Sport Newfoundland and Labrador Announces 2021 Provincial Annual Award Recipients for Contributions to Sport

St. John’s, NL – Sport Newfoundland and Labrador (SportNL) today announced the 2021 recipients for the Provincial Annual Awards. A celebratory video was released to recognize the athletes, coaches, officials, and volunteers for their contributions to sport over the last year.

“I am proud to see the 10 recipients receive this well-deserved recognition,” said Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s Board President Chris Schwartz. “The recipients represent some of the most outstanding individuals within our sports community who are a huge part of shaping amateur sport in the province.”

The Provincial Annual Awards celebrates the sporting successes and contributions of those people in the sports community from our province. SportNL added Female Coach of the Year Award this year which recognizes a female coach who inspires others across the amateur sport community.

“These awards appropriately honour the hard work, dedication and excellence of the athletes, coaches, officials, and volunteers across the province,” said Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s Executive Director Troy Croft. “I congratulate this year’s recipients and thank them for sharing their talents and passions for sport and their community.”

The recipients for each of the 10 categories and their biographies are listed below.

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

Abby Newhook – Hockey

Abby Newhook had an exceptional season as an NCAA Division 1 rookie hockey player with Boston College Eagles women’s team. She has progressed as an elite player, finishing her season with 32 points in 31 games, including 18 goals, six of which were game-winners, and 15 assists. For her outstanding efforts she was named Hockey East Player of the week and Hockey East conference Player of the Month in November during the 2021-2022 season. Striving towards the goal of national or development team participation, Abby was invited to be part of Hockey Canada Development Camps in Calgary last summer.

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

Liam Drover-Mattinen – Tennis

Liam Drover-Mattinen had a great year on the tennis court as he continued his run toward a national singles title. His unparalleled dedication to his sport propelled him to become the 2021 Atlantic U16 tennis champion early in the season. He then went on to become Canada’s U16 National Singles tennis champion which is just the second time a player from Newfoundland and Labrador has ever achieved this, and only the third time ever for an Atlantic Canada tennis player. The victory earned him the opportunity to represent Canada as part of Canada’s Junior David Cup team. This achievement is all the more remarkable given that Liam was unseeded due to a lack of high-level tournaments played.

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

Team Gushue – Curling

Team Gushue continued the 2021 curling season showing why they are one of the most dominant teams in the world to compete at all tournament levels. The team reached the semi-finals of The Masters – Grand Slam of Curling, competed against nine men’s teams at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, winning the right to represent Canada at their second Winter Olympics with an 8-1 record. A force to be reckoned with, they know how to win big events, ending the season with an impressive victory at the Champions Cup.

Official of the Year Award

Chantal McDonald – Soccer

Chantal McDonald had an incredible 2021 soccer officiating year. As an up-and-coming official who strives to achieve success on the field, she has been officiating for approximately four years. This past season, she officiated in the Premier Youth League, Jubilee Trophy and Challenge Cup Leagues. At the end of the 2021 soccer season, Chantal was invited by Canada Soccer to attend the Canada Soccer Women’s Referee Development Seminar which led to her being recommended to, and officiated at the U-Sports Women’s Championship that took place in Cape Breton. She was also named 2021 Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association Official of the Year.

Executive of the Year (Graham Snow Memorial Award)

Greg Barton – Hockey

Greg Barton, as part of the executive of the Paradise Minor Hockey Association, volunteered his time with the association at many levels. Under his leadership and valuable insight, Greg has quickly grown it to be one of the largest associations in the province. With the many challenges to program interruptions caused by Covid-19, Greg worked diligently with stakeholders to get children back on the ice. As an ambassador for the hockey community in paradise he led the First Shift program, helping to focus efforts to make sure that every new-to-hockey child was given the opportunity to play a game of hockey which resulted in noticeable dividends as many children went on to join regular hockey programming.

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

Jared Butler – Hockey

Jared Butler is a key volunteer with Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador as their Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. In 2021, he worked with determination, committing up to 20 hours a week of his spare time to build, amend, and promote a safe return to hockey caused by Covid-19 challenges so that up to 10,000 hockey players could return to play hockey in a safe environment during the pandemic. In his board position he also led a governance committee to institute many new policies and protections to be able to adhere to the NL Corporations Act and to better align the organization in its strategic planning and implementation of by-laws for the organizations future success.

Female Coach of the Year

Allison Kirby – Gymnastics

Allison Kirby is a passionate Women’s Artistic Gymnastics coach who oversees a program with over 85 female artistic gymnasts, 25 male artistic gymnasts, and 12 trampoline gymnasts. During the 2021 competitive season, she trained gymnasts to eight medals at Canadian National Championships including a first ever all-around gold and three other gold medals. This was a best ever finish as her athletes represented the province during Gymnastics Newfoundland and Labrador team travel events. As a head coach and women’s artistic program lead and a certified national level judge, she consistently produces gymnasts at the high-performance level, coaching a gymnast to the Gymnastics Canada Junior High Performance List, another first for the province.

Male Coach of the Year (John Drinkwater Memorial Award)

Jeff Thomas – Curling

Jeff Thomas is no stranger to the curling world, coaching teams for 35 plus years. With such a passion for helping NL curlers of all skill levels succeed at local, provincial, national, and international levels his technical knowledge and ability to teach are second to none. In 2021, Jeff coached Team Gushue to the semi-finals at The Masters – Grand Slam of Curling and most impressively coached them to victory at the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, which led him to coach the team in preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. He also coached Team Young to a second-place finish at the National World Juniors Qualifier and coached Team Thomas to a second-place finish at the Men’s Provincial Tankard.

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

Kate Bazeley – Athletics

Kate Bazeley has competed at the highest possible level throughout 2021, earning invitations to several virtual races. She placed in the top four with all three virtual races for the Canada Run Series elite competition. With several marathons under her belt, the St. John’s native made her World Marathon Major debut at the Chicago Marathon placing 16th in the elite women’s field, short of her personal-best time. To complete a fantastic season Kate raced the Tely 10 Road Race, achieving a personal best time of 55:06 and placing third overall.

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

Liam Hickey – ParaHockey

Liam Hickey achieved so much in 2021 as one of the top para hockey players which earned him a place on Team Canada’s 2021 National Para Hockey Team that played at the 2021 Para Ice Hockey Championships, winning a silver medal. As a great player and ambassador of the game, he was named Best Defenseman at the 2021 World Para Hockey Championship tournament. These competitions led to an invitation to represent Canada at the 2022 Winter Para Olympic Games in Beijing.