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Colts crave home crown
The Ashbury Colts hosted a CAIS national independent schools’ tournament in April. The Colts girls were champions, while the boys continued to build towards the June 1-3 OFSAA boys’ rugby championships in Ottawa, where they’ll look to upgrade back-to-back bronze medals for a first provincial gold.
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LEAGUE1 DEBUTS IN OTTAWA
Myles Cornwall will look to replicate some of his past success with OSU Force as League1 kicks off in Ottawa.
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South Africa tour buoys Ashbury quest for elusive boys’ rugby gold prior to 2017 OFSAA in Ottawa By Dan Plouffe
Without founder Karl Loiseau in their lineup, the Ottawa Outlaws will begin a new era at their new home in Orleans.
It’s already been a special year for Ashbury boys’ rugby team: with a preseason tour of South Africa, hosting teams from across the country for the Apr. 21-23 Canadian Accredited Independent Schools rugby tournament, and also marking Canada’s 150th birthday and their school’s 125th graduating class. But Colts captain Cameron Butterfield has one more wish to make his final year at Ashbury even more special
– he wants to win his school’s first-ever OFSAA high school provincial boys’ rugby title in front of a home crowd come the June 1-3 championship tournament at Twin Elm Rugby Park. “We’re definitely hoping for gold,” signals the Team Ontario rugby player, noting Ashbury has dropped close semi-final matches in back-to-back years en route to bronze medal finishes. “We’ve been right there twice now and we just can’t break it, but we really want to break it this year and get to the final game.”
This time, they can anticipate having home field advantage, which proved valuable the last time Ottawa hosted OFSAA boys’ rugby in 2013 as the Colts scored the first boys’ medal in program history, a bronze. Practically, being in town means players should be able to manage exam season without having to skip a trip out of town like in past years. “Hopefully we’ll have our full team there, fully-rested being in your own homes and your own beds,” adds Butterfield, whose squad is favoured to
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grab one of two host entries to provincials along with either Brookfield or Cairine Wilson in the ‘A/AA’ ranks. The Colts have already enjoyed some excellent opportunities prior to national capital league play beginning. In March, 31 players spent 13 days around Cape Town, visiting topnotch rugby centres in one of the sport’s hotbeds. Ashbury won just one of their exhibition games against tough opposition.
COLTS RUGBY continues p.10
“RCC is m daughter’s y happy place. She always enjoys spe nding time there and r ea her coache lly enjoys s’ an mates’ com d teampany!” –Bantam P rogram Parent
– ELITE –
Sledge hockey player is world champ a year from Paralympics By Martin Boyce With 20 seconds left on the clock, the Canadian sledge hockey team realized the world championship gold was inevitably theirs and the bench erupted. For Stittsville native Tyrone Henry, the moment was was six, dedicated years in the making. Canada’s 4-1 victory over the United States on Apr. 20 in South Korea marked yet another milestone in the 23-year-old’s life that might have, otherwise, been unforeseeable. Almost seven years ago, his sister was driving him and his brothers on the gravel road leading to their home when it flipped. “I knew right away afterwards that I couldn’t feel my legs and something was wrong,” recounts Henry, who was paralyzed from the waist down. While still in the ICU, he’d immediately set his sights on a new goal. Earlier that year, during the Vancouver 2010 Paralympics, Henry was watching sledge hockey, now known as para ice hockey. He was intrigued and
wanted to try it, he recalls, and that desire was brought to the forefront with his injuries. “A few hours after the crash, I already made up my mind,” Henry indicates, “I was going to play for the national sledge hockey team.” After a full year barred from sports, Henry began playing house league sledge hockey, though there was an adjustment period. As a defenceman, switching to sledge hockey meant he could no longer skate backwards, which used to be one of the best parts of his game, he notes. Henry credits family, friends and his love of hockey for helping him stay positive at times while he was adjusting to being paraplegic. “If I ever had a bad day, then I’d just get on the ice and I’d feel free again,” highlights the South Carleton High School grad. “It’d be weight off my shoulders and I’d be positive again.” Henry was invited to play for Canada’s national sledge development team in 2014 and then made the national squad a year later.
“It’s a great feeling,” says the teammate of fellow Ottawa native Ben Delaney, a Sochi 2014 Paralympian. “I feel immense pride playing for Team Canada and representing our country.” At no moment more so than the World Championships final. USA had got the best the Canadians in recent years, including the Sochi Games (where Canada took bronze following a semi-final defeat to the Americans),
and finals of the 2015 World Championships and Hockey Canada’s 2016 and 2017 World Sledge Hockey Challenge events. Even in the round robin, the Americans got the best of them in the 2-1 contest, making the gold medal even more fulfilling, Henry signals. “It was really satisfying being able to finally get over that hurdle, and doing something that we knew going into the
World Championships we could do,” he explains. “It was a surreal feeling. We just thought back to all the hard work everybody’s been doing over the course of the season. It felt amazing.” After the game, his phone blew up with messages from friends and family congratulating him on the team’s accomplishment, including his father, who became the volunteer president of Sledge Hockey Eastern Ontario. “Tyrone has been unwavering in this commitment to himself,” states Andrew Henry. “To achieve this in six and a half years, including a full first year of no sporting, is truly remarkable.” With a world title to his name and a likely Paralympic debut in 2018 on the horizon, Henry looks back on the day of his car crash as a defining moment in his life. “Being a part of the team right now and winning a gold medal at the World Championships kind of all goes back to that one day and what happened,” he underlines. “I’m just overjoyed and proud to be a part of the team.”
Team GB sisters on short track to Olympics By Mat LaBranche They grew up in Orleans with the Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club, moved to Calgary and the national team’s centre, they’re now roommates in Nottingham, and they hope the next stop will be PyeongChang in 2018. No matter where the Morrison sisters’ speed skating journey goes, they always stick at each other’s side. “I think it’s great that my sister and I get to do this together,” signals Samantha Morrison. “It helps having someone else who’s going through the same experience and it’s good to have that support when we’re so far from the rest of our family.” Samantha, 25, and her younger sister, Hannah, 22, were back in Canada recently to visit with their parents, Dave and Lynne – former Concordes coaches now leading a Speed Skating Canada regional group at the Richmond Olympic Oval – on the heels of their first World Cup Short Track season skating for Great Britain. Dave was born in the UK while his father was there on a military posting, which gives his girls the right to compete for Team GB thanks to their dual citizenship. “I decided to make the
Hannah (left) & Samantha Morrison.
move to Great Britain because I felt that I wasn’t progressing anymore in Canada, and that this change would provide me with more chances to continue to move forward,” explains Hannah. “There are so many athletes skating in Canada that there aren’t the same opportunities to compete outside of the country. Skating (in Great Britain) has allowed me to race in competitions and get to a level that I likely wouldn’t have been able to had I stayed in Canada.” Aiding in the decision-making process was fellow Morrison-coached Concorde alumnus Nicolas Bean’s past success. “I think seeing Nic make the move to a different country and have the success that he did helped to show me what taking advantage of an opportunity like
this can really give me,” Hannah says of the 2010 Olympian who competed for Italy. The move paid off, as the pair cracked the Team GB lineup and competed in their first career World Cup events this season, with the first event taking place in familiar territory. “Skating my first World Cup was really special for me because it just worked out that the first event of the season was in Calgary where I lived and trained for five years, and my family and friends got to come out and watch,” reflects Samantha, who’d been injured early this season but still stamped her passport with China, Germany, Belarus, USA and South Korea for World Cup stops.
OLYMPICS continues p.11
– ELITE & COMMUNITY –
Local National Lacrosse League legend seeks elusive title By Liam Fox He’s perhaps Ottawa’s least-known sports superstar. Pro lacrosse player Callum Crawford wrapped up his National Lacrosse League regular season with the Colorado Mammoth on Apr. 28 and finished amongst the top-10 scorers for the sixth time in his career. The 12-year NLL veteran will be a man on a mission this May to complete a career dream: win an NLL championship.
