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A YEAR TO FORGET
Canada’s top ranked female triathlete looks to ahead to the future following a “really, really, really difficult year.”
CHAMPIONS AT LAST
After being on the cusp in consecutive years, the Rideau Canoe Club closed their season as national champions.
Mike Woods won his first race at a Grand Tour in Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana.
Through the ups and downs of cycling and life, it’s teamwork & family that make Ottawa cyclist’s dream work P.11
The Gee-Gees reclaimed Pedro the Panda but both of Ottawa’s university football teams are playoff-bound.
By Brendan Shykora Mike Woods’ racing season was maybe more crushing but still triumphant than any cyclist’s in the world,
photo: slipstream sports
and like always, his wife Elly had his back. The Ottawa cyclist’s personal life was brought into the spotlight after his victory in Stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana in September. In a post-race interview, a breathless Woods shared with the world that just months earlier he and his wife lost their unborn son, Hunter, to a stillbirth. “The whole time I was just going up
Te n n i s • Vo lle yb al l
the climb, I was thinking of him,” Woods said in the tearful post-race interview. “I wanted to win so bad for him and I did it.” In an interview with the Ottawa Sportspage, Woods explained how his wife has provided constant support and motivation for him. “Elly is probably the biggest reason why I’m a pro cyclist now, she’s believed in me pretty much more than anyone
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else,” he said. Elly supported the pair financially before Woods earned income as a cyclist. “I say she’s my number one investor,” Woods said with a laugh. Woods one-upped his top-spot finish in the Vuelta stage with a podium finish at the world championships for cycling, later that month.
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ek A L H Y Ba P oc • G ske t b all key R N V ’ O E c c e r • Yo g S W e Clubho h UN DO T us a O • So e T • s D W N C R p h e
1 D O N A L D S T R E E T (formerly Rideau Tennis Club)
’s P rog ra m s &
– ELITE –
WOODS: Emotional season marked by career moments Mike and Elly Woods.
Rockin’ Rebelles Wrap
A Day at the Dome: a taste of student-athlete life at Louis-Riel
You may spot a maple leaf on the volleyball coach’s jacket – that’s because he coaches with Team Canada during his summer vacation. You could then meet the school’s own strength and conditioning coach, who’s trained more than a dozen NHL players. You’ll often see a coach with an arm on a young athlete’s shoulder offering encouragement. It’s clear their connection goes beyond the typical teacher-student relationship. “For me, being able to guide them and help them make good decisions – the life lessons through sport – is the best part,” says André Desjardins, a past provincial and national team basketball coach. You’ll note that the Dome LR has a fully-stocked high-performance weightroom, an on-site physiotherapy clinic, a full-size turf field and gym floor, and Canada’s only 400-metre indoor track, along with facilities for field events. You may cross paths with one of the many Olympians or pro athletes who train at the centre. “This is huge,” underlines Provincial Women’s Hockey League player Jasmine Nolan. “You’ll never find this anywhere else.” But what will stick with you most when you leave the Dome is simply the unmatched energy and enthusiasm that fuels everyone there. “It’s a smaller school here where the students and staff all know each other,” signals Ken Levesque, the sports-study program coordinator. “We have saying: ‘Once a Rebelle, Always a Rebelle.’ It’s really like being a part of one big family here at Louis-Riel.”
Une journée au Dôme : la vie quotidienne d’un élève-athlète à L-R Lorsque vous mettrez le pied pour la première fois dans le Dôme de Louis-Riel, vous serez immédiatement frappé par l’ampleur des installations. Vous ressentirez ensuite l’indubitable énergie qui imprègne toute la bulle. Vous entendrez les cris et les clameurs des athlètes qui vont au bout d’euxmêmes, les rires et les éclats de joie des élèves et des entraîneurs qui partagent les joies du sport. Regardez d’un côté et vous pourrez voir certains des meilleurs jeunes joueurs de volleyball et de basketball au Canada s’efforçant de perfectionner leur art. Tournez la tête et vous rencontrerez des sprinteurs, des skieurs et des judokas de calibre international levant des poids ensemble. C’est la réalité quotidienne des élèves de l’école secondaire Louis-Riel, qui est devenue un chef de file pour ce qui est de combiner le sport et l’excellence pédagogique. « À mon arrivée à l’école, ça a été une révélation pour moi de voir tous ces athlètes de haut niveau dans différents sports avec les mêmes ambitions, se rappelle Haider Kadhom, membre de l’équipe de soccer championne des Jeux du Canada. C’est vraiment spécial. » Promenez-vous un peu et vous pourrez entendre les histoires de joueurs de soccer professionnels qui ont commencé par pratiquer le tennis ou de gymnastes qui ont découvert le saut à la perche – le produit de jeunes athlètes faisant l’expérience d’un vaste éventail
de sports dans le cadre des programmes sports-exploratoires et de sports-études de l’école. Vous apercevrez peut-être une feuille d’érable sur le veston de l’entraîneur de volleyball – c’est parce qu’il est entraîneur pour Équipe Canada pendant ses vacances d’été. Tournez le dos au terrain et vous tomberez nez à nez avec le propre entraîneur de force et de conditionnement physique de l’école, qui a entraîné plus d’une douzaine de joueurs de la LNH. Vous verrez souvent un entraîneur le bras autour des épaules d’un jeune athlète, lui offrant de l’encouragement. Il est évident que leur rapport va au-delà de la relation enseignant-élève habituelle. « Quant à moi, le fait de pouvoir les guider et les aider à prendre de bonnes décisions – des leçons de vie par l’intermédiaire du sport – est la meilleure partie de mon travail, déclare André Desjardins, un ancien entraîneur d’équipes provinciales et nationales de basketball. Vous remarquerez que le Dôme de Louis-Riel est doté d’une salle
de musculation de haute performance pleinement équipée, d’une clinique de physiothérapie sur place, d’un terrain de gazon artificiel pleine grandeur, d’un gymnase, de la seule piste intérieure de 400 mètres au Canada, ainsi que d’autres installations pour les activités d’athlétisme. Vous croiserez peut-être l’un des nombreux olympiens et athlètes professionnels qui s’entraînent au centre. Mais ce que vous retiendrez le plus après avoir visité le Dôme est simplement l’énergie et l’enthousiasme sans pareil qui animent tout le monde ici. « Nous sommes dans une petite école ici où les élèves et le personnel se connaissent tous, signale Ken Levesque, coordonnateur du programme sports-études. Nous avons l’habitude de dire “Rebelle un jour, Rebelle toujours”. C’est vraiment comme faire partie d’une grande famille ici à Louis-Riel. »
continued from COVER In placing 3rd at the world championships, Woods became Canada’s first male cyclist to achieve the feat since 1984, with Steve Bauer being the last to do so. Estimates say more than 300,000 fans watched a breakaway group of Woods and two other cyclists, France’s Romain Bardet and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, battle at the front of the pack in the 258 kilometre race’s second-last kilometre. In a bold move, Valverde started sprinting with 300 m to go, about twice the distance from the line that Woods was expecting. “I couldn’t believe how early he started his sprint,” Woods said of the 38-year-old veteran Spaniard. Woods might have caught Valverde if not for a calf cramp that hindered him in the home stretch, a cramp that came from being short a bottle’s worth of electrolytes. As Woods was coming to the final feed station about 20 km from the finish line, riders around him were making aggressive moves and he found he needed to make a split decision to cover the attacks behind him or grab the last bottle. He chose the former. “I did need one more bottle just to get me through that last 20 km, and I was kind of running on fumes.” For Woods, crossing the line 3rd was a disappointing end to nearly seven hours of racing, but that feeling “quickly changed” during
the flag-raising ceremony. “Three days post-race and I’m still riding a bit of a high,” Woods said over the phone from Spain, where he and his wife now live most of the year. Reflecting on his season, Woods called his earlier stage victory at the Vuelta in Spain’s cycling-crazed Basque Country one of the “coolest moments” of his career. “There were so many people spectating throughout the day, and then on the final climb they were all over the road,” he said. Next year he’s planning to take on his biggest race yet: The Tour de France. It’s the last of the three Grand Tour races that Woods has yet to check off his career bucket list. “Even though I’ve had some great accomplishments on the bike, I think to be validated as a pro cyclist you really have to do the Tour.” It’s known simply as “the Tour” for good reason: merely competing at the showcase is enough to raise a rider’s profile in the sport. But after the year he’s had, Woods is not short on validation from cycling’s more avid spectators. “I’m getting a lot more respect and recognition in the cycling world,” he acknowledged. Woods is often described in cycling circles as a climber, which is a racer who makes his gains when the incline is steepest. Through this year’s ups and downs, he’s proved that’s the case off the bike as well.
