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Breakfast of Champions honours Orillia's top high school athletes

'If you have goals to achieve higher things, I think it’s important to have the courage to step outside your comfort zone,' sports hall of famer Jayme Davis tells young athletes

Sport Orillia’s Breakfast of Champions honoured the city's top high school athletes and student leaders at Eclectic Café in downtown Orillia this morning.

The Breakfast of Champions, annually held on the Thursday before Orillia’s Sports Hall of Fame inductions, is an effort to recognize the accomplishments of local student athletes.

Four student athletes from each of Twin Lakes Secondary School (TLSS), Orillia Secondary School (OSS), and Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School (PF) were recognized during the event for their dedication to sport and their recent achievements.

Orillia’s Athlete of the Year from 2007, Jayme Davis, was a guest speaker during Thursday’s event. She played for Canada at the 2003 and 2007 World Field Lacrosse Championships and went on to play one season of women’s field lacrosse (2007) at Wilfrid Laurier University. That season, she won OUA rookie-of-the-year honours and was also named a first-team all-star. She then went on to star at Ohio State for four years.

In 2018, she was inducted into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame. 

Davis congratulated student athletes on their accomplishments and shared some pieces of wisdom, the first being that for athletes to be successful, they will need to step outside their comfort zone.

“In sport and in life, it’s easy to continue practising what you are good at. Usually, it feels good, and you look good doing it,” she said. “If you have goals to achieve higher things, I think it’s important to have the courage to step outside your comfort zone and do something maybe you aren’t really great at.”

Davis also encouraged young athletes to go after their own dreams and not the goals and aspirations of friends and family.

“In order to be happy and have fun in your life, I think you have to be honest and true to yourself,” she said. “You probably get a lot of advice and hear lots of things, but it’s always really important to do what you want to do.”

Davis reminded athletes that above championships and achievements, sports are about the connections made with teammates, coaches, and community members.

“You probably wouldn’t have got here today without so many special people in your lives,” she said. “Make sure you take the time to say thanks every once and a while. These people in our lives don’t have to do these things for us, but it’s pretty special that they do.”

Davis also encouraged athletes to give back to the community when opportunities arise.

“You might just be a little surprised at how good it can make you feel,” she said.

Being recognized during the event from OSS were Cole Bremner, Ariel McGee, Matthew Dell’Unto, and Sophie Pallopson.

Bremner, a Grade 12 student, is described by his coaches as someone who is committed to learning no matter what the sport or activity is that he is participating in. He is recognized as a quiet leader and a great role model for other students, his coaches said.

Earlier this year, without club experience, Bremner put in the work and training to make it to OFSAA as a Nordic skier. This spring, Bremner is on the ultimate frisbee and track and field teams where he hopes to make OFSAA once again.

McGee, a Grade 12 student, is a flag football and rugby player. She is often described by coaches as a "quiet kid in class who lets out all of her aggression on the playing field."

In swimming, McGee won the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association (GBSSA) title in the 50-metre fly, which took her to OFSAA where she was within a hundredth of a second away from winning bronze.

Dell’Unto, a Grade 12 student, has been a competitive baseball player for most of his life. He is described as someone who is a "fierce team leader," by his coaches.

A middle infielder, Dell’Unto, won the team MVP award at OSS last year and has a promising baseball career ahead. He will be playing at Lawrence Technological University next season in Michigan.

Pallopson, a Grade 12 student who plays both basketball and ultimate frisbee, has been a team leader throughout her high school career. This year, she was the MVP of the senior girls’ basketball team and played all 32 minutes of every game.

Pallopson, who is described as the "backbone" of the basketball team, will be playing next year for Loyalist College in Belleville.

Being recognized from PF were Sam Bosco, Ella Cansino, Sophia Colombus, and Ellie Crate.

Bosco, a Grade 12 student, helped lead the senior boys' basketball team to a GBSSA championship and a berth at the OFSAA championship this past season. Bosco is described as "extremely coachable", and always strives to bring out the best in his teammates. Bosco also played on the senior boys’ volleyball team this season where he played an integral leadership role for the younger seniors.

Cansino is a Grade 9 student who has already competed at OFSAA twice, once in the cross-country running championships and again at the swimming championships.

Cansino served her school as a mentor this year to help transition Grade 8 students to Grade 9. She is also serving on the Relay for Life Committee and is excelling in her classes.

Columbus, a Grade 10 student, has been a well-rounded player for the varsity girls’ slo-pitch team. She has also been in the starting lineup of the senior girls’ volleyball team.

Columbus is described by her coaches as someone who is "an intelligent player with an impressive knowledge" of her sports. She is "extremely dedicated to her skill set, and fiercely driven to win." She has also been a leader for the junior girls’ basketball team which culminated in a GBSSA championship this season.

Crate, a Grade 12 student, is the captain of the senior girls’ basketball team that won the Catholic School Athletics of Simcoe County championship, GBSSA championship and competed at OFSAA. 

Crate is described by her coaches as kind, giving, and supportive of all her teammates. She is also a hard-working individual who is determined and dedicated to her sport, noted her coaches.

Representing TLSS were Gracie Yakely, Brogan Long, Lauren Le Drew, and Trent Sweet.

Yakely, a Grade 11 student, played on the senior girls’ basketball team this season and captained the senior girls’ volleyball team to a GBSSA championship and a trip to OFSAA.

Yakely recently competed in the RBC Training Ground, a talent identification and athlete funding program designed to find young athletes with Olympic potential. She scored the second-highest vertical jump in all of Canada to date for ages 14-18 and has been approached for further training by Canada's Speed Climbing organization and Rugby Canada.

Long, a Grade 12 student, qualified for OFSAA three different times this year. He represented TLSS in seven sports this year including cross-country running, volleyball, and Nordic skiing. Long was also a key leader of the senior boys SCAA championship basketball team.

Le Drew, a Grade 10 student has been recognized for her leadership skills by her coaches. She was the captain and quarterback of the junior girls' flag football team.

As a junior student, Le Drew was a starting player this year for the senior girls’ volleyball team that competed at OFSAA.

Sweet, a Grade 11 student, was a key piece of the GBSAA-winning senior boys' volleyball team this year. Individually, Sweet won the GBSAA title in wrestling in the 95 kg division and won silver at OFSAA.

Like Yakely, Sweet also competed at the RBC Training Ground last month. He has been an honour roll athlete for the last two years of his school career and was honoured with the Twin Lakes Athlete of the Month award in March.

-- With files from Dave Dawson


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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