“That has been the focus of my career for quite a few years now and a big reason why I signed in Denver,” underlines Crawford, whose team went 9-9 to finish tied with Vancouver for 2nd in the west division. “I feel that this organization and the players that are here are capable of winning it. We just have to play our game at both ends and I like how our team is trending.” The Mammoth’s leading scorer produced a career-high 36 goals and 62 assists this season – his second-best point
total of all time, behind only last year when he tied a league record with 83 assists. “If I am able to get a lot of points beside my name, it is a credit to the players I am playing with,” says Crawford, who needs playoff wins over Vancouver and west division-champion Saskatchewan to reach the final. During the summer months, Crawford will join the Atlanta Blaze of Major League Lacrosse, North America’s other pro league. It will be the Gloucester Griffins product’s
RA Centre House of Sport project lands City funding, announces first NSOs joining By Dan Plouffe The City of Ottawa announced a $500,000 contribution to the RA Centre’s $6.9 House of Sport project on Apr. 27 in front of a large crowd packed into the RA’s west lobby. The RA’s west wing, built in the 1950s, is being redeveloped to accommodate a collection of various sports federations, organizations and companies. “We’re very thankful for the support of the City,” says RA Centre CEO Tosha Rhodenizer, noting they’ve received “massive” practical support from Ottawa Tourism staff on top of the financial contribution. “It’s really a partnership borne out of a lot of mutual interests,” she adds. “We want to be able to retain the national and multi-sport organizations in the city of Ottawa (currently home to over 60% of Canada’s
photo: dan plouffe
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson & RA Centre CEO Tosha Rhodenizer. NSO/MSOs). We want to be House of Sport, which will begin able to host more events and to welcome some groups in the conferences. It raises the pro- summer and more come the file of our organization and the fall as renovations continue. city as a whole.” The Canadian Fencing Fed“It’s very exciting,” con- eration, Taekwondo Canada, curs Mayor Jim Watson, and Shooting Federation of “a great concept” that allows Canada, Aboriginal Sport Circle sports organizations to “reduce and Coaching Association of their cost of operating so that Canada are all set to move in. they can spend as much money “It’s really taking shape,” as possible on the athletes that signals Rhodenizer. “There are they represent.” so many aspects of this proThe RA also recently an- ject that are unique. It’s been nounced a first set of organ- a phenomenal project to be a izations signed up to join the part of, really.”
ONTARIO JUNIOR LACROSSE LEAGUE MAY LOCAL SCHEDULE Jr. ‘B’ Home Games @ Earl Armstrong Arena
GLOUCESTER GRIFFINS Jr. ‘C’ Lacrosse Home Games
Sat May 27, 7 pm vs Brampton
Sat May 13, 8 pm Sat June 3, 7 pm vs Barrie (@ Earl A.) vs Peterborough (Kilrea)
Fri May 5, 8 pm vs Nepean
Sun May 28, 2 pm vs Mississauga
Sun May 14, 2 pm Sun June 4, 3 pm vs Huntsville (Earl A.) vs Mimico (Kilrea)
Sat May 20, 7 pm vs Kahnawake
Wed June 7, 8 pm vs Kahnawake
Thu May 18, 7:30 pm Thu June 8, 7:30 pm vs Cornwall (Navan) vs Cornwall (Kilrea)
NEPEAN KNIGHTS Jr. ‘B’ Home Games @ Howard Darwin (Merivale) Arena
Sun May 7, 2 pm vs Akwesasne
Wed May 10, 8 pm vs Kahnawake
Thu May 25, 8 pm vs Akwesasne
Sun May 28, 2 pm vs Brampton
Fri May 19, 8 pm vs Gloucester
Sat May 27, 7 pm vs Mississauga
Tue May 30, 8 pm vs Kahnawake
second year in a row playing in both the NLL and MLL. He’ll also return home and play for the Kahnawake Mohawks in the Quebec Senior Lacrosse League, while also coaching the next generation of local lacrosse talent in various capacities, including running the Ottawa Capitals (a travel team he founded), and helping with the Nepean Knights club. “I won’t commit to one program but I am always helping out wherever I can,” signals the 32-year-old. Crawford says Ottawa is still not exactly a lacrosse hotbed, but was even less so when he was growing up in the city. Although there are more avenues for kids now, he notes, Junior ‘B’ remains the highest level of lacrosse in the city. “I had to leave Ottawa to learn the game and have an opportunity to get where I am now,” highlights the former Long Island, NY-based Dowling College Golden Lion. Crawford would love to see a pro team back in his hometown in the near future.
Ottawa native Callum Crawford was once again a top-10 scorer in the National Lacrosse League this season.
“It has to come through the Ottawa Sports (and Entertainment) Group,” he maintains. “They have done an incredible job with the Redblacks and Fury and I think would be a good fit in terms of ownership.”
HOT START FOR GRIFFINS JR. ‘B’ The Gloucester Griffins knocked off the 2016 1st-place
finishers from Akwesasne in their season opener on Apr. 29 at Earl Armstrong Arena followed by a 12-11 overtime victory over Kahnawake the next afternoon to start their 2017 Ontario Jr. ‘B’ Lacrosse League campaign 2-0. The Nepean Knights open their Jr. ‘B’ season on the road May 3 before visiting Gloucester May 5.
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– ELITE – Jr. worlds in 1st ski cross season Next-generation By Chad Ouellette It didn’t take long for Dunrobin native Jared Schmidt to make his mark on the ski cross world. Just a season into his new discipline after transitioning from alpine racing, the 20-year-old Dunrobin native earned the chance to represent Canada at the FIS Freestyle Junior World Ski Championships on Apr. 7 in Italy. “I was happy I got to experience racing against the best in the world in U21,” Schmidt states. “You can follow their line and see what they’re doing. Even with the Canadian guys, Zach Belczyk from Canada finished 2nd, and I got to train with him the whole week before, leading up to world juniors. It was really cool.” Schmidt’s path to the worlds began at age 3 when he first strapped on skis at Mont-Tremblant. “Jared has loved it ever since he hit the snowbank,” smiles his father, Bevin
athletes receiving careful attention in Own The Podium funding review
By Austin Stanton
Schmidt. Skiing is a family pursuit for the Schmidts, with Jared’s sister Hannah starring for the Carleton University Ravens, Bevin serving as coach, and mom Lesley Anne (also the commodore of the Ottawa River Canoe Club) acting as logistics manager. Schmidt enjoyed success as an alpine racer with Mont-Tremblant and the National Capital Outaouais Ski Team, then decided to give ski cross a try this past year. At the worlds, Schmidt managed to grab the very last qualifying position for the headto-head elimination heats, recording the 32nd-best time out of the 55 competitors.
“My performance at junior worlds wasn’t the best,” indicates the former West Carleton and Frederick Banting high school student. “They had to shorten the track, and it was pretty straight. I like technical, when it’s big jumps and tight turns, because I come from alpine. But this was more of a straightaway with some rollers and jumps, and it was only 32 seconds long.” Though Italy was less than perfect, getting the chance to race there period was enough to keep him going, says Schmidt, who is now in Calgary for a development camp and has his eye on competing on the World Cup circuit within the next 3 years.
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A year outside her likely Olympic debut, 21-year-old Ottawa speed skater Isabelle Weidemann was at home for this season’s last two World Cup races instead of competing for her place inside the world’s top-10, her national sports organization short on funds. Before blasting into the #4 spot in the skeleton world this year and getting some help from the Canadian Athletes Now Fund, Ottawa’s Mimi Rahneva was saddled with team fees that exceeded the amount she received in national carding money. Those are the type of scenarios that are part of the discussions on how money is spent by Own The Podium, currently undergoing a review from the federal government. Created in advance of the Vancouver Olympics, OTP advises how the government of Canada’s $64 million yearly investment in high-performance sport should be doled out. OTP strives to support high-level Canadian athletes who are viewed by the organization as potential medal winners. The result since Vancouver has been a flood of medals won by Canadians, more than at previous Games. “The data speaks for itself when looking at whether the target of excellence strategy has achieved its goal of delivering more medals,” says Ottawa’s Anne Merklinger, the CEO of OTP since 2012. “But can it be changed or improved? Absolutely, and that’s the value of this review.” Critics say the organization pulls funding away from grassroots sports development in Canada, and focuses too closely on the very top-tier of athletes, leaving behind talented Canadians just beneath the pinnacle of their sport. The future Weidemanns and Rahnevas will likely get more of a helping hand to make it to the top in the future, says Merklinger, highlighting a $10 million funding boost they’re receiving this fiscal year. “That is specifically for next-generation athletes, athletes that are 5 to 8 years away from being podium contenders,” explains the former Canoe Kayak Canada head. “That will allow Canada to invest much deeper and invest in the next generation of podium athletes.”
There are other signs of progress in athlete funding. Back when Merklinger was winning Scotties Tournament of Hearts medals, including a 1990 gold, “professional curler” wasn’t a job title. Now, members of the Rachel Homan Ottawa Curling Club rink are all able to focus on curling full-time, a decision Merklinger believes is necessary to compete on the world stage. “Many of our top curlers have made the choice to be a full-time athlete. That’s what we see many other nations doing,” notes the Rideau Curling Club great. “That takes a tremendous amount of planning and commitment from those athletes, and we are seeing the results in performance from athletes like Team Homan.” In March, Homan’s crew turned in a dominant performance to win their first World Championships crown. “The impact of Rachel Homan’s team coming home with a gold medal impacts every curling club and curler in the country,” adds Merklinger. “We saw what happened in Rio after our swimmers did so well. The swim clubs couldn’t keep up with registration.” Winning medals is a great way to encourage youth to participate in sports, but investment in the grassroots level of sports is important too, signals Merklinger, noting OTP controls just a third of the government’s $200 million funding envelope for sport in Canada. “We need to make sure there are programs available so that Canadians can participate at other levels, so that people can strive for their own podium,” Merklinger underlines. “I think all of those programs are critical. We need a healthier country. It’s not an ‘either/or’ debate, it’s a ‘bothand-debate.’”
