Ten community volunteers were rewarded for their dedication to coaching and athletics on Wednesday night as Sport BC handed out its Community Sport Hero Awards, presented at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre.
The award recipients represented a broad cross-section of sports — hockey, figure skating, volleyball, softball, soccer and sailing.
Awards were handed out to Tom Poulton and Brenda Rowe for hockey, Jill-Marie Jarvis and Lesleigh Farr for figure skating, Jan Richey and Dan Tsuji for volleyball, Sean Whalen for soccer and softball, Darren Smith for soccer and baseball, Eric Sullivan for Action Schools! BC and coaching basketball, track and field, volleyball and cross country and various schools on the Coast where he has taught, and Carl Armstrong for sailing.
“Volunteers are what fuel the development and sustainability of community sport within British Columbia,” said Sport BC’s event manager, Carey Summerfelt. “These awards are a rare and meaningful opportunity to acknowledge individuals who have made a significant and continued contribution to sport within their community.”
To be eligible, nominees had to make a voluntary contribution to sport through coaching, officiating, boards, administration, special events, etc. and had to be a dedicated sport volunteer for a minimum of eight years.
“Sport is crucial to the development of strong, healthy communities and community volunteers, like the 10 we are honouring who are essential to that success,” Summerfelt said. “You guys make a huge impact on kids. Thank you so much, and continue to do what you do because it truly makes a difference in kids’ lives.”
Before presenting the awards, Summer-felt read out short bios on all the recipients, which showed just how much each volunteers cares and has given back to this community.
When receiving their awards, many thanked the athletes themselves for their dedication, and also the parents for allowing them to coach their kids.
“I think everyone who is here tonight deserves an award,” Jarvis said. “I know that some of us are actually taking an award home, but in your hearts everyone here deserves it because I know all of you are volunteers and are ambassadors for sports and for youth.”
“I’d like to recognize all the volunteers and all the athletes who make the commitment to stay fit and make healthy choices. Hopefully they’ll take their lessons forward and become future volunteers giving back to sport and community,” Farr said.
Others spoke about their love of coaching as the reason why they give back.
“I was very shocked when I found out. It’s such an honour to be recognized for something that you love to do all the time,” Richey said.
“I wish I could share this with all the coaches. We have great kids and great coaches here on the Sunshine Coast,” Tsuji added.
Rowe summed up the evening well when she paid homage to the incredible volunteer base on the Coast.
“The Sunshine Coast is the greatest place to undertake any sort of serious fundraising or volunteer activity because the people here are fabulous,” she said. “It makes it incredibly rewarding to do the work that allows our kids to be the best they can be.”