The finalists have been selected for curling’s 2011-2012 ADL/Sport PEI Amateur Sport Awards, with the winners to be announced at a ceremony following the PEI Curling Association’s Annual General Meeting, which begins at 5:30 pm on Wednesday May 30 at the Charlottetown Curling Club.
Here are the finalists for each category, with a brief description of their accomplishments related to the 2011-2012 curling season:
Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Sarah Fullerton, Emily Gray, Aleya Quilty
Sarah Fullerton, who curls out of the Charlottetown and Cornwall clubs, and was competing in her last year of junior eligibility, skipped her junior team to a third consecutive provincial Junior title, going on to finish with a 6-6 record at the nationals. She also won the provincial Junior Mixed title, and also entered the provincial women’s championship for the first time, skipping her team to a third place finish. She also competed in the OVCA Junior Superspiel in Ottawa, represented UPEI at the Atlantic University Curling Championships in Cornwall, won the Fall Fling Junior Cashspiel in Summerside, and received a Joyce Myers Trust Fund scholarship from Curl Atlantic. In February, it was announced that she would be joining the Suzanne Birt rink for the 2012-2013 season.
O’Leary’s Emily Gray was chosen in April to compete on Team Canada at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Austria in January, where her team took home a bronze medal in the Mixed competition. Active in social media, she wrote a blog highlighting her experiences for the Canadian Curling Association’s website, and also provided instant updates via Twitter. Leading up to the Games, she attended high performance training camps in Edmonton, Halifax, and BC, finished as runner-up at the OVCA Junior Superspiel in Ottawa, and competed in the Sun Life Financial Junior Cashspiel in Manitoba. Back on the Island, her team finished in the runner-up position at the provincial 20 and Under championships, and she also found the time to help out at junior curling camps, both on the ice and in the classroom.
Cornwall’s Aleya Quilty, despite having to play two months of the season with her hand in a cast, finished as runner-up in both the provincial 17 and Under and 20 and Under championships, and played in the junior mixed provincials, where she received the Fair Play award. Aleya, who is working on completing her competition coaching certification, also coached a junior team and a team of 8 and 9 year olds, helped out twice a week with the Cornwall Curling Club’s junior program, instructed at curling camps across the Island, and volunteered at the Players’ Championship in Summerside.
Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Andrew Cameron, Matthew MacLean, Connor MacPhee
Andrew Cameron of Charlottetown curled on three separate rinks during the season, winning his first provincial Junior championship, along with the Sackville Junior Cashspiel, and their division of the Charlottetown Curling Club Super League with skip Alex Matters, taking the provincial 15 and Under title with skip Tyler Smith, and, with skip Christopher Gallant, narrowly missing their chance to repeat as provincial Junior Mixed champs, losing to the Sarah Fullerton rink in the final.
Matthew MacLean from the Maple Leaf Curling Club in O’Leary, skipped his team to a first place finish at the provincial 17 and Under championships, advancing to the Atlantic Under 18 championship where the team went undefeated into the final, losing in an extra end to the Nova Scotia team. The MacLean rink won the Codiac Junior Cashspiel in Moncton, finished as runners-up in the Fall Fling junior spiel in Summerside, and came third at the provincial 20 and Under championships, losing a tiebreaker to eventual winner Alex Matters.
Connor MacPhee of Cornwall had a very busy curling season, winning the Atlantic University Curling Championship with skip Brett Gallant, and finishing with a 3-4 win-loss record at the nationals, where he earned second team All-Canadian honours. Playing with skip Sam Ramsay, he finished second at the provincial Junior championships, won the Junior Fall Fling in Summerside, was a quarter-finalist at the Codiac Junior Spiel in Moncton, and played in the OVCA SuperSpiel in Ottawa. He also won the provincial Junior Mixed title with skip Sarah Fullerton. Off the ice, Connor brought a junior voice to the PEI Curling Association, serving on the executive as second vice president.