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– COMMUNITY CLUBS – Mavs reap record medal haul By Phi Trinh It was a record medal haul for the Maverick Volleyball Club at May’s provincial championships as they collected a gold (18-and-under boys) and 3 silver (18U girls, and 14U & 15U boys) from their tournaments in Kitchener-Waterloo. “It was definitely one of the best weekends we’ve ever had,” underlines Mavs 18U boys’ head coach Bruce Dunning, one of three Mavs groups to compete in top-tier finals on the Apr. 21-23 weekend. The Mavs 18U boys earned a perfect record en route to gold, dropping only 3 sets in total over 7 matches. They were especially dominant on the final day, blasting York Region’s Storm 25-16, 25-11 in the quarters, Mississauga’s Pakmen 25-19, 25-21 in the semis, and Kitchener-Waterloo 25-14, 25-16
Ontario volleyball MVP Alexandre St-Denis. in the championship game. “I’m not surprised that we won, but I’m surprised that we won as convincingly as we did,” signals Dunning, who had 5 of his 7 starters earn individual awards. Alex St-Denis topped the list of honourees, earning the Ken Davies Memorial Award for the male player who best demonstrates determination, leadership, athletic ability, sportsmanship and fair play in all of Ontario.
“It’s really cool that I’m recognized for all the hard work in these years,” says the Grade 12 Louis-Riel high school student who’s after a Quebec university volleyball scholarship. Winning his final Ontario Championships tournament “was a really good experience for me,” adds St-Denis, “especially in my last year playing for the club before I go to college.” It was the second Ontario crown for St-Denis and his mates – which includes younger brother Max St-Denis – and fourth consecutive provincial medal. In 2014, it was Frank St-Denis celebrating the gold with his boys as head coach. This time it was Dunning’s turn as the head coach, with his son Jackson (named an 18U Ontario allstar) on the team. The elder St-Denis and Dunning are both high school teachers.
VBALL continues p.6
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Rockin’ Rebelles Wrap
Rebelles’ St-Denis pushes coaching passion on to Team Canada v-ball
He wears the maple leaf proudly with Team Canada, he’s a key builder of the innovative sports-études program at Louis-Riel high school, and he effectively eats, sleeps and breathes coaching. Look for François St-Denis and you’ll never find him far from the volleyball court. For 20 years of teaching, St-Denis has coached at least 3 teams in the school year – often more. Add in club volleyball and it often equates to 4 practices a day during the peak season. In summer, it’s the regional, provincial or national level, plus time on the beach court. “Other than a week or two maybe in August, I don’t really have time off coaching,” highlights St-Denis, thankful for the support of his wife Tammy, who puts in a tonne of time on admin and some coaching herself. “It’s a big load, but I’d like to think that we’ve helped a lot of people along the way.” The graduate of L’Escale high school played just about every sport
under the sun growing up in Rockland. Tennis instruction provided his first foray into coaching. The University of Ottawa human kinetics grad began teaching at L’Escale in 1997 – one season after directing their senior boys’ volleyball team to their first OFSAA appearance. In 2003, St-Denis won his first OFSAA title in front of a packed home crowd at L’Escale. That was a career highlight, along with a pair of provincial titles while coaching his sons – Louis-Riel students Alexandre and Maxime – in club (2014) and with the Rebelles (2016). “It was just like a Hollywood story,” St-Denis, who helped develop the local Maverick Volleyball Club’s groundbreaking high-performance program, says of the club triumph, when his team overcame a 8-4 championship-set deficit. “You work so hard with everybody else and you hope you can do it with your kids too,” he adds. “This year, we did it together at OFSAA as well when they were in Grade 11 and 12. Those would have to be my two greatest memories.” But like 5-time Super Bowl cham-
pion Tom Brady, St-Denis states that his favourite title is the next one. “I seem to always have the need to achieve something at the next level,” explains the past Region 6 and Team Ontario Canada Summer Games coach. Last summer, St-Denis served as an assistant with the men’s junior national team – a role he’ll reprise this year for the U21 Pan American Cup May 14-22 in Fort McMurray. “I learned a tonne,” St-Denis indicates. “Everybody has some strength or neat trick that I like to steal.” Nowadays, there are many St-Denis products sharing the wisdom he once imparted. At tournaments, St-Denis sees a pile of his past players now coaching themselves. “It makes me feel very proud,” underlines St-Denis, who’s coached many players on to the university ranks, with several playing for Canada internationally. “When I see them, I always tell them how grateful I am and how satisfied I am. We still sit down and chat, and a lot of them still come to me for advice. At the end of the day, I like to say that’s my real payment.”
L’entraîneur de volley des Rebelles poursuit sa passion à l’Équipe Canada
Il porte fièrement la feuille d’érable François d’Équipe Canada, il est l’un des fond- St-Denis ateurs du programme sports-études innovateur de l’école secondaire LouisRiel et il ne passe pas un seul instant sans penser à l’entraînement de ses joueurs. Vous cherchez François StDenis? Ne cherchez pas plus loin : il est sur le terrain de volleyball. En 20 ans de carrière, St-Denis a entraîné au moins 3 équipes, sinon plus, pendant chaque année scolaire. Ajoutez-y du volleyball communautaire et cela fait souvent 4 périodes d’entraînement par jour pendant la saison. L’été, il est entraîneur au niveau régional, provincial ou national, et il y a le volleyball de plage en plus. « Sauf une semaine ou deux en août, je passe presque tout mon temps à entraîner mes joueurs », souligne St-Denis, qui remercie sa femme Tammy de son soutien. En effet, elle consacre des heures et des heures à l’administration et est entraîneuse elle-même. « C’est beaucoup de travail, mais je pense que nous avons aidé un grand nombre de jeunes. » Ce diplômé de l’école secondaire L’Escale et de l’Université d’Ottawa en sciences de l’activité physique a pratiqué une foule de sports lorsqu’il habitait Rockland. St-Denis s’est mis à enseigner à L’Escale en 1997, soit une saison après avoir géré l’équipe masculine de volleyball majeur à l’occasion de son premier match à la Fédération des associations du sport scolaire de l’Ontario. Après avoir obtenu en 2003 sa première palme de la Fédération devant des rangées pleines à L’Escale, il a récolté des palmes provinciales pendant qu’il entraînait ses deux fils – Alexandre et Maxime qui étudiaient à Louis-Riel – d’abord au niveau club en 2014, puis avec les Rebelles en 2016. « C’était comme un film d’Hollywood », se remémore StDenis en évoquant le triomphe de son équipe du club Mav-
erick. Partie d’un déficit de 8-4, elle a fini par l’emporter 18‑16 sur les favoris du tournoi. « On travaille tellement fort avec les autres jeunes et on espère pouvoir le faire aussi avec ses propres enfants, ajoute-t-il. Cette année, nous avons travaillé ensemble à la Fédération, lorsqu’ils étaient en 11e et en 12e années. Je crois que ce sont mes deux plus beaux souvenirs. » Mais, comme Tom Brady qui a remporté 5 fois le Super Bowl, St-Denis déclare que sa palme préférée, c’est sa prochaine. « On dirait que j’ai toujours besoin de me dépasser », explique cet ancien entraîneur de la région 6 et d’Équipe Ontario aux Jeux d’été du Canada. L’été dernier, St-Denis est devenu assistant de l’équipe nationale junior masculine. Du 14 au 22 mai, il entraînera l’équipe canadienne à la Coupe panaméricaine U21 à Fort McMurray. « J’y ai appris une foule de choses, raconte St-Denis. Tout le monde a un point fort ou une idée que j’aimerais prendre. » Plusieurs athlètes portent la marque St-Denis et profitent de la sagesse qu’il leur a inculquée. Beaucoup de ses jeunes ont fini par jouer dans des ligues universitaires et certains vont jusqu’à représenter le Canada dans des matchs internationaux. Lorsque St-Denis assiste aux tournois, il aperçoit plusieurs de ses anciens élèves maintenant devenus entraîneurs. « Je suis très fier d’eux, affirme St-Denis. Lorsque je les rencontre, je leur exprime ma gratitude et ma satisfaction. Nous nous assoyons et nous discutons ensemble. D’ailleurs, beaucoup d’entre eux viennent encore me demander des conseils. Je dirais que c’est là le véritable salaire de mon labeur. »
Kanata GymnoSphere competitive team shines at Ontario Championships
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Local gymnasts rack up provincial prizes By Phi Trinh
