Sports heroes recognized

Four well-known youth coaches and sports volunteers were honoured July 26 with BC Sport Community Sport Hero Awards. Each recipient was nominated by a community member.

Great contributors: Cheryl Johnson

Great contributors: Cheryl Johnson

Four well-known youth coaches and sports volunteers were honoured July 26 with BC Sport Community Sport Hero Awards. Each recipient was nominated by a community member.

The event took place Tuesday, July 26 at the Holiday Inn.

Awards were presented by Mayor Marty Bootsma to:

• Cheryl Johnson for her dedication to equestrian sports, although she has volunteered in many other areas.

The Shifting Saddles 4H Horse Club leader has also been known as “the cupcake lady” at the local AWANA club for the past eight years. Working with youth is very rewarding, said Johnson.

“It’s great to see a kid who may be shy and awkward develop into a confident young adult. It may be because of something you’ve helped teach them, or guided them in. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the joy the first time a kid achieves one of their goals, no matter how big or small.”

Johnson has been a soccer coach, a Bastion Elementary Parent Advisory Committee member, as well as a youth director for another local horse organization, the BC Interior Arabian Horse Association.

Johnson is humble about her years of volunteer efforts for youth in sports.

“I guess we just do what we do and sometimes don’t think why.”

She was honoured to receive the award.

“Working with youth is rewarding itself, but it was an honour to be recognized, especially with this group of recipients. We are very fortunate to live in a community where so many people get involved.”

• The name of Eric Hubert Walters and his family is synonymous with the development of minor soccer in Salmon Arm.

In 1964 Walters moved to Salmon Arm from Vancouver Island to take up a teaching position. In the spring of 1973 the Shuswap Minor Soccer Association was launched with Walters as the chair and driving force. It has operated since, without disruption.

The program was set up on the following principles: “low cost to participants, community-based teams, skill development and fair competition based on participation and good sportsmanship.” Salmon Arm and soccer athletes are extremely grateful to Walters for all that he has done and honour him as a Community Sport Hero.

• Phil Wallensteen has been cross-country skiing for more than 30 years.

The award was really appreciated by Wallensteen, who began coaching the Larch Hills race team in about 2000/01.

“Coaching cross-country skiing is a very rewarding experience in itself. You’re out skiing, running, biking, paddling or hiking with the athletes during practices and these are all things I enjoy doing.”

Wallensteen says he’s only “one of many volunteers” in the Larch Hills Nordic Society and on the race team.

“Our ski practices wouldn’t happen without the three other coaches and the volunteers that clear the trails, set the tracks, maintain the chalet, and run the club.”

Wallensteen began coaching in 1984, in his days as a student at Selkirk College in Castlegar. He also coached for several years as part of the local Jackrabbit program.

Along with coaching many young skiers to high-level competition over the years, Wallensteen is well-known as both an enthusiastic race competitor and mentor to many skiers of all ages and abilities.

• Many ringette players and their families will recognize Cathy Lipsett’s name. Lipsett, nominated for her dedication to ringette, has been involved in the game for 20 years. As well as being the parent of two skilled players, Lipsett herself is a player, coach, referee and director for both the Okanagan and Shuswap ringette boards, as well as a past director of the BC Ringette Association.

“The sport has been very good to us. Both my girls have played at league level. We’ve been to three Canada Games and to every province but Newfoundland.”

This year, Lipsett may be coaching the Thompson-Okanagan AA Winter Games Team or the provincial AAA team, or both. Coaching at such an elite level requires hours of travel around the Okanagan, Shuswap and even to Vancouver almost every weekend.

Lipsett, who has coached up to five teams in one year, along with taking teams to various high-level competitions, was honoured to receive the Sports Hero award.

“It was a total surprise. Many of my players and their parents were there to support me. It was wonderful.”

Lipsett was particularly delighted to be nominated by one of the younger players that she coaches.

“On the ice, you kind of have to get after them,” she chuckled. Lipsett remains dedicated to ringette.

“I just love the sport. I see how happy it makes my girls. It’s great physical fitness. There are great friendships. You work really hard and it’s very rewarding.”