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Spreading the Love of Tennis for 35+ years!

Spreading the Love of Tennis for 35+ years!

February 2019

The Golden Goal



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Two members of Team Homan are due for a major change, which didn’t stop them from winning the Pinty’s Cup.


Maddi Wheeler (centre) scored the overtimewinning goal for Team Canada to win the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship gold medal over USA on Jan. 13 in Japan. The Nepean Wildcats PWHL player is 1 of over 2 dozen Ottawa athletes set to compete at the 2019 Canada Winter Games from Feb. 15-Mar. 3 in Red Deer.


photo: robert hradil / hhof-iihf images


By Charlie Pinkerton


Ottawa ski siblings Hannah & Jared Schmidt are tearing up the North American Cup ski cross circuit.

U18 team against the United States at the world championship tournament held in Japan. Speaking to the Ottawa Sportspage over the phone on the night in early February that saw much of eastern Ontario blanketed by a snowstorm, Wheeler had a rare break because her hockey practice was cancelled. F I T NESS F I T NESS

The Grade 11 student M ASS AG E M ASS AG E

was spared the drive from her home in Erinsville (a small community just north of Napanee) to Ottawa to train with the Nepean Wildcats. She makes the trip to Ottawa twice a week for practices and sometimes a third time for a game, unless it’s an away matchup, then she’s headed elsewhere, like to Toronto.



On days when she doesn’t travel for hockey, she works out or does skill training near her home, which she says she does every day she’s not on the road. Asked if she’s the one taking herself all around the province, Wheeler laughs in response.


By Charlie Pinkerton


Ottawa hosted the OFSAA Wrestling Championships for the first time in 53 years.

Winning on her home track was sort of reminiscent of being a kid again for skeleton racer Mimi Rahneva. Except instead of her father timing her runs – which he would do for her sprints, when she wasn’t training with the Ottawa Lions – this time he was the one sprint-

ing; After one of her runs at one of the World Cup races at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park track, she recalls her 61-year-old dad making a break for it to celebrate with his daughter, one of the fastest women in the world on a sled. “It was a funny memory of him sprinting through snow to come up and say

congrats,” Rahneva laughs. During a year in which she bolstered her international medal count, that was one moment that stood out for the Ottawa athlete. But alike childhood itself, the moment may be impossible to ever repeat. The Olympic Park’s track, which is used for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton, has since been

closed temporarily and perhaps even for good. It was put on ice following a vote by the residents of Calgary, who chose to opt out of bidding for an upcoming Olympic Games, meaning that Winsport, the track’s operator, needs to come up with an extra $8 million on top of the $17 million that two levels of government

have said they’re willing to provide for necessary repairs. Back-to-back races at the end of the season at the track was the first time that Rahneva, who moved to Ottawa from Bulgaria when she was 10, had raced in a World Cup event in Calgary.

RAHNEVA continues p.8

By Dan Plouffe


Two-time U of T male athlete of the year Eli Wall couldn’t crack Canada’s Pan Am Games swimming team.

Of all the young soccer girls who dream of one day representing Canada at the FIFA Women’s World Cup,

the soccer pitch. Now amongst the final candidates to play for the back-to-back Olympic bronze medallists come this June’s World Cup in France, Gilles’

decision to trade her tennis skirt for soccer shorts at age 15 set in motion quite the journey.

photo: gymnastics canada

GILLES continues p.16


By Charlie Pinkerton


A former pupil of Beaver Boxing shares the story of how she returned to the ring and became a national champion.

As hundreds of gymnasts arrive in the nation’s capital for the national championships, Ottawa’s

own are preparing right here at home for the opportunity of a lifetime, and one that, just a year ago, one local competitor thought he may have lost out on forever.

Carleton University. Aside from the significance of this year’s event serving as his debut in nationals’ senior division, it carries extra weight for the

Jaiman Lawrence is one of three Rideau Gymnastics athletes competing at the 2019 Canadian Championships in Artistic Gymnastics, being held May 21-26 at

18-year-old, who thought he may never return to gymnastics after a devastating injury last year.

GYMNASTICS cont’s p.2

JOSEPH continues p.10


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



photo: steve kingsman Her greatest performance to date came in her Pan Ams debut in Mexico in


PAN AM continues p.2


Ottawa paddlers are lining up to take their shots at securing Tokyo 2020 Olympic berths.





some girls on my team had been trying to make it to the Olympics for 16 years, some girls for four – and everything in between – it was really cool to see all these different groups of girls come together.”

TOKYO continues on p.2




Year 10, No. 4 • August 19, 2020

Solo go at Tokyo

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Dec. 16, 2020

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P.12 & 14-15


Reigning Ottawa Male Athlete of the Year Tim Nedow was 9th at 2019’s World Championships.


Part 1 of our Inclusion in Sport Series: local athletes, coaches & leaders on the role race plays.




COVID wipes out final games as Ottawa South United men place 2nd in Quebec league premiere.



photo: travis prior world rugby photo : /ivan rupes Amid COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, Pam Buisa has stepped up

photo: claus andersen / athletics canada

Compounded by loss of carding funds, shot putter’s Olympic hunt self-driven to the max P.14

Squash star Sam Cornett has hung up her racquet after a decorated professional career.

By Dan Plouffe Tim Nedow’s quest for the Tokyo Olympics is the ultimate solitary pursuit. That was the case before the

pandemic, and it’s doubly true now. The Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club shot putter was on track to throw in front of 68,000 fans at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium this month.

Your Not-for-Profit Voice for Local Sport A VET’S REFLECTIONS

Year 10, No. 5 • October 21st, 2020

Tyler Marghetis.

Check in with local Tokyo hopefuls in our Ottawa One Year Outside the Olympics Special Edition

BUISA continues on p.7

Ottawa Sports Pages



mates, Buisa created Vancouver Island Steps Up, a community relief fund designed to bridge the gaps in the various forms of financial aid that have been doled out by the provincial and federal governments throughout the pandemic.


Instead, he’s often quite literally the only person training inside the stadium at Terry Fox Athletic Facility. Under the sweltering noon-hour sun, Nedow takes a sip of water,

then applies a heavy load of chalk to his neck and right hand, to keep the shot from slipping due to sweat.

NEDOW continues on p.8


Local U18 Team Canada women’s prospects sidelined as men’s World Juniors plows on.


The Ottawa Sports Pages proudly welcomes 47-year local sportswriting vet Martin Cleary.

Todd Nicholson shares his thoughts about progress and the need for more.



February 24, 2021

Para Hockey Power

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Anton Jacobs-Webb.


The Ontario government’s OHL scholarship fund contribution, with no equivalent funding to women’s sports, shows “biases are baked into our institutions.”

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Apr. 21 ’21

Let’s Go Girls

Newly-hired Ottawa Blackjacks pro basketball coach Fabienne Perrin-Blizzard is one of the trailblazers featured in our Women’s Inclusion in Sport Series.




the four-kilometre race, which was two seconds faster than the previous Canadian benchmark, and good for 2nd fastest in the world all-time. “It was a very fast track and not a lot of teams have ever been there, which kind of inflates our results a bit,” said



De Haître, who also finished 3rd in the kilo (one kilometre) time trial. “But at the same time we are constantly improving and we’re not that far off of being one of the top teams in the world.”

CYCLING cont. on p.10




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July 19 ’21


Hear more local voices speak about race and sport as part of our Inclusion in Sport Series.


Inclusion in Sport Series

(Centre image) Shaïnah Joseph, (clockwise from top left) Eli Ankou, Rawlson King, Jean-Sorphia Guillaume, Pamphinette Buisa, Taffe Charles, Hector Carranco, Yvan Mongo and Nate Behar are among the voices featured in the first of an Ottawa Sportspage series on Inclusion in Sport. This edition of the Ottawa not immune to racial injustice. In this sport, we profile allies, and stars Series, we’ll cover other groups who Sportspage brings you Part 1 of our Series, you’ll hear from local voices who have risen above barriers to ex- are underrepresented in sport, and we’ll continue to tell stories related Inclusion in Sport Series. The first in Ottawa’s sports community, includ- cel in the sports world. By no means do these articles to race in our future newspapers and topic we’re tackling is race, and its ing athletes standing up for change, influential coaches, and municipal form a perfect or complete discus- online at impact on participation in sport. We welcome your comments/ We are certainly big believers in and sport leaders. We spotlight the sion on the subject. The good news is the power of sport to bridge divides, link between race and low-income the chance to hear these voices won’t ideas at unite, and heal. But sport is absolutely individuals’ difficulties accessing stop after this edition. Later on in the — Charlie Pinkerton & Dan Plouffe

A Gay Wrestler’s Story By Stuart Miller-Davis & Dan Plouffe


We spotlight the impact COVID continues to make on the local community sports scene.

Towards the end of his decorated career, word had started trickling around the Canadian wrestling community that Tyler Marghetis was gay. One night, a bunch of different teams were out at a bar after a tournament. The 76 kg wrestler was shooting pool when a rival came up and challenged him.

“‘Hey Marghetis, I hear you’re gay,’” was the uncreative barb thrown, Marghetis recounts. “And I said, ‘Yeah.’ There’s sort of this little moment of pause, and then the heavyweight on my team came out of nowhere, and sent the guy flying – just propelled him through space and time. “In my mind – and I mean, this isn’t what actually happened – but the way I remember it, the guy hits the wall like in a cartoon and slowly slides

photo: matthew murnaghan / hockey canada



This edition of the Ottawa Sports Pages features Part 2 of our Inclusion in Sport Series, focused on the topic of LGBTQ+ inclusion. See page 2 for the Series intro. back down, and then the big heavyweight just stands there, with arms crossed, and is like, ‘Alright kid, you can go back and play now.’

“I mean, I don’t even know if that was a homophobic moment, maybe it was just competitors trying to get under each other’s skin, and yes, it was probably unnecessary to send this poor guy flying through space, but to know that my big hulking teammate was there to defend me, even though I didn’t need it, it still definitely felt good to know that my boys had my back.”

Anton Jacobs-Webb hasn’t let the pandemic interfere with his path to the Paralympics By Kieran Heffernan

MARGHETIS continues on p.5


Ottawa’s Special Olympics community’s accomplishments go beyond medals.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a wedge in between the Canadian national sledge hockey team, it hasn’t slowed down the ascending Anton Jacobs-Webb. The 20-year-old Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario product has long been involved with Team Canada and is looking to make his Paralympic debut at Beijing 2022. In the fall of last year — amid a 10-month stint during which Canada’s

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perennially competitive sledge hockey team weren’t able to train as a group — Jacobs-Webb moved to Montreal to study chemical engineering at Concordia University. Before his move, Jacobs-Webb was living with his parents in Gatineau. The revolving pandemic restrictions in the National Capital Region meant he and fellow Ottawa-area Team Canada teammates Tyrone Henry and Rob Armstrong were only scarcely able to squeeze in ice time together. Since his move in September,


This edition of the Ottawa Sports Pages features Part 3 of our Inclusion in Sport Series, focused on the topic of para-athlete inclusion. See p. 3 for the Series intro.

Jacobs-Webb and some of his teammates who live in the Montreal area, Antoine Lehoux, Alexis Auclair, and Dominic Larocque, have been more actively training together at the Institut national du sport du Québec.

“It’s a big hub for us it’s and it’s got really good facilities. I get to train there no matter what during the COVID pandemic,” expressed Jacobs-Webb, who added that his disability hasn’t disadvantaged him during the pandemic any more than any other athlete. Jacobs-Webb was born with his left leg shorter than his right. He had surgery to amputate his leg above the knee in 2012. He walks with a prothesis.

KEEP UP-TO-DATE ON OUR LOCAL ATHLETES IN TOKYO! Get daily updates to your inbox with our Ottawa at the Olympics Newsletter. See back page for more details.

