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Northwest Alberta sport stars celebrated

Champions of sport from across northwestern Alberta have been recognized by Grande Prairie Regional Sport Connection. It held its 6th annual Northwest Alberta Sport Excellence Awards March 6th in the County of Grande Prairie.

Below are the winners and their nominations:

Coach of the Year: Luis Martinez – Taekwondo, MMA, & Kickboxing

Luis constantly inspires his athletes to be better everyday. 2019 accomplishments include:
– CHITF World Championship –Australia – 15 Gold, 8 Silver and 4 Bronze Medals (Awarded a Certificate of Outstanding Instructor)
– Dragon Challenge – Edmonton – won 53 Gold, 42 Silver and 42 Bronze Medals
– Youth IMMAFF –Italy (Coached Ian Stoby to win 3rd place)
– Brave 27 (MMA) – Abu Dhabi (Coached an athlete to win a gold and remain undefeated)
– General Choi Memorial Cup – Ottawa – 5 Gold, 12 Silver, 8 Bronze
– DMA Challenge – Calgary – won 21 Gold, 12 Silver and 8 Bronze
– Prestige FC 12 – Fort McMurray (coached student to win first amateur Kickboxing fight)

Developmental Coach of the Year: Alain Johnson – Taekwondo

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Having competed as student and won countless medals, he decided to widen his knowledge by qualifying as an official in 2008. He has now achieved the level of First Class Canadian National Certified Competition Referee for both poomsae and kyorugi. He is currently training to receive his 5th degree black belt. Master Johnson continues to be a student of Taekwon-do, inspiring all of us to continue our own personal journeys. Alain has grown the club from its humble beginnings of 6 students to the 55+ students registered today. Students of all ages (5-60+), physical and mental capacities are made to feel right at home, part of the team, at the Road Warriors club in Donnelly, AB.

Female Athlete of the Year: Mary-Helen Hopkins – Swimming

Mary Helen has been a competitive swimmer since 1958! She embodies the thought that age is just a number and excelled in every event she took part in in 2019 including:
Alberta Masters Provincial Championships – 1st in age group 100m Backstroke – 1st in age group 1500m Freestyle – 1st in age group 200m Backstroke – 1st in age group 50m Backstroke
Canadian Masters Swimming Championships – 3rd in age group 800m Freestyle – 3rd in age group 65-69 1500m Freestyle – 2nd in age group 50m Backstroke – 2nd in age group 100m Backstroke – 2nd in age group 200m Backstroke

Junior Female Athlete of the Year: Jordan Greber – Swimming

Jordan is a naturally athletic and competitive individual. Swimming from a very early age Jordan joined the Piranhas swim club to purse her love of the water. Committed and hard working Jordan continually pushes herself everyday to become more competitive on the national stage. 2019 accomplishments include:
– Alberta Championships, 400m/800m/1500m Freestyle – Gold
– Alberta Championships, 200m/400m IM – Gold
– Alberta Championship, 100m/200m Backstroke – Gold
– Canadian Junior Championships, 400m Individual Medley Finalist
– 2019 Swim Alberta Emerge & Aspire Athlete
– 2019 Swim Canada “On Track” identified Athlete
– 2019 Swim Canada National Development Program Athlete
– Team Canada, Barbados Open Water Festival 5km – Bronze

Male Athlete of the Year: Ian Stoby – Taekwondo, MMA, & Kickboxing

Ian trains and competes in Taekwondo, Kickboxing, Brazilian Jujitsu and MMA. Ian’s drive and talent have taken him to a world class level in combat sports for his age. Ian is an instructor at Gladiators Martial Arts Academy and gives back by mentoring and training other martial artists. 2019 accomplishments include:
– CHITF Taekwondo Worlds – Australia – Gold Sparring
– UTTC Taekwondo Tournament – Gold Sparring
– IMMAF World Mixed Martial Arts – Rome – Bronze
– CHITF – Dominican Republic Taekwondo Championships – Gold Sparring
– Destiny Martial Arts Taekwondo Tournament – Gold Sparring
– K1 Kickboxing Prestige Fighting Championship – Unanimous Decision
– Amateur Mixed Martial Arts record 3 wins & 1 loss

