events were created by Ringette Canada to help the development of the team game of its national players between international tournaments. The Challenge Cup was welcomed by Biewald and Youldon as they felt it helped them maintain better chemistry with their national teammates.

Kaitlyn Youldon

file photo

Biewald noted how prior to the 2017 championships it was difficult for their team to develop chemistry quickly enough because the team’s members have played together for such a short amount of time. Bautista also mentioned this when discussing the implementation

of the Challenge Cup. She said they were seeking to “create a sustainable high-performance system” so they could improve their team performance. Biewald noted the positive impact it’s had as “the Challenges help us engage with each other and keep in

constant contact.” Prior to the tournament, Biewald, Youldon and Bautista were excited about Canada’s chances. “We have a lot of new people, but a really good team culture and the team seems to be meshing really well,” Youldon said before the championships. Bautista said this year’s team was “more cohesive” compared to the 2017 version and that its members had “bought into the team culture.” Ultimately, Canada’s team fell to Finland in their pool’s championship game at the Burnaby-held event in November. The loss meant that Canada came up short of its goal of overcoming the Finns, who knocked them out of championship contention in 2017 as well. A bright spot in the tournament came in the junior division, which Canada’s team placed 1st in. Ottawa’s Emma Kelly was a member of that team.

Local teen looks to slippery slope as her shot at success By Eden Suh By 5 a.m. most teens are far from waking up, while others have managed to crack an eye open to check their phones, but for one local high school student, that’s when her training day starts. These days, 16-year-old Bailey Stonham gets up before dawn to head to the gym. She’s preparing for the upcoming Canadian Luge Championships. Stonham – who the Ontario Luge Association and Calabogie Luge Club have proudly highlighted as a rapid rising talent – has made it far in her luge career despite only hopping on a sled for the first time

two years ago. She was drawn to luge at first when she was skiing at Calabogie. “I signed up for an hour lesson and then I ended up spending the entire day out there and I picked it up right away and spent the day learning luge. It was almost like extreme tobogganing to me, it was just amazing,” Stonham said, her passion for the sport clear as she remarks her breath-taking first-time experience with luge. Having previously competed in ski racing, Stonham foresaw an end to her skiing career when she became infatuated with luge, seeing the sport as her next big opportunity. “I love the adrenaline and

speed that you got (from luge), it’s unlike just going down the track,” she said as she compared her experience in both sledding and skiing. While she eyes the Canadians championships in Whistler in February as her next major competition, Stonham has her heart set on someday making it to the Olympic Games. In the meantime, progressing towards that goal means that the national development team athlete has to stick to a rigorous training schedule. Right now, her gym sessions look like a week split between upper body and lower body resistance training. “I’m just focused on getting

stronger and just building up my own volume and being able to get through the tracks,” she said. Upper body strength is key at the start of a luge run, when an athlete pushes themselves forward to gain momentum, Stonham explained. Once she’s gained speed and is lying on the sled, tension switches to her calves, which is why she has to maintain an overall balanced training regime. This workout split is not quite the average routine for a 16-year-old. Stonham, however, has been involved in sports since she was a young child, taking no notice to any sore muscles when she first embarked on her sledding. “When I first started I always had a passion for sports so I’ve always been athletic so I have an athletic body type,” she said, as she noted that its been an advantage in her sporting career. Before she started competing in luge, the first competitive sport Stonham ever competed in was cheerleading at the age of six. After tearing her Achilles she ended up switching over from cheerleading to skiing because it didn’t put as much pressure on the tendon. “I just stuck my foot in the boot and I was off down the hill. They weren’t really using your

Bailey Stonham

photo: chris wightman

Achilles that much,” she said. Aside from winter sports, Stonham also participates in obstacle course running. She came in 2nd place in both the 3k and 5k in 2017 in her division in the Obstacle Course Running World Championships. With all of her sport tran-

sitions, Stonham says her parents have been crucial to her development as an athlete. “They’ve been very supportive whenever I’m at a race or competition, they always pushed me and like, made sure I’m doing my best. They always like helping me achieve my full potential,” Stonham said.