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‘Basketball is basketball’ for glass ceiling-shattering coach Fabienne Perrin-Blizzard By Charlie Pinkerton

Back before she was on the sidelines, playing with the boys was as simple as that, and now, in coaching, it’s no different for Fabienne PerrinBlizzard. But in the larger scheme of things in Ottawa’s hoops community, as well as the wider pro sports scene

in the city, Perrin-Blizzard’s hiring by the Ottawa Blackjacks has a greater importance – it’s one that represents a local glass ceiling-breaking, alike that of San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon’s to the NBA. You won’t catch her framing it that way, though, perhaps because for the humble and decorated PerrinBlizzard, she’s always overcome


This Ottawa Sports Pages edition features Part 4 of our Inclusion in Sport Series, focused on women. See p. 3 for the Series intro.

Black – so my mum kind of put that in my head early on. I’ve always been different, or the only one like me, so I was used to it,” she said. Perrin-Blizzard was born in Brooklyn and raised in Sorel-Tracy, a small city in Quebec located along the St. Lawrence north of Montreal.


implicit barriers. “At the end of the day, I am a double-minority – being a female and

BLIZZARD continues on p.8




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





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KEEP UP-TO-DATE ON OUR LOCAL ATHLETES IN TOKYO! Get daily updates to your inbox with our Ottawa at the Paralympics Newsletter. See page 2 for more details.



The new local Field Hockey Centre group has unveiled its vision for a $4 million “worldclass” facility that will help build community connections.


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The 2020-21 Ottawa high school athletic season will be memorable for one reason – its absence. Blame the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented student-athletes from gathering to practice, play, and develop. Since mid-March 2020, student-

athletes have been without the counterbalance to their daily academic work. But in many cases, they have kept training on their own, wherever and whenever possible, as they looked into their future. Continuing his long-running annual

tradition to salute OTTAWA’S HIGH SCHOOL BEST, High Achievers columnist Martin Cleary kickstarted this series with 10 profiles of graduating student-athletes over the course of 2 weeks at (and on Twitter @MartinCleary).



Team Canada wheelchair rugby captain Patrice Dagenais will lead Ottawa’s Paralympic contingent at the Aug. 24 to Sept. 5 Tokyo Games.

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Several more talented individuals moving ahead to study and play at university and college in 2021-22 are highlighted in this edition of the Ottawa Sports Pages. Congratulations to the tremendous Class of 2021! —Dan Plouffe & Charlie Pinkerton

2016 Olympic wrestling champion Erica Weiebe.

AT OTTAWA THE Anniversary Special Edition • November 3 ,OLYMPICS 2021 PARA HOCKEY continues p.11


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

Two dozen local girls will play varsity soccer near and far next season, having lifted Ottawa to new heights during their youth soccer careers.



Ottawa paddler Maddy Schmidt secured her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, while her cousins shot into contention for Winter Olympics ski cross berths.


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



Orleans Coun. Matthew Luloff talks about how the city is making sport more accessible.

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Wrestler-turned-academic shares his experiences/views on coming out in a macho sport

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



Ottawa Sports

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




photo: christian -bartke/isu photokaspar ivan rupes

By Charlie Pinkerton




June 2 ’21

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

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


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

Ottawa at the Paralympics Daily Newsletter – Sign up at


Ottawa at the Olympics Daily Newsletter – Sign up at


P.2,8,9,16 Find special content celebrating the 10th anniversary edition of the Ottawa Sports Pages.



Brianna Hennessy was about one second away from reaching the Paralympic podium a year after taking up paddling, but she still got a medal from her coach’s daughter, Olivia Hazzan. Hennessy spoke about her journey at the Ottawa Sports Pages’ 10th Anniversary Celebrations on Oct. 16 at Rideau Sports Centre. SEE P.2 FOR THE STORY.


Vanessa Gilles/Team Canada in town, Carleton U hosts nationals & local soccer provincial titles.

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photo: ethan diamandas

It’s been 10 years since the first edition of the Ottawa Sports Pages newspaper was printed in Fall 2011! Established to provide a voice for local sports news that’s rarely covered by other media, we’ve told over 6,000 stories on high school, university, community and elite amateur sport.

That includes 96 print editions – check out the centre spread to see all of the cover images over the years for a little trip down memory lane. Find us on social media or visit our website at to follow our OTTAWA SPORTS PAGES TOP-10’S FOR 10 series


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event in Cochabamba, Bolivia. At the championships the Ottawa tandem teamed with Jay Lamoureux, Michael Foley and Aidan Caves to set a national record en route to winning a gold medal in the event. Their marker-breaking result was a time of 3:49.9 in


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Ottawa’s Vincent De Haître and Derek Gee. With critical Olympic qualification points on the line at the 2019 Pan American Track Cycling Championships, the duo from Ottawa helped Canada’s men’s team pursuit team make the most of the thin air at the



Saturday Sports Pages

For two cyclists from the same city sharing a podium at one of the cycling’s top international events, it would be difficult to find a pair of athletes whose tracks to get there are more vastly different than



Ottawa Sports Pages



By Brendan Shykora

The Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club has new leadership after their head coach and president were removed.

Gimme Ten!

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


Year 10, No. 3 • June 24, 2020

“I thought to myself, I can’t be stagnant. I can’t be content with my position and my role in this community, because it’s served me so much in my development,” she told the Sportspage in early June from Vancouver Island, where she’s lived and trained for the past five years. Alongside a few friends and team-


the Olympics, so that kind of trumps any other disappointment that we’ve had,” Gaudreault noted. “Just finishing that game and looking at my teammates and seeing how happy everybody was, I think was probably my favourite moment. And just knowing that

December 2019/January 2020


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

photo: ivan rupes

Ottawa cyclists Gee & De Haître propel Canada to record heights at Pan Am Championships

at the hands of the dominant American team – couldn’t soil the bliss of the Olympic berth-clinching victory that Ottawa goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault and her teammates earned the day earlier. “Our overall goal of this summer was to qualify for


Ottawa track cyclist Derek Gee won 4 national gold medals in September. The 22-year-old is well-positioned to earn a Tokyo 2020 Olympic berth.


United States in the finals of the Pan American Games, the team secured their spot in the upcoming Summer Olympics, ending a drought that’s lasted since their last appearance at the 2004 Games in Greece. Even Canada’s result the next day – a 24-4 shellacking

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At the end of a comfortable 19-5 semifinals win over Brazil, Canada’s women’s water polo team experienced a moment of elation 15 years in the making. By advancing to play the



Track to Tokyo

Ottawa goalie leads Canada water polo to first Olympics since 2004 with Pan Am Games silver By Charlie Pinkerton

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

October 2019

Recently-married Ravens basketball royalty Catherine Traer and Thomas Scrubb are chasing Olympic berths.


junior nationals competition around the age of 11 and continued to play competi-


15-year-old Ottawa swimmer won a national silver medal lined up against senior-age athletes.


The power of sport to connect fuelled the Ottawa Sport Council’s Return to Play Roadmap.


the volleyball roster. “I was very upset about that because, I’m like ‘it’s not even a real sport,’” Joseph said.

The Ottawa South United U17 girls won an unprecedented triple crown of Ontario soccer titles this season.



Ottawa’s new professional basketball franchise is banking its success on familiar faces.

Ottawa Sportspage in a phone call from California. The 24-year-old said in Grade 6 she set out a goal for herself to make all her school’s sports teams, and out of them all, she didn’t crack a spot on



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Jessica Gaudreault.



versity of Victoria, where she helps students of diverse backgrounds apply for scholarships and bursaries. That’s why when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down her chance to join Canada’s national rugby 7s squad at the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer, Buisa couldn’t stay on the sidelines.

Shaïnah Joseph’s volleyball journey is well beyond what she would have ever imagined when she first tried the sport and hated it.

“In gym class it was one of the hardest sports to play with a bunch of people because you had to be super skilled to play that sport. It was the most boring sport you could play in gym class,” Joseph told the

September 2019

Tokyo ticket


Cyclist/speedskater won’t let COVID-19 take away his dual Olympic dreams.

By Brendan Shykora


Vanessa Gilles, who was one of Canada’s World Cup team’s final cuts, is all set in case she gets a fateful call.

The Ottawa-native, who now resides in Vancouver, B.C. for six months of the year to train with Volleyball Canada’s National team, said she was first introduced to the sport in elementary school.


The Ottawa South United U17 girls claimed the first of the three titles they want this year with an OPDL Cup win.

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Bigger than sport

Pam Buisa is the type of person who can’t sit still. At 23 years old, the Ottawa-born rugby player balances work and school with an Olympic-calibre training program. She does this on top of being a student supervisor at the Uni-

By Melissa Novacaska

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


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What’s next for Ottawa’s most talented graduating high school athletes?



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After initially despising the sport, Shaïnah Joseph’s volleyball story became about resilience

john cheng

A handful of Ottawa athletes have the hometown advantage against Canada’s best gymnasts

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From a late start in club ball with the Ottawa Mavericks, Shaïnah Joseph is now looking to push Team Canada women’s volleyball on to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“I’ve personally never seen it before,” says Joé Fournier, the Louis-Riel high school soccer coach who helped facilitate Vanessa Gilles’ dream transition onto

Pan Am peak

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

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



only 23 get the chance to do it at each global tournament. The percentage of players who have done that after only taking up soccer in Grade 10?



First-time all-around senior Canadian gymnastics champion Sam Zakutney is now focused on ring-chasing.

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Team Canada soccer player rockets from tennis courts to FIFA doorstep in under a decade

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P.2 & P. 3

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



A father-son duo have transformed the Nepean Knights junior B lacrosse team from pretenders into contenders.




July/August 2019


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Beaver Boxing welcomed Burlington’s Emelia Dermott with open arms; she’s now a four-time national champ.

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2020 Canadian Olympic team hopeful Sam Zakutney returns to his hometown in pursuit of a repeat national team selection through the May 21-26 Canadian Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Carleton University.

June 2019

Volley in the veins



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Fantastic Gymnastics P.4

JustLift’s Rich Davidson won his second weightlifting national championship and is now eyeing a bigger prize.

An injury thrust Tesloch Luk into the spotlight of the National Preparatory Association; skill will keep him there.

photo: todd korol

May 2019




Ottawa slider makes the most of what’s likely to be her final race at Calgary’s skeleton track

Nepean Wildcat seeks to conquer Canada with Team Ontario after winning World U18 gold Less than a month removed from what she considers the highlight of her hockey career, Maddi Wheeler is back to her normal routine, which for any typical 16-yearold would be anything but. On Jan. 13 she scored the gold medal-winning goal in overtime for Canada’s

po Ottawa S

2018 Olympian Mimi Rahneva of Ottawa won on her home track in Calgary and finished the 2018-2019 World Cup season ranked #3 overall.

Your Not-for-Profit Voice for Local Sport LIFTING TO GREATER HEIGHTS

Former tennis player Vanessa Gilles took up soccer at age 15 and now finds herself on the cusp of a Team Canada roster spot for this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.


Ottawa skiers return from Russia’s FISU Games to help Nakkertok attempt to win its 10th straight national title.

April 2019

rts Page



From rackets to footy riches


Yasiin Joseph won his third national title with the Carleton Ravens – but that’s not to say it’s been easy.


With most of the core that led them to a national title last year now gone, the Carleton Ravens are rebuilding.

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March 2019

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Spreading the Love of Tennis for 35+ years!