Seven athletes from Kanata GymnoSphere made it through the challenging qualification events to compete at the Apr. 6-9 Ontario Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships, showcasing their club’s rising competitive program while bringing home a handful of provincial medals. “Our hard work pays off,” smiles GymnoSphere coach Fiodor Martea. “All of our kids did their best, and we are so proud of them.” Having so many gymnasts reach provincials in just the second season of the club’s existence was an especially great achievement, Martea notes. “When you have a very positive environment, it allows you to build,” adds the Romania-educated past member of the Republic of Moldova’s national team. “The athletes are experiencing these positive waves, and they’re gaining that confidence and experience with positive feedback from the coaches. Everybody is working so hard.” Amongst the medallists was Angelina Polegato. The Level 6, Age 9 competitor overcame her initial nerves to start with a bang on floor, collecting her first of two silver medals. The second silver came on uneven bars (always her favourite event), and she also earned bronze all-around. Polegato travels over an hour each way from the Morrisburg area to train at GymnoSphere. “It’s fun being here. I really like the atmosphere,” signals Grace Kelly, who won bronze medals of her own on vault and bars in the L6, A13 category. “We’re really close friends. We all know each other, the parents all know each other – there’s a bond between everyone. And I love the coaches. They’re really nice. They don’t seem as much like a coach as they do a family friend.” GymnoSphere competitive program manager Lauren Mooney notes that several of the gymnasts who didn’t qualify for provincials still travelled to Toronto to cheer on their teammates, which speaks volumes about the strong community already established at the young club. For gymnasts who travelled into the city core for years, a high-quality gymnastics facility in the west end was welcome. That was the case for Monica Borrello and Freya Cope, GymnoSphere members since the 2015 opening. “She’s my goofy buddy. We always fool around together,” Borrello giggles. “Sometimes we get yelled at because we talk too much. Me and Freya always talk a lot. But we also have to serious at some times.” Both in L6, A10, the gabby girls got to compete side-by-side at provincials. “That felt good because she’s my best friend,” underlines Cope, whose next goals in gymnastics are to progress to higher levels, like teammates Mackenzie Capretta and Fiona Leclair-Robertson – both Level 10 athletes. “I like watching them,” Cope explains. “I see the older girls doing it and it makes me want to do it.” Capretta, who will represent Team Ontario at the Eastern Canadian Championships thanks to her strong provincials, enjoys acting as a role model. “It’s really great,” states the Grade 8 St. Francis-Xavier student. “It’s a bit different having others look up to me, but I like it. They’re really fun too.” Capretta is one of a countless number of siblings at GymnoSphere, though Madison Capretta says the sisterhood extends beyond blood relatives. “We cheer each other on and help each other as a team,” highlights Capretta, who was happy to have a big Kanata crew there to support her at provincials. “It was kind of unnerving having a lot of people compete against you, and the gym was so big, but it wasn’t that scary with them there.” The provincials athletes all train at least 20 hours per week at the gym. “It’s a very technical sport and it takes many, many years of preparation,” underlines Mooney, outlining her formula that emphasizes physical readiness before attempting new skills, thus helping gymnasts build confidence in their abilities and mental toughness. “After a year or even six months in our program, parents tend to say, ‘You know, my kid’s behaving better at home, they’re doing better at school, or they’re going to sleep better at night.’ All around, it does so much for them as a person.”
Ottawa Gymnastics Centre celebrated a big weekend at the Ontario Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Championships Apr. 6-9 in Mississauga, with five men and four women landing on the all-around provincial podium. That included a trio of Ontario all-around champs: Elizabeth McKee (in the women’s Level 7, Age 15 competition), Emma Gray (in L6 A14) and Riley Gonzalez (men’s L2 A10-11). OGC’s Jenna Lalonde won 3 of 4 apparatuses in her pre-novice aspire 2 category and finished 3rd overall. Lalonde and McKee earned the chance to represent Team Ontario at the May 5-7 Eastern Canadian Championships in Nova Scotia, along with Micky Geller, Max Parker, Justin Khalil, Philopateer Faltas, and Jaiman Lawrence on the men’s side. “I had a training camp with (my new teammates) last week,” reports McKee. “They were all really good and we had a lot of fun.” Gonzalez’ victory came in his very first year of competing, much to the delight of OGC men’s coach Oleksandr Zavadych. “He showed good potential,” Medvedevs notes. “He did very clean routines with good technique and basis.” Farther west, Kanata GymnoSphere took great pride in sending a 7-athlete contingent to provincials in just their second year of operation. “The program has come a long way,” signals GymnoSphere coach Lauren Mooney, who was impressed to see that her athletes weren’t overwhelmed by the
LOCAL ONTARIO GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS ALLAROUND MEDALLISTS WOMEN’S ARTISTIC KANATA GYMNOSPHERE Angelina Polegato – Level 6 Age 9 bronze – OTTAWA Emma Gray – L6 A14 gold – Elizabeth Mckee – L7 A15 gold – Madisson Kelleher-Radey – L7 A16+ bronze – Jenna Lalonde – Pre-Novice Aspire 2 –
MEN’S ARTISTIC TUMBLERS Joey Gaudreau – L1 A10-11 bronze – OTTAWA Riley Gonzalez – L2 A10-11 gold – Max Parker – L3 A12-13 silver – photo: dan plouffe
big stage. “Because they’re so well-trained, going to competition is literally like doing one routine instead of 10 that day.” Angelina Polegato earned the best all-around result out of the Kanata gang, taking home bronze in L6 A9. Polegato travels over an hour each way from her home near Iroquois/Morrisburg to practice at GymnoSphere. She has to miss a bit of school to arrive in time for 4:30 p.m. training. “I don’t have my gym suit on or my hair done, so I actually get changed in the car,” highlights Polegato. “And I have to keep my seatbelt on, so that’s even more challenging.” Thanks to her giant leap
up from 19th place last year in L9 A10-12, Kanata’s Mackenzie Capretta will represent Team Ontario for L10 at the Easterns. “I’m excited,” underlines Capretta, who needed to learn a lot of new skills in a short period of time to move up to L10. “It takes a lot of focus and dedication. Hard work and wanting to do it – you need that motivation.” Granted an injury exemption from qualification earlier this season, Tumblers’ Juliette Chapman will compete in the junior high-performance category at the May 23-28 Canadian Gymnastics Championships in Montreal. Chapman got a tune-up in at provincials, winning her category’s bars, beam and floor
Nick Yankowich – L3 A14-17 bronze – Philopateer Faltas – L5 A13-15 silver – Eric Gauthier – National Open silver – event, while scratching vault.
ZAKUTNEY LANDS ROOKIE AWARD Ottawa native Sam Zakutney the Big Ten Conference’s Freshman of the Year award in his rookie gymnastics season with the Penn State Nittany Lions of the NCAA. The 18-year-old captured nine titles and finished on the podium 21 times in conference duel meets and went on to finish 15th all-around at the Apr. 21-22 NCAA Championships in West Point, NY. —with files from Dan Plouffe
VOLLEYBALL: Mavs’ Louis-Riel & Franco-Cité players celebrate 2nd Ontario crown continued from p.5 The St-Denis Louis-Riel trio and five Mavs players from Franco-Cité won respective OFSAA ‘A’ and ‘AA’ high school titles within minutes of one another earlier this season. But the job isn’t quite done until the seek an unprecedented Ottawa trifecta come the May 11-14 18U boys’ National Championships in Saskatoon.
“We know the teams we’re gonna have to play with out there, they’re certainly excellent teams,” indicates Dunning, whose group has won back-to-back Canadian bronze medals. “We’ll have to play very well, but I think we have a shot at the national title.” The Maverick 15U boys earned a repeat Ontario silver medal on the Apr. 7-9 weekend in K-W. Like that 2016 provincial silver-medallist 15U team did last
year as 14Us before winning the Eastern Canadian title at home, the Mavs 14U boys earned Ontario silver. They’ll compete at the May 4-7 Easterns at Carleton University and try to replicate their older counterparts’ feat. Seeded just 9th, the Maverick 18U girls climbed all the way up to the silver medal position thanks to a quarter-final upset of #1 Pakmen from Mississauga and semi-final win over #4 London.
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Next up: nationals
HAVE A BALL! with the
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OPEN HOUSE Sat. June 24 Performances Information Registration for 2017-18 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Bridlewood Elementary 63 Bluegrass Dr.
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A 3rd-place finisher all-around in the junior high-performance category at the Apr. 21-23 Eastern Regional Championships in Toronto, Haley Miller was one of three athletes from the Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club to qualify for the 2017 Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships. Miller will be joined by Cynthia Zhang (4th AA in Novice at the Eastern Regional) and Erika Lin (8th AA in junior open) at the May 17-21 nationals in Edmonton. KRSG’s Emma Yau recorded 3rd and 4th-place finishes for clubs and ball at the Easterns. The Ottawa Rhythmic Gymnastics Club’s Selena Pang and Raya Boicey were 7th and 12th AA in Novice, while Ottawa clubmate Kateleen Jia was 8th AA in senior open.
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HOME COURT NO HELP
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Playing at home proved not to be much of an advantage for the top local entries in the Apr. 28-30 Ontario Cup basketball provincials, held at various high schools across Ottawa. Following a pair of narrow 3- and 4-point defeats in pool play to go alongside a 15-point win, the second division’s topranked Goulbourn Hornets found themselves playing for 7th place (left) but fell 53-43 to Blessed Sacrament. The #4-ranked Nepean Blue Devils experienced a similar fate in the top division, finishing winless in 8th place. The Ottawa South Bedrock did enjoy their time in town, winning Div. 6 convincingly at St. Mark Catholic High School. They beat Ancaster, Mississauga, York and then Ancaster again in the final to win gold.
