Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Robinson Named Athlete Of The Year:
Awards honour top athletic achievers
Published: June 22, 2011
Lured to the Okanagan Landing Tim Hortons under the guise of lunch with his mom, Kim, David Robinson found a bigger surprise waiting.
The popular Vernon Vipers captain was named the Tim Hortons North Okanagan Athlete of the Year.
Accompanied by his mom and other family members, Robinson humbly accepted the honour from selection committee members Mel Briggeman and Ken Richardson.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Robinson, who guided the Vipers to a third straight B.C. Hockey League Fred Page Cup title, and came within one game of helping the team win an unprecedented third straight Royal Bank Cup Canadian championship.
“This is a tremendous honour. I would like to thank the committee and congratulate all of the other nominated athletes for their outstanding seasons. It’s an honour to be in the same group as all of these candidates.”
Also nominated for the honour were SFU basketball star Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, Paralympian sit-skier Josh Dueck, Paralympian and world champion curler Sonja Gaudet , taekwondo world bronze medallist Taylor Halvorson and Vernon Kokanee Swim Club disabled swimmer Sarah Mehain.
Robinson, who this week accepted a scholarship to play hockey with the University of Calgary Dinos , gave credit to his family, coaches and Vipers teammates.
“Without them, I wouldn’t have any success,” said Robinson, whose late uncle, Wayne Dye, was chosen Athlete of the Century by The Morning Star a decade ago.
Dan Currie, owner of Tim Hortons, presented the North Okanagan Team of the Year award to a pair of high school volleyball powerhouses.
Head coach Doug Kozak and provincial tournament MVP Adam Tishenko represented the B.C. AA boys champion Seaton Sonics, and head coach Sharon Shaigec and provincial tournament MVP Kelsey Thompson were on hand from the B.C. AAA girls champion Fulton Maroons.
Kozak, whose team only lost one match this past season (to a AAA school from Surrey), and went undefeated as juniors two years ago, called the honours “the topper to a great year,” and thanked the players’ families and staff at Seaton for their continued support.
And then he got emotional talking about the provincial champions.
“These guys have been so much fun to coach for the last three years,” said Kozak, tailing off as his voice began to crack and fought off tears. “It’s hard to let them go.”
For Shaigec, born and raised in Vernon, the provincial AAA title was something she’d been chasing for her 22 years as a volleyball coach.
“There are so many people here who have supported me, my family and the school throughout my time here,” said Shaigec, a former national team player. “I’ve been trying to get that trophy for 22 years and to finally accomplish it with a great group of girls is a wonderful feeling.”
The Vipers were also nominated in the category.
Kozak, Shaigec and Gaudet were also nominated as builders for the new Leadership in Sport award, which Currie donated. There were 17 nominees for the honour, including the likes of legendary Vernon sports figures such as Don MacDonald (boxing), John Tykalovich (softball), Nick Alexis (softball) and Vern Dye (Robinson’s grandfather, hockey).
In the end, the committee selected a soft-spoken tireless advocate for fun in sports, Funtastic founder John Topping, who helped build 13 diamonds at the army camp for the popular softball tournament. Topping has also helped raised more than $200,000 for Vernon Special Olympics.
“I’m in awe of the group on this list and I don’t belong in that field,” said Topping, accompanied by his wife, Fay, to the ceremony. “I nominated Nick Alexis because I was in awe of his dedication. I have to thank the people who work with me. They deserve this honour as much as I do.”
Briggeman said the selection committee had tough choices to make.
“This community is blessed with so many fine coaches, athletes and managers, it’s a group that we don’t recognize very often,” said Briggeman.
Media members on the selection committee included Kevin Mitchell of The Morning Star, Betty Selin of Sun-FM and Pete McIntyre of Kiss-FM.