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

P.2 & P. 3

Check out the stories of some of the athletes repping Ottawa at the Games, and see the faces of all who are going to Peru.



Pan Am peak

The Pan American Games are close to the pinnacle for Ottawa squash player Samantha Cornett, whose sport is not on the Olympic programme. She is one of 22 local athletes representing Canada at Lima 2019. By Melissa Novacaska


Carp’s Joanna Brown broke her arm in her first triathlon of the season but has fought back to a 7th world ranking.



Ottawa’s Marial Shayok has now tasted his first NBA experience, but those closest to him say he won’t stray far.

Sam Cornett is no stranger to hitting the highest levels of courts. The Deep River-born player who previously lived and learned the sport in Ottawa is one of Canada’s top squash players, having competed at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, 2014 and 2018, and at the Pan American Games in 2011 and 2015. For Cornett, it all began when she and her sister would tag along with their parents to “mess around on the court,” as kids. “It kind of just grew from there,” Cornett said. Before moving to Ottawa when Cornett was nine years old, her family would travel into the city for lessons and to play with their parents. Once they moved into the nation’s capital, Cornett came across more and more competition. She played in her first

July/August 2019

photo: steve kingsman junior nationals competition around the age of 11 and continued to play competi-

tively locally until she moved away from the city at 18 to advance herself in the sport.

Her greatest performance to date came in her Pan Ams debut in Mexico in


PAN AM continues p.2


PAN AM GAMES: ‘I wouldn’t trade it for anything,’ Cornett says about a squash-centric life Sam Cornett won 3 medals at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

continued from COVER At the 2011 Pan Am Games, Cornett won a silver medal in the singles competition and a gold in the team competition. She followed that up in Toronto in 2015 with two silver medals – one in doubles and one in the team event, as well as a bronze in singles. Cornett likes her chances again this year, in her third shot at what can be considered one of her sport’s pinnacle stages. Since squash has yet to be made an Olympic sport, both the Pan Am Games and Commonwealth Games serve as the sport’s hypothetical Olympic Games. Cornett wouldn’t say which event is more special to her but did acknowledge their sigularity. “It’s very special to be a part of a multi-sport games. It’s a completely unique experience and I’m very grateful that I’ve got to do it so many times,” Cornett said.

FINDING HER FEEL “I feel great,” Cornett told the Ottawa Sportspage shortly after completing a training camp in Montreal, where she practised for both the singles and doubles events. The training regimen for the major Games – the Pan Ams and Commonwealth – are always a bit different for the four-time Canadian Women’s Open Champion, who says she’ll typically focus on either singles or doubles, except

photo: steve kingsman

in preparation for her sport’s version of the Olympics.

Heading into the Games, Cornett says she considers it to be an advantage to have expe-

rience at the event, which this year will take place in Lima, Peru from July 26 to Aug. 11. “I know what to expect so I can focus on the squash,” Cornett said. At this year’s Games, Cornett will participate in the women’s individual event, in the women’s doubles event with teammate Danielle Letourneau and in the women’s team event, which consists of teams of three women. Heading into any Games, Cornett said she tries to “feel as fit” as possible and focuses on tactics and ways she can beat specific opponents or teams. She also tries to get some good match time in before a big event, and tries to have minimal stress. The 31st ranked world squash player says her team’s goal going into this year’s Games is to beat their seeding. At 28 years old, Cornett says her squash career has been “pretty cool.” “It’s a hard thing to do because you’re always trying to look forward, but when I look back at the whole thing I’m pretty proud of myself,” Cornett said. She says the sport’s challenged her character and willpower and that undeniably it’s been a huge part of her life. “Pretty much my entire personality is based around squash,” Cornett said. “Squash has given me a life that I think I wanted from a very young age and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’m pretty grateful.”


Eric Peters ARCHERY


Keira Christie-Galloway


Sam Zakutney Garnett Stevens Joshua King GYMNASTICS MODERN PENTATHLON ROWING

Phillippe Aumont Olivia Norman Lois Betteridge Liam Smedley Keenan Simpson Rowan Hardy-Kavanaugh Drew Hodges BASEBALL CANOE SLALOM CANOE SLALOM CANOE SLALOM CANOE SLALOM CANOE SPRINT CANOE SPRINT

Alex Bernst ROWING

John Wright FENCING

Sam Cornett Lina Augaitis Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson Eugene Wang Bogdan Djerkovic Jessica Gaudreault Aleksa Gardijan STANDUP PADDLE SWIMMING TABLE TENNIS WATER POLO WATER POLO WATER POLO SQUASH

– ELITE – Ottawa marksman targets Pan Am Games By Melissa Novacaska Eric Peters will take his bow to his first Pan American Games later this month. The 22-year-old Ottawa-native, who currently resides in Waterloo, said he was “surprised” when he was selected for the Games but that he’s “not terribly” nervous of competing on the international stage. His ultimate hope is that Team Canada can secure an Olympic bid while at the Games, but Peters said his time in Peru will be special to him as well. “This is more of a sort of a major games experience thing for me, than it is a major event in my season,” Peters said. While at the Games, Peters will be competing and shooting in the men’s individual recurve category and will be part of the men’s team recurve category. When Peters spoke to the Ottawa Sportspage in July, it was still up in the air about whether or not he would compete in the mixed team recurve category as well. With the Pan Am Games being the last major event on Peters’ season’s schedule, he has a few goals he’d like to achieve while there, including being in the top eight in the

Eric Peters

photo: world archery

men’s individual recurve category and seeing the men’s recurve team win gold. Peters took up archery around the age of 11, and while he played other sports, he said nothing quite “stuck” for him quite like archery. “I was really into sort of medieval age video games and I saw archery and thought that it was kind of cool,” Peters said. “I kind of wanted to do it myself so my parents bought a bow, got me some lessons and it kind of stuck from there.” Peters has trained previously at clubs including Ottawa’s RA Centre and at others in Winchester, Ont. and Gati-

neau, Que., but now spends time training at clubs in Waterloo and Toronto. “I just enjoy shooting things, it’s sort of relaxing, it’s a lot of fun,” Peters said. Peters also acknowledged that he gets a lot of frustration out while shooting, and that it’s a rewarding activity. “It’s made me more driven probably in excess and driven me to be perfect, or at least attempt to, whether or not that’s a good thing is up for debate. It’s debatably made me more patient, it’s a very slow sport so lots of patience and progress is a slow coming,” he said.

Peters mentioned he enjoys being able to travel across the world while being able to do what he loves: archery. “It’s kind of just really special to me,” Peters said. Pointing out that while there’s a significant culture around hunting in Canada and even more so in rural parts of the country, Peters said that interest in target archery is still minimal. “Target archery is a small sport,” Peters said. “It’s a communal thing [and] there’s not a lot of very aggressive competition, it’s just comfortable.” Peters has achieved high levels of success throughout his life in the sport; he won a bronze medal in the international mixed team division at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics, placed 8th during his first senior international competition at the 2019 Pan American World Ranking event, which helped the men’s recurve team win gold, and this year competed in his first world championships – though he still has more he’d like to accomplish, including competing at the Olympics. “Beyond that I would like to make archery my job permanently if that was possible,” Peters said.