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League1 Ontario soccer newbies seek to shake rookie jitters By Phi Trinh The Ottawa South United Force men and West Ottawa Warriors women are set to make history as they get set to kickoff the inaugural season for a local team in the fourth League1 Ontario season. Though they are new to the loop, both clubs aren’t expecting to be league doormats by any stretch. OSU League1 head coach Traian Mateas is confident that everything is possible if his players can maintain a high level of commitment. “I believe we’d do well,” he underlines, noting that he would like to be improvements in his team’s stamina. The biggest challenge he sees for his squad is a lack of experience in League1, though many players on the roster can draw on successful backgrounds at other levels. Dario Conte, who appeared for Ottawa Fury FC in the North American Soccer League last season and was part of the OSU group that won Ottawa’s firstever Ontario Youth Soccer League title in 2013, will be a leader. “He’s a technical center midfield player who is good on the ball and has
the ability to unlock defences with a dribble or vision of a pass,” highlights OSU club head coach Paul Harris, who also expects consistent offensive contributions from the likes of Walsh University player Myles Cornwall and former OYSL scoring champ Marco Natoli.
OSU VICTORIOUS IN DEBUT It took just 90 minutes for the Force to make history with Ottawa’s first League1 victory as Gabriel Bitar scored twice in their debut, a 3-1 road victory over Aurora on Apr. 29. “We were well organized and the quality was good,” signals Mateas, whose squad makes its home debut on May 13 at Carleton University. “We have lots of youth and enthusiasm and passion to play the game. They have performed well and they wanted it and it’s important to use this as a stepping-stone to go to the next one.” The Warriors are also keen to jump of the gate quickly, though their focus is on improving throughout their 20-game campaign that runs through to September. “This is our first year in the league so we are looking to build and adjust throughout the season,” notes League1
head coach and West Ottawa club technical director Kristina Kiss, who had 14 players training together throughout the spring and expects to grow to roughly 18-20 during the season. “We have some young players who are representing at the provincial and junior national levels as well as some experience returning from school in the States,” Kiss adds. There are no age restrictions on League1 participants, though the target group is roughly 17 to 23 years old – intended as a venue for players seeking to move on to the professional level, or a place for university-level players to prepare for their collegiate seasons. “There are many players in the region that are playing at a very high level and in need of a challenge to further their development,” indicates Kiss, whose squad is filling the void of a top-level local women’s team since the Ottawa Fury’s W-League team folded after its 2014 season. “This is a much-needed opportunity not just for these players but for the younger players in our area to look up to and aspire to be.” West Ottawa will host Ottawa’s firstever League 1 home game on May 5 at Beckwith Park.
Underdog Wave snatch 2 water polo bronze By Dan Plouffe
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Capital Wave girls’ teams earned matching bronze medals in May – their 14-and-under squad landing on the podium at the Apr. 28-30 Ontario Championships in Kitchener-Waterloo, and the 16U gang earning hardware in front of a home crowd for the Apr. 21-23 16U National Championship League eastern conference finals at Nepean Sportsplex. “It’s great. Especially for the number of women in the club, it’s a real good result,” says Capital Wave club head coach Celso Rojas, noting his 14U girls’ lineup featured just 9 players. “We’re very proud of all our kids’ work.” The Wave rode the hometown support to a strong showing at the easterns. Seeded 4th, the Wave knocked off #3 Mavericks in the playoff round, and then lost the semi-final by a narrow 12-10 margin to eventual-champion Dollard Black, who’d outscored opponents by 158 goals in total during a 17-3 regular season. Capital Wave then produced a second win over Toronto’s Mavericks in a 10-round shootout to capture bronze.
Capital Wave 14U girls
The underdogs drew inspiration from the Wave senior women, who dethroned previously-unbeaten CAMO at nationals en route to a silver medal win earlier in April. “That was a really good message for the whole club,” Rojas signals. “The youngest girls were excited too to see that result for the older girls. They were ready to go.” Ranked just 7th of 9 teams headed into the provincials, the 4-16 Wave boys made some noise at their conference finals in Nepean too, scoring a mammoth 15-14 upset over 15-4 Dollard Black in the quarter-finals. Petar Kovacevic scored both the tying and winning goals for the Wave with 2:53 and 1:01 left.
“Their improvement throughout this season was just incredible,” underlines Rojas, whose 16U boys wound up finishing 4th. “And that’s the whole purpose – improve. “Our goal is mainly to develop more players and make water polo a more popular sport in this region.” Still ahead this water polo season are the 19U boys’ eastern championships May 5-7 in Markham (where the Ottawa Titans will enter as the topranked team from Ontario), and the May 12-14 Eastern Canadian 14U Championships in Gatineau, which will again hosted by the Wave.
WATER POLO see p.9
OTTAWA SPORTSPAGE SNAPSHOTS LOCAL SWIMMERS QUALIFY FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, FISU GAMES & CANADA GAMES Rio 2016 Olympic semi-finalist swimmer Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson will be back on the global stage this summer. The Barrhaven native won a silver medal in the women’s 200-metre individual medley at the Team Canada Trials on Apr. 10 in Victoria and qualified to represent Canada at the July 14-30 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Hungary. With 200 m gold and 50/100 m silvers, Greater Ottawa Kingfish product Eli Wall earned a berth on the Canadian world student games team. GO Kingfish swimmer Regan Rathwell and David Quirie of the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas earned Team Ontario berths for the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg thanks to their performances at the Apr. 20-23 Eastern Canadian Championships in Etobicoke. Rathwell earned a silver medal in the girls’ age 13-15 100 m backstroke, while Quirie qualified based on his showing in the boys’ age 14-16 400 m freestyle.
WORLD SILVER FOR TEAM CANADA WOMEN’S HOCKEY GOALIE Team Canada goaltender Geneviève Lacasse, who trains in Ottawa during her off-seasons, stopped 14 of 15 shots in her lone appearance at the IIHF Women’s Hockey World Championship on Apr. 1 in Plymouth, MI, coming on in relief during a 4-3 preliminary-round defeat to Finland. Canada took the silver medal behind host USA, dropping the final 3-2 in overtime.
JR. SENS LOSE BY 1 FOUR TIMES IN A ROW IN CCHL FINAL After opening with a 5-2 victory, the Ottawa Jr. Senators wound up on the wrong side of four consecutive 1-goal games to drop their Central Canada Jr. ‘A’ Hockey League championship series 4-1 to Carleton Place. The Jr. Sens earlier knocked off Kemptville and Cornwall to reach the final.
LOCAL FENCERS LAND ON NATIONAL PODIUM Stephanie Prystupa-Maule (university women bronze), Kelleigh Ryan (senior women silver) and Teo Lemay (cadet men’s bronze) all won foil medals for Ottawa Fencing at the Apr. 21-23 Canadian Fencing Championships in Gatineau.
DIVER TOP CANADIAN AT YOUTH INTERNATIONAL MEET
Henry McKay of the Nepean-Ottawa Diving Club was the top Canadian at the Dresden International diving competition on Apr. 20 in Germany. His last dive hurt him in the standings, but McKay nonetheless placed 7th on the men’s 3 m in the age 16-18 group.
LOCAL RINGETTE PLAYERS GUNNING FOR TEAM CANADA Local ringette players Allison Biewald, Molly Lewis, Jasmine Leblanc, Kaitlyn and Kelsey Youldon attended a Team Canada selection camp Apr. 27-30 in Mississauga. They were amongst 32 players under consideration to play for the senior national team at the Nov. 27-Dec. 3 World Championship, to be held again in Mississauga.
NATIONAL MEDAL FOR NATIONAL CAPITAL WRESTLER Jessica Hong of the National Capital Wrestling Club was Ottawa’s top performer at the Apr. 7-9 Canadian Cadet/Juvenile Wrestling Championships in Windsor, winning a bronze medal in the cadet women’s 43 kg category and also placing 3rd in the national team selection competition. NCWC’s Zaki Hamidi was 6th in cadet men’s 69 kg, while Tsunami Academy’s Sandrine Thomassin placed 5th in juvenile women’s 46 kg.
FIGURE SKATER 4TH WITH CANADA IN TEAM COMPETITION Nepean Skating Club product Alaine Chartrand was 11th in the women’s portion of the ISU World Team Team Trophy, helping Canada to a 4th-place finish at the Apr. 20-23 figure skating competition in Tokyo.
EARLY LOSSES, IMPACT WIN FOR LOCAL PAIR AT CONCACAF Canada lost 2-1 to Costa Rica and Cuba in its first matches and failed to advance past the group stage at the Apr. 21-May 7 CONCACAF Men’s U17 Championship in Panama, though local players Jonathan David and Benson Fazili shone in their final match, a 2-0 win over Suriname, with David scoring both goals and Fazili being named man of the match.
