Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

2017 SOBC award nominations for outstanding athletes, coaches, and volunteers

20 April 2017

We are excited to congratulate the 2017 nominees for Special Olympics BC’s five annual awards! These accomplished and inspiring athletes, coaches, and volunteers have been nominated by their peers in recognition of their outstanding achievements, spirit, and contributions to Special Olympics.

Please join us in congratulating these 38 deserving nominees!

The winners of the 2017 SOBC awards will be announced over the coming weeks on the SOBC website and social media accounts.

Athletic Achievement Award

The Athletic Achievement Award is presented annually to a male or female athlete who has demonstrated outstanding athletic skill both in practice and competition. This athlete works hard to develop their abilities and to excel in their sport(s). In addition to athletic ability, this athlete must act as a role model for other Special Olympics athletes.

John Chen, SOBC – Vancouver

“After over 20 years of participation in floor hockey John led his team through the last winter cycle to a gold-medal finish for Team BC at the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games.”

Terry Daniels, SOBC – Comox Valley

“Terry is always eager to learn new skills in floor hockey. Terry follows the instruction of coaches and is receptive when advice is offered. Terry has shown great strides in his skill level from where he began and has progressed from a ‘C’ Level player to a ‘B’ Level in his development.”

Cory Duhaime, SOBC – Delta

“The first time Cory competed at Provincial Games at alpine skiing, he could have competed in the Novice division, but because of his strong results at the previous Regional Qualifiers, he pushed to compete in the Advanced category. He achieved three bronze medals that year. He took that as a benchmark and set a goal to become the best skier in the province.”

Krista Meikle, SOBC – Victoria

“Krista diligently used her Team BC 2016 training book to track her workouts and eating habits and increased her training to prepare for the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games. She participated in additional training sessions to prepare for the Games, and also trained independently at the gym and at home. Her hard work and dedication paid off and she earned a bronze medal in an extremely competitive 100m race.”

Glenda Melnychuk, SOBC – Quesnel

“Once she had been selected to attend the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games as skip of her curling team, Glenda committed to attending an additional practice on Wednesday nights. As the designated skip, she sought opportunities to learn more about the game, whether that involved engaging in conversations with her coaches and teammates, playing in generic league games, or watching curling on TV.”

Paige Norton, SOBC – Abbotsford

“For Paige, sports are about more than just winning. She demonstrates that hard work and dedication pays off. An athlete who trains five days a week, including two-a-day sessions, she is determined to excel in her sport and in life. She tests the limits of what the human body and spirit can achieve in setting a good example for her peers as a good citizen and an ambassador for sport and Special Olympics, to do their very best, build confidence, and strive for good health.”

Jonathan Robins, SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook

“Jonathan is one of our athletes that can be regularly seen cheering on his teammates and even athletes from other teams. He often encourages others to do the same. Jonathan has a gift for helping his teammates if they are feeling down on themselves or upset; he is able to help them move on and refocus on the task at hand.”

Tony Wilkinson, SOBC – Kelowna

“Tony has shown incredible personal growth including confidence, self-discipline, and verbal or public speaking skills. Tony’s self-discipline was demonstrated by his commitment to eating properly, working out, and completing a daily report for Team Canada. Tony’s confidence in all areas has grown, and has been demonstrated along with his public speaking when he conducted a phone interview with a local newspaper and when he returned from 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games and conducted a TV interview on his own.”


Grassroots Coach Award

The Grassroots Coach Award is presented to a coach who works tirelessly to ensure that all athletes, regardless of their ability level, are provided with opportunities to train, improve and compete. This coach emphasizes fair play and good sportsmanship and ensures that all athletes feel included and valued. This coach recognizes the unique gifts of each athlete and has the ability to form an exceptional bond with the athletes who require a unique approach from their coach.

Larry Cagna, SOBC – Comox Valley

“Larry has a very positive way with the athletes he coaches. He is very relaxed, jokes around but also remembers the little things that go on in athletes’ lives…inquires after, shows concern…he’s very good for athletes’ self-esteem.”

Michael Donoghue, SOBC – Vancouver

“Michael has always made himself available to help the Local when there is a major need and there is no better example than when he stepped up to take on the developmental swimming program as a Co-Head Coach. Not only was this a selfless and generous act but it was inspiring and courageous in that Michael took this role on, without having the ability to swim himself. In spite of this perceived barrier (which would deter most people) he took this as an opportunity and did it anyway.”

Meghan Jamieson, SOBC – Richmond

“As the rhythmic gymnastics Head Coach, Meghan has planned very effective practices that served to meet the individual needs of the athletes. She is always conscious of each personality and tries to adapt activities to include favourite themes that will motivate and make it extra fun for the athletes. She really takes the time to know each athlete.”