Ottawa fencers take separate paths to top competition By Michael Sun The 2019 Pan American Fencing Championships were another step in the journeys of resilience of Ottawa fencers Kelleigh Ryan and John Wright. At the Toronto-held championships that took place from late June into early July, Ryan won a bronze medal in the women’s foil competition, while Wright finished 4th with Canada’s men’s epee team, as well as 35th in the men’s individual epee. Ryan has been a national team member

since 2008, while Wright has taken a “weird avenue” to get back to competing with Team Canada, as he puts it. Both started fencing in Ottawa at an early age, with Ryan recalling choosing the sword over taking up karate as a child. Though she never cracked the national junior teams, she continued rising up the ranks as a youth. It was while she was doing her master’s degree at Carleton University and fencing with the Ravens’ team that she decided to seriously dedicate herself to the sport – leading to her selection to Cana-

da’s national team ahead of the 2008 Pan American Fencing Championships. She never looked back, competing at every rendition of the Pan Am fencing championships since. Wright, on the other hand, did grow up as part of Canada’s junior national teams. To the 28-year-old, travelling was the most enjoyable aspect of being an elite junior athlete. But after struggling during the 2013 season, Wright left the national team and moved to Ireland to attend law school.

FENCING continues p. 4


OSU Force Academy Zone

OSU teams & players top of the table

The ’06 boys are one of many OSU teams enjoying strong OPDL years.

Ottawa South United Force teams and players are making a big impact close to home regionally, provincially, across the continent and even overseas this summer, as the club’s name continues to spread far and wide. In the Ontario Player Development League, all six Force squads have winning records from the U14 through U17 divisions. Across the board, the club has recorded almost 3 times as many wins as losses, with an overall mark of 35 wins, 12 losses and 8 ties as of mid-July. Leading the way are the defending OPDL-champion U17 girls, won remain undefeated at 6-0-2, and the east division-leading U15 boys (81-1), who are just 2 points back of league-wide leader Woodbridge with a game in hand. The OSU women’s team is also challenging for one of the four available playoff positions in their first League 1 Ontario season. The Force are just a point back of 4th-place Alliance United and 2 back of FC London in 3rd with 2 games left in the 14-team elite league’s regular season. OSU teams have also brought home their share of hardware from recent out-of-town tournaments. The 2006 and 2004 Force White Girls’ teams were champions in Rochester, while the 2005 White Girls won the NYC Cup, and the 2006 Force White Boys were champs in Peterborough.

OSU ALUM MASSEY BACK WITH TEAM CANADA Kayza Massey is once again representing Canada, making her first appearance for the U20 women’s national team at an international series of 3 matches in England from July 9-16. The goalkeeper joined OSU from the Ottawa-Gloucester Hornets to progress into the OPDL and eventually onto the Canadian women’s national team’s Ontario regional excel program. Kayza has twice played in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup – first for her birth country (Ghana) and then for Canada in the most recent edition. She’ll join the West Virginia University Mountaineers come this fall’s NCAA soccer season.

FOLEY JOINS FELLOW OSU ALUM @ COLUMBIA U Keenan Foley will also join an NCAA varsity soccer team this year with the Columbia Lions. The defender was a 2015 Ontario Cup and 2014 Ontario Youth Soccer League champion with OSU before moving on to the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy in 2017. The honour roll student will enrol in Columbia College with the intent to study biochemistry. The former top student at Sacred Heart Catholic High School will meet up with fellow OSU/Whitecaps grad Vana Markarian to play for the Ivy League soccer team in New York City.

FOLEY JOINS FELLOW OSU ALUM @ COLUMBIA U A younger member of Whitecaps FC Academy is back in town with his youth club during his summertime off-season. After helping Vancouver’s U17 boys to a runner-up finish in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s Northwest Division as his team’s second-leading scorer, Matteo De Brienne is back training with OSU and inspiring young players this summer.




RCC athletes shine at annual regatta By Melissa Novacaska

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

Adam Halawa creates youth basketball opportunities for all with Ball Till I Fall Adam B. Halawa is an Ottawa native who has always had a passion for sports. Growing up, he played multiple sports, but it was basketball that quickly became his favourite passtime. He appreciated basketball for its accessibility. “You just need a ball and a net,” says Adam. However, he saw a gap in programming for low-income youth, so in with City of Ottawa Sports Commissioner 2015, he founded Ball Till I Fall CanMathieu Fleury ada. This league started small, but quickly grew. It’s now comprised of 120 youth. The group’s target age is 17 and up. They have a league as well as drop-in play hours, and their home courts are University of Ottawa and Canterbury. Adam has created a partnership with Ottawa Community Housing and has been supporting lowincome youth across the city. Every day he sees the benefits of community sports for youth through growing confidence and improved leadership abilities. The Ball Till I Fall Night League is currently accepting registrations. For more details or to register please visit: BALLTILLIFALL.CA

The Rideau Canoe Club held its annual Canada Day International Regatta again this year, bringing athletes from around the world to the Ottawa event that doubled as the East Sprint Canada Cup. Over 230 canoers and kayakers from parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, the United States, Argentina and Madagascar competed at this year’s event. Roughly 62 Rideau athletes participated, with about 10 of them competing under the Team Ontario banner.

HODGSON-PAGEAU SINKS COMPETITION One of the club’s top competitors at the event was Ontario team athlete and canoer Ella Hodgson-Pageau. She came in 1st place in four races, including the U18 Women C-2 500m with partner Kate Pennyfather, with Pennyfather in the U18 Women C-2 200m race, with Pennyfather, Clara Gibbon and Evie McDonald in the U18 Women IC4 500m, and solo in the U18 Women C-1 200m race. The 15-year-old who won a pair of medals at last year’s Olympic Hopes Regatta in Poland was also chosen as to compete for Team Canada over the next few months, which will take her back to the Olympic Hopes Regatta, which this year will be held in Slovakia. She’ll also don the Maple Leaf for the Junior World Championships this summer in Romania. Hodgson-Pageau only started paddling when she was around 11, but this was her

photo: melissa novacaska

Rideau Canoe Club and Team Ontario’s Ella Hodgson-Pageau (third from left) won gold with teammate, Kate Pennyfather, during the U18 Women C-2 500m canoe race at the Club’s annual Canada Day International Regatta and Sprint Canada Cup East event on June 2930. third summer competing in Rideau’s Canada Cup. While she says she used to feel “scared” to race older athletes and competitors from other countries, she’s matured beyond that now. “It’s cool to race against people from different countries,” Hodgson-Pageau said. “It’s so cool to just see people from all around the world [come] to my home.” According to Hodgson-Pageau, both her parents were canoers – including her mom for Rideau – and they both encouraged her to pick up the sport. “I actually didn’t really want to do it at first, [but] I did the summer and I loved it, so I’ve been doing it ever since then,” Hodgson-Pageau said. She had only competed in two regattas this season prior to the Canada Cup, but she said it’s gone “pretty well” so far. Last year was the first opportunity Hodgson-Pageau had to race internationally, an experience she called “exciting.” Through the sport of canoe-

ing, Hodgson-Pageau says she’s built a lot of friendships, as well as learned valuable lessons about perseverance and effort. “It’s made me kind of learn that if you want to do something, you really have to put in the hours and put in the work to do it. I come here every single day. Before and after school. You have to decide you want to do it and then do everything.” Though she’s got lofty goals – like making the Canadian Olympic Team, continuing to race for Team Canada and competing at the Senior World Championships – she’s now focused on other events. “Now [I’m] just trying to focus on junior worlds and nationals and see where it goes,” she said.

