Original Article by Staff Writer – Nanaimo News Bulletin
Originally posted Jan 25, 2012 at 11:00 PM— updated Jan 29, 2012 at 1:36 PM


Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards organizers had a tough enough time choosing finalists – now they face the still tougher task of choosing the best of the best.

The annual sport awards announced finalists this week. The awards will be presented at a banquet Feb. 4 at the Coast Bastion Inn.

Up for Team Athlete of the Year are baseball pitcher Adam Paulencu, soccer striker Jared Stephens, football quarterback Jordan Yantz, rower Arden Gill, volleyball power hitter Lindsay McLoughlin and roller derby athlete Darlene Stevens.

In the Individual Athlete of the Year category, finalists are mountain biker Remi Gauvin, BMXerHunter McGill, swimmer Adam Rahier, track athlete Haleigh Lloyd, bowler Jennifer Park and race walker Katelynn Ramage.

The Nanaimo Hornets women’s team, the Wheatsheaf men’s fastball team and the Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s basketball team are candidates for Team of the Year and the Junior Team of the Year finalists are the Barsby Bulldogs junior varsity team, the Nanaimo Diamonds bantam girls’ fastball team and the Nanaimo Pirates peewee AAA all-star baseball team.

Junior athlete of the Year finalists are pitcher Josh Burgmann, runners Thomas Oxland and Miryam Bassett and Marita DeSchiffart and golfers Mark Valliere and Shirin Anjarwalla.

Up for Masters Athlete of the Year are weightlifter Rhonda Heaslip, outrigger canoeist Ruth Matsonand track and field athlete Barry Sparkes.

In the Partners of the Year category, finalists are badminton players Jenny Aronson and Bryan Cassels, canoeists Natasha Cross and Liz Kraft and rowers Spencer Crowley and Kai Langerfeld.

Grassroots Coach of the Year finalists are Bob Milne for power soccer, Bob Saunders for cross-country and Nate Stevenson for football. High-performance Coach of the Year candidates are Tony Bryce for basketball, Bill Merriman for soccer and Kelly Russell for dragonboat racing.

Sport Administrator of the Year will be either football director Dom Abassi, BMX president Kathy Davidson or lacrosse manager Irene Morrison. Official of the Year finalists are basketball referee Mike James, soccer ref Matt Notley and lacrosse ref Jim Turley.

Finally, the selection committee will also choose a Sports Story of the Year, which will be the John Barsby Community Secondary School football teams’ double appearance in the B.C. finals, Andrew Harris helping the B.C. Lions to the Grey Cup, or Michelle Stilwell‘s record-setting year in wheelchair racing.

The most high-profile name not to be selected as a finalist was Nanaimo lacrosse star Scott Ranger, who was chosen earlier this month as the News Bulletin’s athlete of the year for 2011.

Banquet tickets are $60 per person and proceeds will go to PacificSport, to support high-performance athletes and youth camps. Tickets may be purchased at the Coast Bastion Inn, at the PacificSport office at Vancouver Island University or by phone at 250-716-6110.

PHOTO: Nanaimo’s Liz Kraft, left, and Natasha Cross get out on the water at Long Lake. The two canoe racers are finalists in the Partners of the Year category at the Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards. — Image Credit: File Photo