Aaron Leontowich, SOBC – Kamloops

“Aaron ensures that all athletes are coached in a safe and respectful manner and that all volunteers are valued and become part of the coaching team. Aaron continually works on the development of self-esteem with his athletes by encouraging each of them to take a leadership role at practice. He drives athletes to all competitions and tirelessly encourages them to perform well.”

Ricky Long, SOBC – Victoria

“Ricky is a gentle and enthusiastic leader. His consideration for these special children is exemplary and heartwarming. He has opened a whole new world to our son – one of team spirit, cooperation and healthy fun. Our son’s personality and self-esteem has blossomed thanks to Ricky's thoughtful guidance and encouragement.”

Ellen Martz, SOBC – Quesnel

“Ellen has a positive, friendly, outgoing personality. She is a team player, and sees her role as supportive of the head coach. One head coach described her as ‘our girl Friday.’ Over the past eight years, Ellen has actively supported the increase in Quesnel’s program offerings by stepping up whenever needed to actively support that program as assistant coach.”

Misty Pagliaro, SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook

“Misty loves to have fun with her athletes. She is able to be playful and joke with the athletes while ensuring that her interactions are respectful. Misty has a lot of sport knowledge to pass on to her athletes and she does so in a way that is appropriate to the athlete that she is working with.”

Bill Scobbie, SOBC – Port Alberni

“Bill is very approachable and easy to talk to. He treats all people with respect and is very calm in all situations even if there is a need for discipline. He honestly cares! One of his fellow coaches commented that Bill knows his curling so well and is so kind and caring that he is a natural coach.”

Derek Taylor, SOBC – Grand Forks

“Derek is an upbeat, down-to-earth person who is very approachable. He is very willing to accept and commit to responsibilities when called upon.”


Howard Carter Award

Howard Carter was an upstanding member of the automobile business community and a great friend of Special Olympics BC. Mr. Carter recognized the value of coaches and as such this award is presented in his memory. The winner of the Howard Carter Award is a coach who provides exceptional training to the athletes and ensures that they are prepared to beat their personal bests and deliver high-calibre performances at competitions. This coach is a creative problem solver and is always developing new ways to improve strength and conditioning of the athletes.

Nikki Apps, SOBC – Comox Valley

Nikki’s one-on-one training with the athletes encourages them to WANT to improve. Her work in the water results in immediate improvement and the joy on the athletes’ faces when they master a skill because of her is amazing to see.”

Angela Behn, SOBC – Nanaimo

“As a parent who has a few children with Special Olympics, it is always reassuring when Angela is at a competition as I know that the athlete’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing will be well supported and of utmost importance. Angela is well known throughout the Nanaimo community because of her interactions and relationships with Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and parents/caregivers.”

Donna Bilous, SOBC – Abbotsford

“Donna’s excellent organizational skills, time management, communication, and human service skills are an asset for all athletes involved in sport programs in the Abbotsford Local. Her enthusiasm and energy are infectious, a motivator for those around her, and her reputation for building in successes in whatever she applies herself to is well known and celebrated.”

Penny Coyle, SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook

“Penny is working hard with an athlete for the 2017 Special Olympics BC Games – she has organized extra training to work on skill development for this athlete. Penny works with the Cranbrook Triton Swim Club to arrange training for our volunteers for competition timing and stroke evaluation.”

Courtney Keith Motz, SOBC – Delta

“Prior to Courtney, the Delta rhythmic gymnastics program had never sent athletes to Provincial or National Games. In addition, Courtney herself was selected as the Head Coach for Region 4 rhythmic gymnastics at the 2013 Provincial Summer Games in Langley. Two athletes from Delta qualified for the 2014 National Summer Games in Vancouver, which was a first for the Local. Courtney has personally inspired individual athletes by encouraging them to set goals to do their best, and has facilitated extra practices and performances to help achieve these goals.”

Steve Neilsen, SOBC – Victoria

“Steve takes skating seriously but he also helps us have fun while staying safe. He has really helped me with my crossovers and taught me to control my speed on the curves. He calls me ‘Rocket Man’ because I am so fast. Our team is doing so well at regional competitions that Steve has now named our team the ‘Dominators.’ He says that is because he fully expects us to dominate upcoming meets. I like that he really believes in us.”


President’s Award

This non-coaching volunteer is dedicated to planning, organizing, and operating sport programs, fundraisers and/or competitions. This volunteer is an asset to the Local’s Executive or sub-committee and is always willing to take on a leadership role to ensure that the athletes and volunteers have the best experience possible. This volunteer donates countless hours and always has the best interest of Special Olympics BC in the forefront.

