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Saluting the Island’s best

Amateur athletes take centre stage in Sport P.E.I.’s annual awards Wednesday in Charlottetown

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Stratford’s Emma Jinks must be used to the stage after winning her third straight junior female athlete of the year honour at the Sport P.E.I. awards Wednesday in Charlottetown.

“Honestly, it’s just such a true honour to be named junior female athlete of the year once again. I know how much I put in (last year), so it’s nice to recognized for that – every day, on and off the court, with (coach) John Power and (trainer) Chris MacPhee,” Jinks said. 

The 17-year-old squash standout had a monster 2017, winning a fourth consecutive Canadian championship, this time in the under-19 division, and finishing ninth overall against the best squash players in the world in an international competition in New Zealand. She also won Canada’s only gold medal at the Canadian Junior Open.

But it was New Zealand which drove her the most, she said.

“That event motivated me to work really hard to represent my country. That and squash, it’s just such an amazing sport,” said Jinks, who graduates from Charlottetown Rural High School in the spring.

The intercollegiate male award went to Ibrahima Sanoh of the Holland College Hurricanes men’s soccer team, who scored 27 goals last year and helped the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association team win a national bronze medal. The intercollegiate female went to Summerside wrestler Hannah Taylor for her work as a freshman at Brock University, which included three gold and six overall medals.

The junior male athlete award went to projected NHL prospect Noah Dobson of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League hockey.

The senior male award and the Lt. Governor’s Award was shared by Charlottetown curler Brett Gallant, who throws second stone for the Brad Gushue rink out of Newfoundland and Labrador, which won the Brier and the world championship, and Hartsville’s Mark Arendz for his multiple medal efforts in para nordic skiing and biathlon.

North Winsloe wrestler Veronica Keefe earned the senior female award for a season that included two goals medals and a spot as an alternate on Canada’s Commonwealth Games squad.

John Diamond and Bruce Norton, who are known around the Island as soccer builders, coaches and administrators, received the President’s Award for almost 40 years on the pitch. Their names are so synonymous with Island soccer that the Norton Diamond Soccer Complex in Stratford is named after them.

But the award won’t likely go to their heads.

“It’s a bit stunning by the way. A little bit surprising,” said Diamond, a former goalkeeper

Norton, who coaches the UPEI Panthers men’s soccer team with Lewis Page, reflected on his long-time colleague’s sentiment.

“It’s very humbling,” said Norton, a one-time striker.

Diamond and Norton point to mentor Tom Wallace as their inspiration for staying with P.E.I. soccer over three decades. Successes included a national senior men’s title in 2010 and an Atlantic university championship in 1998.

But all things end, and the pair is moving on from the day-to-day running of the P.E.I. Soccer Association next season and handing it over to a new group. Although both promise they intend to be around the Island pitches.

“It seems like the time,” Norton said, adding his gig at UPEI is just fine, “unless Lewis fires me.”

Diamond points to Wallace as his reasoning.

“(He) didn’t want to go until it was over,” Diamond said. “The association is in good shape, it’s stable. The game is good hands.”

Peter and Brett Gallant, Arendz, Taylor, Keefe, Sanoh, Dobson, Billy Bridges and Abbey MacLellan were unable to attend.

At A Glance

Winners from the Sport P.E.I. awards Wednesday in Charlottetown.

Coach - Peter Gallant, curling

Administrator - Brenda Millar, volleyball

Official - Farida Christie, table tennis

Team - Holland College men’s soccer

Masters - Cory Jay, cycling

Intercollegiate Male - Ibrahima Sanoh, soccer

Intercollegiate Female - Hannah Taylor, wrestling

Junior Female - Emma Jinks, squash

Junior Male - Noah Dobson, hockey

Senior Male - Brett Gallant, curling; Mark Arendz, para nordic skiing and biathlon

Senior Female - Veronica Keefe, wrestling

Premier’s Award - Cycling P.E.I.

President’s Award - John Diamond, Bruce Norton, soccer

Inspirational Award - Abbey MacLellan, field hockey

Award of Honour - Billy Bridges

Lt. Governor’s Award - Brett Gallant, Mark Arendz

International Multi-Sport Medalists

World Francophone Games - Veronica Keefe, gold, wrestling.

World Masters Games - Carol Mayne, silver, softball.

North American Indigenous Games - Logan Lewis, bronze, 3D archery; Nikeda Sark, two bronze, badminton; Keely Dyment, bronze, badminton doubles.

Special Olympics World Winter Games - Janet Charchuck, gold, 100-metre snowshoe; Alyssa Chapman, gold and silver, figure skating.

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