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When you first set foot inside the Dome LR, you’ll immediately be struck by the size of the facility itself. A moment later, you’ll feel the unmistakable energy that permeates throughout the bubble. You’ll hear the screams and shouts of athletes pushing themselves to the max, and the laughter and cries of students and coaches sharing the joys of sport. Look one way and you’ll see some of Canada’s best young volleyball and basketball players working to perfect their craft. Look the other way and you’ll meet international-level sprinters, skiers and judokas lifting weights together. This is the daily reality for students at Louis-Riel high school, which has become a leader in combining sport and academic excellence. “When I first came to the school, it was eye-opening to see all these high-level athletes in different sports with the same kind of ambitions,” reflects Haider Kadhom, a Canada Games-champion soccer player. “Everyone here shares your goals, and shares your passion for sport. It’s really something special.” Poke around and you’ll hear stories of pro soccer players who started out playing tennis, or gymnasts who discovered pole vaulting – a product of young athletes experiencing a wide range of sports in the school’s exploratory sports and sports-study programs.
RAMS ARE NOW
OUR FALL PROG
Cumberland-Capital United Column
New club poised to be powerhouse after landmark 2018
with the experts from:
Take the guesswork out of performance at Canada’s only site for the Axon Sport Performance system The anticipation was pretty big. It’s long been my dream to help athletes reach their highest goals, and I was about to get an inside look at a system that’s produced 17 Olympic medals, 9 world champions and 280+ scholarships across 10 different sports. From the very first time I watched John Williams work with athletes in Atlanta, I could see his approach and mindset were different than anything Rayyaan Jameel Chief Performance Officer, else that’s out there. With him, every Axon Ottawa exercise and action is very purposeful, with an end goal in mind. Not one repetition is wasted. By the end, it was very clear to me why John was sought out by national teams around the world to get their athletes ready for World Championships and Olympics, and why his system is now used all across the globe. I knew this was something big that would help me – and my athletes – realize their dreams. Fast forward a little, and I am now thrilled to be leading Canada’s first Axon Sport Performance centre, here in Ottawa. Our whole goal at the Sports Training Academy is to produce a new breed of athlete, and Axon will allow us to do that. I feel humbled that I am one of the few people John has entrusted to deliver this system, and can’t wait to see the impact it will have on our local sports scene. Honestly, I don’t think Ottawa has ever before had this opportunity for athletes to maximize their potential and get them to where they want to be.
HEAD-TO-TOE APPROACH We tackle every aspect of athlete development. It starts with a head-to-toe Weak Link Assessment to pinpoint any deficiencies you might have. It ends with you getting the best program for your body and your sport. One-on-one sessions are available for high-performance athletes. We also train in a small group setting with the Axon150 program. Training as a group makes it cost-effective for everyone, and it allows you to feed off the positive energy of other motivated individuals, but let’s be clear: this isn’t the type of generic program that’s all too common elsewhere.
WEAK LINK ASSESSMENT AT WORK “We worked with a tennis player, and he didn’t know this was happening, but while he was serving, he’d come down and his left knee buckled. Now, if it buckles on his serve, that means it buckles when he’s doing other things as well. He was doing workouts on his own, and he was so restricted in his movement that it caused a back injury and other issues, and no one realized. If your knee is buckling, a lot of people will automatically tell you that you have weak knees. But it didn’t have anything to do with his knee. The whole reason his injuries were happening was because of his hamstrings. They weren’t firing and they weren’t strong enough. That’s how specific it can get.”
Everyone is different, so you’ll still have your own program geared to get the most out of you. And you’ll work under professionals who understand what you need to get to that level and have the expertise to guide you there. We utilize technology like the i-Myo Pro, an Electrical Muscle Stimulator system John Williams developed. Our athletes use an app that lays out their workout protocols for each day, along with video demos. We can also connect with John wherever he is for sessions via Skype or Facetime. The Axon150 program includes up to 4 complete sessions each week, with a general focus on strength and conditioning (lifting) one day, and mobility (speed, agility, power) the next. We always encourage our athletes to come in for a recovery day at the end of the week. STA has comprehensive sports services under one roof: athletic therapy, ART (stretching), massage, chiropractic care, nutrition, and mental performance training. A lot of people don’t realize the importance of the recovery day, but you’ve got to be healthy to show what you can do. We’re very focused and driven to get the most out of our athletes. So it’s important to have a day where you can come in here to hang out, relax a little bit, and have a laugh. And that’s what we want. We want you to associate that positive energy with this space. This is our way to make sure you’re always hungry and want to come back. At the end of the week, if all you remember is the great time you had, you’re going to come back next week ready to go after your dreams.
About Rayyaan Jameel: Rayyaan Jameel is the head trainer at Axon Sport Performance Ottawa, and the co-founder of The Sports Training Academy as well as CANI Athletics. He is also one of the bright young minds on the Canadian coaching landscape. He has produced over 30 medalists provincially and nationally in track and field in his 8-year coaching career. He’s coached youth athletes all the way to Professional and National Team members. Mr. Jameel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Commerce from Carleton University, and athletic certifications in hurdles, jumps and sprints.
Cumberland Panthers pack perfect punch with pals from STA football
The Sports Training Academy joined forces with the Cumberland Panthers for this fall’s football season. STA football program director Christo Bilukidi worked with the club’s Bantam team on a weekly basis, sharing some of the insights he gained as a past NCAA and NFL player. How’d things go? Well, the team finished 8-0, with an average victory margin of 4 touchdowns. More specifically, Bilukidi has noted a big increase in game speed from the tape he’s watched. “You can definitely see the difference
now,” signals the veteran of 5 NFL seasons who retired in 2016 and is now helping the next generation back home in Ottawa. “It’s Christo Bilukidi just those small techniques they’ve learned – the little things I was taught when I was playing at the highest level. Whether you’re playing Tyke football, or the NFL – those fundamentals will always be there, and
that’s how you become a good football player, and a good football team.” Come the conclusion of the campaign, players (from Cumberland, and elsewhere) will be welcome for off-season training at STA, while top athletes can learn what it takes to play at U Sports or NCAA schools, or join STA’s 7-on-7 travel team. “There’s a process to get recruited, and to get themselves physically and mentally prepared,” Bilukidi notes. “We want to make sure they have access to everything they’ll need.”
JOIN OUR TRIBE. UNLOCK YOUR POTENTIAL. theSportsTrainingAcademy.com
Cap U’s Ontario regional league championships silver-medallist U15 boys. It wasn’t the first priority, but a bigger trophy case will be one investment required at the newly-merged CumberlandCapital United Soccer Club thanks to a dominant 2018 season. Cumberland and Capital United teams earned hardware at an unprecedented rate locally, regionally, provincially and nationally. MERGED CLUB OFFERS “We’re happy to win, but especially ‘VERY EXCITING’ FUTURE because of how they’re playing,” signals Pavel Cancura, who’s led Cumberland Dominant again on home turf at MillenUnited for over a decade. “A lot of teams nium Fields, September’s ER Cup finals are playing a year up, so that certainly provided an intriguing window into the shows they’re not winning because of future as Cumberland and Capital United muscle or grit, it’s playing a certain way.” played for the final time as separate Perhaps the club’s biggest prize was entities (a new name is coming for the the Ontario Cup crown won by the Cum- merged club in 2019). berland under-15 girls, who were perfect Take, for instance, the U16 boys’ final. in regional league play (18-0) and in 6 After placing 1-2 in league play – 2ndmatches provincially. place Cap U finishing an impressive 11 “It’s immense for them,” Cancura says points clear of the next-closest challenger of the club’s first team to compete in the – Cumberland and Cap U proved to be national championships. “It’s something equals in their 2-2 regulation Cup contest. they’ll remember forever.” “There are a few players at every level, The U15 girls placed 4th in Canada, from both clubs, where it’s going to be while the Cumberland Masters Women very exciting to put them together next won national bronze. The Women’s year,” Cancura enthuses. Premier team also won the local Cup.
EAST’S DOMINANT CLUB At the youth regional level, Cumberland and Capital United sides combined to win a majority of all league titles this season. Cumberland’s U16 & U18 boys, U15 & U16 girls, and Cap U’s U14 & U15 boys captured East Region Soccer League championships. Perfect in ERSL (18-0, outscoring opponents 111-7) and ER Cup play, the Cap U U15 boys were also finallists at the Ontario regional league championships. Raz El-Asmar, who worked with the Cumberland Cobras Academy girls this season along with the Cap U club he helped establish 20 years ago, says commitment is the core ingredient to success. “I’ve had the privilege to see both programs, and it’s a very similar philosophy,” he explains. “When you have these values – respect, honour, discipline, and being thankful for what you’re given – kids don’t take anything for granted. “Hard work has to come first, as with anything. When they’re committed, by the end of the year, (winning) becomes a byproduct of what we work on daily.” Cumberland Ontario Cupchampion U15 girls.
INTERNATIONAL PLAY ACROSS EUROPE & N.A.