OTTAWA SPORTSPAGE SNAPSHOTS OTTAWA TITANS STAR ON INTERNATIONAL TEAR Ottawa’s Bogdan Djerkovic has been on a roll against international opponents in the FINA World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championship. Djerkovic is part of a Team Canada squad that has a record of 3 wins and 3 losses at the championships that are being hosted by Kuwait. In the preliminary round of the tournament, the 19-year-old Ottawa Titans product scored 4 goals against Egypt, a game that Canada won, and two goals against Russia, which Canada won as well. Djerkovic scored one goal against both Spain and Hungary, which were both losses for Canada. Djerkovic scored three goals in Canada’s first classification game against the United States, which it lost, and three more against Australia in the ensuing classification game. At the time the Sportspage was published, Canada was preparing to play Hungary for a second time in its third and final classification match. Djerkovic was also named to Canada’s Tokyo 2020 National Team athlete pool at the beginning of December. Canada’s men’s water polo team missed qualifying for the Olympics at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. They’ll take another shot at qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics at a tournament in the Netherlands in late March.

OSU Force Academy Zone

OSU pipeline nets 245+ scholarships

CAPITAL WAVE’S GAUDREAULT HELPS CANADA TO EVEN RECORD IN CANADA CUP Jessica Gaudreault of Ottawa’s Capital Wave water polo club helped the national team secure an even record of two wins and two losses in the 2019 Canada Cup. Gaudreault was in net for Canada in wins against the Netherlands and China. She did not play in either of Canada’s losses. Canada’s 2-2 record was enough for the team to finish in 3rd place of the five-team event that was held in Montreal in December.

PAIR OF LOCAL DIVERS QUALIFY FOR TEAM ONTARIO, WILL COMPETE AT SPAIN MEET Two local divers, Kate Miller of the Nepean Ottawa Diving Club and Kathryn Grant of the Ottawa National Diving Club, qualified for Team Ontario based off of their performances at December’s Ontario Winter Provincials. Miller left the event with three gold medals and two silver medals, while Grant took home two golds of her own and one bronze medal. As part of Team Ontario, Miller and Grant will head to Spain in late January to compete in the Madrid Junior Open Age Group Meet.

HORN-MILLER GETS HIGHEST CANADIAN SPORTS HONOUR Waneek Horn-Miller secured the highest honour in Canadian sports by being chosen as an inductee in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. As a 14-year-old protester Horn-Miller was nearly fatally wounded at the Oka crisis. She would recover from a stab wound that was close to her heart and compile more than 20 medals across multiple events at the North American Indigenous Games between 1990 and 1997. Her trailblazing ways continued at Carleton University where as a water polo player she was the school’s first female athlete of the year in 1994-95 – a feat she repeated in three consecutive years. In 1999, Horn-Miller was named MVP of the Canadian women’s water polo team. The next year she co-captained Canada’s team at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. After being dismissed from the national program after nine years in 2003, Horn-Miller led a group of athletes to force Water Polo Canada to look into claims of coach abuses, which led to the firing of those who had been accused. In 2010, she was a torchbearer for Canada at the Olympics in Vancouver and in 2015 was named one of Canada’s most influential women in sport. In October she became the Hall of Fame’s 11th ever Indigenous inductee.

LOCAL BEACH VOLLEYBALL PLAYER WINS BRONZE MEDAL AT WORLD BEACH GAMES Ottawa’s Charlotte Sider was part of Canada’s 4X4 volleyball team that claimed 3rd place at the 2019 ANOC World Beach Games that were held in Doha, Qater in October. Canada finished with a 2-1 record in pool play, beating teams from Australia and Gambia and losing to Vanuatu. Canada beat Nigeria in straight sets in the quarterfinals before losing to the United States in swept sets in the semifinals. In a rematch against Australia with the bronze medal on the line, Sider and Canada bested the Aussies by a score of 2 sets to 1.