WATER POLO cont’d from p.8 “Our parents and members are just fantastic,” signals Rojas, saluting their volunteer efforts. After that comes the international season. Rojas’ son Rodrigo will manage Canada’s 20U men’s team for the Junior World Championships in Serbia, while Celso will return to his hometown of Lima, Peru for the Pan American Championships as a Canadian 17U boys’ team assistant coach. “I’m excited,” states Rojas, who’s hoping his daughter Valeria will also make the trip as a member of Canada’s 17U girls’ team. Selections are still pending, but the Titans own a couple strong candidates for Team Canada in Bogdan Djerkovic and Diego Gonzalez. “Diego is probably the best player in the east, if not the country right now (at the 16U level),” Titans coach Andras Szeri says of one of the few 2001-born athletes selected for Ontario Quest for Gold athlete assistance carding. “And Bogdan played at 18U worlds when he was 16,” adds Szeri. “He was recognized by some of the European teams just for his size, talent, and the fact that he’s 2 years younger than everybody else.” —with files from Phi Trinh
New national boxing champ hung last year’s silver medal by her door as a daily motivator By Anil Jhalli When Marija Curran and her peers at the Beaver Boxing Club train, they often address each other as “champ.” That reference has a whole new meaning for the Ottawa native now that she’s won a gold medal at the 2017 Canadian Boxing Championships. “It’s a phenomenal feeling,” says Curran, who won her women’s 81 kg gold medal bout by unanimous decision over Mississauga’s Melinda Watpool on Apr. 28 in Quebec City. “It means so much to me.” Curran trained in jiu jitsu in her teenage years, competing until age 18. At 15, she’d taken up boxing to improve her hand combat skills, and later decided to pursue boxing more seriously after her post-secondary studies. Curran has been a competitive boxer for three years now. “I just realized I was talented at it, so I decided to go for
it,” explains the recently-turned 30-year-old. The Quebec City event was Curran’s second consecutive trip to the national stage. In 2016, she claimed a silver medal. “Last year, my goal was simply to qualify for nationals, and I was happy just doing that,” Curran notes. “I won silver and went beyond what I wanted to do, and then after, I just changed my mindset.” The daytime federal government employee hung her
silver medal by her front door so that when she left home and returned every day, it would be a reminder of what her next goal would be. Curran ramped up the intensity of her training, now six days a week year-round, and sometimes twice a day closer to a competition. “This year, it wasn’t just to qualify for nationals,” she indicates. “It was to qualify and win gold.” Curran credits her success to her coaches and peers at the Beaver Boxing Club, which has given her more exposure and the ability to travel and train across the globe, while participating in more fights as the year progressed. “I’m just happy to succeed this way,” signals Curran. Ottawa’s Kaitlyn Clark (64 kg) and reigning national champion Erica Adjei (54 kg) both settled for silver medals at the nationals, each losing their finals by split decision.
OSU Force Academy Zone
OSU brings celebrated past into League1 As League1 Ontario heads into a fourth season, the Ottawa South United Force represent a significant addition to the men’s east division that will showcase the tremendous depth of player quality in the nation’s capital. One of the largest clubs in the country with approximately 7,000 members, OSU has several key strategic partnerships in place, a unique structure that emulates the professional club model, and has developed a strong presence in high-ranking college/university programs both locally and further afield. “OSU is a big believer in strategic partnerships and alliances and in 2007 we partnered with the Dallas Texans – one of the top youth clubs in the U.S.,” said OSU GM, Jim Lianos. “The partnership helped OSU become the only affiliated Nike premier club in Canada as well, and allowed our top teams to gain access to such prestigious showcase tournament as the Dallas Cup, Disney College Showcase, Nike friendlies to name a few. This has helped expose our players to colleges and universities both in the US and Canada and we’re proud that we have helped over 170 players earn scholarships to post-secondary schools.” The club also made other key strategic moves, for instance in their selection of technical staff as well as relationships with some leading professional organizations - both of which have paid off for the club in recent years. “In 2012 the club hired a new technical director Paul Harris from Everton FC to lead the next generation of development for OSU its coaches and players,” explained Lianos. “And then in 2016 we partnered with the Vancouver Whitecaps in their project to launch the Whitecaps Ottawa Academy. “As a result, over the years OSU has developed a reputation of developing players for not only university and college but also players for the provincial, national youth teams as well as profes- Dario Conte will be a team sional clubs in the MLS and Europe.” leader for OSU in League1. The club’s ability to forge a professional mentality in their structure and personnel has been instrumental in helping players achieve their dreams of playing at the highest levels, but it was no accidental formula. As Lianos explains, from the outset the club implemented a long term plan that had the intention of establishing far-reaching resources. “Through our initial partnerships with the Dallas Texans and Nike we have been able to gain access to professional academies such as Manchester United, Ajax Amsterdam, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletico Madrid, as well as MLS clubs,” he notes. “Meeting and taking part in clinics both with technical departments as well as operations departments of such world class clubs has provided us unprecedented insight into the operations of professional clubs, while having Paul as our technical director – who spent over ten years at Everton FC – has helped shape our club’s approach to player development and the environment that needs to be created for our club’s and players’ success.” As Harris explains, the process of developing the club into a leader within the Ontario and national landscape has been gradual, but recent successes of teams in the high performance youth circuit – and corresponding individual players being selected by pro academies etc. – indicates the game in the east of the province is growing in stature. “Ottawa always used to struggle to compete with soccer in the GTA, but in the last five years there has been a real up-turn in the fortune of Ottawa teams at the provincial level in OYSL and OPDL,” he said. “The exploits of these recent groups of players has given the club the confidence to move into League1 and believe that Ottawa can put a strong product on the field. You can expect that OSU teams will try and play out from the back and through the thirds and look to have difference makers in the final thirds that can dribble and take people on. OSU teams will also be organized and hard working as a minimum and mirror the intrinsic values of the staff within the club. “We believe that the people of the Ottawa community will get behind this team as it will be built around local players with a history at OSU and it will be something for all the players within our club to be proud of and support.”
– EDITORIAL & COMMUNITY –
YMCA-YWCA OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION STARS OF THE MONTH
Mailing address: 345 Meadowbreeze Dr. Kanata, Ont. K2M 0K3 Contact: Editor: Dan Plouffe 613-261-5838 Editor@SportsOttawa.com OTTAWA COMMUNITY SPORT MEDIA TEAM Board of Directors Josh Bell Anne Duggan John Haime Josh Karanja Dan Plouffe (Executive Director) Mohamed Sofa Doug Scorrar The Ottawa Sportspage is a not-for-profit publication devoted to shining a spotlight on local amateur sport. Under the direction of the Ottawa Community Sport Media Team, our group also promotes access-to-sports initiatives for local youth who live in social housing communities.
Team of the Month: Maverick Mustangs 18U HP Volleyball Team
The scores of several other matches weren’t very pretty, though it remained an excellent opportunity for skill development, highlights Colts coach Ian Middleton. “For me, the rugby’s great, but the kids end up in townships working with underprivileged youth as well as playing games. That is a huge eyeopener for the boys,” Middleton underlines. “To go somewhere where there’s kids playing in bare feet for the joy of sport, and they can give something to them, it’s really big for character development. By the end of these sessions, I’m not sure who has a bigger smile: the township kids or our own Ashbury kids.” Back home for the first-ever CAIS rugby tournament in Ottawa, Ashbury welcomed teams from as far west as Victoria and as far east as Lennoxville, Que. “It’s really good preparation,” notes Butterfield. “We get to play against teams that are as good, if not better, than the teams we’ll be facing at OFSAA.” Born in London, England,
Sport: Table Tennis Club: Geng Table Tennis Academy About: Sabrina Chen played in three different age categories at the Apr. 22-23 Ontario Table Tennis Championships in Mississauga, bringing home a silver medal in the under-18 competition and gold in the U15 and open women’s events. In the open playoffs, Chen beat fellow Ottawa player Jean Fei, the eventual bronze medallist, in the semi-finals before winning a best-of-7 championship contest with Markham’s Joyce Xu that went the distance. Fellow Geng Table Tennis Academy product Maggie Jin was also finalist in the U13 girls’ event. To nominate Stars of the Month, go to SportsOttawa.com and follow the link on the right-hand bar under the Stars of the Month feature. Courtesy of the Ottawa Sportspage and the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region, the selected Stars of the Month will receive free passes to the Y.
Team Members: Players Mahmoud Abdelaziz, Richard Bucar, Julien Caswell, Jackson Dunning, Greg Love, Jacob Nesbitt, Alexandre Nsakanda, Alexandre Rioux, Alexandre St-Denis, Maxime St-Denis & Mateusz Wlodarski, and Coaches Bruce Dunning, Mike Martin & Thierry Lavigne.
Sweet revenge for Wildcats
About: The Ottawa Mavericks 18-and-under high-performance boys’ volleyball team won their fourth consecutive Ontario Championships medal and second gold at their Apr. 21-23 provincials in Kitchener-Waterloo. The Mavs were dominant on the final day, outscoring their opponents by a combined 150-97 mark to sweep through the playoffs and complete a perfect mark at the tournament.