Senior (Adult) Female Athlete of the Year– Suzanne Birt, Rebecca Jean MacDonald, Heather MacRae
Suzanne Birt, the two-time Canadian Junior, 2001 world Junior and six-time PEI women’s champion skip, curls out of the Charlottetown Curling Club, and had a great 2011-2012 season both nationally and internationally, beginning in September, where her team won the inaugural Curl Atlantic Championship in Sackville New Brunswick, with the top prize of a berth in the International Bernese Ladies Cup in Berne, Switzerland. At the Cup in January, the Birt rink made an impressive showing, finishing in third place, after Michelle Jaeggi of Switzerland, and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones. The Birt rink were also in the money with runner-up finishes at three major Canadian cashspiels – the Southwestern Ontario Women’s Charity Classic in London Ontario, and the Lady Monctonian and the Hub City Shootout, both in Moncton.
Rebecca Jean MacDonald, also from the Charlottetown Curling Club, won her seventh provincial women’s curling championship in the 2011-2012 season, playing third for Kim Dolan. She also played third on the Robert Campbell rink, who won the provincial Mixed title. The team will now advance to the Canadian Mixed in Montreal in November, where they hope to capture their second national mixed title, having won the event two years ago.
Heather MacRae is a volunteer who helps out wherever and whenever she can at the Crapaud Community Curling Club, where she has been a member for many years. On the ice, her rink, skipped by Marie Ford, has been the runner-up two years in a row at the provincial The Dominion Curling Club Championship,, losing 4-3 in a close final this year to the Nola Murphy rink from the Silver Fox Curling & Yacht Club in Summerside.
Senior (Adult) Male Athlete of the Year –Brian Ellis, Brett Gallant, Larry Richards
One of the most devoted members and sponsors at the Crapaud Community Curling Club, Brian Ellis is an avid curler, taking part in all club events, and a dedicated volunteer, helping out around the club as much as possible.
Skip Brett Gallant of Charlottetown, a former Canadian Junior champion, had yet another busy year, representing PEI at the Canadian Mixed, finishing with an 8-5 win-loss record, and coming second at the Curl Atlantic Championship in Sackville NB. He skipped his team to a first place finish at the Casino de Charlevoix World Curling Tour event in Clermont Quebec, won the Atlantic University Curling Championship, and finished with a 3-4 record at the national CIS/CCA championships. He was runner-up to Mike Gaudet at the PEI men’s championship, and capped off the year by playing with Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue rink at the season-ending Players’ Championship in Summerside. Following the event, Gushue announced that he has invited Gallat to join his team for the upcoming season.
Montague’s Larry Richards, playing with skip Donald Clarey, had a very busy season, which included a second place finish at the PEI The Dominion Curling Club Championships, and a trip to the PEI men’s championship, where they were the only team to record a win against the event-winning Mike Gaudet rink. As last year’s The Dominion winners, they travelled to Richmond BC to compete in the national event, finishing with a 2-4 record. They also went to Halifax to compete in the Molson Mayflower cashspiel, where they advanced to the money round, losing out in the quarter-finals. Skipping his own rink, Richards finished as runner-up to two-time Canadian Mixed champ Robert Campbell at the PEI Mixed, and won the B Division at the Sweep into Montague spiel. In addition to curling, Richards was also the club representative on the PEICA Board of Directors, and Club Manager and Ice Maker for theMontague Curling Club. Larry also, volunteered many hours at the Players’ Championship in Summerside as part of the ice crew, who had a very short time to get the curling ice installed following a rock concert, and, by all reports, did an excellent job.
Coach of the Year – Peter Gallant, Angela Hodgson, Paul Smith
Peter Gallant, a former Canadian Mixed and nine-time provincial men’s champion, is certainly no stranger to curling, and he is now imparting his knowledge and expertise to a new generation of curlers, as coach. In the 2011-2012 season, he coached the Suzanne Birt women’s team, and the Alex Matters junior squad throughout the season , and also coached the Mike Gaudet rink at the 2012 Brier. Under his guidance, the junior team, which includes his son Chris, won the provincials and advanced to the nationals in Ontario. One of the front end team members commented “it’s not just Peter showing us the proper way to slide and tips on the release, it’s the strategy part that he shares with Chris and Alex on the back end that has made us successful.” After the Gaudet rink defeated the team skipped by Gallant’s other son, Brett, in the provincial final, he agreed to coach Team Gaudet at the Brier in Saskatoon. He coached the Birt rink to a huge win at the Curl Atlantic Championship in Sackville New Brunswick, which provided them with an invitation to the International Bernese Ladies Cup in Bern, Switzerland, where they had an impressive third place finish.
