Sport Newfoundland and Labrador 2023 Provincial Annual Awards Finalists Announced



St. John’s, NL – Sport Newfoundland and Labrador (SportNL) is thrilled to announce the finalists to be celebrated at the upcoming Sport NL 2023 Annual Provincial Awards event taking place on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland. The event will celebrate the sporting successes and contributions of athletes, coaches, teams, executives, officials, and volunteers within the sports community from our province for their accomplishments in 2023.

Each of the finalists were nominated by their provincial sport organization as the best in their sport.

“The past year included many highlights and achievements for many Newfoundland and Labrador sport individuals who were nominated within their categories. The finalists selected by the awards committee are no exception,” said Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s Board President Chris Schwartz. “I understand the difficult task of the members of the selection committee to select our finalists and want to express my appreciation to them for being part of the awards process.”

Sport NL received a considerable number of nominations that were submitted by Provincial Sport Organizations over ten categories.  “The phenomenal number of quality nominations received this year is wonderful to see and it is an incredible achievement not only to receive a nomination but also to be selected as a finalist,” said Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s Executive Director Troy Croft. “I congratulate all of the finalists selected this year.”

The three finalists for each of the 10 award categories were selected, based on voting results, from a committee comprised of individuals from the media and sports community. The finalists for each category are listed below and their biographies are in the backgrounder attached.

Junior Female Athlete of the Year (Margaret Davis Memorial Award)

Jaida Lee- Baseball

Sarah Reid- Basketball

Brooklyn Wolfrey- Badminton/Aboriginal Sport


Junior Male Athlete of the Year (Joseph P. Mullins Memorial Award)

Gavin Baggs- Para Hockey

Sawyer LeBlanc- Athletics

Chris Weeks- Swimming

Executive of the Year (Graham Snow Memorial Award)

Roxanne Butler- Rugby

Sean Cadigan- Softball

Krista Tobin- Soccer

Volunteer of the Year (Frank W. Graham Memorial Award)

Karen Adams- Basketball

Rebecca Gladney- Artistic Swimming

Deidre MacDonnell- Soccer

Female Coach of the Year

Duffy Earle- Swimming

Alicia MacDonald- Hockey

Rosemary Ryan- Special Olympics

Male Coach of the Year (John Drinkwater Memorial Award)

Jeff Butt- Special Olympics

Peter Densmore- Rugby

Chris Roberts – Swimming

Team of the Year (Edward P. Browne Memorial Award)

Holy Cross – Soccer

Girls 19U NL Selects Ball Hockey Team- Ball Hockey

Team Gushue – Curling

Official of the Year Award

Gord Farrell- Soccer

Christian Dawe- Hockey

Kiana Laundry- Taekwondo

Senior Female Athlete of the Year (Elizabeth Swan Memorial Award)

Kate Bazeley – Athletics

Abigail Newhook- Hockey

Jane Pope – Soccer

Senior Male Athlete of the Year (Ferd Hayward Memorial Award)

Michael Budden- Special Olympics/Athletics

Gleb Evstigneev- Gymnastics

Liam Hickey- Para Hockey

The finalists represent 16 sports from communities all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador demonstrating the strong talent and leadership that we have within the province’s sports community.

Tickets for this year’s Annual Awards dinner are available for purchase by contacting Sport Newfoundland and Labrador by phone at (709) 576-4932 or by email at To learn more information about this year’s Annual Awards Ceremony, please visit

 For more information:

Troy Croft

Executive Director, Sport NL

Phone: (709) 576-4932



About Sport Newfoundland and Labrador: 

Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is the professional organization that is central to supporting the development and delivery of organized sport in Newfoundland and Labrador. Representing 55 member organizations, as well as 70,0000 individual members, Sport NL is a volunteer-run organization that promotes amateur sport throughout our province – for everyone.


Biographies of 2023 Sport NL Provincial Annual Award Finalists

Junior Female Athlete of the Year (Margaret Davis Memorial Award) 

Jaida Lee- Baseball

Jaida Lee enjoyed a memorable and successful year in 2023 at the local, national and international level. At the local level, leading her Knights team, Jaida pitched 7 games going 7-0 for the season and picking up the win in the Championship game. At the Girls 16U Nationals, Jaida pitched wins against Quebec and Manitoba earning her the top pitcher of the tournament also hitting several home runs throughout the event. Jaida was named to Team Canada where she competed in the World Cup qualifier in Thunder Bay, Ontario where Canada won a berth in the 2024 World Cup. Her passion and commitment to baseball is infectious. She has become a nationwide role model for young and aspiring female baseball players to show them that they too can enjoy success with hard work and determination. Was a member of the Canadian National team that secured a berth last summer for the 2024 Women’s World Cup.