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Your Not-for-Profit Voice for Local Sport

that looks back on local sports highlights and stories from the past decade (we’ll reveal a new moment each day for the rest of 2021). At our 10th Anniversary Celebrations on Oct. 16, we also announced the creation of the OTTAWA SPORTS PAGES FUND in collaboration with

the Ottawa Community Foundation. Your tax-deductible donations (to be matched by OCF up to $5,000) will help us shine a light on local sport for the next 10 years and beyond! See the back page for more details and please consider contributing at



It was aParalympians pleasure, Canada: girl Vanessa Gilles on her Ottawa reflectOttawa’s on Tokyogolden Paralympics, vow to compete in Olympic Paris in journey 2024 ByEthan Madalyn Howitt By Diamandas After impressive performances Just as she’d been all Olympics, at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics, Ottawa’s Vanessa Gilles was two imof Ottawa’s best in para-athletes have possible to miss one of the Team their sightsbiggest set on the future. of the Canada’s moments Patrice Dagenais, who soccer repreentire Games – the women’s sented Canada in wheelchair rugby, team’s gold medal win. According to and Brianna a para-cathe CBC, 4.4 Hennessy, million Canadian viewnoe and para-kayak athlete, ers tuned in to the game. shared some have Ondetails a teamabout madewhat up of they legendary in store as guest speakers at the veterans and exciting young talent, Ottawa Sports AnniverGilles stood outPages’ as a 10th confident and sary Event on Oct. 16. consistent defensive player. The paira shared stories “It was pleasure,” Gillesabout said their journeys into para-sports, reof the tournament, speaking over flected on the Tokyo Games, and the phone from Bordeaux, France. both said plan to pops compete “That’s thethey word that out at to the 2024 Paris Paralympics. me right away – I had a pleasure “I’m every probably going be complaying game andtorepresentpeting in Paris in three years,” said ing Canada. Dagenais, 37. “It’s only three years “The environment that we have [away], I might asthe wellnational do it before is so unique with team Ihit 40. I still have a bit of time.” the support that you feel from everyledit that themuch Canadian oneDagenais really makes easier men’s wheelchair rugby team to a to take on the stress. 5th-place finish in Tokyo, but admit“The love that you’re surrounded ted absence of uncanny. spectators made by inthethe sport is Hearing the tournament feel “different.” huge players like Steph [Labbe], [De“The energy is definitely siree] Scott, and level Christine Sinclair not the same as it was before,” he say in a huddle, ‘No matter what said. “We did finish 5th place, we happens we love you and we’re would likedother,’ to do athat littlesupport bit betproud have of each ter, but the world is getting has the power to calm me better down in theinsport of wheelchair rugby, so even stressful situations.”

Vanessa Gilles and the Canadian women’s soccer team won our country’s firstever summer team sport gold medal in Tokyo.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic paddler Brianna Hennessy and 3-time Paralympic wheelchair rugby player Patrice Dagenais at the Ottawa Sports Pages 10th Anniversary Celebration at the Rideau Sports Centre on Oct. 16. it’s that much tougher now to win a medal.” As his sport grows in popularity, SURPRISE STARRING Dagenais said he’s excited to hear ROLE FOR ROOKIE the roar of the crowd and have his family in attendance he comAfter waiting when patiently on petes in potentially his final Paralymthe sidelines during the first few pics in 2024. matches of the tournament, Gilles As wheelchair rugby wasted ano16-year time proving why she was veteran who made his Paralympic selected for the team once she was debut the the 2012 Gameslineup in Lonmovedatinto starting in don, Dagenais is familiar with the Canada’s third match of the Games thrills pressures againstand Great Britain. of competing at the highest level. For Hennessy – Strong defensive plays and who made her Paralympic debut in skilled footwork on the ball proved Tokyo the experience is brandcentre new. why –she’s a formidable

“My experience at the Games was very overwhelming, exhilarating, stressful, exciting,” Hennessy said. a high-pressure back,“Like but itbeing was in surprise moments cooker.” like her game-winning penalty kick Hennessy 5th in the VL2 against Brazil placed that cemented her as Va’a Single 200-metre event in Toa breakout star on the team. kyo, “I’m becoming first Canadian definitelythe most proud of havwoman to participate in the para-caing stepped up and put myself in a noe sprint She also finished position to event. take penalty kicks,” said 8th theher KL1time Kayak 200m Gillesin of onSingle the Olympic race. pitch. “We practised [them] almost Theday, Tokyo Gamesnotcapped off every but that’s been one aofspectacular 12 months for Henmy strong suits in the past, [so] nessy. I think When any of COVID-19 my formerprevented coaches her from playing wheelchair or teammates were shocked rugby when

Congratulations to all our local Paralympians – you’ve made us very proud! Félicitations à tous nos paralympiens de la région – on est si fiers !

Proud to serve as Ottawa Sport Commissioner. I am here to help. MATHIEUFLEURY.CA | 613 580-2482 @MATHIEUFLEURY | MATHIEU.FLEURY@OTTAWA.CA

photo: ethan diamandas

– her initial para-sport of choice – Dagenais, who remains one of Henphoto: ethan diamandas nessy’s close friends, suggested she para-kayaking. theytry saw me walk out for those PKs “I have never a water sport against Brazil or done against Sweden.” my entire life,” Hennessy said. “Most One of those former coaches is importantly, didn’t even if I Joé Fournier,I Gilles’s coachknow from her could swim since my accident, days at Louis-Riel high school. so this “Imade me a little she bit scared. was surprised was picked, “But I said, ‘Okay, why not give but not surprised she scored,” itFournier a try?’ I need to keep up with my laughed, recalling her active recovery and therapy, and I’m game-winning kick against Brazil. always up for new challenge.” “She’s really strong mentally and and personality. unsure of hasInexperienced such an easygoing herself, the 37-year-old started She can adapt to tough situations, paddling in August 2020 and and she’s also an extremelyquickhard

lyworker, developed into in one of situation the sport’s so being that for best in a matter of months. By May the PK I think that she had the right 2021, qualified for Tokyo mindsetHennessy and the right attitude.” in both para-canoe and para-kayak. Fournier kept in touch with Gilles By September, was tournament in her first throughout the she Olympic Paralympics. and never missed a moment of the Hennessy finished just over a Games. “The most important part of second away from a bronze medal my job is to see my students achieve in para-canoe. taste competheir goals,” heThat said, “butofwatching tition in Tokyo, Hennessy said, [the gold medal game] was thefired first her Paris aGames. timeupinfor mythe life2024 I watched student “I their love goal beingin real the time.” underdog,” reach Hennessy said. “I love being in the SINCLAIR & CO. VISITED shadows and no one expects it. If GILLES AS A TEENAGER I can put the work in and just have my Rocky Balboa moment in Paris, Fournier recalled the time when that’s my dream. That’s what want four members of Canada’s I 2012 to do.” medal winning team visbronze she continues her quest itedWhile Louis-Riel, and a young Gilles to Paralympic stardom, Hennessy brushed shoulders with Olympians. said “It’s the just idea amazing of inspiring – to others say that especially young girls – makes her there’s a former student from our journey even that moreisrewarding. high school now an Olympic “When a little girl comes up champion. It’s unbelievable,” he said. and “Igives me a high five or wants don’t remember anything spemy it’sprobably like, ‘Okay, I’m likeI cificautograph, [they said], because melting to the ground,’” Hennessy was so starstruck,” laughed Gilles, laughed. the sweetest looking at“It’s thejust pictures of her thing teenbecause you actually are age self next to the soccerimpacting legends. their you’re standing empowering “But Ilifedo and remember bethem. side Sinclair, Karina LeBlanc, Diana “Half myand body doesn’t work, and Matheson Rhian Wilkinson and somehow my human spirit is players what’s [realizing] that these are the impacting and affecting that I wantthem to follow,” she said.them. ThatInmeans the world to me.” future particular, Gilles’s



Gym shortage keeps hurting kids programs By Ethan Diamandas As the pandemic eases up in Ontario and local sports return to normal, lack of gymnasium availability remains an issue for Ottawa youth sports groups – and frustration is mounting. “Facilities have always been [the biggest obstacle], even before COVID,” said Derek Firth, president of the Ottawa Shooting Stars basketball program. “And COVID has made access to facilities even more of a challenge for us and for all basketball clubs in the area.” In a pre-COVID year, Firth said the Shooting Stars would have about 800 kids enrolled in their programs, which range from house league to elite levels. But with scarce gym space available only a handful of elite programs can operate, forcing Firth to turn kids away and lower enrollment to about 250 players. “Quite simply, we need access to community use of schools,” Firth said. “It’s something we’ve been lobbying for several months now, and we feel we don’t have a voice.” Right now, the community-use policy at Ottawa’s public and Catholic schools remains the biggest obstacle to fully-functioning indoor sports programs in the city. Community-use permits were suspended when COVID-19 reached Canada in March 2020 and have not been renewed since then. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), for example, revoked 120 community-use permits from local organizations when the pandemic began, putting youth sports groups that rely on those facilities in a difficult position. With the use of school gyms off the table, programs like the Shooting Stars must now book limited public gymnasium space, or use private school gyms, which charge roughly eight times the price of a public gym, Firth said. The situation isn’t likely to change for at least a few months, according to the OCDSB. “At this point in time, we feel like it will be likely after the December break before we can even contemplate the resumption of permit issuance,” said Karyn Ostafichuk,

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manager of planning at the OCDSB, in an Oct. 12 board meeting posted to YouTube. In that same meeting, Ostafichuk said she understands the role schools play in providing community-use space. She added it’s difficult to determine which groups get priority for facility usage, and that the board is trying its best to explain the situation to former permit-holders. Kerry MacLean, founder and president of Maverick Volleyball in Ottawa, said his organization’s introductory program – which serves kids aged eight to 15 – is heavily affected by the lack of gym space. “We are overbooked for our ‘Learn to Play’ program,” MacLean said. “We have nowhere near enough gyms to run it and parents have signed up in droves – almost record numbers – and we’re unfortunately asking them to be patient until the schools open.” When his teams actually find available gym time, MacLean said it’s oftentimes exclusively on weekends, which puts added strain on players and their families.

FACILITIES continues page 5



Top Lady 67’s team off to strong start in new league Planning play for our future

Nothing is more important than a plan outlined by the City for a sports community on how our facilities and our parks are expanded, modernised and maintained. The City launched its Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan – a plan that analyses population growth and recreation/park needs. This involved a high level of engagement from myself and our sport community. Many areas of our City have some of the oldest urban facilities, which are the least modern to promote standard play-area. Many programs and sports cannot benefit from these By City of Ottawa urban centres and pools because they do not Sport Commissioner meet the essential needs to practice and play. Mathieu Fleury This Plan will outline how we play for the next 10 years and consider residential growth but not look too deeply at our ageing and underperforming facilities. These more profound challenges that we face include old sports facilities and inadequate programming levels to support our diverse community needs (for example, youth, older adults, and racialized community members). The future Recreation Asset Management Plan, to begin in 2024, will offer some limited hope in bringing new opportunities for modern fields of play for residents who live within the urban communities; however, throughout my engagement and review of the master plan, I have placed a particular focus on the following six facility types: recreation complexes, community centres, pools, arenas, rectangular fields, and gymnasiums. It is important to highlight these because they offer the most opportunities for recreation and sports programming. Gymnasiums, for example, be used for a wider variety of sports and activities than a baseball field. At the September 27th special joint meeting of the Community and Protective Services and Planning Committee, we brought forward four motions to help advance the plan positively. The first motion considered provisions of recreation complexes – where I looked at the importance of making the Downtown Core, Inner Urban and Outer Urban areas of our City a priority for a list of new recreation complexes. The second asked that areas of high employment locations, such as downtown or employment hubs, be considered for placement of new recreation to accommodate where people live and work and play. As well, I highlighted gymnasiums in another motion at committee. The Master Plan recommends the addition of 3 new gymnasiums, including gyms that fall under a shared-use agreement. We feel that it is more critical for the City to invest in City-run gymnasiums rather than rely on school board spaces. Having joint-use agreements with school boards also limits the times that it is available for use, and remember we represent the oldest part of the City, which also means we have the oldest schools. City-owned gyms create the opportunity for daytime programming that will greatly benefit seniors and folks who work outside of the traditional 9-5 hours. With increasing extreme heat days and the need for cooling centres, city-owned gyms will help fulfill this growing need and make our communities more resilient and more prepared for climate impacts. As a result, we asked that the following be included as a strategy statement under the gymnasium section: The City recommit to prioritizing the development of city-owned and city-run gymnasiums and increasing facility levels as opportunities arise. I also made a recommendation when it came to arenas – to consider replacing existing ice surfaces again for our urban neighbourhoods. While it’s great to upgrade facilities in need like single pad arenas, it would be irresponsible to lose that critical city recreation asset altogether when it can still serve an essential purpose to the community. Lastly, we brought forward a direction to staff concerning indoor pools. Seeing as all pools are not created equal, we directed the City to review the swimming pools with shortcomings in standards and program needs to help direct where would be the best location for aquatic investments. This was to ensure that staff look at swimming pools with a more critical eye and see that while a swimming pool may exist, its capacity for use and programming does not always meet the standards to achieve even basic levels of sport and leisure access. The motions were carried, and we must keep the pressure on the City and ensure that the recommendations added are followed, and that muchneeded facilities are built in areas of the City where they are most needed.