TEENAGER DAVID NAMED CANADIAN MEN’S SOCCER PLAYER OF THE YEAR Ottawa’s Jonathan David, 19, was named Canada’s men’s soccer player of the year. The Ottawa Gloucester Hornets and Ottawa Internationals alumni scored a combined 28 goals between Canada and his Belgium club KAA Gent in 2019, representing the highest total of any Canadian player in more than 20 years. Another goal record he claimed in 2019 was the most for Canada in the Concacaf Gold up, where he netted six in total and was a Golden Boot winner in the tournament. David’s appeared in 12 games for Canada’s national team since his first call up in September 2018 and has found the back of the net 11 times in total. Even before reaching his 20th birthday, he’s halfway to tying Dwayne De Rosario’s all-time Canadian national team record of 22 goals, which took him 81 total games.

OTTAWA PAIR INVITED TO HIGH PERFORMANCE BASKETBALL CAMP Two Ottawa girls will be a part of a group of 57 athletes called from across the country to participate in a Canada Basketball-run camp to establish which players are best suited for the national U-17 and U-18 teams. Merissah Russell and Isabella Gaudet of Capital Courts Academy were the two local players to crack Canada Basketball’s invite list. As both were born in 2002, they’ll be assessed as potential members of the national U-18 team, which is competing this summer at the FIBA U-18 Women’s Americas Championship. As a country, Canada’s U-18 girls are currently ranked 4th best in the world. Fabienne Blizzard, Capital Courts’ head coach, was also invited to the camp held in December in Toronto. Blizzard is an assistant with the U-17 team. While Russell and Gaudet will leave the camp either having secured a Team Canada spot or not, they’ll also be integrated into the national team’s style of play and develop individual performance plans to benefit them into the future.

HOMECOMING COMING FOR WOMEN’S NATIONAL VOLLEYBALL TEAM PLAYER JOSEPH Team Canada volleyball player Shaïnah Joseph will be expected to wear the maple in her hometown when Ottawa hosts the Netherlands, Poland and Japan for Volleyball Nations League play June 2-4 at the Arena at TD Place. The Canadian women will first seek to nail down a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the continental qualifier Jan. 8-13 in the Dominican Republic.

OTTAWA ATHLETES TO COMPETE AT 2020 YOUTH OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES Mont-Tremblant skier Sarah Brown of Ottawa has been named to Canada’s alpine team for the Jan. 9-22 Youth Olympic Winter Games, to be held in Lausanne, Switzerland. Nakkertok Nordic skier Luke Allen, an Ashbury College student, also made the grade to qualify for the Games, though his sport (along with many others) have yet to officially release their selections.

LOUIS-RIEL GOLFER ROLLIN ROLLS IN MOST BIRDIES AT OFSAA GOLF Louis-Riel high school’s Mathis Rollin recorded the most birdies in the field and earned the top local finish (tied for 6th overall) with rounds of 80 and 73 at the Oct. 16-17 OFSAA Boys’ Golf Championships in Kingsville, Ont.

SLIDER POSTS CONSECUTIVE 4THS TO KICK OFF WORLD CUP SKELETON SEASON Ottawa skeleton racer Mimi Rahneva recorded 4th-place finishes on back-to-back weekends to kick off her World Cup season on the track where she first learned to slide in Lake Placid, NY. “There were lots of building blocks laid here over the last two weeks. I’ve slid personal bests all week,” last season’s 3rd-ranked World Cup athlete said via Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton. “The conditions played a big role on race day, but I’m so happy with my result.”

