A fastball field skirmish, efforts to win home game equity and appeals for ice time made sports political this year. Meanwhile, athletes scored regional, national and international recognition in soccer, volleyball, fencing, pistol shooting, longboarding and more. Several new tournaments and events launched this year, including a hockey exchange with China and the Coast’s first trail running series. For a region with no professional team, sports news was choc-a-block in 2018.
• Major ice users were hoping the Sunshine Coast Arena ice rink would remain open until April 28 rather than close at the end of March, though long-term solutions to ice availability remained elusive. The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) was forced to postpone ice installation until Oct. 28, 2017 because of a drought that caused Stage 4 water restrictions. The rink normally opens in late September.
• As the 2018 soccer season fired up at Hackett Park in Sechelt, beloved juggernaut Storm U13 boys soccer team welcomed, for the third time, the Killarney United to our shores.
• Swamp Thing, Jurassic Parc, The Matrix, A Bridge Too Far, Cheeky Creaker, Biter. These aren’t typical race names, but neither are the races. Mike Meggiato of Team Wolverine Athletics launched the Sunshine Coast Trail Series, comprising six races, which he hoped would encourage runners of all abilities to explore the intricate trail systems snaking through the Sunshine Coast.
• Gibsons Minor Baseball Association locked up home field advantage for another five years. Town councillors unanimously endorsed a five-year extension of the licence, retroactive to Jan. 1.
• Roberts Creek fencer Fynn Fafard achieved a milestone win at a senior men’s North American Cup on Jan. 6 with a huge upset over U.S.A.’s Benjamin Bratton (North American #1, World #27) in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
• As School District No. 46 wrestling programs continued to build, the hardware continued to pile up. Thirteen wrestlers from Elphinstone, Chatelech and Gibsons Elementary converged on University of Fraser in Abbotsford for the Western Canadian Championships on Jan. 27 and 27. The podium was owned by Sunshine Coast wrestlers. “Over half our wrestlers finished in the top three in Western Canada,” said coach Eric Sullivan.
• Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association hosted a group of youth hockey players from Qiqihar, China in February in the first exchange program between China and Canada to be officially sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation, Hockey Canada and BC Hockey.
• East and west collided at the Gibsons arena from Feb. 2 to 4 for the inaugural Canada-China Youth Hockey Invitational Tournament. “Not only did we have the kids from China, but we had the opportunity to mix up our Atom and Pee Wee players and our house and rep players, which we normally don’t get to do,” said Brenda Rowe, president of Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey (SCMH), the organization hosting the event. “That alone was invaluable, and then you factor in 27 kids from the other end of the planet, it’s pretty amazing.”
• The Chatelech Ski and Snowboard Team had a great showing on the scoreboard through the season. Pearl Deasey placed first in all three of the snowboarding races she participated in. Evelyn Klassen was right behind her in second place for all three races, and won first place in the Boardercross Terrain GS. And Chatelech Snowboarding Boys had multiple top 10 placements.
• Misty mountains and impending rain didn’t deter 58 racers from taking part in the third annual Sunshine Coast Loppet at Dakota Ridge on Feb. 3.
• Elphinstone grad Michelle Jakszuk of Gibsons and the rest of the UBCO Heat women’s volleyball squad headed into the final weekend of the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation.
• In a nail-biting game, the U16 Eagles emerged victorious against WVA United in Ambleside on Feb. 11, clinching the North Shore Cup in a dramatic 4-2 win.
• Donning more than 40 pounds of firefighting turnout gear and trudging up 48 flights of stairs, breathing out of an air pack the whole time feels “terrible,” said Gibsons Fire Chief Rob Michael, but the pain didn’t stop his team. The eight Gibsons firefighters raised $1,919 for the 17th annual Climb the Wall challenge, which took place Feb. 18 at the 491-foot, 739-step Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.
• Olympian Larkyn Austman skated at the Gibsons arena on Saturday, March 10 as part of Sunshine Coast Skating Club Performance Night. “It’s so fun to come and skate here. The kids at this club are not motivated by success, they’re here to just have fun,” said Austman after her second performance.
• The Sunshine Coast Men’s Fastball Association said it was blindsided by the District of Sechelt’s rejection of their application to play at Hackett Park, and was hoping to get the decision reversed.