613-580-2482 •

Emily Holmes (right) and the Ottawa Lady 67’s have enjoyed the chance to tangle with opponents from the PWHL like the Ottawa Lady Sens for the first time this season.

photo: dan plouffe

By Charlie Pinkerton The Lady 67’s were up against a bigger challenge than most this season by returning to play in the pandemic’s receding days in a new league – and so far, they’re thriving. The new U22 67’s, who are the best of the best within the Ottawa Girls Hockey Association, played their last three pre-COVID seasons as a U19 team in the Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL), which is made up of a mix of American and Canadian teams from as far away as Vancouver. Despite them finishing as runners-up at the end of the JWHL’s previous season of play in 2019-2020, the pandemic effectively pushed them out of the league. While the JWHL had afforded players good exposure to NCAA recruitment opportunities, the 67’s participation in the league no longer made sense, given the frequent travelling that would now be much more complicated. The 67’s are now playing in an

expanded version of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, which is the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association-sanctioned home for U22 “AA” play. Shannon Donnelly, the Lady 67’s general manager and head coach, outlined the benefits of her team’s newfound home: Players save money not having to travel as much or as far; they don’t miss as much school; and players are able to spend more time practising or training, without having to jet across the country or south of the border most weekends. The 67’s joined three other local teams – the Nepean Wildcats, Ottawa Lady Sens, and Gloucester-Cumberland Lady Grads – in a 7-team division within the larger league of 26 teams, all of which are based in Ontario. Their league games will mostly be concentrated within their divisions, but they do travel to play against more teams outside of their regional cohorts at weekend tournaments, like they’ve already

done in Fort York and Stoney Creek. Through six regular season games, the 67’s are 3-2-1. And so far, Donnelly couldn’t be happier with the team’s switch. “I think just giving the girls the opportunity to play at the U22 level – and giving them the exposure to universities – that should be the priority,” Donnelly told the Sports Pages after the 67’s 3-0 victory over the Lady Sens on Oct. 30. “Right now, with the way the league is set up, it’s giving them those opportunities.” Emily Holmes, the 67’s captain, is thrilled just to be back on the ice. “It was heartbreaking to take a break from the game that you love,” said Holmes, a defender who is originally from New Brunswick. “It’s always awesome to be back with the girls, and living in the dressing room and everything, so it’s good to have that back in your life.”

HOCKEY continues page 5


– OTTAWA SPORTS PAGES SNAPSHOTS – BEHAR’S FIREWORK ANNOUNCES 2-YEAR PARTNERSHIP WITH ATHLETESCAN AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, announced a two-year partnership with athlete marketing company FireWork on Oct. 25. Founded by former Carleton Raven and now current Ottawa Redblacks receiver Nate Behar, FireWork will collaborate directly with AthletesCAN members to create social media and sponsorship revenue opportunities for athletes who compete on the world stage. The partnership lasts until 2023.

CANADIAN JUNIOR NATIONAL BASEBALL TEAM TRAVELS TO FLORIDA FOR FALL CAMP Baseball Canada’s junior national team travelled to TD Ballpark, the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays, in Dunedin, Fla., for a series of intrasquad games and a matchup with Stetson University, which Canada lost 9-5. The camp ran Oct. 14 to 23. Notable members of the club from Ottawa include Greg Hamilton, head coach and director of national teams, and assistant coach TJ Burton. Orléans’ Ty Hamilton, an outfielder/pitcher, drove in a run in the loss to Stetson.


Due to issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey Canada announced Sept. 27 it had cancelled the upcoming 2021 Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, the 2021 National Women’s U-18 Championship and the 2021 World Junior A Challenge. The pandemic, coupled with the vaccination status of some international teams, forced the cancellation, Hockey Canada said in a statement. Ottawa’s Tyrone Henry and Ben Delaney, as well as Gatineau’s Anton Jacobs-Webb – all members of Canada’s para hockey national team – will now be unable to compete in 2021. The hope is the spring 2022 national championships will be played as usual, Hockey Canada said.

HOCKEY: Lady 67’s hope stint in new league is extended continued from p.4 Holmes moved to the nation’s capital to attend the University of Ottawa this year, having previously spent a year at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York state. Holmes went to RIT to be part of its hockey team as well. However, because of the pandemic, many of her older teammates who normally would have graduated – thus opening spots for younger players, like her – are still with the team. While Holmes says she misses the rivalries that exist within the NCAA, she

said she’s enjoying being able to frequently play in tournaments again. She’s also quickly developed a bond with her new teammates, who all began training together again in August, once many public health measures were peeled back and they were allowed to. “We’re meshing really well,” Holmes said. “We’re growing and developing and learning each other’s skills and getting open when we don’t have the puck on the ice and being in good position for each other… Every game we get better,” she added. The 67’s will qualify to

play in the league’s playoffs if they finish in the top 3 in their division – of which they’re currently on the cusp. But also, to make up for the lost time of the pandemic, the league’s teams that don’t make the playoffs will compete in a postseason as well, just not in contention of the championship. “We have so much to prove with this group,” Holmes said. Donnelly’s hope is that the modified PWHL – which welcomed new entries this season in part because of the pandemic – allows the 67’s membership to be permanent.

“It does make sense with the regional play,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s going to be long-term. We haven’t heard much yet, but it’s working well right now.” For the 67’s – which routinely sends graduates to the NCAA or to play at the U Sports level – what matters most is that their players face the highest-level of competition possible, Donnelly said. “What we’re trying to do is get girls to our program and build the culture with the 67’s in order to get them ready for the next level,” Donnelly said. –With files from Dan Plouffe

Nepean Hotspurs Hotstove

‘Sky’s the limit’ for Hotspurs after rebound year The end of the season is usually the time to celebrate championships and achievements, but this year had a winning feeling to it from the moment the Nepean Hotspurs Soccer Club hosted the East Regional Soccer League’s kickoff weekend in mid-July. “It definitely felt like a victory just to finally get players on the field,” highlights Hotspurs General Manager Bruce Hartill. “To see all three fields full of players and spectators, you could see the excitement, and it was just a huge sigh of relief.” There was some initial lingering hesitancy naturally, but smiles and competition ultimately ruled, and having no COVID outbreaks occur through soccer was another win this year. “Everybody who was involved in the sport were following the rules the right way,” Hartill signals. “It ended up being a great season.” With only a small fall program possible in 2020, it was “a great return” to have 300 play recreational/developmental soccer this summer, under Hotspurs director Rocco Barresi, staff Marion Butler and many coaches – most of whom are female. “Especially for the girls to keep playing the sport, it’s critical to have role models,” Hartill explains. “It’s important for them to have leaders who played at university or in competitive so they can see that they can do it too, or show them that they can be a coach.” Hotspurs competitive soccer also shone this season. After 2 losses and a tie to start, the Under-15 Boys Youngstars won 8 of their last 9 matches to place 3rd in the top ERSL division. Antonio Di Bartolo recorded 5 consecutive clean sheets in goal to kickstart the run, while Tristan Serra led the league in scoring with 20 goals. The Hotspurs U12 Boys were unbeaten all season, the U12 Girls had just 1 loss in 12 outings, and all of Nepean’s groups held their own in the ERSL. “Overall, the competitive program was a huge success,” says Hartill.


FACILITIES: City’s new development Master Plan criticized continued from p.3 “In our typical program, athletes would train twice on weeknights and once on Sunday,” he said. “Now they’re training twice in a week, one on a Saturday and one on Sunday, so every weekend is now shot for families.” The pandemic didn’t cause these availability issues, it simply exposed a longstanding and unsustainable dependence on school facilities to run athletic programs, MacLean said.

The City of Ottawa is trying to address these issues, but its solution will not be immediate, and has not gone without criticism. On. Sept. 27, the City approved its Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan, which pledges to build – among many other new recreational facilities – seven more gymnasiums by 2031. An increase from 30 to 37 facilities would give Ottawa one gym per 33,100 residents – the third best ratio among Canadian cities, behind Halifax and To-

ronto, respectively. While the city pledges to add seven more gyms compared to only two new arenas, the facility-to-resident ratios indicate Ottawa’s existing structure already prioritizes other sports, such as hockey. Per the ‘Master Plan,’ Ottawa will have 55 arenas by 2031 – one facility per 22,300 residents – and 318 outdoor ice rinks – one rink for every 3,900 residents. Firth said adding seven new gymnasiums won’t be enough, especially since he

expects only a fraction of gym time to be dedicated to basketball at any new public facility. “Basketball is now the number one participation sport for youth in Ontario,” Firth said. “And it’s going to continue to trend that way, all the data is showing. “We need more facilities. We are sorely lacking in that department, and we’re not going to be able to create the demand for the number of kids and teams that want to play basketball in our city for years to come.”


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Adding excitement to soccer’s return was the Hotspurs’ new partnership with Atlético Ottawa, which provided additional expertise, resources, and unforgettable experiences to club members, as well as a pathway for youth players to be identified by Atlético de Madrid, Atlético Ottawa and the Canadian Premier League. A major highlight was having Atlético players Drew Beckie and Ben McKendry attend Hotspurs sessions, when young players got to meet and connect with the stars. “Again, you’re looking at role models for the kids, and giving them inspiration to want to reach for that highest level if they want to,” Hartill notes. “It inspires players to even work harder to reach their goals.” Getting to go out to an Atlético game together was great to help build a feeling of community, Hartill adds, and offered another sign of the rebound occurring from the dark days of lockdown. “We wanted to bring the club out of the tough situation and to rebuild in a positive direction,” outlines Hartill, who joined the storied club of 50+ years last season, with the primary goal of guiding the Hotspurs out of the pandemic. “Of course it’s still a challenge, but we’re coming out of it better than a number of clubs. “It’s slowly coming back, which is great, and I’m extremely excited about the future. I think the sky’s the limit for this club.” As the 2021 outdoor soccer season concludes, the Hotspurs are proud to salute the efforts of all involved in club programs, from the adult level through to the competitive and recreational ranks. “A big, big thank you for being patient and working with us to get through COVID,” Hartill underlines. “We can’t thank everybody enough – our volunteers, parents, and everyone who stepped up or just trusted us to run a nice, safe and fun program for everybody.”





Lindasson left the hardwood but hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned on it By Madalyn Howitt Shymar Brewster discovered basketball the same way a lot of kids do — after school, on the neighbourhood court. “I feel like the environment you live in plays a big role in what you want to do,” Brewster says. “What really got me playing basketball was everybody around me playing basketball,” he adds, while thinking back to his childhood spent growing up in Caldwell, which exists within Ottawa’s westend Carlington neighbourhood. Now 25 years old, Brewster remembers learning a lot from the older kids who played in his neighbourhood. “Watching them was motivating,” he says. “I wanted to play better than them — that’s my competitive nature… I don’t like losing, so I worked on my game every day to get to the level I (needed to) to compete,” Brewster adds with a laugh. His natural competitive drive led Brewster to play more regularly in an afterschool club, then at Merivale High School and eventually on a scholarship in the U.S. Yet, despite showing promise on the court, Brewster’s path led him off it. Now, the same talent and drive that helped him excel in

photo: javier garcia

Shymar Brewster, also known as Lindasson, his hip-hop moniker, played basketball at Merivale High School and, for a short stint, at Wyoming College. sports has propelled him forward in a career in music — helping him shine as one of Ottawa’s most exciting young talents in hip-hop.