Staying true to their name, the Nepean Wildcats girls’ hockey club scored a wild success at the provincial championships, winning seven medals across various divisions at the Apr. 6-9 competition in the GTA. Nepean won gold medals in the Bantam ‘A’, Peewee ‘BB’ and Midget ‘C’ divisions, earned silver medals in Peewee ‘B’ and Novice ‘B’, and won bronze in Atom ‘A’ as well as the most competitive category, Intermediate ‘AA’. It was a memorable finish for several graduating Intermediate ‘AA’ graduates, notes coach Bruce MacDonald, who’d earlier led his Wildcats through a full Provincial Women’s Hockey League junior season. “The girls deserve all the credit,” underlines MacDonald. “They showed great character in all seven games that they played.” Nepean fell to the Oakville Hornets in the provincial semi-final, but came back to down the Durham West Lightning 5-2 in the bronze medal match. “We had a tough game against Oakville, but to come back and to win a medal a few hours later was pretty special,” adds MacDonald. It was also a sweet revenge for the Wildcats following their heartbreaking secondround PWHL playoff defeat to Durham West when they missed a chance to clinch their series in a Game 4 shootout and then fell 4-2 in the deciding Game 5 contest. “Getting our revenge on Durham West and earning that bronze medal was the best way to end my minor hockey career and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to share that special moment with,” signals Nepean captain Pidgeon. “It was an amazing feeling to know that all of our hard work had finally paid off.” Pidgeon is now looking forward to joining the Clarkson University women’s hockey team next year alongside fellow Wildcat PWHL alum Josiane Pozzebon and Ottawa Senators PWHL
COLTS RUGBY: Rugby has become school’s most popular sport continued from Cover
Athlete of the Month: Sabrina Chen
photo: dan plouffe
Butterfield played rugby from age 5-9, but then stopped for several years once he moved to Canada since there was essentially no rugby for that age group. But come Grade 9 at Ashbury, he got back into it, and later joined the Bytown Blues club, played for Eastern Ontario (winning gold at the Eastern Canadian championship), then Ontario, and attended a national team camp. “I’m glad I came to this school in hindsight, because rugby is a big thing here,” states Butterfield. “We have so many great coaches who are really experienced with rugby, many of
whom have played for Canada or professionally. It shows in the program because it’s been strong for so many years.” Ashbury’s rugby rise began in 2000 under Middleton and now-University of Ottawa GeeGees coach Jen Boyd on the girls’ side. Boyd’s teams won four Ontario high school titles and five more medals in an 11year span, while Middleton’s boys began making their mark provincially as well, including their current streak of 3 podiums in 4 years. There is now a very strong “rugby culture” at Ashbury, now the school’s sports program with the most participants, Middleton indicates. “It seems now rugby is the game of choice,” he says, also highlighting the exceptional support of school staff, volunteers and parents involved in the program. “There’s nothing nicer than a spring day at Ashbury and you get 100 or 200 people out on the field. It kind of has a festival atmosphere about it. It’s really a community thing that brings the whole school together.”
By Dan Plouffe
Nepean Wildcats captain Kristy Pidgeon will join NCAA-champion Clarkson next season.
products Amanda Titus and Katelyn Fournier, who captured an NCAA title this season. Committing to the best team in NCAA women’s hockey was Pidgeon’s reward for making constant trips into Nepean from Ingleside for the past 3 years. “There really is no secret, it’s just plain sacrifice,” indicates Pidgeon, who’s maintained a 98% average at school as well. “I’ve learned that in order to be successful, I need to be productive in the little spare time I get, which means doing all of my homework, with being on the road so much and missing many, many days of school.” The Team Ontario gold medallist as this year’s National Women’s Under-18 Championships didn’t feel like she was making sacrifices, however, she notes. “When I’m on the ice all of my worries disappear and nothing else matters,” Pidgeon explains. “I love my sport so much. I wouldn’t change this lifestyle for the world.”
KANATA & GLOUCESTER ON PODIUM Some of the Wildcats’ top opposition en route to their provincial triumphs in Peewee ‘BB’ and Midget ‘C’ came from fellow local clubs. Nepean beat eventual bronze medallist Kanata in the Peewee semis, while the Midget Wildcats downed the Ottawa Ice, who would then drop the bronze medal match 1-0 to Gloucester-Cumberland, in their semis.
– COMMUNITY CLUBS – Nepean/Chelsea field hockey boys shock Europeans By Charlie Pinkerton A pair of neighbouring cross-province field hockey clubs joined forces last month for “the trip of a lifetime,” with 17 young boys from the Nepean Nighthawks and the Chelsea Phoenix coming together to create the Bytown Voyageurs for an Apr. 6-18 training tour of Belgium and the Netherlands. “We travelled from one giant club to the other, training with some fantastic, unbelievable, worldclass coaches,” Nighthawks founder Sandeep Chopra reports. “We wanted to simulate what a tour, or what a camp would be like at the national level in Canada, and we sure got that.” In exhibition play, the Voyageurs took on toplevel talent, including Ireland’s national under-16 team, and the U17 Oranje-Rood squad from Eindhoven, Netherlands. “Eindhoven is kind of the science-centre for field hockey in the world,” Chopra notes. “(Oranje-Rood) are an A1 team.” The tour culminated with a U17 tournament featuring teams from South Africa, Scotland and Germany, among others. The Bytown boys shocked the locals and won the event. “It was a very raw, sort of classic-Canadian hockey story,” Chopra smiles. “Ragged bunch of kids train hard, come together, and produce a result.” Zachary Coombs of the Chelsea Phoenix played goalie for the Voyageurs. His effort was highly praised by Chopra and Bytown’s head coach Peter Milkovich, a former Team Canada field hockey player and two-time Olympian in his own right. Coombs says the reaction when his team won the tournament was mostly surprise. “None of our team expected us to win. I was
the only one keeping my hopes up,” Coombs laughs. “We had no expectation. We just thought we were going to go there and have a bunch of fun.” The trip was the most extensive training tour that either club has undertaken and is one that’s been years in the making alongside the sport’s growth in popularity in the Ottawa area. “We thought that at some point we needed to push their level to something beyond what we find here,” explains Chopra, whose club has produced a number of players for Canadian national boys’ teams in recent years. Chopra and Milkovich both likened the experience to a European ice hockey team coming to Canada to experience high-level training.
“Over here, we play on a soccer field at the moment, but over there ,they play on smooth turf – a perfect turf actually,” Coombs highlights. “It was a huge shock to see that a place would have over six of them in one location.” Back on Canadian soil, the members of the Bytown Voyageurs will likely meet as opposition come July’s National Championship in Vancouver. Chopra hopes tours like this become the norm for field-hockey players from the Ottawa area, which has become a hotbed for the sport in Canada. “It was a super-intense course at a very high level,” Chopra signals. “The payoff was gigantic. The development leap for these kids was unbelievable.”
Dunkerley ponders another international run By Dan Plouffe He’s certainly raced on bigger stages, but 5-time Paralympian Jason Dunkerley has made it an annual tradition to run in the Alive to Strive Race, held on Apr. 30 out of Terry Fox Athletic Facility. Alive to Strive has raised roughly $150,000 over its 7 years to promote an active lifestyle amongst kidney disease patients. Dunkerley, now 4 years removed from transplant surgery when he gave his wife a kidney, has his whole family participate. “We definitely like to come support it,” underlines the 39-year-old. “That was a big part of our life for sure.” Following the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Dunkerley took a break from intense training. He’d said then that Rio would be his last international competition, though the Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club athlete and guide Josh Karanja did plan to race at the 2017 Canadian Championships since they are coming to Terry Fox July 6-9 along with a recently-announced International Para-Athletics Challenge beforehand on July 4-5. That could provide an opportunity to qualify for the July 14-23 World Championships, which happen to be back in London – site
of perhaps Dunkerley’s greatest triumph at the 2012 Games, when he ran two personal-bests and won two medals in the same Paralympics for the first time in his career at age 35. “It’s attractive for sure,” smiles Dunkerley, who recently got an e-mail recently outlining preparation plans for London. “There’s a part of me that in the back of my mind says, ‘What if?’ I feel capable. “I’m working full-time now (at Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada), so things are different than last year for sure. Josh and I haven’t been on the (outdoor) track yet, so I think we’ll see how it goes at this point.”
3 OTTAWA ATHLETES ON CANADA’S IAAF WORLD RELAYS TEAM Far from home, three other local athletes gearing up for nationals got an early start to their seasons. Lions products Segun Makinde, Farah Jacques, Alicia Brown and head coach Glenroy Gilbert all represented Canada at the Apr. 22-23 IAAF World Relays in Bahamas. Brown’s 4x400-metre relay team placed 3rd in their heat and missed an automatic World Championships berth in the top-8 by .13 seconds. Jacques’ 4x100 m squad was 12th.
photo: dan plouffe
Matt Stacey got a good workout guiding 5-time Paralympian Jason Dunkerley in a fairly leisurely 5 km run for the 39-year-old Canadian middle-distance legend.