• The Sunshine Coast Men’s Hockey League recently wrapped up the 2017-18 regular season with the Custom Hawks coming out on top with an almost perfect record of 29 wins and one tie.
• The U18 Thunderbirds successfully defended their title as North Shore District Champs in North Van with a shootout win against NV Fury on March 10.
• Gibsons’ Lily Riggs broke four B.C. records in the 84kg weight class on March 25 at the BLM Barbell Spring showdown, her fourth IPF BC Powerlifting competition.
• Dean Schutz is a well known soccer figure on the Sunshine Coast, and after almost 20 years of coaching he retired from his eight-season career with the SCYSA U18 Boys team, The Thunderbirds.
• The 41st annual BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool’s Run presented by Coast Cable attracted nearly 620 registrants from all over B.C. and beyond, to run and walk from the Gibsons and Area Community Centre to Mission Point Park in Davis Bay.
• An exciting season of men’s hockey came to a thrilling end as the top four teams faced off in the playoff finals at the Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt. The top-seeded Custom Hawks faced off against the Kings in an entertaining final. The Hawks scored late in the third to take top honours and take first place with a 2-1 victory.
• Dr. Paul Dhillon’s soccer career may have humble origins but the local general practitioner was gearing up to lead team Canada at the World Medical Football Championship this July in Prague.
• The 21st Annual Pro Am to Benefit Junior Golf was contested on a wet and windy Friday the 13th. Professionals Bryn Parry and Oliver Tubb were co-champions with scores of even par 72, which was impressive considering the challenging conditions.
• April 21 and 22 was the over-30 men’s soccer league tournament. After Saturday’s round robin play, the finalists that emerged were Chiefs and Sitas, while the Beer Cup was won by Halfmoon Bay, as Kenny (The Cannon) Campbell and company edged Ridgpoint 2-0.
• Close to 250 racers grinded it out at the fourth annual Sunshine Coast Mountain Grind April 21 among the hydro lines of Pender Harbour. “It went amazingly well,” said race director Meredith Frost. “The weather, the band, the food, the racers, everything just flowed beautifully.”
• Blue Ocean Golf Club in Sechelt recorded its first hole in one of the season on April 27. It was accomplished by Ruby Airth on hole 13.
• Despite losing a few racers at the ferry terminal, more than 200 cross-country cyclists tore through the winding trails of West Sechelt at the Coaster 50 on May 5. The overall female marathon winner was Sandra Walter with a time of 3:09:16.7. Felix Burke from Victoria won in the male category with a time of 2:33:25.3.
• May 20 was a good day to be a Pender Harbour longboarder. For the first time in Attack of Danger Bay’s 17-year history, local longboarders swept the podium. Clinching first place was Dane Hanna from Pender Harbour’s Team Irene. Scott Smith, who grew up on the Sunshine Coast, placed second. In third place was another Team Irene member, Sawyer Cote.
• On May 12, the Sunshine Coast Ravens hosted a softball tournament at Hackett Park in Sechelt. The Coquitlam Tigers and The Vancouver Thunder each played a game against the local Ravens. All players did well, with some home runs and outs on bases.
• Retired major league pitcher Ryan Dempster returned to the West Coast in late May for his induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame. Born and raised in Gibsons, Dempster, 41, had a 16-season career in the majors that included stints with the Florida Marlins, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, the club he won a World Series with in 2013.
• The great weather of May provided perfect conditions as the Sunshine Coast Drag Racing Association hosted the Dennis Munson Memorial Drag Race at the Sechelt Airport. There were close to 700 fans, racers and volunteers in attendance.
• Over the May long weekend, the Sunshine Coast Volleyball Club’s U16 Girls’ team played in the largest volleyball tournament in Canadian history. The Canadian Club Nationals took place over six days of competition, with 864 teams
• On a perfect weather day on May 30, more than 500 athletes from the 10 elementary schools in the district converged on the Elphinstone track, where students tested their skills in long jump, shotput, discus and ball throws. School relays were the highlights of the day, along with the sprinting and distance runs.
• Despite an unintentional mid-race detour, Ed McCarthy from North Vancouver set a race record at the 50-kilomtere Puddle Jumper Classic ultramarathon with a time of 4:53:57.