LOCAL SUCCESS On top of Hodgson-Pageau’s Canada Cup victory, other Rideau Canoe Club members were up on the podium, including kayaker Jacob Price, who also represents Team Ontario. He came 2nd in the U18 Men K-1 100m, 1st alongside partner

Adam Baird in the U18 Men K-2 200m and 1st in the U18 Men K-4 500m alongside Adam Baird, Jason Burkholder and Aidan Dumont. Price was also chosen to represent Canada at September’s Slovakian-held Hopes Regatta. Kayaker Maren Bradley, also from the Rideau Canoe Club and of Team Ontario, finished 1st in the U18 Women K1 500m, 1st alongside partner Toshka Besharah in the U18 Women K-2 500m and 1st in the U18 Women K-4 500m with Toshka Besharah, Erin Demopolis and Brooke Westwater. She also came 2nd with Toshka Besharah in the U18 Women K-2 200m. Bradley will also attend this year’s Junior World Championships in Romania.

FUTURE EVENTS Though this year’s Canada Cup was a success, Rideau Canoe Club executive director Hector Carranco said next year’s event could bring even more excitement, due to the fact that the club will host the 2020 Sprint Canoe Kayak National Championships from Aug 25-30, 2020. “We hope people from Ottawa get excited for what we do.” Carranco said. “Next year, the excitement will be here, which we invite people from Ottawa to come and watch and/or help.” The good news keeps rolling for the club, which had 10 of its athletes chosen to represent Canada in the coming months at the Senior World Championships, Junior World Championships, Pan Am Games and Olympic Hopes Regatta. Along with Hodgson-Pageau, Bradley and Price were also chosen for Team Canada.

FENCING: Wright headed to Pan Am Games, while Ryan looks ahead to the Olympics continued from p.3

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

Ireland is also where Wright says he rediscovered his love for fencing. When he returned to Canada to attend Queen’s University to finish his education he kept fencing as a member of the university’s team. It was during his absence from the national team that Wright said he learned to cope with the pressure of the sport. A victory at last year’s 2018 Satellite Epee World Cup regained Wright a birth on the national team. Speaking about this year’s Pan American Fencing Championships, Wright said it

was “a little rough.” “There were some positive things coming out of that. All my bouts were super, super close,” he said. Ryan said she typically struggles during the year before the Olympics, but that during this cycle of the Games she’s managed to handle her stress better. “This time, I allowed myself to go all in more,” Ryan noted. Using visualization techniques, practising breathing exercises and journaling are all things she does to help prepare herself for pressure situations. Wright will compete at the Pan Am

Games later this month, but Ryan will not. She’s set on making the 2020 Olympics, a long-term goal for her that’s now turned into a short-term one, she points out. “It would mean a lot because it would mean it’s the first time in a long time that Canadian fencing has qualified a women’s foil team for the Olympics,” said the 32-year-old, who admits she’s begun to start thinking about life after fencing. “For me, competing is a really exhilarating experience. It is really great when it goes well and it really sucks when it doesn’t, but I think the good days are worth the bad days,” Ryan reflected.

– COMMUNITY CLUBS – Brown pushes through season’s obstacles with Olympics in mind By Melissa Novacaska Joanna Brown’s start to this year’s triathlon season has been about testing limits, strength and perseverance. The Carp, Ont.-native, who’s participated in triathlon for 11 years began this season by spending weeks training in South Africa, as well as training with the British women’s triathlon team. The result for the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist was feeling “pretty fit” going into her first race of the season ahead of the first stop of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi in March. Unfortunately for Brown, her early optimism for a good season ahead quickly soured. The former Bytown Storm athlete crashed in the bike portion of the race and suffered what she described as a “quite significant” shoulder injury. Brown fractured her

Joanna Brown

photo: commonwealth games canada

humerus (the upper arm bone between the shoulder and

elbow), sidelining her from competition for six weeks that

Toughin’ it on Tour

photo: slipstream sports

Woods tested at first Tour de France It’s been an up-and-down ride for Ottawa’s Mike Woods in his debut at the Tour de France. At the approximate midway point in the 21-stage race, Woods’ teammate Rigoberto Urán remains in contention for the top spot in the general classification. Woods is in 43rd place after the 10th stage, which is the same overall standing as his EF Education First team. The Hillcrest graduate was at the centre of an unfortunate crash in the 8th stage of the race, in which he caused defending Tour champion Geraint Thomas to

also fall off his bike. The Tour de France is the last of the three Grand Tour events that Woods has raced in. Elsewhere in the cycling world, five Ottawa athletes had podium finishes at the Canadian Road Cycling Championships in Beauce, Que. Derek Gee won two silver medals, Laurie Jussaume won a silver, Robbi Weldon won a bronze, Ariane Bonhomme won a silver and a bronze and Laury Milette won a silver. Read more about Milette, who is the Sportspage’s Athlete of the Month, on Page 10.

stretched into late April. At her first race back in the first Olympic distance race of the season in Bermuda, the 26-year-old returned to claim a bronze medal. In July, Brown was the 7th ranked athlete in the World Triathlon Series (WTS). The Bermuda race has been her best finish of the season, and also earned her partway to selection for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. “It was really hard after being injured to come back and do that race [in Bermuda], [but] coming [in] third was quite a big boost and it was a nice validation that the training was going quite well,” Brown told the Ottawa Sport-

spage. Racing only a few weeks later in Yokohama, Japan in another ITU World Triathlon event, she finished in the 15th spot, which ultimately was below the placing she had hoped for. A few weeks later at an event in Leeds, U.K., she finished 16th. Later in mid-June, Brown finished 4th with her mixed-relay team in the 2019 Accenture World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series in Nottingham, U.K., which awarded them Olympic points. The mixed-relay category will be a new event in the Olympics in 2020. Brown said her team’s results indicates that Canada could do well in the new category. She then headed to Montreal at the end of June for the 2019 Groupe Copley World Triathlon and placed 12th and then right after that headed to Hamburg, Germany, for the 2019 Hamburg Wasser World Triathlon, where she finished 13th before the 2019 Hamburg ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships, where she came 5th with her team. She’s currently in St. Moritz, Switzerland for a chunk of time to train and breath in all she’s done so far in a short amount of time, before she’s back competing again, which will include the Olympics test event in Tokyo in August, another relay event and the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland at the end of August and beginning of September. “It’s kind of been a bit of

an adventure,” Brown said, also noting that from there, she’ll decide when to end her season, which will probably be at the end of September, when she’ll take some time off before starting to train for another season ahead. Her current season’s been difficult, Brown says in hindsight, with it having been a struggle to catch-up on training during the competition season, after her injury. “[It’s] just nonstop and I think I might have definitely taken on a bit too much racing this year, but it’s a learning (experience) for me to know going into next year, kind of how to prepare the best that I can to race as well as I can in Tokyo,” Brown said. A self-identified training addict, Brown said she’s become a stronger and more robust athlete in recent years. “I think just racing experience and having that patience and a bit more understanding of myself and my body and how it works and how I can kind of maximize training to benefit myself,” Brown said. Though it is trying, Brown is preparing for the next leg of her season, in a sport that she says is always like a “puzzle” to her. “It’s a really exciting time and I’m hoping to finish my Olympic qualification(s) by the end of this year, so [I] just have to kind of find a bit more consistency, keep racing and get some energy back,” Brown said. Brown said she also hopes to finish off her season well in Lausanne.