Sarah Reid- Basketball

Sarah Reid had an incredible year on the court from start to finish. It began with being named top player on the Gonzaga Vikings leading Gonzaga to the provincial AAAA championship game. Sarah was invited and named to the national U16 team and represented Canada at the FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico where as the 6th player she helped lead Canada to the gold medal game. She concluded her year by playing for Team NL at the U17 nationals and leading NL to their best finish since 2001, being named a second-team all-star while finishing third in the tournament in scoring.


Brooklyn Wolfrey- Badminton/Aboriginal Sport

Brooklyn was involved as an active participant in many sport events in 2023 such as the Labrador Games, the School Sports Badminton Championships, the North American Indigenous Games, and the World Dwarf Games. At the North American Indigenous Games (July 2023), Brooklyn competed against able-bodied athletes and won a gold in doubles and a silver in mixed doubles in the Under 16 category. At the World Dwarf Games in Germany (August 2023), Brooklyn requested special permission to compete in the adult division for badminton and won a gold medal in singles and doubles (pairing with the current Canadian adult female Champion). Brooklynn also competed in several other sports at these games in the junior female division, winning gold in 60 and 100 m sprint, and bronze medal finishes in soccer, basketball, and swimming.


Junior Male Athlete of the Year (Joseph P. Mullins Memorial Award)

Gavin Baggs-Para Hockey

Gavin Baggs continues to make his mark as one of Canada’s top young players being named as a potential national team member to play in future world and Para Olympics when they announced the 32 players that attended Canada’s National Para Hockey Team NextGen development camp, Feb. 16-19 2023 in Montreal.  His skill set with handling the puck and skating endurance and strength placed him at the top for his age in Canada in 2023


Sawyer LeBlanc-Athletics

Sawyer LeBlanc excelled on the track in 2023, becoming a U18 National, Atlantic, and Provincial Champion. Early in the season, Sawyer won a bronze medal in the U18 1500m at the Canadian Indoor Track and Field Championships in Saint John, NB at just 15 years old. The highlight of his year was winning Gold at the Canadian National Youth Track and Field Championships in Sherbrooke, QC. He also won a bronze medal in the U18 1500m at these Championships. At 16, Sawyer was the youngest and only 2007 male on the podium in both of these events. Sawyer is the first athlete from Newfoundland and Labrador to win Gold in the U18 3000m at this National meet. Sawyer dominated in all of his events at the Local, Provincial and Atlantic Canadian levels, winning Gold in every U18 and U20 race he entered in the 2023 season.

Chris Weeks-Swimming

Chris Weeks is an outstanding swimmer who had great success at provincial and national level competitions across the country. Chris in 2023, broke 18 provincial records and while in medal contention at all national meets qualified for FINA World Cup Canadian Team racing at the World Cup in Toronto. For Chris, the highlight of 2023 was earning a place to represent Canada at the Junior World Championships held last September in Israel. Chris is dedicated to his training, and an important influential member of our swimming community.


Senior Female Athlete of the Year (Elizabeth Swan Memorial Award)

Kate Bazeley-Athletics

Kate Bazeley had a productive 2023. Kate competed for Canada on the National Cross-Country Team, at the World Cross-Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia. Canada placed 7th overall, tying their best performance at the championships to date. Kate then started an impressive road running season both locally and abroad, by setting new records in 5K, 8K, and 10K Road Races, and placing among the top athletes at the Toronto Half-Marathon (2nd), Vancouver Sun Run (6th), and 1st place female finisher with 3rd place overall in the Tely 10 Mile Road Race. Kate participated and won 1st place at the Provincial Cross-Country Championships, and then 3rd place at the 2023 National Cross-Country Championship, which earned her a position on the Worlds Cross-Country Team for Serbia, in March 2024.


