Local athletes, coaches and officials from across the province have been nominated for a variety of Sport BC awards – including a handful from Surrey, Delta and White Rock.
Leading the way with one of the most prestigious nominations is Semiahmoo Secondary volleyball player Michael Dowhaniuk, who is one of three nominees for ‘male high school athlete of the year.’
The nomination came as something of a surprise to the volleyball star, who will play next year at UBC.
“I found out about it three days ago, and it was quite surprising, actually,” Dowhaniuk told Peace Arch News.
“I didn’t know (the awards) were a thing, but I’m quite honoured.”
The Sport BC Athlete of the Year Awards – now in their 52nd year – are set to be handed out at a gala event March 28 at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver.
Last December, the Grade 12 Totem was named most valuable player of the BC High School Boys AAA Volleyball Championships as he led Semiahmoo to a second consecutive provincial title. Dowhaniuk was also MVP of the 2016 championship run.
“Mike was a real force for our team this year. His net play – blocking and spiking – was unparalleled,” said Semiahmoo senior boys volleyball coach Mike Sapic.
“(In addition to) his obvious physical talents, he is coachable and willing to improve… he had a positive, fun-loving, inclusive attitude with his teammates, where another athlete might have been egocentric.”
Dowhaniuk said the nomination – whether he ends up winning the award or not – ranks “in the top two or three” of his volleyball accomplishments, right up there with Semiahmoo’s provincial titles and the bronze medal he won last summer with Team BC at the Canada Summer Games.
One of Dowhaniuk’s teammates on that Summer Games squad, Langley Christian’s Brodie Hofer, is also nominated in the same player-of-the-year category.
“We’re pretty close, and we have quite a rivalry – I definitely want to win,” Dowhaniuk said. “And next year, he’s going to Trinity Western so the rivalry should continue.”
The third nominee in the category is football and baseball player Ryan Baker, of North Vancouver’s Windsor Secondary.
Dowhaniuk isn’t the only local sports figure who is hoping to hear his or her name called to the stage during next month’s event. Other nominees include Surrey track-and-field athlete Katarina Vlahovic from Fraser Heights Secondary, who is one of three nominees for ‘female high-school athlete of the year.’
At last June’s BC High School Track and Field Championships, Vlahovic won gold in the senior girls’ 400-m, as well as in the 100-m hurdles – she set a personal best and a meet record in the latter – and also picked up a silver in the 200-m dash.
In the ‘college athlete of the year’ category, former Holy Cross basketball star Rachel Beauchamp – who now plays at Douglas College – is one of three nominees.
Delta’s Tomas Bourassa is one of three finalists in the ‘athlete with a disability’ category. The Seaquam Secondary student – who suffered a spinal cord injury in a 2009 biking accident – was chosen last year to play with Canada’s wheelchair tennis team, which travelled to Italy to compete in the Wheelchair Tennis World Cup.
Last September, he was also inducted into the Delta Sports Hall of Fame.
Another Delta resident, track-and-field coach Garrett Collier, is among nominees for ‘male coach of the year.’ Collier works with the Richmond Kajaks track club, and has been instrumental in the discus career of South Surrey’s Tyrell Mara who, after a basketball and CrossFit career, has made a return to discus and is eyeing a spot on Canada’s Olympic team for 2020.
“To be doing this now with Garrett is special… sometimes I’m blown away at practices because he understands me so well, and understands how my mind works,” Mara told Peace Arch News last August, during a discussion on his Olympic aspirations.
Cloverdale curler Tyler Tardi is a finalist for two awards – he’s one of three nominated in the ‘male junior athlete of the year’ category – alongside Vancouver track-and-field athlete Anastas Eliopoulous and current National Hockey League forward Mathew Barzal, from North Vancouver.
Tardi and the rest of his 2017 curling team – including Jordan Tardi, Sterling Middleton, and Nick Meister – are also finalists in the ‘team of the year’ division, alongside UBC’s men’s track-and-field team and UBC’s women’s volleyball squad.
In the ‘female senior athlete of the year’ category, Olympian Shallon Olsen, a Surrey gymnast, is nominated. Olsen – who, at 16, was the youngest Canadian Olympics the 2016 Summer Games in Rio – had a strong 2017. She won two silver medals – in floor and vault events – at the first-ever World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria, and also won gold in vault at the 2017 Jesolo Cup.
White Rock’s Andrew Armstrong, a triathlon athlete and official, is one of three finalists in the ‘official of the year’ category.