Ottawa soccer teams kick it up a notch By Melissa Novacaska

The Rebelles Wrap • La Rubrique Rebelle Louis-Riel grads earn university sports scholarships near & far

From home to Hawaii, a half-dozen recently-graduated Louis-Riel high school students will play varsity sports with post-secondary athletic scholarships in hand come this fall. Kristina Bechthold will be going the farthest from home by far, set to join the Hawaii Pacific University Sharks in Honolulu. A major draw to the site for Bechthold was the opportunity to study marine biology in the centre of the world’s largest ocean, but combining that with an NCAA soccer career really made Hawaii a dream destination. “I definitely wanted to keep playing soccer. It’s such a big part of my life,” underlines Bechthold, whose older sister Avery played college soccer in the U.S., and her older brother Haydn (also a Louis-Riel grad) plays with Tadcaster-Albion FC in England while studying at York St. John University. Also earning athletic bursaries were a pair of

Kristina Bechthold

Soccer Hawaii Pacific

Nadia Fournier

Hockey uOttawa

Samantha Lane

Soccer Bishop’s

Bechthold’s fellow members of the Louis-Riel soccer program, who helped the Rebelles senior girls’ school team win OFSAA provincial championships bronze in June. Samantha Lane will soon take the field for the Bishop’s University Gators, while Véronique Filion will join the national-champion University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. Hockey player Nadia Fournier will also become a Gee-Gee, while Bilan Khadar Hassan will play basketball for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ridgebacks, and golfer Jocelyn Ménard is headed to the Maryville University Saints in St. Louis. On top of the opportunity to spend a portion of their school day training as part of Louis-Riel’s innovative sports-study program, Bechthold says the school’s active and driven student population helps fuel excellence. “I’ve made so many great friends here at school,” adds the Greely resident. “It’s a very lively and exuberant place. Everyone is friendly, and everyone is motivated. We all want to reach the next level and succeed.”

Jocelyn Ménard

Golf Maryville

Véronique Bilan Khadar Hassan Filion

Soccer uOttawa

Basketball Ontario Tech

Les diplômés 2019 de l’École secondaire publique Louis-Riel séduisent les équipes universitaires entre Ottawa et Honolulu

Une demi-douzaine d’élèves de l’École secondaire publique Louis-Riel porteront les couleurs d’équipes sportives universitaires, et ce, d’ici à Hawaï, dès l’automne prochain, eux qui ont mérité une bourse d’études. De fait, Kristina Bechthold est celle qui partira pour le campus le plus éloigné, soit Honolulu, alors qu’elle se joindra aux Sharks de l’Université Hawaii Pacific. L’attrait incontestable pour Bechthold est l’opportunité de se consacrer à des études en biologie marine au beau milieu de l’océan le plus vaste du monde, certes, mais il reste que la possibilité de combiner le tout avec une carrière en soccer fait véritablement d’Hawaï une destination de rêve. « Je voulais résolument continuer de jouer au soccer. Ça fait vraiment partie intégrante de ma vie », souligne Bechthold, dont la sœur aînée, Avery, a joué au soccer aux États-Unis et dont

le frère aîné, Haydn (lui aussi diplômé de Louis-Riel) s’aligne avec le Tadcaster-Albion FC, en Angleterre et étudie à l’Université York St. John. Deux des coéquipières de Bechthold avec les Rebelles de Louis-Riel, qui ont d’ailleurs remporté la médaille de bronze au championnat provincial OFSAA en juin dernier, ont aussi été récompensées. En effet, Samantha Lane arborera le violet et argent des Gaiters de l’Université Bishop’s, alors que Véronique Filion, quant à elle, se joindra aux championnes nationales, soit les Gee-Gees de l’Université d’Ottawa. Par ailleurs, la hockeyeuse Nadia Fournier endossera aussi l’uniforme des Gee-Gees, tandis que Bilan Khadar Hassan foulera les planches du terrain de basketball des Ridgebacks de l’Institut universitaire de technologie de l’Ontario et que, pour le golfeur Jocelyn Ménard, c’est un

nouveau coup de départ, cette fois avec les Saints de l’Université Maryville, à St. Louis, au Missouri. En plus de permettre aux élèves de passer une part importante de leur journée scolaire à s’entraîner dans le cadre du programme sport-études innovateur, tel que le précise Bechthold, l’école est animée par une population étudiante active et motivée, ce qui est sans contredit un gage d’excellence. « Je me suis fait tellement d’amis extraordinaires, à l’école », ajoute l’athlète de Greely. « Il y règne une belle vitalité et une belle exubérance. Tous sont sociables et tous sont motivés. Nous voulons tous atteindre le prochain niveau et réussir. »


The soccer fields at Carleton University were the site of some of the city’s division-topping Ontario Player Development League (OPDL) teams for a weekend of competition in early July. The 1-2-3 standing West Ottawa, Ottawa TFC and Ottawa South United (OSU) U14 boys of the OPDL east division each played matches during July 6-7. On the Sunday, West Ottawa won an early morning game 5-2 over Burlington, while OSU lost 4-3 in a game against North Mississauga. Ottawa TFC also lost their matchup with Hamilton United by a score of 3-0. While West Ottawa’s head coach Kwame Telemaque was happy with his team’s win, OSU head coach Simon Wilshaw said his team made “silly little mistakes” that cost them their game. Jared Linttell, assistant coach of the Ottawa TFC team, said though the boys were meeting the objectives both

photo: melissa novacaska

himself and head coach Vladan Vrsecky set out for them, the team perhaps got a bit tired and were overmatched by the opposing team’s bigger players. The games marked the approximate midway-point in the OPDL season. Telemaque said his team, which at the time of publication topped the east division with a record of 9-1-2, has been “performing pretty well” so far, while Linttell said Ottawa TFC’s team (2nd in the east with a record of 4-1-6) has had its ups and downs. Wilshaw and OSU technical director Paul Harris agreed his

club’s team (3rd in the division with a record of 3-2-3) has been steady so far. Ottawa teams sitting at the top of the division brings into question how the sport has developed over the last few years in the city and where it can go from here. “[Ottawa has] always kind of been a hotbed and I think it’s just getting highlighted with the OPDL; the fact that, there’s three [Ottawa] teams and historically with the population that we have, going against the GTA,” Telemaque said.