The stats are in, and the total is terrific: a Canada-best 245+ Ottawa South United soccer players have secured post-secondary scholarships since the club’s inception, including over 60 in the U.S. and more than 180 in Canada. That’s an average of more than a starting lineup of players each year over the course of OSU’s 17 seasons of existence (and the rate has picked up dramatically since the formative years). The total is worth $11.5 million in school fees (based on the cost of 4-year tuition). “We are very proud of all our alumni who have gone on to play in university and college soccer across North America – it’s a huge accomplishment,” says OSU President Bill Michalopulos. “And we’re also proud that so many of our past players stay close to the club and come back later to be part of the club again and to help our next generation.” With a strong network of contacts and connections across the continent thanks to the reputation built on the success of our players and programs, OSU is always eager to help its young players pursue post-secondary education, and meets with families frequently to put a plan in place to meet their goals. Over 70 OSU alumni played varsity soccer this past fall, earning piles of conference and national academic and athletic distinctions. A highlight was the Carleton Ravens men’s soccer team (powered largely by OSU alumni) again reaching the Canadian university semi-finals, on the heels of the first national medal in program history last season. Dario Conte repeated as Ontario East MVP and a first-team All-Canadian. Several current OSU players have already signed with university clubs for next season, including Katherine Chadwick (McGill University), Jade Taylor-Ryan (University of British Columbia), Katie Richardson (Simon Fraser University), and current women’s national team Ontario REX program player Isabella Hanisch, who will join Chicago’s DePaul University in the NCAA’s Big East conference.

OSU A FORCE ON FIELDS NEAR & FAR After claiming several crowns close to home (including Ontario’s first-ever OPDL Cup, Season Championship and Charity Shield triple), OSU players and teams have shone on big stages across the country, the continent and overseas. Amongst the highlights: Four Force players represented Team Canada in Barcelona for October’s Danone Nations Cup, billed as the world’s biggest soccer tournament for children aged 10-12. Anna Swyers was the captain for Canada’s 5th-place girls’ team, while Adrian Dagres, Luca Domanico and Isaac Charboneau helped the Canadian boys to a 12-place finish. Evelyn Arsenault earned her first international caps as a member of the Latvian U17 women’s national team. Antonio Carlini, who joined Toronto FC’s Academy from OSU, made his professional debut with TFC-2 this fall. The 2006 Force boys were invited for training at TFC Academy after an undefeated season in their first OPDL campaign. The Montreal Impact also hosted several players and coaches for training at their Major League Soccer Academy. The lone foreign team at the Disney Junior Soccer Showcase in Orlando, the Force 2007 girls took down several of Florida’s top U13 girls’ teams en route to an undefeated record in group play and an appearance in the premier tournament semi-finals.




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Athlete of the Month: Edouard Parent

photo: dean hoisak

Team of the Month: Ottawa TFC Under-17 Girls’ Soccer Team Team Roster: Veronique Bolduc, Riley Bonadie, Jessica Boyle, Katelyn Brzozowski, Melina Cane, Joelle Chackal, Chanelle Chaput, Lauren Curran, Flavie Dube, Kylen Grant, Kylie Laframboise, Paige Robert, Emily Smith, Amelia Thompson, Devon Vermaire, Rachel Vermaire, Head Coach Pavel Cancura, Assistants Duane Bonadie & Patrick Boyle, and Manager Frances Smith.

About: Edouard Parent of the Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club is off to a fast start on the Ontario Short Track Elite Circuit this season. Racing across town at the Bell Sensplex for the first series stop, the 17-year-old finished 2nd overall in the open men’s competition. At the second event in Kitchener-Waterloo, he placed 7th out of all open men and 2nd in his junior B age category. Parent’s Concordes club also hosted a provincial series meet (a step below the elite circuit) on Dec. 14 at Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex - Orléans. Division winners included Gloucester’s Jonathan Wong, Olivier Tremblay, Wesley Bartlett, and Ottawa’s Anji Wang and Alice Oliver.

About: The Ottawa TFC under-17 girls’ soccer team made history as the region’s first Canadian champions at the top youth level when they downed Lakeshore 2-1 at the Oct. 9-14 Toyota National Championships in PEI. OTFC earlier posted 3 wins and a tie on consecutive days to reach the final, but earlier hand-written notes from their coach and OTFC’s Got Talent contests played as big a part in the winning formula as their on-field play. > Visit SportsOttawa.com to read the full story on the behind-the-scenes team-building that led to OTFC’s groundbreaking triumph. < E-mail editor@sportsottawa.com to nominate your Stars! Courtesy of the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region, the selected Stars of the Month will receive free passes to the Y.