LINDASSON If you follow the city’s growing hip-hop scene, you may be familiar with Brewster’s alter ego, Lindasson. The artist released his 10-track self-titled debut album in late 2020 and quickly made waves locally for his introspective lyrics and skillful

Before he was better known as Night Lovell, Shermar Paul was an up-andcoming track star in Ottawa.

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production. Songs like Ted Talk express the difficulties he faced growing up in an underserved community, and explain how basketball helped him through challenging times, while OHC Baby is a direct reference to Ottawa Community Housing, where Brewster grew up. His moniker, Lindasson, is a tribute to his late mother Linda, who died after a brain aneurysm in 2016. An image of her and Brewster together graces the cover of his album, and the impact she had on her son’s life weaves thematically through the album. But Brewster’s path toward the world of music wasn’t something he originally set his sights on, he says. “I liked listening to music growing up, but I never really tried to make any music,” Brewster explains. “I was always playing basketball.” Sean McCann is a teacher and coach in Ottawa who met Brewster when he was 11. The pair connected through the Bellevue Basketball Club, an afterschool basketball club for underserved Ottawa communities. McCann would go on to coach Brewster for six years at the club and later at Merivale High School, where Brew-

ster helped the Marauders win 46 games in their final season. “Because he was such a beginner, he had to start at the bottom and really learn one thing at a time to build his skills,” McCann recalls of Brewster’s early hoops days. “I think he developed a ton as a person, and he became a pretty good basketball player in the process.” “I think sports can be a vehicle to teach things that will be applicable in life,” McCann adds. Now, McCann sees Brewster displaying the same resourcefulness and steady determination in music as he showed in basketball. “He started with no knowledge [but] self-taught,” McCann said. “Whatever you’re learning, if you’re motivated and passionate and learn about it, you can do it.” Brewster says he took away lessons about teamwork and work ethic — like “doing whatever you have to do to win” — from both teammates and opponents, and that connections he formed with the former have helped him stay motivated.

FINDING MUSIC Brewster spent a short stint playing basketball at Wyoming College in the U.S.,

Foundation Awards for his song Hood Cry. Dax (Daniel Nwosu Jr.) is another Ottawa-raised rapper known for his freestyle remixes of songs by 2Pac and Eminem, as well as his own original work. He also played varsity basketball at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. Perhaps the most wellknown of the burgeoning class of Ottawa hip-hop artists is Shermar Moore, who is known to the music world as Night Lovell. The 24-yearold is quickly making a name for himself at home and stateside. His songs, like the viral hit Dark Light, have gained over 100 million streams on Spotify. In September, he also performed alongside some of the industry’s heaviest hitters, including Kendrick Lamar and Tyler the Creator at the Day N Vegas festival. He’s also collaborated with Lindasson and the late Ottawa rapper FTG Reggie on the song A Lot from the former’s 2020 album. Moore is a former trackand-field star who found his footing through one of Ottawa’s elite training grounds for young athletes, CANI Athletics. Lyndon George, who was once named to his home country of St. Lucia’s Olympic track-and-field team, co-founded CANI’s sport-specific training program. Standing for “Constant and Never-ending Improvement,” CANI was formed to train youth athletes like Moore — who joined the program when he was 15 years old — to compete at an elite level. Gradually however, George realized that the program could double as a positive training ground for life outside of sports. “After high school, that kind of [sports] training actually prepares them in very good way for whatever they choose to do in life,” George says. “Many [alumni] go onto college or university, some of them are now lawyers, doctors, engineers. I was trying to train them to be powerful in athletics, but it ends up [helping] them in life.”

but eventually returned to Ottawa at a point when his mother became ill before her death. Without competitive basketball, he found he had more free time. “I started making beats for fun. It progressed into recording for other people, and then to me recording and mixing my own music,” Brewster says. Initially, he thought he’d only focus on producing, but not long after starting to make beats for fun and picking up how to use the studio equipment, he started crafting his own songs. “I’m trying to find a career that I’m excited to do,” Brewster says. “I don’t want eight hours to feel like 16. I want eight hours to feel like four. And I like making beats and making music.” Lindasson is one of multiple artists in Ottawa’s youthful hip-hop scene who has a background playing sports at a high level. One of Lindasson’s contemporaries and collaborators, rapper TwoTiime (whose name is Khalid Omar) also grew up playing basketball and won an OFSAA championship before finding success in hip-hop. In September, TwoTiime won a Young Canadian Songwriters award through the SOCAN MUSIC continues page 7



Ottawa speedskaters Weidemann, Blondin off to flying start in Olympic season By Martin Cleary Isabelle Weidemann and Ivanie Blondin are off to blazing starts on the icy road to their 2021-22 World Cup seasons, world championships and the all-important Beijing Winter Olympic Games in February. During October’s Canadian long-track speed skating championships, the two well-established Ottawa oval skaters were dominant among women’s skaters, each winning three medals, including two national titles apiece. And Weidemann even threw in a Canadian record performance for good measure. The Canadian championships served as Speed Skating Canada’s selection meet for its World Cup and NextGen teams for this season. Weidemann, an endurance specialist, kicked off the nationals by winning the 3,000- and 5,000-metre races on back-toback days. In the 3,000 metres, Weidemann posted an impressive three-second victory with a time of six minutes, 56.89 seconds. Team pursuit partners Blondin and Valerie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., were second and third respectively in 3:59.99 and 4:01.23. “I’m really excited to be Canadian champi-

Isabelle Weidemann (left) and Ivanie Blondin (right)

photo: rafal oleksiewicz/speed skating canada

on,” Weidemann said following her victory. “It was a good race and that makes me stoked for the rest of the season. “I’ve gained a lot of experience on the World Cup circuit and am now better at performing under pressure. I’m looking forward to bringing what I’ve learned to the upcoming Olympic Games.” A day later, Weidemann was one of only two racers in the women’s 5,000 metres,

but she concentrated on the technical aspects of her mini-marathon as she raced junior-aged Laura Hall of Salmon Arm, B.C. At the end of 12.5 laps on the 400-metre oval in Calgary, Weidemann finished in 6:46.81, which pared 0.53 seconds off her own national record. Weidemann skated her previous best five-kilometre time of 6:47.34 in 2019. “I focused on myself a lot more in the first

few laps to make sure that I was being efficient and listening to my technical cues,” she said. “The 5,000 metres definitely gets hard, when you start to suffer a little bit. “But it’s awesome to skate at home in front of my family and I’m happy with my consistency so far this season.” Weidemann’s bid for a third national title fell one place shy in the women’s 1,500 metres, which was won by a relieved Blondin, who posted the unmatched time of 1:54.64. Weidemann was runner-up in 1:55.57, while Maltais claimed third place in 1:55.80. “The past few weeks have been a bit of a mental struggle for me, so I’m really happy and grateful that it went the way it did,” said Blondin, who was named Speed Skating Canada’s female long-track athlete of the year for 2020-21. It was the sixth time she had earned that award. “It reassures me that even if I’m not feeling 100 per cent mentally, I can still push through it and put out good performances. That’s something to keep in mind for the future and one of the many positives that came out of today.” Blondin capped the five-day national championships by winning the mass start race. She also had a fourth-place finish in the 1,000 metres in 1:15.63.

MUSIC: Shymar Brewster wants to someday be a mentor for youth who share his background continued from p.6 “When I look at Shermar, I see a lot of that in him: the way he performs; the way he commands the crowd,” says George of his former mentee. “Whenever he ran, he would always put on a show. He had this kind of swag, and

he was always cool under pressure. Initially, he didn’t want to go across town to come to CANI, and now he’s traveling the world,” laughs George. Like McCann, George sees the parallels between elite sport and high-profile performance on stage as he

Lindasson (Shymar Brewster) performing on stage.

photo: fleenormality

watches his former student achieve more and more success in hip-hop. “He gives you everything onstage, like an athlete,” George says. McCann, meanwhile, is impressed that Brewster brushed off the fizzling out of his basketball career. “He was self-aware enough to realize maybe that wasn’t what he wanted to do,” McCann said. “It takes courage to put yourself out there and try something when [there’s a] high chance of failure,” McCann added. “He’s had lots of things to overcome over the last decade of his life, but I’m really proud of him and very inspired by (his) willingness to try things.” Something else Brewster says he wants to try is mentorship. He hopes to draw from the skills and wisdom he’s developed in basketball and music to mentor youngsters from communities like his. “Kids from single parent households, low-income communities, poverty… unhealthy households” are who Brewster says he’s looking out for. “I’m always open to help the next generation, (to) help

open doors for them and teach things that I probably wouldn’t have learned if I didn’t try,” he says. Brewster’s greatest gift is his ability to make those around him feel better and energized, McCann says. “He’s always done that. He did that in the locker room, in the neighbourhood,” Brewster’s former coach

says. “He was the kind of guy who was always smiling even if things were not going well. He was [a person] you had to push to open up their emotions.” “I’ve seen a lot of hard things [he’s] had to overcome… He was always a sweet kid, and his mom was very involved. She was a super positive woman.”

But before diverting his attention to mentorship, Brewster is keeping his head in the game. He promised he’s got more music on the way, and that he’ll be keeping his hip-hop dreams alive. “I’ll be making another tape and putting the work ethic into the new music,” Brewster said. “Just grinding.”



Gilles/Canada celebrate Tokyo gold in style Vanessa Gilles (right).

The Rebelles Wrap • La Rubrique Rebelle

Returning to Louis-Riel with Olympic gold a dream come true for Gilles On a pictureperfect autumn afternoon, Louis-Riel high school held a homecoming for Olympic gold medallist Vanessa Gilles and heard all about the latest unbelievable chapter in an already unimaginable soccer story that began there when she was 15. The now-25-year-old Team Canada defender treated a couple cohorts of students to outdoor Q&A sessions alongside her old coach Joé Fournier. “It was just surreal,” recounted Fournier, who revelled in watching a former student-athlete’s dream come true live on TV from Tokyo. “Our Rebelles, now they can say that they train and walk in the same hallways as a past Rebelle who’s an Olympic champion. Wow.” Fournier was proud to present Gilles as a powerful person along with her presence on the pitch, noting the Girondons de Bordeaux pro player spoke at the United Nations in support of change and equality for women’s sports in 2019. “The gold medal, playing for the national team, that’s amazing, and her speech at the UN was unbelievable too,” signalled Fournier. “It just adds to my pride to also see former students using their values and their voice for the betterment of society.” For Gilles, coming back to Ottawa made her start to appreciate the scope of what she’s achieved.

“Having these kids coming to see me and thanking me, and who want to be in my shoes in a few years – seeing the impact I can have on kids is really motivating for me,” reflected Gilles, who later played a match in town as part of Team Canada’s celebration tour on Oct. 23. “I’ve always aspired to be in this role to be able to inspire other people and have an impact on the future generation,” she added. “I used to coach as well, and it’s kind of the same role that coaches have – to inspire and guide youth – and I’m so happy to be able to do that.” Gilles’ journey to the pinnacle of sport was a highly unlikely one. She had been a provincial-level tennis player before she stepped into organized soccer for the first time in Grade 10. Gilles sometimes wonders if she hadn’t been part of Louis-Riel’s Sports-Study program – where she got to try a new sport with friends at school and step into a high-performance setting with top-notch coaching from the get-go – would her soccer story have ever even begun? “It’s an interesting question, and I do think about that,” signalled the 2011 OFSAA champion who remembers having three training sessions a day and being at LouisRiel from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. most days (and loving it). “I think what helped me most at Louis-Riel was the practicality – I mean, you’re like 20 metres from the Dome when you go to school,” Gilles underlined. “I don’t know. Maybe I would have switched sports, maybe I would have had the same journey, who knows? But it definitely had a big impact.”