On top of the domestic success, club teams gained international experience too, travelling abroad for tournaments in Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, Florida and Ohio this year. “It’s always an enriching experience from a cultural perspective,” El-Asmar notes. “And then of course, there’s the soccer aspect. Most of the time, it’s a higher level and higher standards than we’d normally see across town, across the province or even the country, so it gives them information on where they’re at here, but still shows them it’s a realistic goal to be able to play with the best.”
OPDL NEWCOMERS NO PUSHOVERS IN DEBUT The club has quickly made its mark as one of the province’s best, with its inaugural Ontario Player Development League campaign nearly complete. Ontario Soccer has given great reviews to its new franchise in the top provincial youth high-performance league. “This club has steadily taken massive steps forward,” highlights Cancura, including the implementation of its innovative after-school Cobras Academy. “I feel like the momentum is unbelievable. When you combine that with another club that’s already grown and been doing great things pretty quickly, it’s not hard to get excited about what we can do together, fast.”
CumberlandSoccer.com • FCCapitalUnited.com
Griffins garner ‘A’ grade for 2018 season
– COMMUNITY CLUBS – Rideau Canoe Club Alexander Hoferek comes from behind to win national championship By Mat LaBranche
The tight-knit Gloucester Griffins Peewee boys were provincial silver medallists at the Ontario Lacrosse Festival. It was a Grade ‘A’ year for the Gloucester Griffins, as the local lacrosse club enjoyed a continued climb in the quality of its minor lacrosse programs during the 2018 season. No group punctuated that growth more than the Griffins Bantam 1 team. Champions at Hamilton’s Ontario Super Series tournament, the Bantam boys’ competitive squad became @griffinslax the first Gloucester team in over 20 years to /griffinsminor compete in ‘A’-level provincial qualifiers. lacrosse “That was a major accomplishment for our organization,” underlines Gloucester Lacrosse Association President Ian Woolridge. “It shows that we’re going in the right direction for sure.” Most members of the Bantam team have played together since Tyke, making their way up from the ‘B’/’C’ ranks thanks to their ongoing dedication to the sport. Key to the rise, Woolridge says, is improved coaching – including numerous non-parent coaches who are former junior players – and players’ off-season development with other local programs like Ottawa Capitals and Nemesis for field lacrosse, and training with local National Lacrosse League professionals Callum Crawford and JP Kealey. “Lacrosse is a smaller sport in Ottawa. It is growing all the time, but we all need to embrace working together, because it benefits every player,” Woolridge highlights. “I think in the last couple years, Gloucester Lacrosse has really been improving. The coaches, the families, and the players, have really committed to reaching a high level.”
RAVE REVIEWS FOR HOUSE LEAGUE PROGRAM Other season highlights included the annual Ray Broadworth Memorial Tournament (when Gloucester welcomed 3 dozen teams from across Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada), and the sustained strength of the club’s house league programs (with roughly 300 boys and girls playing on 20 teams, in interlock with the Nepean Knights organization). “The feedback we had was very positive,” indicates Woolridge, whose club opens registration for 2019 in January. “Hopefully we’ll see more growth there.” The GLA presented a number of awards at the conclusion of the season, recognizing Rob May (Volunteer of the Year), Barry Powell (Competitive Coach of the Year), Mike Dupuis (House League Coach of the Year), and Pat Brookes (Girls Coach of Year), while also saluting Yolaine Richer as she completed a lengthy run as club secretary. “Her contributions to Gloucester Lacrosse will always be remembered,” Woolridge notes, while also thanking all volunteers for their efforts. “They’re often unheralded, but the hours they put is what allows these kids to get these experiences at this age. “It’s a small community, and the people and everything they dedicate to the sport is amazing – it blows me away every year.” For Woolridge, set to begin his second 2-year term as club president, the value of volunteering is evident in moments like the Peewee Griffins’ run to a provincial silver medal, when they won 5 matches in a row to reach the ‘C’ division final. “It wasn’t about the championship that they won, it was about seeing them after it was over. The friendships they created, and how it all went – that’s something they’ll have forever,” Woolridge smiles. “For me, I guess as my hair gets greyer, those are the things you reflect upon. “These kids are developing those bonds, and you see them and how much it means to them to be able to play this sport and truly enjoy it.”
After flirting with gold for the past two years at the Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships, the Rideau Canoe Club is back on top, claiming top spot at the final event of the 2018 edition. Rideau won 1st place at the regatta in Sherbrooke, Que. in convincing fashion with 892 burgee points, 129 more than second place Trois-Rivères. Rideau’s point total is the highest in the event’s history. “It was outstanding,” recounted Hector Carranco, the club’s executive director. “It’s hard to pinpoint one top moment, because there were so many, but it was exciting to see all the parents cheering, not only for their kids, but for the entire Rideau club. I’m almost crying just thinking back on it.” The club’s chances weren’t overly promising after the first two days of the event, in which Rideau had only won two gold medals. During the final three days of the late summer championships they won 19 more races. Alexander Hoferek, who has been competing with Rideau for six years, contributed with three gold medals. Hoferek explained that the team’s comradery was a focal point of their victory, as was the work of the club’s coaches, especially following a narrow loss at last year’s national championships. “If you had a bad race, you had your teammates and coaches there to pick you up,” said Hoferek. “It was great because when one person won, it was like the whole club won.” “The coaches started planning after last nationals; what we were going to do this time around, our training program and everything in between. So it was great to see all the work put in, by both the athletes and coaches, come to fruition,” Hoferek added. It wasn’t all glamour for the club this year though, as the extreme heat of the summer proved to be too much to deal with at times. This was especially disappointing at the club’s premiere summer event, the Canada Cup. Rideau was forced to cancel its Canada Day regatta midway through due to a humidex of over 45 degrees. The silver lining to its cancellation is that Carranco and other executives of the club may have found a solution for future weather difficulties.
“We are going to be talking about that soon, as we need to think about weather more than ever before,” admitted Carranco. “Usually weather cancellations are due to rain, wind or thunder, which just pass. But with the heat, it’s different.” Carranco said the club is considering starting their annual regatta early in the day and then finishing it at night once the heat has passed. “One benefit of summer is that there’s light early and light later at night as well,” Carranco said. “But that (idea) might be a five-year plan.” Regardless of the obstacles encountered on the way to the 2018 Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships, Hoferek says this season was one of his most memorable. “We’ve had some really good seasons, but this one really stood out,” said Hoferek. “Winning the national championship was just a great way to cap off a great season.”
ROUSING REVIVAL FOR CANADIAN SPORT AWARDS Ottawa started off strong with winning athletes on the first two awards presented (male and female summer teams of the year) and local sports figures were sprinkled throughout the night as the 41st Canadian Sport Awards gala was held on Sept. 20 at Brookstreet Hotel. “To go in as university players competing against professionals and to come away with a medal was really, really memorable,” assistant coach Dave DeAveiro (pictured) said in accepting the prize for Canada’s bronze medal-win-
ning Commonwealth Games men’s basketball team. On hiatus since the last edition in 2011, the Canadian Sport Awards returned under the direction of the RA House of Sportbased AthletesCAN organization. See SportsOttawa.com for a full recap of Ottawa participants’ impact at the event.
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2017 Female Athlete of the Year
– COMMUNITY CLUBS – Rough year for Joanna Brown. Joanna Brown plagued by injury and self doubt By Jake Romphf An off year for Canada’s top female triathlete was branded by injuries and hardships but hasn’t affected her competitive spirits as she looks ahead to next year and the 2020 Olympics. Joanna Brown is ranked 18th in the world following the final event of the 2018 World Triathlon Series (WTS), which was held on Sept. 15. She fell 11 spots from her season-ending 7th ranking last year. “It was a really, really, really difficult year,” the 25-year-old Carp native said. Brown fractured her wrist during training just before the season began. The injury set a bleak tone for the rest of her season. Brown’s bad luck continued when she wasn’t able to finish the first race of this year’s series in Abu Dhabi. Wet conditions in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, which is typically notoriously dry, caused about half of the racers to crash during the bike portion of the race, Brown said. She was among the unfortunate, falling coming out of a tunnel on the Abu Dhabi track that’s normally used for Formula 1 races. “All of a sudden, I have no idea how, I was just on the ground.” Brown fractured part of her upper arm in the fall. The race was barely a month before the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. Brown said she stubbornly kept training in spite of her injuries by swimming with her wrist cast on and with one arm after the fracture. While recovering, Brown was also dealing with a worsening relationship with her coach, which she said was due to a problem she had with how he was treating some of her teammates. Nevertheless, Brown pulled out a podium finish at the Commonwealth Games, winning the bronze medal in the women’s triathlon. “I don’t know how I came away with a medal, but it was definitely my highlight of the year,” Brown said. She also placed 4th as part of Canada’s mixed relay team at the Games in a race held the day after her bronze medal finish. The team was seven seconds shy of 3rd place. Brown started training with a new coach after the Commonwealth Games, who she said changed her training style and volume. “It was such a refreshing change and one that I needed,” she said. But unfortunately, her luck would not turn around for the rest of the season and her momentum was halted, preventing her from establishing any consistency. Brown got stuck behind bike crashes in multiple series races. In the bike portion of the WTS final she punctured her front tire 25 kilometres into the race.