SPEED SKATING: ‘Better get baking’ Blondin’s dad tells coach who rewards Concordes with squares for int’l medals cont’d from COVER “So last year when I went to Calgary for one of the major competitions where our girls were skating, I actually had a suitcase and all that was in it was rice crispy squares.”

HISTORIC HEIGHTS In ISU World Cup races last season, Blondin won two individual medals. Isabelle Weidemann, another Ottawa product and Rivet disciple, had a breakthrough year in which she won three World Cup medals as an individual skater. This year, both skaters are doing even better. Weidemann jumpstarted her year with a record-breaking performance in the women’s 5000m at the 2019 Canadian Long Track Championships, besting speed skating legend Cindy Klassen’s mark of 6:48.97 by about a second and a half. Klassen’s record had stood for 13 years. On the World Cup circuit, Weidemann

picked up from where she left off last year. At the first World Cup in Belarus, she placed 1st in the 3000m. Through three more World Cup events, in which she’s raced in four individual races, she’s won a silver medal and two bronze medals. Blondin has been on an even more incredible tear. In Belarus, she won gold in the mass start and bronze in the 3000m. After a mass start silver at the second World Cup event in Poland, Blondin pulled off five straight gold medal finishes, which impressively came in five different skating disciplines – the 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, Mass Start and Team Pursuit. Weidemann and Blondin also skate for Canada’s No. 1 worldranked team pursuit squad that’s finished on each step of the podium in three World Cup races. As much as an elite level athlete’s progression can be predicted, the 24-year-old Weidemann’s ascension to becoming one of the world’s best long track

Isabelle Weidemann.

photo: christian kaspar-bartke/isu

speed skaters this year makes sense. Rivet has told the Sportspage in the past that he had predicted Weidemann would be gracing international podiums in 2017 or 2018. In Weidemann’s words, what’s helped bring her to another level this year is the introduction of inline training (rollerblading in the summer) as well as training with male skaters more frequently. “I had never done (inlining) before. It’s pretty uncommon to not have done it as a long-tracker

so it was fun to learn,” Weidemann told the Sportspage. Blondin’s re-asserted dominance – to the degree that she’s reached – was less predictable. She struggled through depression last season, which she thinks may have affected her on-ice performance. “That was maybe my downfall of the season. I think I maybe wasn’t performing as I should have because of maybe my mental state, not because I wasn’t strong enough to do so, but because mentally I just

wasn’t there,” Blondin told the Sportspage. She has been a staple on Canadian national teams for more than a decade and has competed in two Olympic Games (Weidemann’s Olympic debut was two winters ago at the 2018 Games). At 29 years old, she had reached a point where some thought her best years were behind her, Rivet noted. “A lot of people were thinking that Ivanie was getting to the end of her career and then these people need to have their eyes opened because she’s actually skating better than she has,” Rivet said. Another factor that may be contributing to Blondin and Weidemann’s success is the consistency afforded to them of being able to work with Dutch speed skating coach Remmelt Eldering for a second season. Weidemann said last year that Eldering’s overhaul of her training had helped her elevate her racing. Rivet also thinks maintaining stability with a coach they work well

with has been important. “It makes a big difference for them,” said the 2018 Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Coaching Achievement honouree. “They have a lot of mutual respect between themselves, the athletes and the coach and then the great chemistry. That’s your recipe for success right there.” Both women have set personal records in the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m during Eldering’s tenure with the Canada’s national team. Both also said in interviews that they view the stretch that they’re in as the best of each of their careers. Still ahead this season is one more World Cup event (at home in Calgary Feb. 6-7) and the Feb. 12-15 World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Salt Lake City. As Weidemann put it, there’s one goal: “Just skate fast.” One thing is already for certain: When this season’s over, Rivet’s going to be keeping busy delivering plenty of trays of rice crispy squares.