Rapporter une médaille d’or à Louis-Riel un rêve pour Vanessa Gilles

Lors d’un après-midi d’automne parfait, l’École secondaire publique Louis-Riel a accueilli leur nouvelle championne olympique Vanessa Gilles pour des sessions questions-réponses animées par son ancien entraîneur Joé Fournier. Les élèves se sont réjouis d’entendre le dernier chapitre d’une histoire de soccer qui était déjà incroyable dès son début à L-R lorsque Vanessa avait 15 ans. « C’était vraiment surréaliste », a raconté M. Fournier, qui a adoré voir une de ses anciennes élèvesathlètes atteindre ses rêves en direct à la télé de Tokyo. « Nos Rebelles, maintenant eux ils peuvent dire qu’ils s’entraînent, ils vont dans les mêmes cours, qu’une ancienne Rebelle qui est maintenant championne olympique. Wow. » M. Fournier était fier de présenter Gilles comme une figure puissante dans la vie autant que sur le terrain, en notant que la joueuse pro des Girondons de Bordeaux a pris la parole aux Nations Unies en 2019 avec le but d’atteindre l’égalité pour le sport féminin. « La médaille d’or, jouer pour l’équipe nationale, c’est extraordinaire, et sa présentation aux Nations unis, c’était incroyable aussi », a indiqué M. Fournier. « Voir nos anciens élèves promouvoir leurs valeurs et leur voix pour améliorer notre société, ça augmente encore ma fierté. » Pour Vanessa, le retour à Ottawa

l’a aidé à saisir l’ampleur de ses accomplissements. « Ces jeunes qui viennent me voir et qui me remercient, et qui veulent être dans mes chaussures dans quelques années – voir l’impact que je peux avoir sur les jeunes, c’est vraiment motivant pour moi », a réfléchit Vanessa, qui a aussi joué un match en ville contre la Nouvelle-Zélande le 23 octobre. « J’étais aussi entraîneur auparavant, et c’est un peu le même rôle – inspirer et guider la jeunesse – et je suis vraiment contente de pouvoir faire cela. » Le voyage de Vanessa au sommet du sport était très improbable. Elle avait été une joueuse de tennis de niveau provincial avant de se lancer dans le soccer organisé pour la première fois en 10e année. Vanessa se demande parfois si elle n’avait pas fait partie du programme Sports-Études de Louis-Riel – où elle a pu essayer un nouveau sport avec des amis à l’école, et où elle s’est retrouvée dans un environnement de haute-

performance avec des entraîneurs de première classes dès le début – est-ce que son histoire de football aurait même commencé ? « C’est intéressant d’y penser », a signalé la championne FASSO de 2011, qui se souvient d’avoir eu trois entraînements par jour, et de rester à Louis-Riel de 7 h à 19 h la plupart des jours (et de l’avoir adoré). « Je crois que ce qui m’a aidé le plus à Louis-Riel c’est l’aspect pratique. C’est vraiment génial – le Dôme se trouve à 20 mètres de l’école », a souligné Vanessa. « Je ne sais pas. J’aurais peut-être changé de sport, j’aurais peut-être eu le même parcours, qui sait ? Mais le programme a certainement eu un gros impact. » Vanessa a également reçu un grand coup d’inspiration lorsque Christine Sinclair, Karina LeBlanc, Diana Matheson et Rhian Wilkinson sont venues rendre visite à Louis-Riel avec leurs médailles de bronze de Londres 2012, alors qu’elle était adolescente. « Je me souviens que je voulais être comme elles, je voulais avoir une médaille », se souvient l’ancien joueur de la NCAA de l’Université de Cincinnati. « Le fait que Christine soit maintenant ma capitaine... J’espère dans quelques années jouer avec une fille d’ici. »

photo: steve kingsman

By Ethan Diamandas In September 2018, Vanessa Gilles settled into her seat at TD Place to watch the women’s national soccer team play an international friendly match against Brazil. “(I remember) saying to myself and my teammates at the time, ‘Crap, I want to be on that field,’” Gilles said in a Zoom call in late October. “I want to wear that jersey; I want to be celebrating with them.’” Flash forward three years, and Gilles already boasts an impressive soccer resume. The 25-year-old made her official national team debut in 2019 and helped Canada win its first ever gold medal in soccer at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. But, through it all, Gilles had yet to fulfill her dream of taking the pitch at TD Place.

That finally changed on Oct. 23, as the Ottawa-native played her very first international game in front of her hometown crowd when the women’s national team kicked off its Celebration Tour with a decisive 5-1 win over New Zealand. “It’s kind of weird to have my first home game, as in ‘Canada game,’ in Ottawa, in my actual home,” Gilles said before the match. “(I’m) so very excited … definitely lots of emotions and excitement around it.” The opening ceremonies were rightfully extravagant – players ran out of the tunnel one-by-one, gold medals around their necks, and were greeted by 16,386 screaming fans, firework blasts, and a video tribute recapping the most exciting moments from the Tokyo Games.

GILLES continues on p.13

– JUNIOR LEAGUES – 3 Ottawa teams win Ontario crowns at home By Dan Plouffe Piles of local soccer players were in the stands to watch Vanessa Gilles and Team Canada play the first leg of their Olympic gold medal celebration tour on Oct. 23 at TD Place, and then a bunch of them took to the pitch themselves the following day and wrote their own chapter of local soccer history. Far from the old days when Toronto rivals would routinely pummel Ottawa clubs, three local teams clinched Ontario titles on the same day in town.

Anabelle Chukwu scored 35 goals in 15 OPDL U14 girls’ matches.

OSU FORCE FIT FOR FIRST The Ottawa South United Force under-14 girls had the first, and easiest, job to get the championship day started. Their mission was not to lose by 48 goals or more on their home field in Manotick, but they instead stuck to the form that got them to the top of the Ontario Player Development League standings and blasted Vaughan 6-1. Coach David Fox, who’d only landed in Ottawa a few weeks before COVID hit, says his team’s commitment to personal fitness and individual training through lockdown proved potent. His players would torment their opponents with a relentless attacking pace, and kept coming past the 70th minute when their rivals were worn out. “All the players just came back in such amazing shape, and I think that’s what sets them apart,” indicates Fox, whose team won

photo: dan plouffe

every game except one against Ottawa TFC. “I don’t think you’ll find a group of kids who have done more to make the most of a difficult situation, and who bought in while also having fun and enjoying themselves,” adds the UK-raised coach. “I genuinely believe that those players that did more will be the ones that succeed in the long term.” Force forward Annabelle Chukwu nearly tripled anyone else’s goal total in dominating the league scoring race with 35 tallies in 15 games. OSU’s +91 goal differential was matched by only one team across all OPDL divisions, and that team was the Ottawa TFC U17 girls.


Flavie Dube (centre) scored the championship-clinching goal for the Ottawa TFC U17 girls.

photo: dan plouffe

Stop #2 of the historic day was in Cumberland, where Ottawa TFC needed to finish their undefeated season with a win (level Markham had also posted nothing but wins, other than the scoreless draw when the two leaders met). The decisive game was played mostly in their opponents’ territory, but the score remained 0-0 deep into second half until Ottawa TFC leading scorer Flavie Dube finally pounded one in. “I was so relieved, like I could feel the tension go out of my chest,” Dube says of the biggest of her 27 goals (which was a little behind league-leader Sabrina Mangiaracina of OSU at 41). “There was definitely a lot of pressure in this match, but I knew we could do it,” adds Dube, who couldn’t have imagined a better weekend with her teammates. “It’s been awesome to see how close we got through road trips and being together

every day, and going to the Team Canada game together and then going out for dinner after.” The eventual 2-0 win over Vaughan gave goalkeeper Paige Robert her seventh consecutive clean sheet to finish the season. “We won a lot of games by a large margin, but very often we talked about how it was on the back of the defence,” notes Ottawa TFC coach Pavel Cancura, who celebrated the club’s first OPDL title two years after winning Eastern Ontario’s first U17 national title with some of the same players. His squad had to be perfect from the start, which was no small feat coming out of COVID. “We knew that one slip and the title would have been gone,” underlines Cancura, who preached the need for professionalism in their approach to every game.

SOCCER CHAMPS continues p.12


SOCCER CHAMPS: Champion teams say Ottawa rivals were toughest competition


continued from p.11

Ottawa TFC Telegram

“But you know, looking back on it – during those lockdowns, for the better

part of a year, we were training virtually, like indoors in basements, and we were doing it most days. That’s just crazy.

“When you think about it now, I guess it ended up giving us this unity, this strength, and this confidence in the whole group –

like man, nobody outworked us, it’s just impossible. I think that, to me, marks this group more than anything else.”


Community pulls together to pull off soccer season that produced historic new heights It was a year that featured a groundbreaking new championship and an alum who won the biggest prize in sport, but Ottawa TFC should also get a trophy in its growing case for simply having a mostly normal soccer season in 2021. “It was long, and there was definitely nothing relaxing about the COVID period whatsoever,” comments Ottawa TFC General Manager Pavel Cancura. “But it’s been so good to get everyone back on the field, for sure.” There was a pile of success on the pitch, including a first Ontario Provincial Development League title with the Ottawa TFC U17 girls. “A few years back, we were excited to have our first OYSL teams, and then going in those leagues where we really struggled,” Cancura highlights. “It’s nice to see the progress of the club.” Another sign of that evolution came from the Ottawa TFC U14 girls, who narrowly missed the playoffs. After their final game, it wasn’t, “alright, have a nice winter, see you in the spring.” Their coach gave them the next day off, and they were back at it the day after with their regular routine of 5-day-a-week training. “The kids want to do it too, which is pretty cool,” Cancura underlines. “Tell the kids that there’s a day off and there’s almost a collective sigh of frustration.” Olympic champion and club product Vanessa Gilles was part of the first generation that began training at the rate that’s now become enshrined in Ottawa TFC’s renowned after-school academy. Getting the players together to watch the Olympic final was another moment that showed the growth of the club’s girls’ soccer program alongside the Canadian women at the top international level. “Everyone was just going ballistic,” Cancura recalls. “I don’t think you would have seen that years ago.”

photo: dan plouffe

Dedication was the key ingredient in the West Ottawa Warriors’ standout U17 boys’ OPDL campaign as well, which they coolly capped with a 6-0 win over Brampton to finish the trio of local titles in Kanata. Warriors coach Marco Romozzi highlights another significant sign of progress in local soccer – in the past, a sizeable chunk of U17 rosters would include players who didn’t have aspir-

ations of continuing to play competitive soccer beyond the youth ranks. But now all of his players are shooting for the next level, and the squad’s resulting depth was a critical weapon in their championship quest. “The commitment of the group has just been huge. They show up every day,” Romozzi signals. “They just all want it, so that makes it really enjoyable as a coach.” West Ottawa had a

season-opening 3-2 loss to OSU, then posted nothing but wins, including seven in a row by one goal before the final game blowout. “We played a lot of really close games,” Romozzi recounts, including a match against Ottawa TFC where they were down three times but won it 4-3 at the end. “A lot of perseverance in this group, a lot of character, and just finding ways to win.” West division-champion

Oakville, with a better goal differential, will be recognized as the U17 boys’ overall league champions, though West Ottawa is looking forward to facing Oakville for the first time this year at the season-end Charity Shield finals on the Nov. 6-7 weekend in Vaughan. Winners of their playoff semi-finals, OSU’s U15 girls will join the other three local league champs for the postseason Charity Shield finale.


Oct. 23 Team Canada soccer match at TD Place.