Phyllis Baudais, SOBC – Comox Valley

“In her role as Registration Coordinator Phyllis has gone to every sport program running in our Local, introduced herself, and ensured all athletes are registered and all required info up to date and sent into Provincial Office. She gets paperwork to coaches often before they even realize they need it. Phyllis also regularly shows up at sports practices and steps in to volunteer if help is needed.”

Andrea Boyes, SOBC – Victoria

“Andrea’s interactions and relationships with coaches and athletes are just the right combination of professional, warm, and open. When we have suddenly been short on volunteers for a sport, Andrea has stepped in and coached until she could recruit a new volunteer. When she has done this, she always gets on well with the athletes and they clearly enjoy being coached by her.”

Sami Fields, SOBC – Vancouver

“She is extremely well respected by athletes, family members, and volunteers in the programs that she helps out at. She possesses strong knowledge about the Local and programs; however, it is her knowledge of the athletes that adds tremendous value to all volunteers, especially new ones.”

Joan Gerhardt, SOBC – Kelowna

“Joan is respected as a trusted, highly motivated supporter of Special Olympics athletes and the Local in her roles as fundraiser, leader, coach, mentor, and friend. During the course of reaching out to fellow SO volunteers, athletes, and community leaders, Joan has universally been described as being well deserving of this nomination and that it is long overdue.”

Sally Masters, SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook

“Anyone who meets or works with Sally will immediately recognize her kind, loving nature. She is extremely patient and always willing to give her time to SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook. She is always loving and accepting of our athletes, and her interactions with volunteers is always respectful and genuine.”

Lisa McPhedrian, SOBC – Richmond

“Lisa is always around to help and ensures that everyone gets what they need. She can often be seen at competitions helping to set up, make lunches, and organize concessions. If there is something that needs to be done – Lisa is there to do it with a smile.”

Grace Todd, SOBC – Port Alberni

“Grace keeps on top of the rules of fundraising, and applies for gaming licenses where needed for our many fundraising endeavors. After we were turned down a few years in a row for a gaming grant, she contacted Treasurers from other Locals that received the grants to ask questions about how they worded their applications. This year, we received a gaming grant for $10,000!”

Arlene Vanderniet, SOBC – Grand Forks

“Arlene is the Treasurer extraordinaire of our Local! Not only does she keep the books but she assists in almost all aspects of the Local. She is always present for registration, is lead coordinator for sending our athletes to swimming, bocce, bowling, and floor hockey tournaments, and is a big help with fundraising.”


Spirit of Sport Award

This award is presented annually to an athlete who exemplifies the true meaning of sportsmanship. The Athlete’s Oath states, ‘Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.’ This athlete lives by our Athlete’s Oath and is an inspiration to fellow athletes and coaches. This athlete shows dedication and enthusiasm, and always gives their best effort.

Connor Charlong, SOBC – Grand Forks

“Connor is very committed, punctual and consistent with his attendance at SOBC swimming and bowling programs. He participates willingly, listens well, and repeats instructions to ensure that he understands correctly. He prides himself in getting things right. Connor’s attitude toward his coaches, fellow athletes and SOBC programming is exemplary.”

Mathew Deforge, SOBC – Port Alberni

“Mathew is very encouraging to other athletes. Team members look up to him and go to him with questions. His teammates have said he would make a great captain.”

Chelsea Kaake, SOBC – Delta

“Chelsea has become a very good curler and has developed a strong understanding of the game. She works closely with all our curlers and has become a teacher and an acting coach to our athletes. Our athletes recognize and trust Chelsea as a leader and have all become better curlers because of her. The same goes for bowling – Chelsea teaches as much as she participates.”

Raymond Mabayo, SOBC – Vancouver

“Raymond is a natural leader who is quiet, yet has such a strong presence amongst his peers. He is never seen getting into conflict with other athletes, is nothing less than obedient when asked by his coaches to do or perform a specific task.”

Kendall Salanski, SOBC – Kimberley/Cranbrook

“Kendall is currently prepping to compete in swimming at the 2017 Special Olympics BC Games this summer; she can be found at the pool in the morning for extra practice in developing her swimming skills. Kendall is always willing to work her hardest at practice; she shares her lane well and is always encouraging others. Kendall exudes sportsmanship at any program, never becoming upset if she doesn’t win or finish first.”

Kelsey Thomson, SOBC – Richmond

“Kelsey is simply amazing to watch. She takes everything in stride with a huge smile on her face. She is the first to lend a hand and the first to be there to comfort an athlete. She seems to have a natural ability to sense when someone is feeling sad, hurt, or not quite themselves. She is very sensitive to their needs and will be the first to see what she can do to help.”

Wally Trotter, SOBC – Victoria

“Wally truly embodies the Special Olympics spirit. He has a positive attitude, he helps and motivates his fellow athletes, and is a complete joy to coach and interact with. Special Olympics benefits immensely with Wally being part of the Special O community.”

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