11 – COMMUNITY CLUBS – Longtime squash official among Sports Awards 2019 lifetime winners By Elio Elia Winning an award celebrating one’s own success is bound to excite someone and that’s exactly the case with Penny Glover, this year’s winner of the Ottawa Sports Awards (OSA) Lifetime Achievement Award for officiating. “I’m very, very happy to receive it,” Glover said. “It’s very special.” Penny, however, was also shocked and humbled by the fact that she was chosen. “I’m absolutely stunned by it. I couldn’t believe it when I received the original email. ... I’m very honored.” Being recognized by the OSA is the latest decoration Glover has received for her career in officiating squash that’s spanned five decades. Originally from Wales, Glover came to Ottawa in 1970. Since then she’s has contributed to the local squash scene as a player, official and volunteer, leading her to be inducted into Squash Canada Wall of Fame in 2014. A national official examiner and instructor, Glover played an important role in the development of

Penny Glover

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squash from an officiating standpoint, going back to her involvement at the inception of the national officiating program. As for what led her down a path of a lifetime of involvement in squash, Glover said the way she was brought up was a main influence. “I was very lucky; I grew up with a family with a lot of sports background, and I played sports as a kid.” she said.

On how she got into squash in Canada specifically, she said she “took squash in (her) early 20s and took to it like a duck to water.” “Then I decided I needed a bit of adventure, so I came to Canada, got into life here, and picked up squash once I got here,” Glover said. As she became more capable and the sport became more competitive, she just ran with it. With regards to officiating, she said it was the “good people” she met through refereeing that kept her involved. It wasn’t always easy for Glover to stay motivated in the sport, with her saying that in the early days of the sport’s popularity that issues around coaching competency could be discouraging. “When I was coming up, we didn’t really have coaching the way we do now, so I had to motivate myself.” she said. Glover said there’s not a specific aspect of playing or officiating the sport that she prefers above the rest. “I love all of it,” she said. “I still play recreationally and I really enjoy that. It’s

a sport that you can stay in even though it’s a fast sport, as you age you still can stay in the sport. On the officiating side, I really like officiating. You have to be clear of mind, and I enjoy the analytical side of applying the rules. The squash refereeing community is terrific, I’ve made lots of good friends through it, and there’s a sense of comradery. It’s been great, and that’s all the sort of stuff that’s kept me in the game.” There were many moments throughout her career that Glover would consider among her proudest. “Winning Ontario Championships made me feel very good.” she said. “There’s not one that comes to mind as an overwhelming thing, I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of support from a lot of different people when I have succeeded. Another proud moment was when I started out as a national level referee, when I passed the official exam. Probably those things.” A mentoring figure to many upcoming officials, Glover plans to continue with playing an important role in the squash community.

OTTAWA SPORTS AWARDS The OSA announced in November that four other individuals will be recognized as recipients of its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2019. Fernando Henderson, who has aided athletes at the provincial, national and international level since becoming a coach with the Nepean Ottawa Diving Club in 1992, will win the Brian Kilrea Lifetime Achievement Award for coaching. Bill Beelen, a long-time commissioner of the National Capital Baseball League and past president of the East Nepean Little League, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award given to a volunteer or administrator. L.A. and Bevin Schmidt will be recognized jointly as this year’s Mayor’s Cup winner, thanks to their careers in sports involvement in Ottawa, which has included making contributions to the local sports community by co-founding the Ottawa River Canoe Club. The annual OSA banquet where this year’s winners will be celebrated will be held on Jan. 29 at Algonquin College.