Angela Hodgson coached the Sarah Fullerton rink to their third consecutive provincial Junior championship, and at the nationals, where they finished with a 6-6 record. She won the Asham coaching award at the PEI juniors, as well as the coaching Fair Play award at the nationals. The team says that she acts not only as a coach, but a “wonderful mentor” to the team members. She also coached the Holland College men’s team at the Canadian College Invitational championships, where they finished with a 3-4 record, and coached the Fullerton team to a first place finish at the Fall Fling junior cashspiel in Summerside. She also completed her first term on the PEI Curling Association executive, serving as Vice President.
Paul Smith had a very successful year coaching the Veronica Smith junior team from the Cornwall Curling Club, helping them with their many achievements, including making the final in the Fall Fling, and finishing in the top four in the Spring Thaw, both in Summerside. He also coached them to a provincial 17 and Under title, and a second place finish at the Atlantic Under 18. Smith has been coaching the team for seven seasons, allowing them to achieve the goals they set out at the beginning of the season, encouraging them throughout the year. He was on the ice with them two nights a week practicing, and took stats at their weekly league games, to point out possible areas of improvement. He was also present at every tournament they entered. The Veronica Smith team feel they have benefited greatly from his hard work and dedication.
Official of the Year– Kay Atkinson, Cliff Poirier, Kevin Smith/Phyllis Stretch
Kay Atkinson of Charlottetown is a respected and extremely knowledgeable official. This past season she was involved in many PEICA events as head official, and mentoring umpires who were obtaining the hours necessary for their certification.
Summerside’s Cliff Poirier spent several months in the south during this past curling season, yet he still made quite an impact on the PEI curling world. Before leaving, he trained new umpires and started the process to review the list of qualified umpires on PEI. After returning, he jumped right in as Head Umpire at many of the Provincial events that were left and became the local Organizer of Officials at the Players’ Championship in Summerside, where he recruited volunteers, assigned their schedules, attended local organizing committee meetings, and basically “lived” at Credit Union Place the week of the event. He continues to stay in tune with what is new and/or changing around the country in terms of the curling rules and continues to help keep the PEICA and its members up-to-date.
Phyllis Stretch and Kevin Smith officiated at the provincial events held at the Crapaud Community Curling Club throughout the year, providing advice and guidance to the curlers, and ensuring that the games went smoothly, and were officiated properly.
Volunteer of the Year: Amanda Bulger, Derek MacEwen, Phyllis Stretch
Amanda Bulger, from Summerside, is a regular volunteer at provincial curling championships and cashspiels on PEI, where she updates the live-scoring website. She is known for being focused, quick, and taking her job seriously. Although Amanda will sit and chat and let those around her know all the current events in the curling world (she is very knowledgeable in this area) she also watches each ice every game and doesn’t miss a thing, knowing that there are many curling fans out there who want to know the results, but can’t get to the club. If the equipment or the program is not working properly Amanda figures out a way to get the scores out. At one point this season during the PEI Men’s Tankard, the Live Curling site was not working properly, and instead of waiting for it to work, she posted the scores on social media sites to help spread the word. Amanda also volunteered at the Players’ Championship in Summerside, putting the scores up on the scoreboard at the end of the ice sheets. Overall, Amanda is a great asset to have at any and all events.
Derek MacEwen has been a volunteer at the Cornwall Curling Club for many years, in many capacities, serving on the Board of Directors, and as its President at one point. His longest volunteering duty, however, has been the club website, CornwallCurling.com, which he originally setup in 2000, and continues to update to this day. The attractive, informative, and up-to-date site provides the club with a valuable promotional tool to attract new members, get ice rentals, especially on short notice when there are cancellations, and provide members with the latest information on draws, bonspiels and other club activities. Club members, some of whom live many miles from the club and may only curl once a week, know they can always get the latest information on club events from the website, or from its Twitter, Facebook, RSS, and email feeds. Information sent to him for posting is added almost instantly, with never a complaint. Derek is proactive in getting information for the website, scouring the bulletin boards at the Club, and the newspaper for information concerning the club, and is glad to help others reword their material so that it delivers exactly the right message. He is also excellent at spotting mistakes on information going out on the website, and in newspapers, and has from time to time saved the club the embarrassment of sending out incorrect information. He also takes pictures at many events of both the curling and off-ice activities, along with pictures of the winning teams, and posts them to the website so that everyone can see what it is like to curl at the club. For many years he has also served as drawmaster for the Wednesday night Ladder League, which is always well-organized. Because he is so efficient and reliable, the Board of Directors feels his work is often taken for granted, and have nominated him for Volunteer of the Year to reinforce their appreciation.