• Gibsons pistol shooter Allan Harding was plane-hopping to the U.S., Ontario and Germany for national and international competitions, and the dedication paid off – for the first time in his career, the 2016 and 2017 Canadian National Pistol champion achieved world-ranking status with the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF).
• Roller Derby season kicked off at the Sunshine Coast arena June 9 with the Sunshine Coast’s Red Tide Warning facing off against the Sea to Sky Sirens from Squamish. One Coast player was injured and another was fouled out, putting the Red Tide Warning at a disadvantage against the Sirens, who rolled away champs with a score of 276 to 93.
• Gibsons’ Lucy Schick took top spot in U21 at the Canadian National Enduro Mountain Biking Championships June 17 at Panorama Resort in the East Kootenays.
• About 50 youngsters descended on Ryan Dempster Field in Gibsons June 21 to receive baseball tips from the player after whom the field is named.
• On June 23, 300 cyclists took part in the 7th annual Gibsons Grind Gran Fondo on a spectacular Sunshine Coast summer day.
• The Sunshine Coast Skating Club’s (SCSC) adult skater, Tracy Parker, returned from the ISU Adult International Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany where she placed fifth in her category.
• On June 23 and 24, 28-year-old Roberts Creeker Shaun Stephens-Whale took home first place at the Tough Mudder Boston, finishing nine loops of the infamous course in eight hours, and taking home a purse of US$5,000, to boot.
• Planes and automobiles were involved, and so was lots of training. But it all paid off for the Chatelech Secondary School drag racing team because on June 27 – the same day as graduation – the team raced well enough to qualify for nationals.
• Special Olympics athletes travelling to the National Games in Antigonish, N.S. from July 30 to Aug. 6 were honoured at the SOSC Annual General Meeting on June 25.
• Halfmoon Bay resident Mike Gojevic didn’t expect to win medals, but he walked away with a gold in lawn bowling and two silver in golf and 10-pin bowling. It was a big win for Gojevic but he said it’s the stories and the solidarity with fellow transplant survivors that made his first appearance at the National Transplant Games so successful.
• Sunshine Coasters Ingrid Hansen, Lydia Harvey-Lloyd and Mikayla Towert helped their team earn the silver medal in the BC Provincial A Cup in Richmond.
• It was an exciting day of basketball competition at the Roberts Creek Community School on Saturday, July 7 as eight adult teams and five youth teams came out for the third annual Daniel Kingsbury Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.
• Kinnikinnick Park was full of more than 600 people from around the world on July 10. They were competing in the BC Bike race, a seven-day mountain biking race that takes competitors from Cowichan Valley to Whistler.
• Cowichan Valley was brimming with athletes from across the province at the 40th BC Summer Games, and now the Coast is brimming with medals. Coast athletes represent Zone 5 Vancouver-Coastal and took home several medals over the course of the event, which contributed to the zone placing third in the overall rankings.
• It may have been the first time he competed in the mixed team event at the National Pistol Championships, but that didn’t stop Gibsons’ Allan Harding from taking home first place with his teammate Lynda Kiejko.
• Golfers met idyllic weather and course conditions Aug. 4 and 5 as the SCGCC hosted the annual Sea Cav Tournament. Women’s defending champion Noni Wadner used her day one score of 75 to ensure victory, while Deb Sneddon picked up low net honours.
• An annual water polo event in Ruby Lake took on a life of its own. Attendance records were smashed as the hot sunny weather welcomed back dozens of athletes from the Lower Mainland for a weekend of water polo, played in the middle of Ruby Lake.
• Al Crane had been working on a dream car for 18 months and on Aug. 12 his 1965 Falcon Sprint made its Sunshine Coast debut at the August Inferno Drag Race at the Sechelt Airport.
• The Sunshine Coast Fastpitch League finished their season with Hackett Park as the venue for the playoffs. Returning to their home field was a treat for the players and the community as many fans came out to watch some great baseball over the weekend.
• The 2018 Howe Sound Iron Canadian Championship Outrigger Races were held Aug. 18 in truly Gibsons fashion. More than 300 paddlers participated this year including clubs from Oregon, Seattle, San Francisco, Calgary, Comox, the Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Powell River and of course, Gibsons.
