Sport BC and Teck honoured nine of Greater Trail’s most underappreciated citizens Wednesday night with the Community Sports Hero award at the Best Western Plus Columbia River Hotel.
About 70 people attended the 12th Community Sports Heroes award ceremony that recognizes coaches, officials, mentors and administrators who have dedicated themselves to amateur sport at the community level.
Chosen from nominations received from residents, the Greater Trail 2013 sports heroes are Brian Pipes, baseball, Brad Elliott, baseball, Liz Iannone, figure skating, John D’Arcangelo, floor hockey, Dale and Wendy Glover, baseball, Sheila Hawton, Special Olympics, Sandra Rothwell, Special Olympics, and Dan Horan, track and field.
The deserving group has over 300 years of volunteer experience among them and it is a rare but fitting occasion to be recognized at last for their phenomenal dedication and work over the years, each responsible for making Trail the Home of Champions.
“It’s true they never get recognized so this is one of the reasons why we do it, it’s because they are our unsung heroes and sport wouldn’t really happen without any of them,” said Viasport manager and emcee Carey Summerfelt.
The recipients were feted with a first-class reception at the Best Western Plus and individually introduced and awarded before having a chance to speak. Most speeches were brief, but heart felt, and if there was a common thread it was the importance of volunteering and even more significantly making the experience a positive one for young athletes.
“I never considered myself a sports hero,” said Pipes after the ceremony. “I just do what I do because it’s a passion of mine and I have to thank Rick Bisaro who got me started back in 1956 . . . it’s a little bit like pay it forward, and the people who were honoured here tonight were all very deserving, and I hope that other people follow in their footsteps, and have the passion to keep it going.”
Dale and Wendy Glover were the first husband-and-wife team to receive the award, a natural progression, says Dale, from his father’s volunteer influence, and Dale’s personal mentors like Lou De Rosa, Richard Rhodes, and Pipes.
“My dad was kind of a Trail legend in the fact that he was a volunteer in everything under the sun, in every organization in town and he always gave back, and he always just told us you have to give back to the place you live, he was a good mentor,” said Dale.
Wendy agrees adding, “It is so rewarding, and I would have done it a long, long time ago if I knew how rewarding it was going to be just to see the kids have so much fun.”
Longtime track coach Dan Horan noted that communities depend upon their volunteers, and the success of Greater Trail teams and athletes over the years is a direct result of the dedication of these volunteers and others in the area, however replacing them has been a concern.
“They do it for the kids and Trail is lucky to have these people doing it . . . if these people didn’t do it it wouldn’t happen,” said Horan. “You look at all these volunteers and they’re all older. There’s a gap in there about 20 years, there’s some younger people coming up, but not the 30-50 age group.”
Nevertheless, being recognized for years of dedication and hard work is a welcome tribute for the meritorious nine.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Liz Iannone who has spent over 40 years coaching figure skating, “It’s just the culmination of years and years of volunteering and the more (volunteers) we have the stronger knit community we have, and the kids are the winners in this.”
Special Olympic volunteers Hawton and Rothwell were overwhelmed by the honour, and in typical understated fashion Hawton summed up each of the recipients’ motivation behind volunteering.
“In the end, we do it all for the athletes. ”
Since its inception in 2001, 50 Provincial Sport Organizations have honoured close to 600 sport volunteers in 45 different communities.