Abigail Newhook-Hockey

 Abigail Newhook dominated for Boston College in her sophomore season as she scored 19 goals and added 14 assists for 33 points in 36 games. Abigail was invited to participate in a Team Canada camp in St. Catharines, Ont., before heading to Lake Placid, N.Y., with 22 other Canadian women for a three-game series against the United States bringing her one step closer to playing for Canada’s senior women’s team — something she said she strives for every day.


Jane Pope-Soccer

Jane Pope continued to make history on the local and national scene in 2023, further establishing herself as a top-rate goal scorer and playmaker. While leading her team to their 8th straight Jubilee Trophy championship, Jane led the league in scoring, was chosen regular season MVP and was named a league All-star. In addition to her goal-scoring prowess, she is also one of the league’s top playmakers with accurate passing and precise crosses. Jane continued her strong form at Jubilee Nationals in Nova Scotia, where she was an impact player for the defending national champions. In addition to setting up her teammates, she tied for the Golden Boot award as the tournament’s top scorer for the second year in a row, as Holy Cross Nutraholdings captured their second consecutive national title.


Senior Male Athlete of the Year (Ferd Hayward Memorial Award)

Michael Budden-Special Olympics

Michael Budden is an athlete who leads by example with his motivation, dedication and inspiring attitude toward training and competition. After making the National Team to attend the Winter Special Olympics World Games in Russia, Michael trained relentlessly regardless of postponements and finally, cancellation, as a result of the war. He jumped back on the track winning 7 Gold medals at Provincial meets in 2023. Michael performed several personal bests and helped the 4X400m relay team to a 5th place finish and won a gold medal in Shot Put with a huge performance. In June and July 2023, Michael picked up 6 gold medals for his performances. As well, Michael earned top accolades being awarded the 2023 Town of Stephenville Athlete of the Year, 2023 Special Olympics NL Provincial Athlete of the Year and 2023 Special Olympics Canada’s Athlete of the Year.


Gleb Evstigneev- Gymnastics

Gleb Evstigneev was named to Gymnastics Canada’s Development Team in 2023. Gleb’s performances at Canada Winter Games in PEI were historical where he was the first Newfoundland and Labrador gymnast to medal at the event bringing home a gold. Gleb also competed at the Pan American Championships, representing Canada. His efforts were awarded with two more Gold Medals. Gleb was Gymnastics Newfoundland and Labradors Trampoline Athlete of the Year and was also awarded GNL’s Athletic Excellence Award.


Liam Hickey-Para Hockey

Liam Hickey continued to be one of the top para hockey players in the world in 2023. Competing on the international stage he was one of the top three scorers for Team Canada at the Para Cup in 2023 with 9 points while winning a silver medal against teams all over the world.

Executive of the Year (Graham Snow Memorial Award)


Roxanne Butler-Rugby

Roxanne Butler led the Junior women’s rugby programs in 2023 with a big increase in players and new coaches involved under her tutelage. She is a lead on the Newfoundland and Labrador Rugby Union sport excellence project and has been a huge part of both male and female Canada Games prep by organizing travel for tournaments as well as coaching the women’s team. Roxanne was the Team Manager for the Canadian Classic Women’s team and was a key factor in getting the team established.


Sean Cadigan- Softball

Sean Cadigan continues to make a significant impact on Minor Softball. His commitment to the Grass Roots level is well established through his work with the Timbits Program both localy and nationally. The Softball NL Minor Membership Registration in 2023 was 2925 (1767 Males & 1142 Females). The 1142 Females registered was the highest in 7 years. In addition to his Minor Director role, Sean also serves on the Softball NL Coaching Committee, Finance Committee and Hosting Committees for National and Eastern Canadians. He is also involved with Coaching at the Minor level, is the Head Coach of the Developmental Program (U15 Female) and is a member of the Coaching Staff for the Galway Hitmen.


Krista Tobin- Soccer

Krista Tobin has served on the CBS Soccer Board of for the past several years and has been an integral part of the success of the Strikers Club during that time. As the Board’s Referee Director, Krista is responsible for overseeing and being involved in the coordination, assigning and training of referees for the Club. Krista ensures that they have the proper level of training for the games they are assigned and ensures they are registered to referee house league, metro league and with the NLSA programs. Each year Krista coordinates more than 50 referees and their assignments. As a former referee, Krista works with the club’s officials to ensure they have the support they need to progress and meets with them on a regular basis to help ensure they are comfortable and growing in their roles.


