It’s not too late to nominate a deserving local athlete for the prestigious Orillia Athlete of the Year Award for 2017.
The City of Orillia is accepting nominations until noon on Wednesday, said Chris Gammon, the city’s sport program supervisor.
“We’re really hoping we have five or six local athletes nominated for the award,” said Gammon. “Last year, we only had three nominees … We know there are many athletes in the community that are worthy.”
He said it’s never been easier to nominate an athlete. The process can be done completely online and only takes a few minutes. “This is the first year we’ve offered an online application,” said Gammon. “It’s pretty easy to do and it allows you to attach documents … it’s really user-friendly.” Of course, you can also drop into the parks, recreation and culture department on the third floor of the Orillia City Centre and pick up an application package.
To qualify as a nominee, an athlete must be a credit to the city because of his/her athletic accomplishment, show dedication to training and exhibit good sportsmanship. The award is open to individuals from Orillia and area that display excellence in one or more athletic endeavours. Those nominating an athlete are asked to provide comments/examples of the nominee’s sportsmanship, attitude and accomplishments. A mandatory letter of recommendation from a sports organization, such as a school or local, provincial, national or international sports group, is required.
“It’s really important to recognize our outstanding athletes,” said Gammon. “These are people who are leaders in our community and they will grow up to be future leaders not only here but elsewhere. Sports can be a uniting force and this is a great platform to recognize that.”
Last year, Quintin Hoch-Bullen, an outstanding women’s field lacrosse player, won the athlete of the year award, joining a list of winners that includes the city’s finest athletes in a wide variety of sports. Former winners include future NHL hockey player Ethan Moreau, Olympic figure skater Brian Orser, world-class track-and-field athlete Rob Town, internationally-ranked sprinter Toyin Olupona, Olympic boxer Walter Henry, multi-sport star Jerry Udell and a host of others.
“The good thing about the athlete of the year process is it provides an opportunity to not only recognize the athlete of the year but all the nominees,” said Gammon. “I think when kids see what some of our local athletes have done here and nationally and internationally, it can be very inspiring.”
The 2017 Orillia Athlete of the Year is chosen by a panel of judges that includes representatives from each of the three local high schools, the Elementary School Physical Education Department, Orillia Today, KICX 106, Sunshine 89, the YMCA and the city’s recreation advisory committee. In the past, the panel has also included a representative from The Packet & Times. In the wake of the newspaper’s sudden closure in November, orilliamatters.com has petitioned to join the panel; city council will consider the request at a future meeting.
This year’s coveted Athlete of the Year award, first donated by local trophy maker Norm Davis in 1952, will be awarded at a city council meeting in February.
OrilliaMatters.com will profile each of the nominees in the coming days.