photo: delly carr/itu Her running time was 9th best in the race, but it didn’t matter because of how far she had fallen behind on the bike. She finished the race in 18th, matching her season-ending ranking. “I was pretty frustrated and pretty heartbroken,” Brown recalled. She said her season of obstacles was a learning experience. “Mentally I was still really determined and I tried to stay positive and just keep moving forward,” she said. “Nothing is ever guaranteed in sport and you have to fight for every position.” Brown had four 1st place and 11 Top 5 finishes in 2017, compared to no 1st place and three Top 5 finishes in 2018. Brown said she’s had to fight off some self doubt about her strong 2017 season being a fluke – but mental toughness, trusting her training and a good finish (4th place) at the second last season race in Montreal erased those doubts. “I love competing close to home,” she said. “There’s always just an extra element of feeling comfortable and happy.” Brown is currently without a permanent home because she’s constantly travelling for competitions. But, the self-proclaimed “professional nomad” said representing Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympics has been on her mind all year. “It’s what I think about every day and the reason I get up and I train,” she said. “I’m going to do everything I can to get there ¬– just being a part of team Canada and knowing that I’ve qualified and worked so hard to get there would feel amazing.”
BYTOWN STORM BULLETIN Cross-country running & triathlon make a perfect pair
They are two sports with similar challenges and appealing attributes, and for many athletes who enjoy endurance sports, the crossover between cross-country running and triathlon is a perfect match. “Both sports are dynamic and exciting, and you have to do a lot of different things and make different choices,” says Triathlon Ontario head coach Greg Kealey. In XC, athletes will run across different surfaces, face elevation changes, see varied settings though trails, and battle the elements like rain or mud. In triathlon, there are of course three different disciplines within it – swimming, cycling and running – each offering their own set of unpredictabilities. “For a lot of the kids and the families, it’s the variety in triathlon that they like,” Kealey signals, noting many Bytown Storm Triathlon Club members wanted a change from sports like soccer, or swimming and running on their own. “They wanted to try something different and they gravitated towards the challenges of a multi-sport event.” For aspiring triathletes and runners looking for a little something extra, the Bytown Storm Triathlon Club provides expertise in coaching and athlete development. “For a lot of high school athletes, they join their XC team and every practice is the exact same,” notes Kealey, explaining that variations in intensity, volume and frequency are key. “If you’re doing the same thing all the time, you plateau very quickly.” The Storm first work to de-
Sam Klus is one of many successful athletes in both XC & triathlon.
velop the fundamental skills required for success in running, particularly establishing the proper rhythm – from breathing, to stride cadence, and arm drive. “A lot of the kids who do really well when they’re young don’t do well when they’re older,” Kealey indicates. “At 19 years old, everyone is going to have the same fitness and the same strength. “If you haven’t worked on the technical aspects of running – it doesn’t matter how much you’ve been winning before that, you’re going to start to lose.”
COACHING EXPERTISE Kealey employs advanced techniques to build proper form, including video analysis to determine how long runners are in contact with the ground and how often, using a metronome to set the number of steps per minute and teach them to maintain their cadence whether they are doing a slower long run, intervals or
tempo runs, and ensuring they have proper posture and breathing frequency. “That’s the foundation, then you can start building speed and strength,” underlines Kealey, who also utilizes the high-tech underwater treadmills at LiquidGym in Bells Corners. A number of past Storm athletes have gone on to represent Canada internationally in triathlon, while also enjoying success in the university XC ranks, such as Guelph Gryphons national champions Tristan Woodfine and Joanna Brown, who won the bronze medal at this summer’s Commonwealth Games. The sports align well for athletes since the triathlon season wraps up in time for XC in the fall. “You can learn a lot running cross-country that you can carry into triathlon, and vice versa,” Kealey signals. “At the high school level especially, it’s a great compliment. They really feed off each other.”
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– JUNIOR LEAGUES –
Cobras U15 girls cap Cumberland United era as club’s first nationals competitors By Charlie Pinkerton As the Cumberland Cobras under-15 girls’ season carried on they kept hitting the checkpoints that their coach had set. “We set three goals at the beginning of the season,” second-year coach Pat Boyle recounted. “One was to succeed in the Ontario Cup, which we did. Another was to win our league, which we finished tied for, for the second year in a row, and the other was to win the (East Region Cup).” The final of those prizes was the Ontario Cup, which the team won in a dramatic 2-1 come from behind victory. Ella Riley scored Cumberland’s game-winning goal on a 77th minute penalty kick. Sheridan Michel, who’s a defender alongside Riley, paced nervously back and forth at the field’s half before sprinting to embrace Riley after she buried the shot into the net’s bottom left-hand corner. Riley and Michel have played together for the Cobras for more than five years. “I turned around and everyone screamed and yelled at me and it was a big group hug,” Riley remembered. “Everyone was screaming. It was so much fun, I was so excited.” Last year the same Cobras team lost in the
photo: ontario soccer
quarterfinals of the Ontario Cup in a game Boyle says they “probably could have won, or should
have won.” “Going into this year the girls had a lot of
Cumberland United & Capital United clubs merge By Dan Plouffe It’s the start of a new era for Cum-
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will allow them to emerge into a power locally and provincially. “It’s great,” says Pavel Cancura, Cumberland’s general manager. “Ultimately, it’s not happening if we don’t have the same values at Cumberland and Cap U.” Long-time Cap U leader Raz El-Asmar says he “just felt right at home” when he began working with the Cumberland Cobras girls’ academy last year alongside his Cap U head coach duties. “My gut feeling was just telling me that I’m dealing with the right people,”
motivation,” Boyle said. This year, the coach said the girls handled higher pressure situations better. “I think a year of maturity and being in the program allowed them to be extra calm in certain situations and extra ruthless in certain situations,” Boyle added, who said that his team trains to an “OPDL standard.” The Ontario Player Development League is the province’s highest level of play for U13-U17 age groups. Though Cumberland’s U13 teams debuted in the OPDL this year, their U15 girls team competed in the ERSL. Still, they left no goal unachieved. “We got all three of them,” Riley said excitedly. Boyle said their Ontario Cup victory was a form of “validation” for the team. “For me, there was a sense of pride for these girls,” Boyle added. “Just knowing what they go through on a day-to-day basis and how much effort and heart they put into their training and soccer just culminates to being a really awesome experience.” Winning the Ontario Cup qualified the girls for the National Championships. They finished fourth at nationals in Laval in October. —with files from Dan Plouffe
and coaching with the academy “was a confirmation of what we thought before, and told us that it is the right time.” The merger gives the smaller Cap U club a larger player base, and access to the Ontario Player Development League. “It’s an exciting start of a new journey for us,” El-Asmar adds. For Cumberland, it’s the addition of top-flight coaching and player talent, and an expanded footprint outside of its traditional home in the far east. “It increases what we can do on so many fronts,” indicates Cancura, noting a new club name and brand is coming. “Everyone is eager, and that’s really the
Pavel Cancura became Cumberland’s first Head Coach 10 years ago.
fun part, putting a name to it when a new project comes to life.” See SportsOttawa.com for a more detailed version of this story.
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– JUNIOR LEAGUES – From forced early-season coach change, OSU U15 girls become first local female OPDL champs By Dan Plouffe They started out as underdogs – coming off a middle-of-the-pack finish last season – and they endured some major pre-season turmoil, but the end to the Ottawa South United Force under-15 girls’ 2018 soccer story was no less than historic as they captured Ottawa’s first Ontario Provincial Development League overall championship. “I think they exceeded even our own expectations,” acknowledges OSU club head coach Paul Harris. “But the girls have always had a great work ethic, and they’re also a very tight-knit group. We’re delighted, and the girls deserve all the accolades, given their consistency and their performances.” OSU clinched the OPDL crown with 3 games left in their campaign thanks to an untouchable 17-1-1 record. The Force outscored their top provincial rivals by a combined 51 goals, with only 12 conceded and in 19 matches. Goalkeeper Juliann Lacasse posted her 13th clean sheet of the season on Oct. 14 to move 9 points ahead of 2nd-place Vaughan with 2 to play (not to mention 19 points clear of 3rd). This year, OSU added a few “difference-makers” to the squad who brought “quality and finesse in final
Gymnastics nationals return to town in 2019
photo: dan plouffe
third of the pitch.” Nyah Slusarenko is currently #2 in league scoring with 15 goals, while Georgia Hogan and Nibonile Dlamini are right on her heels with 14. It was a transformative performance from a group that only flirted with the .500 mark last year. The team didn’t have many stars on Team Ontario, for instance, but this all wound up serving as a weapon, Harris maintains. “They didn’t really get much attention when they were younger, and I think it’s kept them a little bit hungry,” he explains. “They took a different path to become a champion team, but they’ve just kept on moving forward, forward and forward.”