Ottawa Sport Council Foundation grant opens doors to sport for dozens of youth By Charlie Pinkerton Dozens of athletes-in-the-making are already benefitting from thousands of dollars in funding that was awarded in November to a pair of local sports programs. The Ottawa Sport Council Foundation announced last month that a soccer program operated by the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation and Ottawa TFC and a pilot program run by the Ottawa Shooting Stars Basketball Club were chosen to receive $1500 from the True Sport Foundation to increase opportunities for underserviced populations to access sports. The grant has already helped birth a success in the Shooting Stars’ program, which hit its enrolment capacity less than a month after its launch. Despite a lackluster debut that saw less than a handful of girls show up to its first session, the Ottawa Shooting Stars’ Leadership in Basketball and Life program has capped out with nearly 30 Grade 3 to 5 girls enrolled to learn new skills in what the project has crafted as an “inclusive, positive and welcoming environment” to learn basketball and leadership skills. Ottawa Shooting Stars head coach Andrea Bell said the club’s program was inspired in part by her daughter, who’s in Grade 4, and a desire to build a development program for girls around her age. “That has been a major goal: Inclusiveness. I’ve been involved in sports. My daughter played also in Grade 3 and I felt that (she and her teammates) were walking away and not really knowing who they had played with, but getting good at basketball skills,” Bell said. “So, I have a strong desire to teach them skills, so I would say that’s still a strong compo-

Grade 3 to 5 girls taking part in the Ottawa Shooting Stars’ Leadership in Basketball and Life program. nent and if you raise the level of expectation to them, they do step up to the challenge. It’s probably equal parts (basketball and social).” Girls enrolled in the program will practise once a week and participate in evenings dedicated to three-on-three games at gyms in the Nepean Centrepointe area until just before March break. The additional focus on a social component has meant that girls have had the opportunity to get together for a potluck and that they’re expecting to attend a Carleton Ravens game as a group in the New Year. A moment that’s stood out so far to Bell was the start to the program’s first overbooked session. She recalled the excitement of opening a locked door to the Roberta Bondar Public School gym to a mixture of 30 players and some of their parents, who piled into the gym eagerly. Bell said it was a “thrill” and proved early on that the program would have legs. “They could really just not wait to jump on that

photo provided

court and play,” Bell said. The grant the Shooting Stars received helps support the program by contributing to cover the costs of five coaches, referees, gym rentals and equipment fees.

KICKIN’ IT UP A NOTCH The Ottawa Community Housing Foundation will grow its Shoot for the Stars Community Soccer program that it runs in tandem with Ottawa TFC with the help of the new funding. The program was started last year and allowed for 10 kids aged six to 12 from the Confederation Court Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhood to play soccer once a week for about three months, free of charge. Staff came from both Ottawa TFC and the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation. “What we wanted to do is to use (the program) to serve our community,” said Ottawa TFC coach Raz El-Asmar, who helped the program operate in its first year.

The Ottawa TFC coach said one “special” aspect was having some kids from the introductory program graduate to the club’s competitive teams. The Shoot for the Stars Community Soccer program expects to exceed an estimated 60 participants of the same age group from three Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhoods this coming season, with the help of the additional funding. “In the end it’s something positive for the kids who are growing up who maybe don’t have these opportunities and hopefully through the sport of soccer maybe they can have that reassurance value and build confidence as well,” El-Asmar said. In announcing the grant recipients, the True Sport Foundation praised each of the programs. “Both organizations are doing fantastic work to ensure that kids who otherwise may not have the opportunity to participate are included and will experience the many benefits that a “True Sport” experience has to offer,” said Karri Dawson, the True Sport Foundation’s executive director, in a press release.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Community Sport Media Team, the not-for-profit organization that publishes the Ottawa Sportspage, was proud to facilitate the partnership between the OCH Foundation and Ottawa TFC Soccer as part of our Connecting Athletes of All Means to Paths in Sport (CAMPS) Project. We’d like to send a big thank you to the Ottawa Sport Council and True Sport Foundations for their support, and look forward to opening more doors for local low-income kids in sport and life next summer! Congratulations also to the Shooting Stars on your amazing initiative for young girls and best wishes for continued success!

Profile for Dan Plouffe

Ottawa Sportspage  

The online edition of the December 2019/January 2020 Ottawa Sportspage newspaper.

Ottawa Sportspage  

The online edition of the December 2019/January 2020 Ottawa Sportspage newspaper.