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2024 North Shore Sport Awards recognize community’s best

Among this year’s winners are marathon runner Natasha Wodak, hockey phenom Connor Bedard and distance swimmer Debbie Collingwood
Sport climber Alannah Yip, marathon runner Natasha Wodak and rugby player Savannah Bauder were recognized in the Senior Female Athlete category at the North Shore Sport Awards on Tuesday, March 12. Wodak received top honours. | North Vancouver Recreation & Culture

From hockey wunderkinds to sensational swimmers, North and West Vancouver boast some of the finest athletes on the planet.

A showing of those sporty specimens was on display at the North Shore Sport Awards on Tuesday evening at West Vancouver Community Centre.

Winning in the Senior Female Athlete category was marathon runner Natasha Wodak. The two-time Olympian had several standout performances at international races last year. Also nominated was UBC rugby superstar Savannah Bauder, and Alannah Yip, who made history at the Pan Am Games last year as the first-ever Canadian to score a medal in sport climbing at a major games event.

In the Senior Male Athlete group, skier Cameron Alexander got top honours after several recent podiums at World Cup downhill races as well as a bronze medal at the 2023 world championships. Top CFL prospect Theo Benedet was also nominated, alongside wakeboarder Hunter Smith, who earned silver at the Pan Am Games last summer.

The Youth Female athlete recognized was Chloe Primerano, the world’s best junior woman hockey player currently on skates. She was named MVP at the IIHF U18 World Women’s Championship in January. Other nominees were dual sport star Eva Ruse – who has been a dominant force in both volleyball and basketball, leading Mulgrave to its first AA b-ball title in 2023 – and Marlena Tresnjo, the No. 1-ranked U18 female high jumper in the country.

Youth Male athlete of the year is Connor Bedard. The 18-year-old hockey phenom continues to beat expectations in his inaugural season in the NHL. If Bedard wasn’t the No. 1 draft pick last year, the award could have gone to fellow North Van hockey star Macklin Celebrini, 17, who has been sitting atop the NHL 2024 Draft Prospect Rankings. Track triumph Michael Scherk was nominated as well, after becoming the U20 national champion in men’s 110-metre hurdles at the 2023 Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships in September.

Patty Szybunka was crowned Masters Athlete of the year. The 65-year-old track veteran broke seven provincial track and field records in 2023. Also nominated was septuagenarian swimmer Mike Dowling, and silver bullet runner Bill Mustaklim.

Para Female Athlete honours went to Tara Llanes, who helped lead Team Canada to the wheelchair basketball finals at the 2023 Parapan Games.

Nathan Clement was named top Para Male Athlete. The West Vancouverite and child stroke survivor won the para cycling time trial at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.

Outstanding Athletic Achievement goes to Debbie Collingwood for 3 marathon swims

Two North Shore refs were recognized in the Official category. Tyler Clenck was named Field Hockey BC Umpire of the Year, for his outstanding contributions to officiating the sport. And Mark Pearce skated in black and white stripes at January’s World Junior Hockey Championships.

Outstanding Athletic Achievement went to Debbie Collingwood, who completed the Open Water Triple Crown after swimming 32.5 kilometres between Catalina Island and the California mainland last August. She'd previously swum the English Channel and the 20 Bridges Swim around Manhattan. 

The top Team of the year award went to the Sentinel Senior Girls Volleyball squad, which won the AAA provincial banner as the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Provincial 2A provincial girls basketball champs Mulgrave, and the provincial champions from the North Shore Baseball Association 18U AAA Team, were also nominated.

Darren Rath won the Coach award, with numerous contributions and achievements coaching soccer for more than two decades on the North Shore. Other nominees were Sentinel senior girls volleyball coaches Karen Kirkwood and Dave Gibson, as well as Melanie Reid and Raymond Yip, who led their Seycove senior girls field hockey team to its first-ever title at the BC School Sports AA championships.

Track and field coach Errol Aguilera, Argyle gymnastics coach Cath Dimmock and 30-year West Vancouver Cougars soccer coach Rob Inman were recognized in the Community Sport Volunteer category.

Grade 9 gymnast Taylor Dyck won the Comeback award for her incredible journey from breaking both her arms during training in January 2022 to becoming B.C.’s level 4 beam champion in March 2023.

Elite soccer player and outstanding community volunteer Lucas Robson was recognized with the Jim Martin Youth Leadership award.

Siann Montgomery and Pierce Burns were awarded the Spirit of Sport honours, for their dedicated volunteer work with the North Van Wolf Pack. Both have represented the North Shore in floor hockey at the Special Olympics of BC.

Several sporting legends were also inducted into the North Shore Sports Hall of Fame. Those were tennis player Grant Connell, diving athlete Blythe Hartley, football player Jerome Pathon, basketball coach Kathy (Williams) Shields and the 1938 North Shore United Soccer team.

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