COACH FORCED FROM TEAM Harris, who works with all Force teams over the course of the season, got to work with the U15 girls’ group much more than expected early in the season. The team’s initial coach, Claire Ditchburn, was suspended for violating player solicitation rules, which ignited an off-field boardroom war between OSU and rival West Ottawa. Needing a national ‘B’-licenced coach on the sidelines, Harris stood in for the first half-dozen games while
the suspension went through appeal, though Ditchburn wound up moving back home to her native UK for the opportunity to work with Manchester City midway through the season anyhow. So in stepped veteran OSU coach Abe Osman, who “really clicked” with the players right off the bat despite the frequent coaching changes. “It was real difficult for them at first,” Harris notes, adding that the mix of coaches may have paid off in the end though. “It’s a real team effort here at OSU. There are a lot of people working with them, and sometimes that different voice can connect with different people.” The Force allowed just 2 goals in their first 7 games – all victories – and “once they got rolling, they just kept on winning,” Harris recalls. “And what’s really pleased us is they’ve won in style.” OSU earned a number of emphatic victories, including one 5-1 contest over 2nd-place Vaughan. “But now we’re also challenging them,” Harris adds, “‘Be the first to win the league, and the (season-ending) Charity Shield (showcase game between the top-2 clubs), so that no one can question who is the best in the province.”
photo: steve kingsman
Coming off a 5th-place team performance at September’s Pan Am Championships in Peru, and set to compete for Canada at the Oct. 25-Nov. 3 World Championships in Qatar, Sam Zakutney (pictured above the last time the nationals were held in Ottawa in 2014) will be coming home for a major event later this season when the Canadian Artistic Gymnastics Championships return to Carleton University next May. Tumblers and Ottawa Gymnastics Centres will be the co-hosts for the competition that has an inspirational effect for young local gymnasts, officials from the host clubs say. See SportsOttawa.com for the full story.
OSU WANTS TO CHALLENGE CUMBERLAND CUP CHAMPS Strangely, however, there nevertheless exists a bit of doubt over which squad is truly the best in Ontario due to the current competition format, Harris notes. Across town, Cumberland’s U15 girls won the Ontario Cup – a season-long knockout competition OPDL teams are barred from entering – and went on to represent the province at the national championships. OSU and Cumberland did play some close, competitive pre-season
friendlies, but Harris says it would be interesting to see an Ontario Cup vs OPDL champion end-of-season match. “They’ve obviously got some really strong players as well. We don’t want any ‘what ifs?’ We want to prove that we’re the best,” highlights the former Everton FC academy coach. “I know it’s still such a big thing to win Ontario Cup and go to nationals. It’s a shame these kids in the OPDL, which is hailed as the flagship, are not getting that opportunity. It would mean a lot to a lot of the clubs to have the opportunity to go and do it and see where they stand.”
Are You Developing with the Right Club?
– UNIVERSITIES –
Rockin’ Rebelles Wrap
Coach profile: Louis-Riel Soccer Academy Director Joé Fournier There are days when veteran soccer coach Joé Fournier has to pinch himself to make sure it’s all real. One such moment came at the end of September when he brought members of his Louis-Riel Soccer Academy to the national championships tournament for Canadian FCB Escola centres. That opportunity was an extension of the partnership between his high school’s sports-study program and BCN Sports, which sees two coaches from the famed FC Barcelona club provide on-field direction for each Louis-Riel training session. “The tournament was an amazing experience,” highlights Fournier, noting the trip to Mississauga early in the school year brought his players closer together, and allowed them to experience the unique Barça values and passion shared by everyone involved with the centres from coast to coast and beyond. Working alongside a storied Champions League powerhouse club is quite aways from Fournier’s coaching roots in his small Eastern Ontario hometown of St-Bernardin almost 30 years ago. “You know, it was a big decision for a country boy to come into the city,” smiles Fournier, who joined the staff at Louis-Riel when its sports-study program began in 2005. “But this is what I’d been dreaming of.” During his career, Fournier has worked with some of the best soccer minds in the area and around the
world. The NCCP Level 4-certified coach’s mentality has always been to push forward and continue learning. The soccer program at Louis-Riel is a product of that thinking, whether it’s technological and equipment enhancements, training and competition opportunities, coaching staff additions, or establishing a groundbreaking partnership with a global football titan in FCB. “We’re trying to improve every day,” Fournier says. Fournier pinches himself at first, but then realizes he’s not particularly surprised when he sees Louis-Riel grads like Jonathan David and Vanessa Gilles making an impact internationally. David, 18, recently made his historic debut with Team Canada – becoming the youngest player to ever score for our senior men’s national team – while Gilles signed with French club Bordeaux in one of the world’s top professional women’s leagues. “This is what we’re all about,” underlines Fournier, who has watched many more grads go on to play university/college soccer throughout North America. “We want our players to move on to the next level and to be engaged in the game for as long as possible.” As much as Fournier loves seeing his players perform on big stages, he explains that the daily work with his student-athletes is what he savours the most. “No matter where we go, I always have a ball, because I know that will bring people in,” adds Fournier. “For me, that’s what football is: it’s the camaraderie, the respect, the international flavour to it. “That’s what I love about the sport, that’s what I love sharing with my players, and I feel blessed that we’re able to live that every day at Louis-Riel.”
Rugby a pillar of mental health for Gee-Gees rookie By Michael Sun University of Ottawa rugby player Meredith Sirrs has accomplished a lot in her young life despite the adversity she’s faced on and off the field. The 18-year-old is a first-year player with the Gee-Gees. She competed with Ontario’s Under-18 women’s team last summer before joining the Ontario Blues U20 team this year. During the third game of this year’s Canadian Rugby Championships she broke her arm. The Blues went on to win silver at nationals, but for Sirrs the injury was “a huge setback” at the mid-point in an “incredible” year. Her broken arm has caused her to miss the beginning of her Gee-Gees career. Sirrs has faced obstacles before. Growing up she said she dealt with depression and anxiety to the point of plaguing panic attacks she experienced while in her early years at Colonel By Secondary School. She started playing rugby at Colonel By in Grade 9, which she said was at the height of her struggles. “I found that rugby was that outlet for me that helped me find myself again and become the person I was meant to be,” Sirrs said. “It really helped me find my confidence again and it really gave me an outlet to let out my frus-
ment de son programme de sportsétudes en 2005. Mais c’était ce dont je rêvais depuis toujours. » Au fil de sa carrière, Joé a œuvré aux côtés de certains des meilleurs cerveaux du soccer de la région et d’ailleurs dans le monde. La mentalité de l’entraîneur certifié au niveau 4 du PNCE a toujours été de progresser et de continuer d’apprendre. Le programme de soccer à Louis-Riel est un produit de cette attitude, qu’il s’agisse d’améliorations technologiques ou d’équipement, d’entraînement et d’occasions de compétitions, d’ajouts au personnel d’entraîneurs ou d’établir un partenariat novateur avec une puissance mondiale du football comme le FC Barcelone. « Nous essayons de nous amé-liorer tous les jours », indique Joé. Joé se pince parfois, mais il s’aperçoit qu’il n’est pas autrement surpris de voir des diplômés de Louis-Riel comme Jonathan David
et Vanessa Gilles exceller au niveau international. Jonathan, 18 ans, a récemment fait ses débuts historiques avec Équipe Canada – devenant le plus jeune joueur à compter pour notre équipe nationale senior masculine –, tandis que Vanessa a signé un contrat avec le club français de Bordeaux, dans l’une des meilleures ligues professionnelles féminines au monde. « C’est ce qui résume notre mission, souligne Joé, qui a vu nombre de ses diplômés jouer au niveau universitaire à l’échelle de l’Amérique du Nord. Nous voulons que nos joueurs passent au niveau supérieur et qu’ils restent motivés à pratiquer ce sport aussi longtemps que possible. » Même si Joé adore voir ses joueurs s’exécuter sur de grandes scènes, il explique que son travail de tous les jours auprès de ses élèves-athlètes est ce qu’il préfère par-dessus tout. « Où que j’aille, j’ai toujours un ballon avec moi, parce que je sais que cela attire les gens, ajoute-t-il. Pour moi, le football, c’est ça : la camaraderie, le respect, la saveur internationale. C’est ce que j’adore de ce sport, c’est ce que j’aime partager avec mes joueurs et je me sens privilégié de pouvoir le vivre tous les jours à Louis-Riel. »
trations.” Sirrs said her depression and anxiety came from “personal problems and past experiences that had really built up.” She said at times she wouldn’t have anyone to talk to about it. While her rugby team supported her without knowing of her struggles, it was after someone picked up on what she was going through that she sought help. Nowadays, she says she’s feeling “a lot happier.” “I had dealt with depression for a few years but having somebody notice that you’re hurting was the moment for me that was ‘you know. It is real. It’s not all in my head because people see it,’” Sirrs recalled.