Having Gilles return to the club with her gold medal in September was of course an unforgettable experience. “Again, I was floored. Everyone showed up,” Cancura recounts. “Poor Vanessa was signing autographs and taking pictures for hours, after it was dark.” The enthusiasm for soccer has certainly translated to the grassroots level, with record registration for U4-U9 winter sessions. “We have a really blossoming rec program,” Cancura notes. “People are coming in droves.” Having such a large volume of players return to soccer was a major high point of the season, as was the exceptional response from club staff, leaders and volunteers to bring soccer back, since that can’t be done at the snap of a finger. “They really stepped up,” Cancura details. “We were a skeleton crew this summer, and with the coaches we had, we were basically saying, ‘Can you just run three times the stuff that you used to, and you know, do it with a smile, and can you do it for less money than the original job paid you?’ “The staff certainly deserve a lot of credit because if people don’t roll up their sleeves and do a whole heap of extra work, then the season doesn’t happen. “There are a lot of those kind of untold stories on the inside about how all these dedicated people kept this club going. “This was a year where we did a lot together as a community.”

photo: steve kingsman

It was a solid season overall for local OPDL squads, with 12 of 16 local entries finishing above .500. In another sign of Ottawa soccer progress, each champion team commented that local rivals provided some of their toughest

competition en route to the titles. “I think the formula is just working now,” Cancura indicates, noting that the strongest local players are practicing with each other daily and the OPDL clubs are investing in top coaching.

“There’s always room for growth and there are things we can criticize, but we’ve been working really hard at it.” After overcoming COVID and having a more normal season, and a local hero coming home to show off

the biggest prize in sport, the championships felt even greater than already grand victories. “There’s such a huge sense of accomplishment,” Cancura underlines. “This is a really big one, for the whole community.”



‘We are all from Ottawa’: Ravens have hometown nats By Ethan Diamandas The memory of silence in the dressing room still bothers Emad Houache. Now a five-year veteran of the Carleton Ravens men’s soccer team, the 27-year-old midfielder remembers the final whistle and the emotional sting that followed a 1-0 extra-time loss to UQTR on Nov. 8, 2019. “It sticks with you for a long, long time,” Houache said. “Longer than I care to admit, to be honest with you.” That chilly afternoon defeat at CEPSUM Stadium in Montreal was the last time Carleton played in a national championship tournament. It’s a moment Houache holds onto. “We’re not accustomed [to losing],” he said. “We have a winning culture, so losing is always a bitter feeling.” Over the last several years, the Carleton Ravens men’s soccer program has developed into one of Ontario’s more desirable destinations for footy talent, largely because of its reputation for winning. Under the watch of Kwesi Loney, who was promoted to head coach in 2016, the club has amassed a 57-6-8 regular-season record (.803 win percentage) and won a provincial championship in 2019. Loney credits some of his club’s dramatic success to a subtle philosophical tweak on the pitch. “I just changed our style of play a little bit,” Loney said. “I’m more of a possession-oriented person when it comes to the ball. And I think that made us a little more attractive, more of a landing spot for some players to come to. “I was very big on making the game very enjoyable and an exciting product

Joe Fast

Kyle Potter

photo provided

for fans to want to enjoy.” But breeding a budding soccer powerhouse like Carleton’s requires more than formation adjustments or changes in pace of play. It’s the Ravens’ homegrown roster that birthed this exciting new culture. “What I love about our team is that we are all from Ottawa,” said forward Gabriel Bitar, the club’s second-leading goal scorer. “So, at some point, we’ve all played against each other [or] played with each other in our youth careers.” Of the 33 players listed on Carleton’s roster, 23 are from the Ottawa area. “It’s kind of cool; we have all these stories of each other growing up and stuff like that,” Bitar said. “I feel like it was meant to be for all of us to be on this team, too.” Bitar, 23, said when Loney recruited him in 2017, the coach presented a vision of what the next few years at Carleton would look like — high-quality football with teammates he recognized and a solid education to go along with it. “It was a very good option for a lot of

us here in Ottawa,” Bitar said. On the pitch, the team’s comradery makes things click. “One of our things that we work on all the time is communication with each other,” said 21-year-old Kyle Potter, the team’s starting goalkeeper. “If you can trust the guy beside you and know that he has your back and you have his back … it just makes everything run so much smoother. “I think that’s one of the biggest things in footy — just trusting your teammate to do the right thing.” But there’s a flipside to this dynamic. Because the Ravens trust each other, they have no reservations about holding one another accountable, which only solidifies the club’s winning mentality. “When things aren’t up to standards, right away, we identify it and don’t accept it,” Houache said. “We just don’t accept substandard performances from anyone, from the top guys, from the bench, from the people who aren’t dressing.” This club accepts nothing but the best from its roster, which sets the bar very high for when Carleton hosts the U Sports national men’s soccer championship tournament from Nov. 18 to 21. “It’s a great opportunity for us to highlight the Ottawa soccer community,” said Loney, whose team has an automatic entry as hosts. “And I think we’re able to put the players in Ottawa on stage. “We’re not the big soccer demographic like Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal. But you can see, just based on our program alone, the number of talented players that we have coming out of our city.”

GILLES: Gold medal/tour provides chance to grow women’s soccer in Canada continued from p.10 There were no fans in attendance in Tokyo and, once the Olympics ended, players zipped home to their respective bubbles to quarantine, leaving little time to celebrate together. The reunion in Ottawa allowed everyone to catch up. “It’s been nice seeing what everyone’s been up to and their homecomings,” said Gilles, who arrived in Ottawa from France, where she plays professionally, six days before the match. Make no mistake though, Team Canada came to compete. They blew out New Zealand 5-1 in Ottawa and then comfortably held on for a 1-0 win in a match 3 days later in Montreal.It showed just how hungry Canada is to

follow up its gold medal performance with another win at the 2023 World Cup. “Every day moving forward is preparation for the World Cup,” Gilles said. “And it’s something that we can’t take for granted, with the national team being [together] once every month or so, and then we go back to our clubs.” Gilles said these two games offer an opportunity to grow the game of women’s soccer – a movement that’s very important to her. “We’ve seen, through the [Tokyo] Olympics, the support and the backing that we’ve had,” Gilles said. “In previous Olympics as well, whenever we come home, people are interested in watching these games, and I think that a league could fur-

ther that as well.” Gilles said a professional Canadian women’s soccer league – or even a singular Canadian team in the recently revived USL W League, which begins play in May 2022 – could draw more women to soccer and boost the sport’s popularity in Canada. “Having a player-led league would also be phenomenal,” Gilles said. “I think that comes from players advocating and speaking about it, but also having investors. I think that’s obvious; money runs the world. So that’s the first step to getting people interested and committed to building this league, which I think will do tremendously well here in Canada.” So, as Gilles raced up and down the pitch, leapt for

headers and blocked shots, she said she hopes there was a young girl or two in the stands, ready to be inspired, just as Gilles was years ago. “I think my number one thing that is really important to me,” Gilles said, “is inspiring the youth and having that impact on the players that are sitting in those seats: future Ottawa players, future Montreal players. “I can’t stress enough the impact that had on my career and my ambitions. And having other people and players in that position is really cool.” And Gilles said she’s not done making a difference. Not even close. “The gold medal isn’t the end of the story. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning.”

OSU Force Academy Zone

Cornwall & Mercure join Atlético Ottawa A pair of Ottawa South United products officially joined the professional ranks with Atlético Ottawa, as Myles Cornwall and Jaedan Mercure signed on with their hometown Canadian Premier League club this season. In 2017-2018 playing with OSU in League1 Ontario, Cornwall featured in 12 matches and finished with six goals and five assists. He also had a productive collegiate career with Walsh University from 2016-2019, appearing in 72 matches and netting 22 goals and 17 assists as a forward. “Signing pro has always been an aspiration of mine. The fact that it’s now a reality is a feeling beyond comparison,” Cornwall said in an Atlético Ottawa news release announcing his signing in late August. “I’m excited to join this team, with these players and to continue to learn and develop at the professional level.” “Myles is a player who has been on the cusp of receiving an opportunity at the professional level for a number of years,” added OSU President Bill Michalopulos. “To anyone who knows Myles and his dedication and character, they will be delighted to see him get this opportunity with his hometown team. Everyone at our club, OSU, looks forward to supporting him.” Earmarked to add depth to the left-back position with Atlético Ottawa, the Sir Robert Borden High School valedictorian is also known for his positive outlook and dedication to hard work. “We are excited to have Myles join us,” commented Atlético Ottawa’s Head Coach Mista. “We know he will be a good fit with our team because of his skills and character.” Mercure also made his dream of playing pro come true when he signed a development contract with the organization. “It’s really super to be with the team,” mentioned the 18-year-old former OSU striker. “It’s been extraordinary to get to know the guys and to get accustomed to the professional routine.” Mercure, who also developed with the Vancouver Whitecaps organization in 2017 and 2018, took advantage of the partnership between his OSU club and Atlético Ottawa to get noticed. He said he now looks forward to continue working hard and to be a role model for younger players in the region who aspire to play professionally.

OSU PRODUCTS SHINE IN UNIVERSITY RANKS OSU players have made their mark both near and far in university and collegiate soccer throughout North America this season. Goalkeeper Kayza Massey of the West Virginia University women’s soccer team was recently named the United Soccer Coaches Division I National Player of the Week. She made a careerhigh seven saves against Texas on Oct. 21, before matching that mark at Baylor on Oct. 24, to help the Mountaineers earn a pair of scoreless draws. The Carleton Ravens men’s soccer roster is full of OSU alumni as they’ll finally get their chance to host nationals a year later than originally expected. Currently ranked #2, Carleton will look to defend the Ravens’ Perch against the best in Canadian university sport come Nov. 18-21. Amelia Carlini will also get the chance to play in a home nationals for her Cape Breton Capers on the same dates. The final-year communications student has helped Cape Breton bring home three AUS banners and two national medals and a centre midfielder.



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


How do you select one team over the other when they both won the same championship and even had the same goal differential (+91) for the season? You don’t. We’re proud to recognize the two local Ontario Player Development League overall champions as co-winners of our Star Team honour in this edition of the Ottawa Sports Pages. See our coverage on p.11-12 for more details.

Contacts For News/Editorial: Charlie Pinkerton Editor 613-929-3681

For Advertising/CAMPS Project Partnerships: Dan Plouffe Executive Director 613-261-5838 The Ottawa Sports Pages is a not-for-profit publication devoted to shining a spotlight on local amateur sport.

Ottawa TFC U17 Girls’ OPDL Soccer Team

Players Ava Sing, Rachel Vermaire, Christine Eiblmeier, Katie Phee, Léa Francoeur, Devon Vermaire, Flavie Dube, Maya Galko, Jessica Boyle, Riley Bonadie, Paige Robert, Zoe Lortie, Danika Birch, Nora Ghie, Mackenzie Curran, Manager Patrick Boyle & Head Coach Pavel Cancura.

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 Capital City Dance CARHA Hockey Carleton Jr. Ravens Elmdale Lawn Bowling Club ÉSP/Dome Louis-Riel Footy For All/Footy Sevens For Pivots Sake Gloucester Griffins Lacrosse Gloucester Skating Club Jumpology Jump Rope Kanata Rhythmic Gymnastics Club KV Dance Studio Nepean Hotspurs Soccer Club Nepean Nighthawks Field Hockey Ottawa Beavers-Banshees Rugby Ottawa City Soccer Club Ottawa Girls’ Hockey Association Ottawa Gymnastics Centre Ottawa Lions Track & Field Club Ottawa National Diving Club Ottawa New Edinburgh Club Ottawa River Canoe Club Ottawa Rowing Club Ottawa South United Soccer Club Ottawa Sport Council Ottawa Table Tennis Club Ottawa TFC Soccer Club Ottawa Titans Water Polo Club RA Centre Rideau Canoe Club Rideau Sports Centre Royal City Soccer Club TMSI Sports Management TRYumph Gymnastics Academy Tumblers Gymnastics Centre YMCA-YWCA

Ottawa South United Force U14 Girls’ OPDL Soccer Team Players Mia Ugarte, Mya Angus, Ava Blinn, Noami Lofthouse, Kate Thom, Isla Dupuis, Brooklyn Menard, Bianca Hanisch, Isabelle Chukwu, Annabelle Chukwu, Sienna Caruso, Francesca Mureta, Grace O’Grady, Kayla Di Tiero, Angela Castronovo, Katherine Ozard, Head Coach David Fox & Technical Director Paul Harris. E-mail 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.

