| Mar 11, 2015 |
Every year, we honour our best and brightest at the BC Wheelchair Basketball Society Annual Awards. At this year's BC-CWBL Division 2 Finals banquet, we recognized the following people for their incredible contributions to the BC Wheelchair Basketball community.
Female Athlete of the Year - Shira Standfield
Shira Standfield has been a steady, reliable force with both the BC Breakers and the CWBL league for years. This year, she was the glue that held the young, inexperienced BC Breakers together during their campaign for gold at the 2014 Canadian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Championships. Her mentorship on and off the court was crucial to the Breakers’ success. Shira was also the cornerstone of this year’s Western Conference/CWBL team.
Male Athlete of the Year - Avril Harris
Avril Harris has had a strong influence on nearly every league in Canada this year. Not only did he head Team BC as the squad prepared for the Canada Winter Games, but he also anchored the Gold Rush in Division 2, which includes many young athletes. He had an excellent season with the junior team, the Western Conference team, the Gold Rush and the Open Finals team, the latter of which won bronze. For his efforts, he was named to the All Star team and was also named Best Defensive Player at the 2014 BC Finals. To cap off his season, he also coached at BC Games. Avril loves to give back to the wheelchair basketball community through his work with Let’s Play and with conducting demos across the North.
Junior Athlete of the Year - Ben Hagkull
Ben has shown dramatic improvements in his basketball career over the last few years. He has been on the junior provincial team since 2012 and now he’s a hopeful for the Canadian U23 team. He has put a number of hours working on his fundamental skills and game knowledge, which shows in his performance today. He is also a great leader in his local program, Chilliwack Cheetahs, and is always willing to give back to our sport and the community by mentoring younger kids and volunteering to do school demos.
Coach of the Year - Simon Cass
Simon started coaching as a volunteer in Victoria when he was still in college. His passion and personality allowed him to develop as a coach quickly and now he’s BCWBS’s Regional HP Coach and is also involved in the national programs. Despite his high-performance ambitions, he hasn’t stopped putting hours and effort into his local club in Victoria and has done a tremendous job recruiting new players and developing players in Victoria. Simon is young but is already respected by many athletes, parents, and coaches not only in BC but in Canada. Simon contributed to the third finish at CWBL Open finals as a head coach and the first finish at the women’s nationals as an assistant coach in 2014.
Volunteer of the Year - Karin Kratz
Karin Kratz formed the Comox Valley Wheelchair Sports Society in 2009 and ran it as President until stepping down this September. She does everything from booking the gym, finding partners and sponsors, applying for grants, promoting the program, organizing camps, purchasing wheelchairs and much more. Today, the Comox Valley Wheelchair Sports Society is a strong club that serves “Active for Life” players in the community. She is a tireless advocate for people with disabilities and works hard to ensure that everyone can be included in a safe and fun environment. Without Karin, there would be no wheelchair basketball in Comox and we would like to recognize her for all her hard work over the years.
Official of the Year - Kevin Bowie
Kevin Bowie’s many years of experience as a wheelchair basketball player have helped him become a top-level referee. Though he also referees wheelchair rugby, this year he went above and beyond to make himself available even when a weekend tournament conflicted with a rugby tournament. Kevin’s goal was to hone his skills for BC Winter Games and his commitment to being the best ref possible paid off this year. In addition to improving his own game, Kevin also mentored developing referees. This year, he traveled to Kelowna to mentor regional refs at a D2 tournament.
Outstanding Community Support - Nancy Harris
Since moving to Prince George with her husband Pat in the 80s, Nancy has been a tireless force in organization wheelchair sports in the North. People with disabilities living in the North face many barriers to participation in sport, and Nancy is determined to blast them all. She’s advocated in every way imaginable, from creating a ground-breaking wheelchair sports school championships to getting Let’s Play chairs used in physical education classrooms to leveraging partnerships with Measure Up the North and the Canada Winter Games Organizing Committee to create a more inclusive, accessible Prince George. We are so grateful for Nancy’s enthusiasm, her vision and her drive. The North is truly a better place because of her.
MJ Boudreault True Sport Award - Ross MacDonald
Ross has a reputation for being a very competitive athlete. Now a veteran player in BC, Ross has been a mentor to up-and-coming athletes over the past few years . This year, he led his team to the CWBL Open Finals, winning a bronze medal. He was on the BCWBS Board of Directors for a number of years and has contributed to our community tremendously. He continues to share his view and feedback to BCWBS and our athletes to help them grow.
Kenny Hall Spirit Award - Paula Higgins
Paula started playing with her sister Erin and dad Joe a few years ago at the City League and Division 2. She improved dramatically in 2014, made the junior provincial team and women’s provincial team. Although it was her first year with the women’s provincial team, Paula performed exceptionally well at nationals and contributed to the team’s championship win. Paula worked hard though the year and also made the Canada Games team for 2015, where she demonstrated incredible team work on and off the court! No matter what team she is on, she is the most supportive teammate on and off the court, as well as being ready to perform when she is in the game. We can tell easily that she just enjoys the sport and being with her teammates by looking at her and her performance.