Junior Male Athlete of the Year: Kobe Grocholski – Athletics/Track & Field

Kobe consistently excelled at the local, regional, provincial, and national levels in 2019 in both track and field and xc running. He is a top notch student and active in the community as a hockey referee and dancer. 2019 accomplishments include:
– Athletics Alberta U20 1500m – Gold
– Athletics Alberta U18 1500m – Gold & Indoor 1500m – Silver
– Legion National U18 1500m – 5th place
– Canada West Meet U18 1500m – Bronze
– Northwest Zone Cross Country 800m, 1500m, 4 x 100m & 4 x 400m – Gold
– ASAA Cross Country Championships – 7th Place
– ASAA Track & Field Championships 1500m & 800m – 4th place
– Athletics Canada U18 Cross Country Championships – 26th place

Team of the Year: Northern Lights U18 AAA Baseball Team

The 2019 Northern Lights U18 AAA baseball team is comprised of athletes from across the peace country including; Peace River, Slave Lake, Fort St. John, Savannah, City and County of Grande Prairie. The team ended the season as the most decorated team in a single season in the history of AAA baseball in Baseball Alberta as well as in Zone 8.
– 9th place overall at regular season
– Tier 2 Provincials – Fort McMurray, AB – Gold
– Tier 1 Provincials – Sherwood Park, AB – Silver
– Western Canadian Baseball Association National Championship – Red Deer, AB – Silver

Event of the Year: MD of Greenview 2019 Men’s and Master Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championships

The Men’s and Masters Men’s Fast Pitch championships brought more than 6000 spectators, 300 participants and 100 volunteers together to celebrate the sport’s most prestigious national tournament. The event showcased the sport of fast pitch by bringing to Grande Prairie, some of the greatest players in the world and in doing so the attention of fans worldwide. The games were witnessed live by more than 6000 spectators in the stands and by 10s of thousands more online through online streaming. Spectators, participants, and game officials reveled of the event. This tournament was the most successful events in recent history for Softball Canada.

Outstanding Official: CJ Senkow – Ice Hockey

CJ began refereeing in 1995 in Grande Prairie and moved to Red Deer in 1996 to increase his opportunities. He has worked as a referee and linesman in the Alberta Junior hockey League and a linesman in the Western Hockey League. CJ also refereed at prestigious games such as; the Doyle Cup, Mackenzie Cup, and Pacific Cup. He has been on the provincial board since 2001 and is the Hockey Alberta Regional Coordinator and Officials Instructor. Since moving back to Grande Prairie he has continued instructing clinics in the region and province and continues his work on the provincial committee and as the regional coordinator.

Unsung Hero: Douglas Vandemark – Figure Skating

Doug has been a dedicated volunteer of the Grovedale Figure Skating Club for 15 years, organizing test days for all skate clubs, Regional chair for peace region for the Alberta NWT Nunavut skate Canada section. Doug’s philosophy is to just get those kids on the ice having fun”,” we’re doing it for the kids”. Doug celebrates every child’s achievements it didn’t matter if they were just learning to stand on their skates or if they had done their first waltz jump. He has the true heart of a volunteer, dedicated to our club and to supporting the sport of Figure Skating in the peace country.

Sport Builder: Krista Mitchell – Trail Running

Over the past 4 years Krista has shown a passion and drive for developing a strong trail running Community. Not only has she developed the Thursday night trail running group but, she has also founded many local races throughout the years. These events have given back over $16,000.00 to local not for profit organizations. She gives selflessly of her time, and many weekends she can be seen supporting, encouraging, and cheering on many athletes during races. As an accomplished ultra-marathoner herself, she not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. She promotes movement and is an activist for bringing out the best in others.

Community Sportsmanship: Tara Melezko – Hockey

Tara a gap in the amount of funding that was being provided to mental health locally in Grande Prairie and she chose to make a difference. She had an idea to run a hockey tournament with all proceeds going back to mental health in our community. She puts in countless hours for this tournament to be a success and her dedication is much admired. The first year this tournament raised over $11,000 and second year was just short of $6000. This money went into testing in the public schools for kids with Mental health that were previously on the waiting list for years.

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