SIRRS continues next page
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Profil d’entraîneur : Joé Fournier, Académie de soccer Louis-Riel
Il y a des jours où le vétéran-entraîneur de soccer, Joé Fournier, doit se pincer pour être certain de ne pas rêver. L’un de ces moments est survenu à la fin de septembre lorsqu’il a emmené des membres de son Académie de soccer Louis-Riel au tournoi de championnat national des centres canadiens des FCB Escola. Cette occasion était un prolongement du partenariat entre le programme sports-études de son école secondaire et BCN Sports, qui voit deux entraîneurs du célèbre club FC Barcelone offrir des conseils sur le terrain lors de chaque séance d’entraînement du programme de Louis-Riel. « Le tournoi a été une expérience formidable », se rappelle Joé, soulignant que le voyage à Mississauga tôt dans l’année scolaire a rapproché ses joueurs et il leur a permis de faire l’expérience des valeurs propres au Barça et de la passion partagée par tout le monde dans les centres FCB Escola. Travailler aux côtés d’un club qui est une puissance dans la Ligne des champions est bien loin des racines d’entraîneur de Joé Fournier, qui remontent à il y a près de 30 ans dans sa petite ville natale de Saint-Bernardin, dans l’est de l’Ontario. « Vous savez, c’était toute une décision pour un petit gars de la campagne de s’exiler en ville, dit Joé en souriant, qui s’est joint au personnel de Louis-Riel au lance-
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OTTAWA SPORTSPAGE SNAPSHOTS STA TENNIS COACH MASTERS COMPETITION IN CLEAN SWEEP OF 3 EVENTS AT NCTA CITY FINALS It was the Jeremy Gibbens-Schneider Show over and over again at the Aug. 25-Sept. 2 National Capital Tennis Association City Championships at the Ottawa Tennis and Lawn Bowling Club. The former University of Maryland varsity tennis player didn’t drop a single set in 10 total matches en route to a unique triple-crown in the men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles tournaments. Gibbens-Schneider teamed up with fellow Sports Training Academy coach Jordan Sweeney to dominate the men’s doubles event, and joined a student of his, Ariane Souligny, to blast the mixed doubles competition.
COBRAS LADY-MASTERS TAKE PROVINCIAL CUP
OSU Force Academy Zone
‘Who’s the next one?’: OSU after big year
The Cumberland Cobras women’s masters team won the Women’s Masters Championship with a 1-0 victory over the London Marconi Azzurri. With the provincial victory the team advanced to the national cup in British Columbia.
SOCCER SEASON WRAPS UP IN STYLE FOR LOCAL REGIONAL COMPETITIVE TEAMS Ottawa City Soccer Club hosted the second leg of its Kickin’ in the Capital tournament in early September, with 110 competitive girls’ soccer teams playing in divisions from the U10 to U18 age groups on Sept. 8-9. The area’s best regional-level teams concluded their East Region Soccer League campaigns the following weekend with the ER Cup finals at Millennium Fields. The newly-merged sibling club of Cumberland United and FC Capital United were front and centre at their home pitch. Perfect at 18-0 with a 111-7 goal differential in the league play, the Cap U U15 boys’ were unbeatable in Cup play as well and made it all the way to the runner-up spot at the Ontario regional league championships in October. Cumberland won the U18 boys’ Cup and a league title, while the brothers battled one another to penalty kicks in the U15 boys’ final. St. Anthony’s doubled up on Ottawa City to win the U13 & U14 boys’ Cups, though it was Cap U that won the U14 boys’ league with just a single loss in 14 matches. St. Anthony’s was unbeaten to top U13 boys’ league play. Gloucester won the youngest and oldest girls’ regional divisions (U13 & U17) in league play, while AS Gatineau won the U13 girls’ Cup. Gloucester also won the U15 girls’ Cup, though Cumberland was the dominant force in that age group with an 18-0 mark in league, an Ontario Cup crown and 4th-place finish nationally. Cumberland also won the U16 girls’ league and Cup, and went to kicks with West Ottawa in the U14 girls’ Cup final. Ottawa City won the U14 girls’ regional league.
FORMER CONCORDES HEAD COACH GETS SPEED SKATING CANADA PROMOTION David Morrison of the Gloucester Concordes was awarded a new position with Speed Skating Canada’s coaching staff as a manager, coach, and official in the area of athlete and competition development. He’ll work with athletes on long-term athlete development as well as with Speed Skating Canada’s external partners. Morrison has more than 33 years of speed skating experience and was the head coach of the Concordes from 1994-2013.
ORC ROWER SNAGS SILVER AT WORLD ROWING CHAMPIONSHIPS Christine Roper of the Ottawa Rowing Club won a silver medal at the World Rowing Championships. Roper sat in the fifth spot of a Team Canada boat in the women’s 8 that finished less than one second ahead of Australia to win 2nd place. She was the lone Ottawa athlete competing at the world championships for rowing in September.
OTTAWA SWIMMERS SCOOP MEDALS AT JUNIOR NATIONAL SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Greater Ottawa (GO) Kingfish’s Regan Rathwell was tops amongst Ottawa performers at the Canadian junior swimming championships in Winnipeg. She won the 100 metre and 200 m backstrokes and also claimed a silver medal in the 1,500 m open-water race of the girls’ 13-14 division. Other medal winners included GO’s Louis Bertrand (bronze, boys’ 16-18, 3,000 m), and the Nepean-Kanta Barracudas’ David Quirie (bronze, boys’ 16-18, 1,500 m) and Colton Milne (boys’ 14-15, 200 m breastroke).
NICHOLSON APPOINTED AS CHAIR OF OWN THE PODIUM
Canada’s Chef de Mission at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, Todd Nicholson, has been appointed the chair of Own the Podium, the not-for-profit strategy firm for Canadian sports. Before he was Canada’s Chef de Mission at this year’s Paralympics, Nicholson was a five-time Paralympian as well as the captain of Canada’s National Para Hockey Team for 15 years.
HOUSE OF SPORT HOUSING CANADA’S FIRST MENTAL HEALTH FOR SPORTS CENTRE Former Carleton Raven and University of Ottawa PhD candidate Krista Van Slingerland co-founded Canada’s first centre for mental health and sport, which opened in the House of Sport in September. University of Ottawa human kinetics professor Natalie Durand-Bush is also behind the initiative.
OTTAWA’S TOP BASEBALL PROSPECT PITCHES FOR PROVINCE AT NATIONALS Top-prospect of Ontario’s 2020 class Benjamin Adams of the Ottawa-Nepean 16U baseball team won a national championship with Team Ontario over the summer. Adams pitched 6 2/3 innings against British Columbia in preliminary play, giving up only five hits in a 3-1 win.
GEE’S NECK BURDENED WITH GOLDS Ottawa’s Derek Gee won four gold medals at the Canadian Track Cycling Championships last month. He swept the competition in the elite men’s endurance category, placing 1st in the omnium, the individual pursuit, the team pursuit and the Madison.
OTTAWA PARA-TABLE TENNIS STAR WINS CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP Robert Cloutier of Ottawa won gold at the 2018 Canadian Para Table Tennis Championships. As a Class 3 competitor, Cloutier won all three of his matches, besting his opponents by a total of 9 games to 5 and outscoring his opposition 146 – 126.
SIRRS: Gee-Gees rookie has big ambitions continued from p.8 She also credits the support her mother gave her. “She really helped me get through the hard times and I know that some people don’t really have that kind of support,” Sirrs said. At first, she said rugby was a “confusing sport.” She remembers scoring her first try in her second year of play in Grade 10, while playing rugby sevens. “(It was) an amazing feeling,” she recalled. “It was so crazy. The rush I got through
my body, I was like, ‘I want to be here for the rest of my life.’” She started playing for the Ottawa Irish during the summer of that year. She’s accomplished her goals of making provincials and nationals. Last on her list of goals is playing for Team Canada. Her broken arm is the first serious injury she’s ever suffered. At the same time, she popped her elbow out as well. “I remember thinking I can’t feel my arm and it was really scary because rugby is what I love so much and all of a sudden, I’m not going to be able to
play (it) for a while,” Sirrs said. “Rugby gives you so much more than the sport you play,” she continued. “It gives you a life and a family and a community that you’d never give up, so through all the hard times I was facing in high school, I always turned towards rugby and the rugby community to get through it.” Sirrs said her experiences have allowed her to discover herself as a person and be more resilient. “Having the struggle of depression when I was younger has really helped me realize
that (although) today’s a really bad day, tomorrow’s a good day,” she said. “It’s what you make it and things will always get better.”