Volunteer of the Year (Frank W. Graham Memorial Award)

Karen Adams-Basketball (Posthumous)

Karen Adams was a tireless volunteer. Many people run tournaments, sit on a board, chair a committee, help to secure nationals for Newfoundland and Labrador, but very few do them all. Karen was a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association (NLBA) Board of Directors for the past decade, she also convened several NLBA provincial tournaments in 2023, helped the NLBA secure nationals, reorganized and rewrote policies to bring them into harmony with Canada Basketball and codify everything in one place. She also sat on or chaired 5 different committees and was the NLBA’s hardest-working volunteer at our major tournaments to boot. She was one of a kind. Karen was nominated by NLBA but sadly passed away unexpectedly before being recognized with this honour.


Rebecca Gladney-Artistic Swimming

For over 15 years, Rebecca Gladney has been an active volunteer with Newfoundland and Labrador Artistic Swimming (NLAS) as a judge and board member. In 2021, she took over as interim President and was since voted into the role. In addition to the time, she gives to NLAS, Rebecca has also given hours every week to various hockey teams as a therapist from 2016-2023. Rebecca makes every effort to provide a safe space for athletes, coaches, and officials to feel free to be themselves while encouraging sportsmanship.

Deidre MacDonnell-Soccer

Deidre MacDonnell was instrumental in working with clubs and coaches to create a Premier Youth League for Western NL and they completed a very successful first season. Deidre was also the chair of the local organizing committee for the Boys U13/U14 Atlantic championships held in Corner Brook this past July, ensuring that the competition operated as smoothly as possible and that any issues or concerns were quickly and appropriately addressed with the safety of players top of mind. Diedre also sat on the provincial competitions committee this past year and on numerous committees in her own district

Female Coach of the Year

Duffy Earle-Swimming

Duffy Earle, as the Head Coach of the Mount Pearl Marlins, won the top team at the Swimming NL Provincial Championships for the first time in the history of the club in 2023. Duffy actively contributes to the broader swimming community whether it is organizing swimmer workshops, NCCP clinics, or other community events that promote the sport and provide opportunities for aspiring coaches and swimmers. Duffy’s dedication to fostering the next generation of swimmers demonstrates a commitment to the sport’s longevity and she is a positive influence on the swimming community. Duffy was also the Swimming NL Provincial Team coach in 2023 leading those swimmers to great success on the national stage while representing Newfoundland and Labrador.


Alicia MacDonald-Hockey

Alicia MacDonald was the recipient of the 2023 BFL National Coach of the Year in the competitive stream as selected by Hockey Canada, where she was invited to be recognized at the 2023 Women’s World Hockey Championship. Alicia was selected to coach the Team Atlantic Canada at the National Under 18 championships and while the team did not medal, she coached and developed the top 16- and 17-year-old girls in the region. Alicia went back in the Summer to be Head Coach of the new Under 14 provincial girls’ program, this new program is a great opportunity for player development as we continue to grow this demographic. Her ability to improve on their skill was evident in the provincial camp and Atlantic Championships. She had a busy 2023 coaching many girls across the province and in the Atlantic region, she also is an assistant coach for the AAA Under 18 team in the Tri Pen region, Bonavista to Bay Roberts.


Rosemary Ryan-Special Olympics

Rosemary Ryan is an exceptional volunteer coach who advocates for all youth. She coaches the athlete – not the ability or the disability – and gets the best out of all her athletes; whether they be Bay St. George athletes, Team NL or Team Canada. Internationally Rosie was a coach for the Special Olympics Team Canada that competed at the Newfoundland and Labrador Artistic Swimming World Games in Berlin, Germany. Rosie’s contribution to the team was recognized by the nomination and receipt of the Petro-Canada National Coaching Excellence Award. Two of Rosie’s athletes from the Bay St. George area earned medals at the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympics World Games and then came home and received Special Olympics Canada Athlete of the Year! Rosemary works tirelessly to improve the lives of those around her and set them up for success.


Male Coach of the Year (John Drinkwater Memorial Award)

Jeff Butt-Special Olympics

Jeff is an internationally experienced Powerlifting coach who oversees the development of the top Powerlifters in the province and country. Outside of his regular coaching duties, Jeff also coaches with Special Olympics Newfoundland and Labrador and was selected to coach Team Canada’s Powerlifting team at the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Berlin, Germany. During his time in Berlin, Jeff helped Team Canada capture 25 medals in Powerlifting, including four for Newfoundland & Labrador Athlete, Daniel Moores.