SOCCER continues p.7



L E R S.C A R V IS IT T U M B O 4 3 3 .4 4 3 1 3 .8 DAY ! C A L L 6 R E G IS T E R T O AND MORE! LF D AY FU LL A N D H A


K S, G A M E S, C


continued from p.6 “We don’t always fare so well, but it just shows what every club and every coach in the city is actually doing and they’re doing some really good things,” Telemaque added. He also commended the coaches across the province for keeping the level of competition high and maintaining a closely-fought league and division. Linttell highlighted the fact that while the Ottawa teams have been impressive over the last few years, their heightened competitiveness raises awareness of the quality of the city’s soccer. “It just goes to show that you don’t have to live in Toronto to have good soccer and it’s nice that the Ottawa teams can compete,” Linttell said. Wilshaw said though OSU was seen as “top dogs” in the past, he has noticed how other Ottawa clubs have stepped up their play, which has bred local rivalries, meaning that his club’s teams don’t have to play Toronto-area teams to achieve the same intensity. “I love a challenge, [and]

now you can get one on your doorstep, which is great. It just shows that there’s quality in the city and that there’s obviously the right people out there putting their hours in and developing the kids and it’s good,” Wilshaw said. The competitiveness is a positive for both the players and the coaches, according to Wilshaw, who said it helps their development. While both Telemaque and Linttell praised the strength of Ottawa’s soccer scene and Wilshaw was generally positive about it, Harris had a different outlook. While Harris agrees Ottawa soccer is improving, he also pointed out a downside. “Since I’ve been here, there’s been a vast improvement, [but] I think what’s happened though is with the OPDL, there’s so many teams across the league that there’s been a bit of a watering down of the standing compared to the past,” Harris explained. In the past he says the best players from the different teams in the provincial level would migrate altogether and be on one team, but now with three franchises in Otta-

wa alone, each team has their “pockets of good players.” What he sees now is that while there are more players available to play at the provincial level, the league strength hasn’t grown comparatively. “(I’m) not sure there’s enough good players to go around anymore,” Harris said.

ONTARIO REX TEAM Another team featuring Ottawa players will soon join play in the U14 boys east division. The Ontario Regional EXCEL (REX) 2019 team is a group of female players, who are part of the prestigious provincial team and live and train in Toronto. According to Ottawa South United (OSU) technical director, Paul Harris, the point of the program is to get the “best pool of female players in one central environment to help move them forward.” West Ottawa alumna Keera Melenhorst and Ottawa South United (OSU) alumnae Bella Hanisch and Kayza Massey are each members of this year’s Ontario REX squad. They’ll play games against OPDL U14 boys division teams in September.




Ottawa’s first NBA draft pick dedicated to stick to local roots By Melissa Novacaska Watching a player rise from under his instruction to the NBA is a rare feat, yet one that Ottawa coach Matthew Koeslag has now achieved, with the added bonues of a front row seat. The St. Patrick’s High School basketball coach just returned from Las Vegas, where he was watching Ottawa’s own Marial Shayok get one of his first experiences in the world’s top basketball league at the NBA’s Summer League. Shayok was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 54th overall pick in June’s NBA draft. He was one of a record-breaking six Canadian draftees and the first player from Ottawa to ever be selected by an NBA team in the draft. Shayok performed well in Vegas, averaging more than 14 points in just over 20 minutes per game, while also shooting the ball at a 46 per cent rate. “I’ve been saying for years that when he gets to play here, he’ll have no problem and he really didn’t have much problem,” said Koeslag, who still trains with Shayok when he’s in town. The coach said the way his former pupil played in Vegas “justifies” what he already knows the shooting guard is capable of.

DRAFT NIGHT Koeslag was part of a party of Shayok’s family, friends and past coaches in Ottawa on the night of the draft, where he described his own reaction as being “a little bit more at peace” than most of the 70 or so people in attendance.

his own development and all the kind of exposure he’s had to the game,” Koeslag said.

Marial Shayok


photo provided

In a video that Shayok’s brother, Shayok Shayok, posted on Twitter on the night of the draft, the 23-year-old is seen embracing with friends and family after his name is called by the 76ers. “Let’s do it baby, you’re going to Philly,” one voice can be heard saying excitedly. “You did it bro,” another says. Multiple people are also heard screaming with excitement. “It was cool to have everybody here, I think [Marial] really enjoyed that,” his brother, who is also his manager, told the Ottawa Sportspage.

He also said it was a “major achievement” for Shayok to become the first local player to be drafted into the NBA. Yar Shayok, Marial’s older sister, said hearing her brother’s name called in the draft was a “surreal moment” and one that was a “sigh of relief” for how hard her brother has worked so far in his career. “[His] dream has now become a reality,” his brother said.

FAMILY BUSINESS As a group, the Shayoks make up a tightknit basketball family. Father

Makur, sister Yar and brother Shayok each played NCAA Division I basketball. As a youngster, Shayok started playing basketball routinely at the cage court near Walkley and Russell, which his brother referred to as his “old stomping grounds.” The courts at St. Luke’s were another popular spot to find the young Shayok, prior to his years at St. Pat’s. Koeslag said Shayok’s upbringing has allowed him to experience his success humbly, and with “discipline” and “humility.” “That environment is paramount to

Shayok left Ottawa in high school to attend Blair Academy in New Jersey, as a necessary step to get to the point he’s at today. While he played college ball at the University of Virginia and at Iowa State, his brother says Shayok is set on keeping to his Ottawa roots. “[Marial] definitely wants to be involved in the local scene, and I think he wants to also be able to give back to players coming up, to show them that if you want something, it is totally possible,” Koeslag said. With family being a “refuge” for Shayok, Koeslag said coming back home is also a bit of a break for him both mentally and physically. Both siblings and coach agree that Shayok is very much a “homebody.” “I think Ottawa is in every sense of the word home for him and it’s not just a place to go to, it’s where he wants to be,” Koeslag said. “He’s going to be coming back to Ottawa for the rest of his life. He loves Ottawa, he’s from here, he’s an Ottawa kid, he makes it clear that yes he’s from Canada, but he represents Ottawa,” his brother said. Yar said that Shayok knows he can have an impact locally and says he wants to “ensure” he keeps his connection to the nation’s capital. “Just [Shayok] being in the city to say ‘I’m here, I’ve made it, but I’m not going anywhere’ is super important,” Yar said.