Phyllis Stretch has served as the Junior Program Co-coordinator for the past six years for the Crapaud Community Curling Club, and has been the mainstay in keeping the junior Program alive and growing in Crapaud. She has given very generously of her time and assists in virtually all aspects of the club operation – she is one of several key people who oversaw all of the recent renovations to the club, and has served as a Board member and looked ater expenditure approval for the past six years. She has provided excellent assistance and cooperation for numerous Junior Camps and events and virtually all other activities at the club. She has completed Club Coach Youth, and Introduction to Competitive Coach training and has recently completed her Level 1 Official’s certification.
Team of the Year – Team Birt, Team Fullerton, Team PEI (Special Olympics)
Team Birt, with skip Suzanne Birt, third Shelly Bradley, second Robyn MacPhee, lead Leslie MacDougall, and coach Peter Gallant, had a big season on the Atlantic, national and international fronts, winning the first Curl Atlantic Championship in Sackville NB, which included a berth in the World Curling Tour’s International Bernese Ladies Cup in Switzerland, where the team had an impressive third place finish in the 32 team world-level event. Team Birt also competed in the Southwestern Ontario Women’s Charity Cashspiel in London Ontario, finishing in second place in a 16-team field of top rinks from Canada and Scotland. They also recorded a third place finish at the Rodd Curling Classic in Charlottetown, which includes Atlantic Canada’s best teams, and finished the season as the top team in Atlantic Canada on the Canadian Team Ranking system, and in 23rd place for the entire country.
Team Fullerton, which includes skip Sarah Fullerton, third Michelle McQuaid, second Sara MacRae, and lead Hillary Thompson, with coach Angela Hodgson, capped off their Junior careers by winning their third straight provincial Junior women’s championship. They also entered the Scotties provincial women’s championship, making an impressive debut with a third place finish, and won the Fall Fling junior cashspiel. The team also finds time to balance academic work with their busy curling schedule, with two members of the team on the Deans List at university.
Team PEI (Special Olympics) is skipped by Greg St. John, and includes Phillip Chugg, John Anthony Laybolt, Monique Gauthier and Chris MacPherson, with head coach Dick St. John, assistant coach Ann Doucette, and team manager Paula Gauthier. In February 2011, the team, who curl out of both the Charlottetown and Cornwall curling clubs, won the right to represent PEI at the Special Olympics National Winter Games the following February in St. Albert, Alberta. In the intervening year the team went through a rigorous training, including weekly conditioning beginning in June, which including a warmup and stretch, a 45 minute walk, 15 minutes of strength training, followed by a cool down and a curling review. The athletes were also given pedometers to track their daily steps, and undertook a nutrition program based on the Canada Food Guide. In the fall, the team practiced once a week at the Charlottetown Curling Club, and played as a team in Cornwall’s Sunday evening league. As well, the athletes participated in an eight session mental preparation program with sports psychologist Tara Costello, developed training goals, took part in team building actiivities, played in a club bonspiel, and played the Summerside Special Olympics team. All this hard work paid off, as the team came home from the Games with a gold medal, and, perhaps more importantly, grew as individuals and as a team through the experience. Following their gold medal performance, the team continued to practice and play at the Charlottetown and Cornwall clubs, participated in a Special Olympics PEI-organized bonspiel of Special Olympic athletes from the three Maritime provinces, and travelled to Moncton for a similar bonspiel. The team would like to thank their coaches and manager, the staff of Special Olympics PEI, and the parents who drove the athletes to their events and fundraised significant amounts of money.