Peter Densmore-Rugby

Peter Densmore led the Atlantic Rock Under 19 Team to Gold Medal performances at both the Atlantic Rugby Championships and the Canadian Nationals in 2023. Additionally, the Memorial Seahawks team came home with a 4th place finish at the Canadian University Rugby Championships. Peter has been instrumental in player development at this level and continues to promote and find success on the field.

Christopher Roberts-Swimming

As well as being the Performance Coach for the Mount Pearl Marlins, Chris Roberts is also the Co-Head Coach for the Memorial University Seahawks. Chris was selected as an Assistant coach for the Swimming NL Provincial Team. He continues to be an enthusiastic and dedicated coach who goes above and beyond producing top national-level swimmers. Coach Roberts is recognized across the country for the huge successes of his elite swimmers and their sustained high levels of performance. In particular, the national-level accomplishments of Chris Weeks are indicative of the hard work and dedication of coach Chris Roberts.


Team of the Year (Edward P. Browne Memorial Award)

 Holy Cross Nutraholdings Jubilee Trophy-Soccer

After capturing their eighth straight Provincial Jubilee Trophy championship, Holy Cross Nutraholdings refocused to defend their national title at the Toyota National Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At Nationals, Holy Cross went undefeated with four wins and a tie, not allowing a single goal against. Their success earned them their second straight National Jubilee Trophy Championship. Their success was the first time a National Champion from this province was able to defend its title. In addition to their National Championship, Holy Cross won the Fair Play award for their sporting behaviour at the championships, and have since been named to the NLSA Honour Roll of Teams, only the fifth team to receive the distinction.

Team Gushue-Curling

Team Gushue continues to be one of the world’s elite curling teams. In 2023, Team Gushue was successful in winning their second consecutive Tim Horton’s Brier. It was their fifth national championship, a record for a Canadian skip. Team Gushue had a strong performance at the World Men’s Curling Championship finishing second overall. Team Gushue advocates for the sport of curling and inspires others to be their best. Their work ethic and commitment to the sport is second to none. Team Gushue is adored by their fans and continues to be role models for the younger generation of curlers hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Girls 19U NL Selects Ball Hockey Team- Ball Hockey

The 2023 Girls U19 NL Selects were back-to-back winners of the CBHA National Ball Hockey Championship held in St. John’s this summer. Fifteen members, along with team staff, were defending champions from their first-ever national title in Winnipeg in 2022. This was a feat that no other junior provincial ball hockey team has ever accomplished looking to attempt a three-peat in 2024 a first-ever for girls’ ball hockey in Canada.

Official of the Year Award

Christian Dawe-Hockey

Christian Dawe has been a major player in Hockey NL’s Officiating Program on and off the ice. Christian is presently the President of the Metro Officials Association, which is responsible for the higher levels of officiating in the St. Johns (Metro) area handling approximately 1200 hockey games a year. Christian is also involved with the Hockey Canada High-Performance Program as a member of the watch list for the National High-Performance Program. As a result, Christian was chosen to officiate at the 2022 Telus Cup, the National U-18 Tournament. Last year Christian was also chosen to officiate at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island


Gord Farrell-Soccer

If there was a soccer game being played this summer, Gord Farrell wasn’t far away. Whether that was Challenge Cup, Jubilee Trophy, Premier Youth League or high school, intermediate or recreational soccer, Gord was often involved, and willing to step up if someone else wasn’t available. Gord’s hard work this season was rewarded with final four assignments for the Challenge Cup. Gord also officiated at the university level and at the Eastern Canadian Masters Championships in September. In addition to his own soccer officiating, Gord also takes time to pass his knowledge along to youth referees when he is doing games with them.


Kiana Laundry-Taekwondo

In 2023 Kiana became Newfoundland’s highest-ranked active referee. She has travelled to numerous provinces and been invited by taekwondo sporting organizations in and out of the province to referee at their tournaments. She has completed a provincial seminar, 3 provincial upgrades and a national upgrade as well as attended 9 tournaments – many of which she was lead referee. She is dedicated to the growth of Taekwondo in the province and advocates for women in sport.