Play gets underway at RA Centre’s upgraded curling facilities By Charlie Pinkerton The first stones have been thrown at the RA Centre’s Curling Centre of Excellence, with a pair of pre-Olympic-trial events kicking off competition on the site’s new ice sheets in September. Team Mann, made up of Lauren Mann, Kira Brunton, Cheryl Kreviazuk, Karen Trines and Marcia Richardson, was the only Ottawa team to compete in either Curling Canada’s Trials Direct-Entry and Pre-Trials Direct-Entry events, which the Alta Vista-located RA Centre hosted from Sept. 22-26. Competing in the Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event, Team Mann was vying for a spot at the Home Hardware Pre-Trials, which was held in Nova Scotia at the end

of October. Ultimately, the rink that represents the Ottawa Curling Club couldn’t advance to the next pre-trial event, finishing with a record of 2-3 at the event that kicked off competitive play at the RA Centre’s new curling rinks. Mann, the team’s skip, was undeterred by her team’s up-and-down play when she spoke to the Sports Pages partway through the tournament. “We’re still a brand new team trying to figure things out,” she said. Mann, who is 37 and originally from Aylmer, Que., has competed in the Ontario and Quebec circuits during her curling career, which stretches back about two decades. She and teammates Brunton, Kreviazuk and

Trines formed their Ottawa-based rink last year. They only competed in two events together last season, with their highlight being a victory at the 2020 Stu Sells Toronto Tankard, where they beat Jennifer Jones’ short-handed team in the final. Richardson is Team Mann’s newest member, joining as their fifth this season. Curling for the team’s members is also something that fits into their busy lives outside of sport. Mann has a two-and-ahalf-year-old, is working to finish an executive MBA, and works full-time. Two other members of the team are also in school, and Trines announced in September that she’ll also be having a child this spring. One main goal the

team does have this curling season is to qualify for the Ontario championships, Mann said. “We’re taking it for what it is and trying to make some shots and see where it goes,” she said. The team skipped by Kerry Galusha, and from the Yellowknife Curling Centre, in the Northwest Territories, won 1st place at the Pre-Trials Direct-Entry event.

CURLING CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE The RA Centre’s new curling facility was built in a space originally used for hockey. Now there’s five curling rinks and two practice sheets. Upgrades were also made to dehumidification and heating systems as well as the lighting.

Rebuilding the curling facilities is part of the RA Centre’s larger multi-year and -phase redevelopment plan. While the RA Centre’s new curling rinks are now bonspiel-ready, upgrades are planned to continue over the next couple years, including to its lounges, changerooms, and restaurants. To mirror the inclusive nature of the Centre’s rinks — which allow for junior and wheelchair play — the facility’s complementary features are also planned to be fully accessible. “By having a facility like this in Ontario, in this part of the Ottawa area, is only going to help promote the sport and grow,” Brimicombe said. –With files from Dan Plouffe

Martin Cleary’s HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay Safe Edition column appears online 5 days a week. To read the full versions of the columns, visit


Ottawa school boards deny NCSSAA’s top athletes chance to attend fall OFSAA finals By Martin Cleary The Ottawa high school cross-country running season came to an abrupt end Thursday, following the conclusion of the slippery and muddy National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association championships at the Hornets Nest. After 622 runners survived the sloppy course conditions and the top runners and teams celebrated their achievements, the student/ athletes lamented their fall sport ended too early at the interscholastic level, unlike previous years. In a normal year, the NCSSAA finals also would have served as the qualifying event for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championships, but not this time. While the OFSAA provincials are scheduled for Nov. 6 in Lakefield, the NCSSAA has decided not to send its best individual runners and top teams because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 OFSAA championships also were cancelled for the same reason. The NCSSAA acted on the advice of the two English and two French school boards. The boards ruled students should not be travelling to events involving an overnight stay for health and safety reasons. This rule also will apply to all fall sports. NCSSAA champions in football, field hockey, boys’ volleyball, girls’ basketball, and qualifiers in golf also will not attend their respective OFSAA championships.

The exception could be the boys’ soccer champion and tennis qualifiers, who will be determined in the fall, but their OFSAA championships are not scheduled until June, 2022. “We’re very disappointed,” said Kirk Dillabaugh, the NCSSAA cross-country running convenor and chair of the OFSAA cross-country running sport advisory committee, about the NCSSAA decision not to send a team to the OFSAA championships. “We worked tirelessly this summer to put protocols in place. It’s unfortunate the boards feel it is not safe for us to go. I’m disappointed. I thought we did all that we had to do to make it safe. It is what it is and we have to accept it.” The decision not to send NCSSAA athletes to the fall OFSAA championships was made at the end of September. As a coach of the Glebe Gryphons, Dillabaugh was able to watch his team win an 11th consecutive NCSSAA grand aggregate cross-country title. Glebe also won the boys’ team aggregate, while Nepean captured the girls’ team aggregate. Individual and team medals were not presented at the championships under health and safety protocol and will be delivered to the schools for distribution by the coaches. “I’m very happy with our athletic performances. They were outstanding, the senior boys in particular,” Dillabaugh said about the Gryphons’ success. “It’s great when you have a team dynamic like that. They push each other.”


Minto Field and the two neighbouring football fields behind the Confederation Education Centre High School on Woodroffe Avenue will now be known as Sandy Ruckstuhl Gridirons to honour the former Myers Riders’ president.

Zachary Sikka (centre).

photo: dan plouffe

The age-group team winners were: Glebe, boys and girls’ senior and boys and girls’ junior; Immaculata, boys’ novice; and Nepean, girls’ novice. Glebe won the same four titles at the East Conference championships. All six NCSSAA race champions also were saddened by the OFSAA championships not being a part of their fall season. “At the beginning of the season, I was excited to go to OFSAA,” said St. Paul’s Zachary Sikka, who won the boys’ senior 6,000-metre race by more than nine seconds in 22 minutes, 51.47 seconds. “Then my coach told me and I said ‘oh, no OFSAA.’ But at the end of the day, it is what it is. It’s frustrating. Cross-country is a smaller, individual sport and it could have been done safe.” Elijah Barrett of Glebe had his best race of the season, placing second in 23:00.80 and beating teammate Thomas Fairhead to the

finish line. Fairhead was third in 23:01.45. Amelia Van Brabant of Earl of March expressed her disappointment in not being able to attend the OFSAA championships, after scoring a decisive victory in the girls’ senior 6,000-metre race in 23:53.32. “I’m disappointed in the people who made the decision,” said the Grade 11 student/athlete. “I feel bad for the people who experienced this as their last season.” Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s Elizabeth Vroom placed second in 24:32.42, while Gloucester’s Olivia Baggley took third in 24:47.13. Glebe runners Derek Strachan and Kiefer Melinz Dupuis were one-two respectively in the boys’ junior 5,000 metres in 18:56.34 and 19:06.63. The battle for third place was breathtaking as William Sanders of Saint Mother Teresa passed Theo Krnjevic of Lisgar on his final step at the finish line.

Sanders stopped in 19:16.54, while Krnjevic was timed in 19:16.78. Daniel Cova of Louis-Riel won the boys’ novice 4,000 metres in 15:39.59 and was followed by Levi Sankey of Merivale, 15:52.91, and Will McGregor of Immaculata, 16:09.45. Jocelyn Giannotti of Holy Trinity recorded a convincing girls’ junior victory over 5,000 metres in 21:46.14. Glebe runners Laurin Alexander and Claire Allan finished second and third respectively in 22:09.97 and 22:29.39. Isabella Chiumera of St. Pius X placed first in the girls’ novice 4,000-metre race in 16:40.44, while Merivale teammates Grace Streek and Olivia Chen were second and third respectively in 16:47.27 and 17:51.90. Here are the age-class team scores from the NCSSAA championships: NOVICE GIRLS: 1. Nepean, 69 placement points from its best four runners; 2. Canterbury, 78; 3. Merivale, 85. NOVICE BOYS: 1. Immaculata, 23; 2. Merivale, 109; 3. John McCrae, 121. JUNIOR GIRLS: 1. Glebe, 18; 2. Nepean, 78; 3. Ashbury, 168. JUNIOR BOYS: Glebe, 18; 2. Woodroffe, 58; 3. Saint Mother Teresa, 83. SENIOR GIRLS: 1. Glebe, 32; 2. Merivale, 82; 3. Franco-Cite, 125. SENIOR BOYS: Glebe, 27 ; 2. Paul-Desmarais, 122; 3. Nepean, 153. See for recaps of each race and photo galleries.




For the ninth time in 20 years, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees completed the Ontario Intercollegiate Women’s Fastpitch Association championship weekend with a medal, taking silver. The Gee-Gees beat Queen’s, Toronto and Brock en route to the final, where they fell to Western.

Former NHL goalies Fred Brathwaite and Darren Pang were named as athletes, N e p e a n Skating Club’s Cynthia Reid and soccer’s Rene Braendli were selected as builders, hockey referee Mark Gallant, canoeing’s Mark Singer and hockey’s Chris Byre were inducted as coaches/managers, and Stu Schwartz was added as media.

So close, but yet so far. Again. A threetime United States women’s curling champion (2017-19) and a two-time world championship participant (fourth in 2018), Osgoode’s Jamie Sinclair just can’t find the key to unlock the door leading to her first Winter Olympic Games.

Ottawa Sports Pages readers,

us to continue another 10 years and beyond. We are thrilled to have recently launched a tremendous tool to aid that quest.

This Fall, the Ottawa Sports Pages is proudly celebrating our 10th Anniversary! It has been a huge pleasure for us to get to share all the amazing stories that the local sports scene continually creates. We are exceptionally pleased to have provided a voice for local high school, university, community and elite amateur sport – the levels neglected time and again by mainstream media.

Alongside the Ottawa Community Foundation (OCF) and our long-time partners at the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation, we are launching the OTTAWA SPORTS PAGES FUND to support local sports journalism. We are the first organization to be accepted into this groundbreaking program created by OCF.

It’s been a really special journey to reach 10 years, though it’s become clear lately that we’ll need the strong community support we’ve enjoyed more than ever, in order for

Donations made to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund will be matched by OCF up to $5,000, and contributors will receive a charitable tax receipt.

ports Ottawa S



What we’d love to have you do – if you enjoy reading our stories, believe in what we do, and are able to contribute to our cause – is to give $10 on a monthly basis (or more if you like of course!) That would go a long way to help our mission to:







We love telling local sport’s tales of triumph, resilience, and community. Since 2011, we’ve reported on over 6,000 stories through our newspaper, website and newsletter that were unlikely to be told otherwise. PROVIDE EQUITABLE COVERAGE FOR UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS.

The Ottawa Sports Pages is published by a not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating our local sports scene, and to increase access to sport through our CAMPS Project. Your contributions will be key to ensuring the Sports Pages‘ ongoing sustainability. The media industry is in crisis, the shrinking news landscape lacks diverse voices when we need it most – and this was before the pandemic made that reality even more evident. COVID’s hit our partner sports groups hard, and our revenues as well. Your donations will help maintain and enhance our daily coverage of the local sports scene. Over the long term, we want to increase the volume and quality of news we deliver, and to expand the free opportunities we provide for low-income kids with the CAMPS Project.

Our analysis showed that over 98% of sports news produced by local mainstream media was on professional sports. The Sports Pages provides a refreshing contrast and gives a voice to groups left out by traditional media. Look at our newspaper and you’ll find female athletes on our covers roughly 2/3 of the time, youth on over 1/3 of our covers, plus many more featuring parasport, racialized and LGBTQ+ athletes.

Online donations are preferred via Cheques can be made out to “Ottawa Community Foundation”, and sent by mail to 345 Meadowbreeze Dr., Kanata, Ont., K2M 0K3. E-transfers to are also welcome. THANK YOU for following us over the past decade. It means so much to have such wonderful people behind us who are dedicated to sport in our city – we couldn’t do it without you!

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