• Jenna Nestman was new to track cycling but that didn’t stop her from racing to the top of her class. At the BC Track Championships, held Aug. 17 to 19, Nestman took home four gold medals from four events: team sprint, sprint, time trial and kierin.
• Gibsons Legion was host to over 70 dart players from around the province along with players from the Sunshine Coast. It was the sixth annual tournament, which is now in honour of Mark Dove who passed early last year.
• Pender Harbour longboard racer Dane Hanna was tempted by the Devil and rather than resisting, he conquered. Hanna competed in the second annual Devil’s Peak Downhill race in Georgetown, Colorado and rolled away the winner.
• The first annual Coast Classic Tennis Tournament took place at the Suncoast Racquet Club Sept. 8, welcoming players from the Coast, the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and as far away as Florida.
• Kordell Johnson, a 15-year-old shíshálh soccer player, got to experience excitement both on and off the field during a trip to Hawaii to play with the North American Indigenous Football Association’s (NIFA) U16 Team Canada.
• Cyclist Jenna Nestman of Roberts Creek took home a silver medal in the 2018 Canadian Track Championships held Sept. 27 to 29 in Milton, Ont.
• Muddy conditions and torn ligaments in the knee didn’t stop Motocross racer Alissa Harkin from clinching second place in the Future West Moto 2018 Fall Series youth class.
• South Delta may have come away the winners at the Sunshine Coast Winter Classic Peewee C hockey tournament, but the appearance of a special fan imbued the entire three-day competition with a celebratory spirit. Steven Guinther-Plank, known by hockey enthusiasts throughout the Lower Mainland as Super Fan Steve, was a surprise and welcome guest at the tournament.
• On Saturday, Oct. 27, Soames Hill and the surrounding trails were decked out with ghosts and skeletons while blind mice scurried, Hulk Hogan barrelled and fairies in tutus danced through the trails at the Soames Grinder, the first endurance race of its kind on the Coast. At the front was a neck-and-neck race between local runners Nick Duff of Sechelt and Jordan Maynard of Gibsons, with Duff taking the win by one loop for a total of 28 loops, or more than 40 kilometres with an elevation gain of 3,000 metres.
• A hard rain didn’t stop spectators or competition at the first Coastal Cup, a Grade 8 girls exhibition volleyball tournament held for teams on the Upper and Lower Sunshine Coast. Elphinstone Midnight took home the trophy with a two-sets-to-one win over Brooks Secondary. In third was Elphinstone Gold.
• Intermittent showers gave way to steady downpours Nov. 3 but the seven hounds on the scent persevered, and so did two-dozen riders to make the 19th annual Opening Meet for the Fraser Valley Hunt a success.
• Gibsons pistol shooter Allan Harding earned Team Canada a quota spot at the Pan Am Games thanks to his performance at the 2018 Shooting Championships of the Americas in Guadalajara, Mexico, which ran from Nov. 1 to 11.
• Tahlaela Marks of shíshálh Nation was among the eight Indigenous youth to receive the 2018 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sports from B.C.’s Fraser Region.
• For the past month, SCMHA players and supporters were chopping wood, selling doughnuts, securing sponsorships and hosting fundraising events to raise the $25,000 needed to pay for flights and accommodations so that 16 of the organization’s U12 players can attend a tournament in Beijing. On Dec. 11, two days before the players were set to board their flights, president Stu Frizzell confirmed they had nearly reached their fundraising goal.
• The weather outside was frightful, but the participation level at the seventh annual Holiday Hustle 5k/2k was delightful, with 135 registrants signed up, a new record. The 5k had 84 finishers, led by three-time past winner and former Chatelech racing team member Jordan Wilson of Sechelt in a blazing fast 16:32. Teenager Keaton McIlwraith of Roberts Creek and master runner Jamie Leveque of Sechelt took second and third spots overall in 20:05 and 20:34 respectively. On the women’s side, 16-year-old Kallalei Ryden of Gibsons easily captured first female position with a time of 21:04, placing her fifth overall. Second and third women to finish were Leah Painter of Sechelt in 25:11 and J Klassen of Sechelt in 25:21.