OLYMPICS continued from p.2 “I think the standout experience for me though was getting to skate and compete in the Olympic venue where the Games will be next year.” Based on their 2016-2017 results – which have no actual bearing on 2018 Olympic qualification – the Morrisons would have been a bit outside of individual Olympic berths, Hannah sitting #43 on the priority list for the 1,500-metre race that will feature 36 Olympic entrants. The sisters’ best prospect to make it to PyeongChang would be to secure a place on the British women’s 3,000 m relay team and help them improve upon their #10 ranking from 2016-2017 into the top-8 during the first four World Cups of 2017-2018. “I think the fact that we just missed out on the World Championships this year is still extremely positive since we’re such a new team,” underlines Samantha, a 4-time shorttrack speed skater of the year winner at the Ottawa Sports Awards. “I think we’ve already improved so much this season and we know what we need to work on, so we’re only going to get stronger moving forward to next season so I definitely think we have a good chance for next year.”
CURLER SHOOTING FOR USA OLYMPIC BERTH
Manotick native Jamie Sinclair is looking to follow a somewhat similar path to the Games. The Anchorage-born, Minneapolis-based curler won the U.S. nationals this season, which gave her entry to the season-ending Grand Slam of Curling Champions Cup event Apr. 25-30 in Calgary. Thanks to round-robin wins over China’s Bingyu Wang and Mississauga’s Jacqueline Harrison and a last-shot comeback victory over Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson in the tiebreaker, Sinclair skipped her team into the playoff round before falling to Switzerland’s Alina Paetz in the quarter-finals. “It’s our first Slam as a team, so to qualify (for the playoffs), it’s huge for us,” Sinclair said in a media release. “This was our goal, so we’re super pumped. I’m just really proud of the girls.” Winning the Champions Cup was a team Sinclair could very well face in PyeongChang – Rachel Homan’s Ottawa Curling Club crew. Team Homan played without regular second Joanne Courtney, who was busy clinching an Olympic berth for Canada with her silver medal performance at the Apr. 22-30 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship just down the road in Lethbridge. Homan downed 2014 Olympic champion Jennifer Jones, Paetz and Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg in the playoffs to earn the Champions Cup title on the heels of their first World Championship gold medal in late March. “It’s really exciting we were able to finish the season off with a win,” Homan said. “Ready for a break.”
– COMMUNITY CLUBS –
BYTOWN STORM BULLETIN
Outlaws ultimate moves out to Orleans
Races for all ages/abilities at Ottawa International Triathlon
By Daniel Prinn It’s a new team complexion and a new home stadium for the Ottawa Outlaws as they enter their third year in the 24-team American Ultimate Disk League. After sharing home games between Carleton University’s MNP Park, TD Place and Complex Mont-Bleu in Gatineau last season, the Outlaws will be playing out of Millennium Field in Orleans for the full 2017 season. “Our time at Carleton was great,” team co-owner Jim Lloyd says by e-mail, noting that a desire to have greater control over “the entire fan experience” such as food and beverage services and in-game activities contributed to the decision to move to Orleans. Lloyd notes there was initial concern about the commute east for Outlaws fans living in Ottawa’s west end, but it was a “pleasant surprise” for the club to see season ticket sales up 22% over last year. The east-end community
has also been welcoming to the new club in its end of town, plus support from local politicians such as Cumberland city councillor Stephen Blais, Orleans’ Bob Monette, Innes’ Jody Mitic and Mayor Jim Watson. “The team practiced there for the first time on Apr. 25 and loved the field,” Lloyd underlines. “They commented that the turf was fast, and the fact that the stadium is basically brand new makes it very appealing.” After narrowly missing the playoffs in each of their first 2 seasons with 7-7 campaigns, the Outlaws’ lineup looks a bit different for 2017, particularly without Karl Loiseau, a team founder/captain who recently moved to France for work. “You can’t replace a player like Karl Loiseau,” states Lloyd. “You just have to adapt.” The Outlaws lost a player to Europe, but imported two from overseas, with France’s Pierre Lemerle and Switzerland’s Luca Miglioretto joining the squad. Edmonton native Dave Hoch-
halter, who previously played for the AUDL’s Detroit Mechanix, is another out-of-town import, while past Vancouver Riptide player Erik Hunter returns home to Ottawa to captain the team alongside Derek Alexander, Nick Boucher and Kinley Gee. Hunter says he’s “super stoked to have my family be able to come out to a home game and watch us play.” “I feel super privileged to be a leader on this team,” Hunter adds by e-mail. “I expect to have a great time playing with a bunch of guys with a huge amount of potential. This team has a great opportunity to do amazing things. We just have to put in the work, and so far, it looks like we are willing to do it.” The Outlaws began their season on the road with a 2924 loss to DC Breeze and a 2926 win over Philadelphia Phoenix on Apr. 29 and 30. Their home opener will be on May 6 against the Toronto Rush, with their regular season schedule running through to July 23.
Safe, Reliable and Friendly Transportation for Children
From elite to beginner, and young to masters, the 2017 Ottawa International Triathlon Weekend offers a slew of races for all ages and abilities on June 17-18 at Dow’s Lake. The selection of events include: CAMTRI PREMIUM AMERICAS CONTINENTAL CUP & CANADIAN TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS The Ottawa International Triathlon is proud to be the first event in North America to feature an elimination format for a CAMTRI Premium America’s Cup. The elimination format provides Elite, U23 and Junior athletes the chance to race on both Saturday and Sunday to take advantage of all aspects of the historic Rideau Canal Parkway and Ottawa’s epic venue. The CAMTRI event will enable Canada’s best athletes to showcase their speed and aggressive racing on Saturday over the super sprint distance on a fast course. On Sunday, these same athletes will have to rely on cycling skills, strength and endurance as they take on a much more technical and challenging course over the SPRINT distance. Spectators will be treated to a weekend of fast-paced, high-energy racing from some of the best up-and-coming young athletes as they march toward Commonwealth Games qualification. CANADIAN AQUATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS A new addition to the Ottawa International Triathlon Weekend is the Age Group Aquathlon event. This event includes a 1km swim followed by a 5km run on the same race course as the triathlon events.
This event acts as the 2017 Canadian Aquathlon Championships with the top 5 spots in each age category being offered spots to attend the 2018 Fyn ITU MultiSport World Championships as part of Team Canada in Fyn, Denmark, July 2018. TRIATHLON CANADA NATIONAL CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS This new Championship event will celebrate athletes’ participation in provincially sanctioned-clubs and the communities they build across Canada. The Championship will be awarded to the club with the strongest performance, most depth and diversity in age-categories competing in the Standard and Sprint distance triathlon. The Canadian University/College Club Championship aims to increase participation among those between 18-29 years of age. CANADIAN STANDARD DISTANCE TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS This standard distance event is open to all levels of triathletes with a course design that compliments all abilities. This includes a 1.5k swim in Dow’s Lake, a 40km cycle along closed roads from Dow’s Lake to Hogs Back, past some of Ottawa’s most spectacular buildings and tourist attractions, and a 10km run that takes in the Historic Central Experimental Farm and botanical gardens. This event is quickly becoming a favourite of athletes of all levels. This event also acts as the Canadian Standard Distance Championships where the top 10 in each age & gender category can compete to win a spot on 2018 TEAM CANADA at the 2018
World Triathlon Championships in Australia. ONTARIO YOUTH TRIATHLON This is the first event of the 2017 Triathlon Ontario Youth Cup Series, which aims to provide youth athletes (aged 14-15) a draft-legal competitive race environment. There will be 5 spots per gender awarded berths for the 2018 Ontario Summer Games. CANADIAN PARATRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS On the heels of the sport’s Paralympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games, Canada’s best paratriathletes chase national crowns in a multitude of categories. CANADIAN SPRINT DISTANCE TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS We welcome athletes of all abilities – beginners to weekend warriors. This Sprint distance draftlegal race (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) is a great event for all. Competing in a draft-legal event is fun and exciting. If you are new to this style of racing, the traffic-free, non-technical one loop bike course is a perfect introduction. KIDS OF STEEL TRIATHLON The Ottawa International Triathlon includes the first of 3 “Kids of Steel Series” events hosted by the local Bytown Storm club this season. This will give kids between 5 and 13 the chance to race on a world stage. This is also the first event of the 2017 Triathlon Ontario Youth Cup Series for ages 12-13. The Storm will also hold Kids of Steel events in Stittsville on July 16 and in Dunrobin on Aug. 20. Visit OTTAWATRIATHLON.CA or BYTOWNTRIATHLON.COM for more info on the above events.
Bytown Storm Kids of Steel Triathlon Series
. Before and
Ottawa • June 18 Stittsville • July 18 Dunrobin • August 20
12-seater charter busses
Host Club of the 2017 Ottawa International Triathlon