AROUND TOWN At the time of publication, the defending national champion Gee-Gees women’s rugby team are undefeated and in 1st place in the RSEQ. The Carleton Ravens women’s rugby team is in 3rd place in the conference. Carleton’s men’s rugby team is in 1st place of Scholar’s Rugby. The Gee-Gees are in last place in the league.
OSU players with Club President Bill Michalopulos & Mayor Jim Watson. A sold-out crowd packed the Conference & Event Center for Ottawa South United Soccer Club’s annual competitive banquet to celebrate an ever-growing number of OSU championships and next-level player feats. But OSU President Bill Michalopulos pinpoints a different type of acknowledgment that sticks out for him as a defining moment this year, emblematic of the club’s rise. In town for a match with Brazil, the Canadian women’s national team wanted to play a game against a quality side to help them prepare to face one of the best squads in the world, so they asked if a top OSU boys’ team could play them a few days before their friendly. “Having the national team recognize our organization meant a lot to us,” underlines Michalopulos, the Club President since OSU was founded in 2003. “And we were so happy to see that they went on and won.”
89 OSU GRADS PLAYING VARSITY SOCCER There were many signs of success for the club’s programming this season, perhaps none bigger than the number of OSU alumni competing for university/college soccer teams across North America – approaching triple-digits with a count of 89 this fall. That stands as a testament to OSU’s College Prep Program, in operation since 2015 under the guidance of local university coaches David Bellemare (uOttawa) and Dom Oliveri, Jasmine Phillips and Aaron Falsetto (Carleton). “It’s so special when we see our athletes become student-athletes all over Canada and the United States,” Michalopulos highlights. “This impressive number illustrates the overarching goal of our Force Academy – to help each and every player reach their ultimate goals in the game.”
CLUB BOOSTS PLAYERS INTO PRO RANKS Numerous OSU products are now living their soccer dreams in the pro setting. A pair of players who joined OSU’s Ontario League One squad to help in their pursuit of playing professionally (Jared St. Thomas & Turner Johnson) are through to the final 50 players being eyed at the Canadian Professional League’s open tryouts in Hamilton. Many more have joined or had trials with pro academies in Canada and overseas in Europe, while the latest OSU grad to sign a professional contract was 17-year-old Mehdi Essoussi, now with Toronto FC II. “That was great news,” notes OSU head coach Paul Harris. “We want to keep on breaking ground like that.”
REGION’S FIRST GIRLS’ OPDL TITLE OSU celebrated another groundbreaking moment when its Force under-15 squad became the first girls’ team from Eastern Ontario to collect an Ontario Player Development League championship. The provincial crown topped the list of trophies won by OSU this season, which also included many regional league, Cup and Shield titles. The U15 girls’ OPDL side featured many players who rose up the ranks at OSU since age 8 or 9. “It’s great to see that paying off, and again proving that our system works, and that our players can be successful if they keep going to the end of that chain,” signals Harris, who’s won at least one provincial title every year since he arrived at OSU 6 years ago. “You can have the odd good team, but if you continually produce at least one that’s winning a provincial championship every year, you must be doing something right,” he adds. “That’s something we’re quite proud of in our development system – we’re always looking for ‘who’s the next one?’”
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YMCA-YWCA OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION STARS OF THE MONTH
Athlete of the Month: Olivia De Couvreur
Contacts For News/Editorial: Charlie Pinkerton Editor 613-929-3681 firstname.lastname@example.org For Advertising/CAMPS Project Partnerships: Dan Plouffe Executive Director 613-261-5838 email@example.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 Kanata GymnoSphere Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club KV Dance Studio Nepean Hotspurs Soccer Club Nepean Nighthawks Field Hockey Olympia Gymnastics Ottawa Gymnastics Centre Ottawa Lions Track & Field Club Ottawa National Diving Club Ottawa Rowing Club Ottawa South United Soccer Club Ottawa Table Tennis Club RA Centre Resolute Gymnastics Centre Rideau Canoe Club Royal City Soccer Club Sports Training Academy St. Anthony’s Futuro Soccer Club Tennis For Life Ottawa TMSI Sports Management Inc. Tumblers Gymnastics Centre YMCA-YWCA
About: Olivia De Couvreur won a bronze medal with Canada’s women’s rugby team at the third Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. De Couvreur, 18, played in the starting prop position for Canada, which went 3-2 in the preliminary round before defeating Colombia in a come-from-behind 24-19 victory in the bronze Team Members: Roster: Anna Demarbre, Janelle Boileau, Kylen Grant, Emma Ladouceur, Sheridan medal matchup on Oct. 15. The Youth Olympic Michel, Ella Riley, Florence Belzile, Tio Lovegrove, Elizabeth Martin, Chloe Headland, Amelia ThompGames features athletes age 15 to 18. The former son, Riley Bonadie, Jessica Boyle, Flavie Dube, Raisha Emile, Hannah McCallum, Alexis Virgo. CoachGloucester Hornet soccer player and Sir Wilfird ing Staff: Duane Bonadie, Pat Boyle, Krista Ladouceur. Laurier Secondary School student is also a memAbout: The Cumberland Cobras Under-15 girls soccer team finished in 4th place at the National Cham- ber of Canada’s developmental rugby team, acpionships for soccer. Read more about the team’s success this year on Page 6. cording to the Ottawa Sun. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Team of the Month: Cumberland Cobras Under-15 Girls
Ultimate star cracks junior national team with three years of experience By Anil Jhalli Just three years into her ultimate frisbee career, Ottawa’s Emily Scott is already competing on the world stage. Scott wouldn’t be playing at the world junior championships for ultimate, let alone playing the sport if it weren’t for a devastating injury that derailed her soccer career. Growing up, and prior to her injury, Scott was involved in sports including soccer, badminton, volleyball and hockey. Looking for a change after hurting her knee, a nudge from her twin brother Ben Scott led her to leap into ultimate. “I just wanted to try something new,” the 19-year-old human rights student at Carleton University said. “The ultimate community was no nice and welcoming so I decided to give it a try.” After learning the basics from her brother, she joined Wicked Ultimate, an ultimate frisbee club in Ottawa. She’d later play on Carleton University’s Ultimate Team. She now plays with Stella Ultimate, a competitive team for women in the na-
tion’s capital. “I’m so thankful they took me in because they really helped me grow as a player,” added Scott. “There is great leadership on the team that I look up to, and they gave me a lot of feedback over the summer and pushed me to be better.” Like many others who transition to ultimate, Scott says her experience in other sports helped her pick up the newer game. “I think being an athlete in general helped because I had a natural field instinct and I knew how to catch and run,” she added. This summer she was chosen to represent Canada at the 2018 World Junior Ultimate Championships in Waterloo. Team Canada, which also featured Ottawa’s Wynne Gee, picked up victories against teams from Germany, Great Britain, France and Australia in divisional games before their gold medal hopes were cut short by Colombia in the tournament’s semifinals. Canada’s women beat Germany again to win 3rd place at the September tournament. “The team’s perfor-
mance was amazing,” said Scott. “Everyone really stepped up and played their best and there was so much trust out on the field. Coming back from a loss against Columbia, and then being down against Germany in the bronze game, but then coming back to win really speaks to how strong we were as a team mentally and physically. The great thing about this team was we bonded so fast and became sisters and that allowed us to be successful on the field.” In 10 games, Scott collected six goals and three assists, good for nine points at the conclusion of the tournament. “I think I played well, “ said Scott. “It’s really easy to go out there and give 100 per cent because I always knew my teammates were training hard and playing at 100 per cent. I think we all had mistakes just like every other team or sport would. But overall I think I went out there and did what my team expected me to do.” While the results were encouraging, Scott said there is no higher honour than playing for your coun-
web photo try. She was “speechless” when she found out that she had made the team. “I was so excited because it had always been a goal of mine and I knew it would be one of the best experiences of my life,” she added. “It’s a feeling like no
other to have that many people stand behind you and support you. So many people want you to succeed. On the men’s side of the world juniors, Canada won a silver medal. Ottawa’s own Aidan Hayter, Scott Graham and Benjamin Cheer played on that team.
11 – UNIVERSITIES – Overcoming the Panda Game hump “huge” for playoff-bound Gee-Gees By Michael Sun A victory in the Panda Game is best described by the University of Ottawa’s longest serving local player: “It’s huge.” Thomas Rowlands is a part of the GeeGees team that beat the Carleton Ravens in their annual matchup at TD Place on Sept. 29. It was the first time the University of Ottawa won the Panda Game in four years. He made sure to soak in his team’s 38-27 win on the field after the game. “It’s kind of been like a monkey on our backs for the past three years,” he said. “We always thought we could have beaten them the past three years but we proved it this year. It feels amazing. There’s nothing like it.” This year’s game was graced by a moment of solidarity between the crosstown rivals, who honoured the life of Loic Kayembe, the GeeGee player who died in his sleep just days before last year’s Panda Game. Many Gee-Gees wore gear dedicated to Kayembe, while the Ravens engraved “#49MoreThanAGame” into the trophy of Pedro the Panda. Kayembe wore Number 49 for the Gee-Gees. Engraving the trophy has become a tradition for each year’s winner. Next year the trophy will feature a fresh Gee-Gee message for the first time since 2013. Or as cornerback Jamie Harry put it, “four years coming. The curse is finally broken.”