Local Jacksonville Jag’s camp a touchdown for kids, community By Melissa Novacaska Jacksonville Jaguars player Eli Ankou hosted a group of his hometown’s young athletes at his inaugural football camp on June 29 at the Louis-Riel dome. Eli’s Dream Catcher Camp, as the free event was called, drew in roughly 150 kids, mostly from the Ottawa region. Ankou, community partners, and a collection of those in his athletic circle came together for an afternoon of drills, games and guest speakers. The 25-year-old defensive tackle who started playing football when he was 13 said he was excited for the event and while he wished there was

a camp like this when he was growing up, he was happy to put one on to encourage kids to get active. “It’s a camp to get kids from ages 8 to 18 to just come out and play for a couple of hours. It’s really fun. I’m just glad to be in a position where I can hopefully give back to these kids and they can do whatever they want with the little bit of information and coaching and just run with it,” Ankou said. “I’m really excited about people from all backgrounds coming in.” Though this is the first year of the camp, Ankou said he would like it to be an annual event, with at some point perhaps expanding beyond the Nation’s Capital.

photo: melissa novacaska

Karrissa Amell (left) and Esther Sobowale (right) participated in Ottawa-native and Jacksonville Jaguars football player Eli Ankou’s (middle) first Eli’s Dream Catcher Camp on June 29 at the Louis-Riel dome. The camp served as a platform to launch Ankou’s non-profit organization, which he says will support Indigenous youth. Eli also used the camp to kickstart his non-profit organ-

ization, the Dream Catcher Foundation.

The foundation hits home for Ankou, who has Indigenous roots and wants to help others who share his heritage get access to activities and support systems. Ankou also noted that while his camp focused on being active, its underlying message was to show kids that they can achieve their dreams, with hard work and time well spent. “[The kids] hear about guys like me on the news, and they don’t realize that this was a process. I think that was a big factor for me in talking about [it] in this camp was the fact that it doesn’t happen overnight. Kids are going to run into adversity and it’s just really how they deal with it down

the road that’s going to count,” Ankou said. “There’s a formula to this and it’s mostly just hard work and putting yourself in a good position to be able to thrive.” Esther Sobowale and Karrissa Amell, two of the camp’s participants and both part of the Ottawa football community had their own reasons for coming to the event. Both athletes showed enthusiasm for the soon-tobe third-year pro hosting the camp in his community. “I think it’s amazing that he came to teach us more about football and inspire us,” Amell said. “That’s kind, generous and an inviting moment,” Sobowale said.


OTTAWA SPORTSPAGE SNAPSHOTS LOCAL SOCCER STAR NAMED TOP CANADIAN PLAYER OF THE MONTH Ottawa’s Jonathan David was recently named Canada Soccer’s player of the month for June. David received his recognition for his performance at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup event, in which he scored men’s national team record six goals in the event. Canada reached the quarterfinals for the second time in a row. David scored two goals in the opening match against Martinique, a hat trick against Cuba and his final goal against Haiti. He also assisted two goals when Canada played against Mexico and Cuba. David’s player of the month title is part of Canada Soccer’s summer of soccer, and was launched to celebrate one male and female Canadian soccer player to recognize outstanding performances in international and/or club soccer.


Ottawa TFC Telegram

1st OTFC Capital Cup draws 150+ entries Under-13 boys’ division-champion Fury de Rimouski.

Nepean brothers Adam and Torin (Takahashi) MacFadyen each won gold medals for their performance in the 62kg and 52g categories at the Pan-American Sport Sambo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. At the martial arts event held in late June, Adam captured gold against Venezuela after being behind by three points, while Torin saw gold by winning against an opponent from Mexico. Torin also competes in combat sambo alongside his other brother Liam, while beach sambo is also something Torin is looking into.

RUSSELL DRIBBLES HER WAY TO WOMEN’S WORLD CUP Barrhaven’s Merissah Russell was selected to be part of Team Canada for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2019. The event will take place in Bangkok, Thailand from July 20-28. Head coach Claire Meadows said in a press release that training camp had been “competitive” and that there had been “a lot of work” and “good progress” from Team Canada’s athletes. “We are looking forward to representing Canada on the international stage in Thailand at the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup,” Meadows said. In 2017, Canada won a bronze medal in the same event, which was their first medal in the eight times that they’ve appeared in the competition since 1985. Canada’s team is currently ranked 4th in the world, according to FIBA.

OTTAWA PADDLERS PACE THEMSELVES TO INTERNATIONAL SPRINT TEAMS Out of 300 sprint paddlers from a cross the country, a number of Ottawa-based sprint Canoers and Kayakers were recently names to Canada’s 2019 international sprint teams. Based on results from the National Team Trials in June in Dartmouth, N.S., Mike Trauner from the Ottawa River Club was selected to compete at the 2019 Para Canoe Pan American Championships in early July, while the 2019 ICF Junior Canoe Sprint World Championship team heading to Romania in early August will feature Rideau Canoe Club’s Ella Hodgson-Pageau for women’s canoe. Rideau’s Maren Bradley and Toshka Besharah will both be in the same world event as Hodgson-Pageau, except this time for women’s kayak. The 2019 Olympic Hopes International Regatta, happening in Slovakia in September, will include Rideau’s Kieran Graham and Matthew O’Neill for men’s canoe, Ella Hodgson-Pageau for women’s canoe, Jacob Price for men’s kayak and Toshka Besharah for women’s kayak.

MORRISON HANGS UP HER SKATES Former Gloucester Concordes-trained speed skater, Keri Morrison is packing up her professional speed skates and retiring from competitive competition in the sport, she announced earlier in July. Morrison said her decision to retire was “not an easy one” but she felt it was time to “challenge” herself in a new direction. “The main reason I felt it was hard to leave the sport was because of the friendships and comradery I have built over the years,” Morrison said. The 27-year-old debuted at the Olympic Games last year, where she was part of a 4th-place finish in the team pursuit and had the top-ranked finish of all Canadians in the mass start, in which she came in 12th.

SHAÏNAH JOSEPH COMPETES IN PAN AM CUP Ottawa native Shaïnah Joseph participated in the Women’s Pan American Cup in Peru, which ran from July 6-14. Team Canada finished 6th overall, eventually losing against Argentina in four sets. Joseph captured 16 points in Canada’s final loss, which was tied for second most on the team. The team will now look ahead to an Olympic Games qualifier being held in Russia in August, where they’ll face teams from Russia, Korea and Mexico.

WRESTLER WINS BIG AT CADET PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS Ottawa’s Ismail Ayyoub, was selected as the outstanding wrestler and won the Golden Boot at the Cadet Pan-American Championships in Morelia, Mexico last month. According to a press release from Wrestling Canada, the 16-year-old won in the 80kg class weight, beating an opponent from the U.S. in the final. He also defeated opponents from Mexico, Chile, Peru and Brazil. Though Ayyoub is originally from Kuwait, he has since obtained his citizenship, and can now compete for Canada. He’s expected to compete at the Cadet World Championships in Bulgaria from July 29-Aug. 4.

LOCAL SOCCER STARS SIGN WITH OTTAWA FURY Two Ottawa soccer players are moving up in their career by signing contracts with the USL Championship’s Ottawa Fury FC. Midfielders Cameron Shaw and Antoine Coupland will join the club on an academy contract that allows them to play in league games while also protecting their amateur status and scholarship eligibility. Coupland, 15, played previously with Ottawa’s St. Anthony’s Futuro Soccer Academy, and is one of the youngest Canadians to sign such a contract with a professional soccer league. At 18, Shaw had been playing with the West Ottawa Soccer Club, before being with FC Gatineau.