“It feels great,” he added. “This is for all the alumni, my old teammates. … We came back and we shut it down.” Ottawa wide receiver Harrison Tallyhoe, who’s native to the city, said this year felt different than before. “I feel like in the past years we’ve been deserving but this year, we really came together and did what we had to do and it was a hell of a victory so it feels really good,” said Tallyhoe, who was carried off the field in celebration. While the Gee-Gees ended the day celebrating, early in the game it was the Ravens doing as much. On the first play from scrimmage, Carleton’s Quinton Soares, a fourth-year receiver, threw a 78-yard touchdown pass on a trick play to Dominic Walker to give the Ravens an opening-minute lead. Soares, an Ottawa native, would have his own touchdown reception later, while Ravens running back Nathan Carter, also from Ottawa, added two scores of his own. Yet Carter was unhappy with his team’s performance overall. He called it “poor execution” and said it was “a wake-up call.” On the Gee-Gee side, Ottawa’s players showed their high hopes for the season after the game. “We can beat anyone,” Harry said. “Honestly, this team’s the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Rowlands said. “The
Thomas Rowlands anchoring the left side of the GeeGees offensive line in the Panda Game.
photo: greg mason things that we can do is incredible. I think we can beat anybody, I think we can go all the way, I honestly think we can.” Of course, the importance of the game, which is routinely U Sports’ biggest annual showing, wasn’t lost on anyone, especially the players from Ottawa. “It’s great,” Rowlands said. “It’s great to be able to play in front of hometown crowd. I know a lot of people here. It’s a great game to win,
it’s a great game to play in.” “I’m from here,” he said. “I support Carleton. I’ve been around Carleton for this long. I want to win with Carleton and I want them to be the top in Ottawa. Just because I’m from there, it makes it even more important.” The Ravens clinched an OUA playoff spot, finishing the season 5-3. With one game left in their season, at 5-2, the Gee-Gees have also clinched a playoff spot.
Thank you to everyone for making our inaugural 10 Sports • 1 Day FUNdraiser a huge success! To Our dream team of volunteers, our beautiful host venue & the great staff at Rideau Sports Centre, and of course our participants who conquered the heat and brought such great life to the event: Thank you so much for your support! and for helping to open doors for local low-income kids with the: 1 D O N A L D S T R E E T (formerly Rideau Tennis Club)
Dek Ball Hockey
2018 best spirit
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Wiebe’s sights set on elusive Wrestling World Championship gold medal By Brendan Shykora
There aren’t many prizes in the wrestling world that Erica Wiebe hasn’t already captured, but one exception is a gold medal at the World Wrestling Championships, which in late October she’ll take her shot to claim. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist will head to Hungary to compete in what she considers her biggest competition since Rio. Wiebe says she’s healthy and “stronger than ever” this year. One look at her list of accomplishments in 2018 proves she’s been at the top of her game, while the tale of the tape shows she’s been keeping busy. She won the Kiev Open in February, the Canada Cup and Spanish Grand Prix in July, and the Poland Open in September – all this on top of repeating as Commonwealth Games champion in Gold Coast, Australia, in April. The Stittsville native’s Commonwealth performance was a dominant showing as she dismantled her opponent, Nigeria’s Blessing Onyebouchi, 14-3 in the 76-kilogram freestyle final. She won the 2014 Commonwealth Games in similar fashion, beating Annabelle Ali of Cameroon 6-2. Wiebe is hoping her year’s worth of winning experience will translate to success in Hungary. Going to the Poland Open in the midst of a “very heavy phase of training” was a way to test her preparedness. “The goal was to put myself back into the competition mindset and have one last competition experience prior to worlds,” Wiebe said. In the weeks before the world championships, Wiebe isn’t thinking about a medal, she’s only concerned with being in peak
photo: david jackson
form. “The focus is always on the performance and never about the outcome,” Wiebe said. “I want to continue to have a good prep going into these last couple weeks and be able to leave it all on the mats.” Wiebe’s jam-packed year comes after a lighter wrestling schedule in 2017, a season that was derailed by a broken foot and two broken ribs in the early going. After months of trying to get healthy, she chose to take a break from competitions to refocus her training and come back fresh for 2018 – a decision that’s paid off considering how she’s done so far this season. Prior to her broken foot, Wiebe was making a name for her-
self in India’s Pro Wrestling League. One of three foreign athletes included in the league’s second season, she was captain of the Mumbai Maharathi, a team that featured wrestlers from Azerbaijan, Colombia, India and Ukraine. “It was such an amazing experience bringing some of the best wrestlers from every corner of the world together,” Wiebe said of the competition that lasted five weeks and played in front of crowds of 5,000 or more. “It was a pretty wild experience from start to finish.” This year Wiebe has looked to strike a balance between wrestling and gaining work experience, picking up a flexible arrangement as a financial consultant while still training as a high performance athlete. “Having balance outside of sport is incredibly important,” she said. Wiebe’s success throughout her career comes from having never finished working on her skills as a wrestler, and that attitude hasn’t changed as she prepares for the world championships. “In wrestling, there are always different combinations, different takedowns, different strengths to build; always somewhere to improve and of course I’m never satisfied,” she said. If she captures gold at the world championships, Wiebe will become the first Canadian woman to do so since bantamweight Jessica MacDonald in 2012. Justina Di Stasio is the most recent Canadian to grace the podium on the women’s side, earning bronze in the 75-kilogram category at last year’s championships in Paris. The 2018 World Wrestling Championships are held in Budapest from Oct. 20-28.
De Haître facing uphill climb to Olympics after chosen track erased By Brandi Awad A typical morning for Vincent De Haître starts with breakfast and a coffee and then he’s off to the cycling track. There, he’ll ride with teammates, or solo, doing interval training or hitting the road for a longer ride. After that, he’ll head home, eat again, nap, head back to the gym for a few hours, then back home for dinner and then bed. Cycle that back the next day and that’s life nowadays for De Haître. He’s working towards his goal of making his third Olympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo. Less than a year ago, De Haître was at the Winter Olympics, chasing a medal on skates in Pyeongchang. Four years before that he was doing the same thing in Sochi, flying around a speed skating track. That’s the routine he’s been familiar with since he was five years old. “[Speed skating] is just something that I’ve always done… I’ve always been in it,” he said. “Cycling is something that I’ve always had on the back burner and something that I’ve always loved to do, but speed skating was the thing that got in the way.” The Ottawa native is swapping his skates for tires and following in the footsteps of Canadian Olympic legend Clara Hughes, in hopes of competing in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Hughes hopped off her bike and into skates, winning Olympic medals on land and ice. With the support of both Speed Skating and Cycling Canada, De Haître’s aiming in the same direction.
Vincent De Haître
“It’s interesting because I was never able to see what I could’ve done if I went down that route [cycling],” the three-time Ottawa Sports Awards Male Athlete of the Year explained. “Now it’s my chance to prove it to myself that I actually know how to ride a bike.” Over the summer the 24-year-old De Haître competed at the Pan American Championships in both the team pursuit and one kilometre time trial. In both events, De Haître
placed 4th. He set a Canadian record in the individual time trial. “That was the cherry on top for me,” De Haître said. At September’s Canadian Track Championships, De Haître won three silver medals. Despite his early success in cycling, his transition hasn’t been without its bumps in the road. The first hill he had to conquer was the
fundamental differences between the sports. Cycling requires more endurance, stamina and aerobics, whereas speed skating is centered around power and strength. “What I’ve needed to work on in cycling is the more aerobic component based on sustainable, higher power for longer periods of time… So there’s definitely a gap I need to fill in terms of aerobic components and being able to recover at high speeds,” De Haître explained. “There also has to be a very high concentration component which needs to be developed over lots and lots of practice.” Another obstacle he’s faced was Cycling Canada’s decision to forgo its pursuit of an Olympic berth in the team sprint, the category De Haître initially planned to transition to. He’s now pursuing the endurance race. “I was just trying to figure out what I could bring to the team and based on my background in skating, I thought I had more to bring or add if I chose to pursue track endurance,” he said. Fresh out of one Olympic cycle into another, De Haître says he feels more motivated than ever. Though he opted to race in Pyeongchang, his medal hopes were erased by nagging injuries. This time, he plans to “get it right.” “Just knowing there was something there that wasn’t used or performed and knowing that I have a lot more in me, it’s something that drives me,” he said. While he doesn’t plan on hanging his skates up for good any time soon, De Haître says at the moment he’s “100 per cent” focused on cycling.
The October/November 2018 edition of the Ottawa Sportspage newspaper.