OTTAWAN DIVES INTO MEDALS AT JUNIOR NATIONALS Nepean Ottawa Diving Club’s Kate Miller, took home two bronze medals at Diving Canada’s Speedo Junior Elite Nationals in Montreal from July 4-7. Miller scored 323.60 points in the platform event and scored 367.65 points in the 1m event. Miller also finished 5th in her group in the 3m competition.



The Nepean Knights are off to the Ontario Jr. ‘B’ Lacrosse League Eastern Conference championship series for the first time in at least a decade thanks to their Round 2 playoff victory over Orangeville. Following an 8-7 loss and 13-9 and 9-8 wins, the Knights clinched the best-of-5 series decisively with a 14-6 pounding in front of their hometown fans on July 13 at Howard Darwin Centennial-Merivale Arena. Dawson Tait (5 goals, 3 assists) and Sam Firth (4G, 2A) led the offensive onslaught in the deciding contest, while defender Jake Gasperetti was named player-of-the-game. The Knights will be decided underdogs in the east final against the Akwesasne Indians, who went 20-0 during the regular season. Nepean hosts Game 2 on July 23 and Game 4 (if necessary) on July 27 at Howard Darwin for 8 p.m. starts.

The under-13 boys’ and girls’ soccer teams from Rimouski, Que. shone under the big city lights at the first Ottawa TFC Capital Cup Tournament & Festival on June 22-23 in Orleans. Rimouski edged the host OTFC sides in 2 of the 3 division championship games broadcast on Rogers TV from Millennium Park Stadium and pocketed gold medals to brighten their long trip back home. “Not many parents could come with them, they were kind of on their own at 12 or 13 years old, travelling 8 hours away, and they won it all,” recounts OTFC tournament director Polina Onyalo. “Honestly, as much as you wanted your home team to win, it was so nice. You had to be happy for them.” Despite missing out on tournament titles, OTFC nonetheless performed well in tournament play. In U13 girls’ and boys’ play, it was a strikingly similar experience for the host club’s entries. OTFC had a team play in both finals and another reach the semi-finals – all four squads recording nothing but wins in every game except for 1-goal defeats to Rimouski. OTFC also earned silver medals in the U15 & U16 boys’ competitions. “To have our own teams play in our tournament and represent the club so well is amazing,” signals Onyalo, noting that an “all-star” side of players from the club’s recreational programs even entered the competitive tourney. “We have so many different levels of soccer in our club. For all levels to really have the opportunity to put on a show and compete is great.”

REGION’S BIGGEST FESTIVAL/TOURNAMENT The event had strong representation from Quebec – a product of OTFC building relationships with many clubs from their neighbouring province by attending their competitions and scheduling wintertime friendlies. In total, the Capital Cup featured 22 divisions from the U9 through U16 girls’ and boys’ age groups for its inaugural edition (OTFC’s merged Cumberland and Capital United clubs operated Snakebite and Mini World Cup events in past years). Over 150 teams participated overall – believed to be the Eastern Ontario region’s biggest tournament/festival on a single weekend. “It went really well. It was beyond our expectations,” says Onyalo, noting extras helped build a fun atmosphere like Jump 106.9 pounding out music at the primary Millennium Sports Park venue, and the BBQ roaring there and at the François-Dupuis Recreation Centre secondary site. The festivities took over 12 locations across the east end from 9-3 both Saturday and Sunday. It took a team of roughly 40 to run the event, including volunteers, club staff, directors, students and OTFC Academy players, plus all the match officials working under OTFC head referee Mark Magee. “It’s a really nice group effort that comes together,” underlines Onyalo, a former University of Windsor Lancers defender and Cumberland Cobras player herself. “It was a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to next year already.”




Mailing address 345 Meadowbreeze Dr. Kanata, Ont. K2M 0K3 Website SportsOttawa.com


Contacts For News/Editorial: Charlie Pinkerton Editor 613-929-3681 editor@sportsottawa.com For Advertising/CAMPS Project Partnerships: Dan Plouffe Executive Director 613-261-5838 execdir@sportsottawa.com 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 runs the CAMPS Project alongside the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation’s recLINK program. The Connecting Athletes of All Means to Paths in Sport Project links OCH children & youth to free opportunities with our partner sports groups, which receive heavily discounted advertising in exchange for offering the positions in their programs at no cost to our participants. CAMPS PROJECT PARTNERS Beaver Boxing Club Bytown Storm Triathlon Club Capital City Dance Capital Wave Water Polo Club Carleton Jr. Ravens Cumberland United Soccer Club ÉSP/Dome Louis-Riel FC Capital United Soccer Club Geng Table Tennis Academy Gloucester Griffins Lacrosse Gloucester Skating Club Kanata GymnoSphere Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club KV Dance Studio Nepean Corona School of Gymnastics Nepean Hotspurs Soccer Club Nepean Nighthawks Field Hockey Olympia Gymnastics Ottawa Girls’ Hockey Association Ottawa Gymnastics Centre Ottawa Lions Track & Field Club Ottawa National Diving Club Ottawa New Edinburgh Club Ottawa Rowing Club Ottawa South United Soccer Club Ottawa Table Tennis Club RA Centre Rideau Canoe Club Royal City Soccer Club St. Anthony’s Futuro Soccer Club Tennis For Life Ottawa TMSI Sports Management Inc. Tumblers Gymnastics Centre YMCA-YWCA

Team of the Month: Gloucester Griffins Midget Boys’ Lacrosse Team

Athlete of the Month: Laury Milette

About: Making her debut at the Canadian Road Cycling Championships, 16-year-old Laury Milette rode away with a silver medal in the junior women’s road race on June 30 in StGeorges, Que. A first-year Ottawa Bicycle Club athlete from Gatineau, Milette survived a pile-up on the 2nd of 78 kilometres to join an early breakaway of 5 riders en route to an eventual 2nd-place finish in the field of 39. The cyclist of 5 years placed 5th in the criterium and 8th in the time trial at nationals as well. Also a runner-up at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Charlevoix last month and a 5thplace finisher amongst elite women at the Preston Street Criterium, Milette will ride the Tour de l’Avenir later this summer from Aug. 8-11 in Quebec.

About: They had their closest contest in the championship game, but the Gloucester Griffins Midget Boys’ Lacrosse Team kept its perfect record intact at their home club’s Ray Broadworth Memorial Tournament from July 12-14. The Griffins edged the Sarnia Pacers 5-4 in the division final on the heels of earlier victories over West Island, Nepean, Sarnia (in pool play) and North Shore (in the semi-finals). The Tournament brought together a total of 35 teams from as far as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Akwesasne. The host club made semi-final appearances in the Tyke, Novice and Bantam events (the Griffins’ top Peewee team was away competing in ‘A’-level provincial championships qualifiers). Midget Griffin Austin Lamoureux will represent Team Ontario at the Aug. 20-24 Minor Box Lacrosse National Championships in Coquitlam, B.C. 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.

Diversity shines on Kanata’s World Gymnaestrada team By Dan Plouffe They sported sparkling gold sequin tops, ruby red jackets and cardinal capes; they handled rainbow ribbons, bright-coloured umbrellas and shimmering sheets and scarfs; they dazzled with their dance, jumps, tricks, flips and lifts. Diversity was the name of the game for Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club’s gymnaestrada team, evident in their routine’s variety of music styles, dance and movement forms, equipment and apparatuses, and the performers themselves. And when the group’s 15-minute performance at the July 7-13 World Gymnaestrada in Austria came to a close, all 24 Kanata athletes were waving Canadian flags. “We wanted to make sure at the end of our performance that people do know we’re from Canada, and also to celebrate that we’re from Canada,” indicates the team’s co-coach Sharon Fryer. “Gymnaestrada really has the whole mix, and diversity was definitely something we were looking to highlight, so we’re glad that shone through.” The World Gymnaestrada is a non-competitive event celebrating all forms of gymnastics. It’s held every 4 years and features opening ceremonies with a parade of nations, similar to the Olympics. This

photo: dan plouffe

year’s 16th edition brought together more than 18,000 participants from 65 countries. Bunking together in school classrooms in their host town of Rankweil, the Kanata team was part of a Canadian delegation that numbered roughly 600. “It’s one of my favourite memories from my whole life,” reflects Brianna Lu, one of two returning members of Kanata’s 2015 World Gymnaestrada team that went to Finland. “You’re surrounded by so many people who love the sport. “It’s really cool to see people from different ages – from a little 5-year-old to a 90-yearold still doing gymnastics – and so many different countries coming together for the love of gymnastics. It’s a really cool experience.” The trip to the worlds was a long journey. On top of their regular competitive rhythmic

gymnastics training as individuals, the group worked together 2 hours a week for 2 years. It started with selecting music and costumes and learning choreography, followed by plenty of practice, repetition and polishing. “There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it,” underlines Fryer, whose team qualified for the worlds through last year’s Canadian Gymnaestrada in Richmond, B.C. “They’ve put in a lot of hard work.” On top of the skills required in the routine, the 15-minute performance length provides a solid test of stamina as well, adds Fryer, who begins every practice with 15 minutes of skipping. “Especially when you’re doing a performance, you’re really going full-out, doing more expression and going bigger,” highlights 2-time World Gymnaestrada participant Britney

Han. “It’s super tiring. Very exhausting.”

‘A SECOND FAMILY’ Han, a past provincial champion, was part of a smaller Kanata Charms team that went to France last October for a World Cup aesthetic group gymnastics competition under the direction of Irina Shivrina, the gymnaestrada group’s choreographer. The diversity theme rings true for the team’s coaches as well. Shivrina moved to Canada from her native Russia over a decade ago to instruct dance for the March-Kanata Skating Club, while Fryer is a living example of the collection of streams available at Kanata Rhythmic. She was first introduced to the club on a “bringa-friend day” at age 8, later joined the competitive ranks and became a 3-time provincial champion, started in the club’s

coach-in-training program at age 14, and remains in that role today. “They’re from various streams of our programs, so here they come together with people they wouldn’t normally train with,” Fryer says of the gymnaestrada group. “They’ve made new friendships and have got to bond a little differently.” Through their diversity and differences, the team has also discovered abundant similarities. “Some of the girls I’ve known since 7 – pretty much my entire life,” signals Lu, a future McGill University life sciences student. “At the provincial level, we were training 15 hours a week, so it was basically a second family. “Everyone was kind of likeminded and put a lot of emphasis on sport and school. It’s nice to be around so many driven people.”




Soaring Swans honour foundational coach key to Australian Football club’s local rise By Brendan Shykora By the time the final whistle had blown on the Ottawa Swans’ 70-22 victory over the Toronto Dingos, former player and coach Matthew Powell could have only assumed that the agenda for the day was through – that it was time to head from the field at the Manotick Polo Club and on to the pub for a post-game celebration. But following the July 6 match there was one more order of business. Powell’s name was called out during the players’ after-match mingle, and he was invited up in front of the Saturday afternoon crowd. There, Powell was awarded Life Membership by the Ottawa Swans Australian Football Club, in recognition of the seven years he spent with the club and the many hats he wore in helping to build a team that hasn’t been defeated in over a calendar year. Powell, 42, was on a short visit to Ottawa after having made his way back home to Australia in late 2018. The prestigious award was kept as a surprise – a strategic move on the part of those who know Powell well. As Swans player and current head coach Nathan Strom told the Sportspage, Powell is exceedingly humble, preferring to keep his hard work well out of the spotlight. “He was kind of embarrassed,” laughed Strom, recalling the brief, impromptu acceptance speech Powell made in front of his former teammates. “He hates getting recognized for stuff like this.” “It was kind of emotional for him,” Strom added. Originally from New Zealand, Strom came to Ottawa in late 2012, around the same time Powell arrived from Australia. Strom explained that what most people don’t understand about expats is the feeling of leaving behind a family and trading a familiar livelihood for the unknown. The life member award was the Swans’ message to Powell that the family he found in Canada won’t soon forget him. “It’s kind of like getting your jersey retired,” Strom said, putting the award’s significance into Canadian terms.

photo: roman romanovich

Matthew Powell (left) with Nathan Strom. As a player, Powell played in 55 games for the Swans and kicked a club-record 82 goals, all while doing the little things that help a team succeed, like creating space for teammates, or putting his body on the line making chase-down tackles – “the stuff that gets unrewarded on the stat sheet,” as Strom puts it. As head coach during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Powell amassed a 24-4 record and led the men’s team to its first ever Premiership title, while being named the Australian Football League Ontario’s coach of the year. But Strom stresses that what Powell did away from the field is what earned him the highest honour an Aussie rules club can give one of its members – things like finding sponsorships to help keep the amateur club afloat, or opening his doors to provide free room and board for young, newly arrived Australian players in need of a place to get settled in Ottawa. Powell also made a concerted effort to develop the team’s Canadian players, who make up 12 of the 18 players allowed on the field at one time according to league rules. The result is a team that’s raised its Canadian contingent to the standard set by its talented import players. “If you watch our team play, unless you hear the accent on the field you won’t be able to spot the


Aussies from the Canadians,” said Strom. Above all, Powell created a playing culture founded on the subtle, unselfish plays that help put points on the board, but come without the statsheet glory – the plays that made him the ultimate teammate in his playing years. “That was his huge belief,” imparted Strom. “That if you could get 18 guys to buy into those things being the most important on the field, that all the rest of what you need to do in a game would follow suit.”

Now taking on the head-coaching role after Powell’s exit, Strom is focused on carrying out his predecessor’s vision for the team. “This year has just been about trying to solidify the culture and the strategy that (Powell) had brought to the club,” Strom emphasized. With a 7-0 record to start this season, that winning culture appears to be going steady – and it’s carried over to the women’s side that’s started the season 5-0 after appearing in the Grand Final last season.

Profile for Dan Plouffe

Ottawa Sportspage  

The July 2019 edition of the Ottawa Sportspage newspaper.

Ottawa Sportspage  

The July 2019 edition of the Ottawa Sportspage newspaper.


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