BC Wheelchair Sports Association Presents Awards Prior to Vancouver Ravens Game

Embargoed February 14, 2003 7:30 p.m. (PST) - On a night when the Toronto Rock comes into town to play the Vancouver Ravens in National Lacrosse League action, BC Wheelchair Sports Association celebrated a year of accomplishments at GM Place, Friday, February 14, 2003 at 6:00 p.m.

Several athletes, coaches, volunteers and members celebrated the achievements of 2002 in a celebration fit for Valentines Day.

The following were rewarded for their accomplishments of 2002:

The Spirit of Sport Award
In the mid-1990's, BC Wheelchair Sports and BC Wheelchair Basketball lost a very dear friend in a tragic car accident. Mairin Johnson exemplified the true Spirit of Sport and in her memory, BCWSA created the Mairin Johnson Memorial Award.

Mark Saunders, Wheelchair Basketball (Lantzville)
Since coming into the wheelchair basketball program one and a half years ago, Mark has consistently shown a dedication and enthusiasm for the sport that has been an inspiration to the other players in Parksville. His personal playing skills have improved tremendously in a relatively short time and his community spirit has helped his club raise the funds necessary to purchase four new sports chairs. With the continued support of his family Mark has undertaken the challenge of organizing the hosting of the BC Finals in Nanaimo this March. He has participated in the Winter Games in Williams Lake, and will be attending the Canada Winter Games in New Brunswick this month.

Community Support Award

Pinetree Community Centre (Coquitlam)
In the past few years the Centre has hosted many wheelchair basketball events including the Hoopfest fundraiser, tournaments and camps and more specifically the 2000 CWBL Finals and 2002 Junior National Championships! The Centre has also hosted annual athletics clinics and several BCWSA Junior Sports Camps!

The Stan Stronge Volunteer of the Year Award

Sonja Gaudet (Vernon)
Sonja was approached three years ago by interior regional coach John Dyck, to assist with starting a Vernon Junior wheelchair basketball program. Sonja agreed and was head coach of the Vernon program for two years. This past fall the group combined forces with a group of interested individuals in Kelowna and Sonja continues to provide leadership to the program.

Coach of Year Award

Peter Lawless (Mill Bay)
Peter Lawless has only been coaching in the sport of wheelchair athletics for a few short years, but he has already made his mark on the wheelchair athletics scene in BC and Canada. He was selected as the head coach for the 1999 Western Canada Summer Games and 2001 Canada Summer Games and has been the Provincial Team Coach in Wheelchair Athletics for the past three years. Peter attended the IPC World Championships in July of 2002 as an Apprentice Coach with Athletics Canada, where one of his athletes recorded two top eight finishes, and has attended the Athletics Canada National Team Training Camp in a coaching capacity in 2000 and 2002. Peter has also attended the Metro Toronto Challenge (National Championships) on several occasions, in addition he has traveled to international competitions in Australia and Japan with Victoria based athletes.

The Peter Devoe Memorial Junior Athlete of the Year Award
This award is presented along with a two hundred-dollar Bursary from BCWSA

Trevor Hirschfield, Wheelchair Rugby (Parksville)
Trevor Hirshfield has just finished his first full calendar year in wheelchair rugby and has shown significant improvement for such a short period of time. He was introduced to rugby in January of 2002 at a Have a Go day in Victoria. Just a couple of short months later he played for the provincial B team at last year's nationals and did not look out of place at all. Trevor is the only member of the team who does not live in the lower mainland making attending practice on a regular basis difficult. His play has elevated greatly this year already and is he expected to make the A team at this year's nationals.

Most Improved Athlete of the Year

Chris McGladdery, Basketball (Abbotsford)
Chris continues to dramatically improve his skills and abilities on the basketball court and is now part of the Canadian Men's National Team pool of athletes with hopes of one day being selected to Team Canada. Not bad for an individual who started playing wheelchair basketball only two short years ago. Chris will be a key player on Team BC at the Canada Winter Games this month in New Brunswick.

Female Athlete of the Year Award
This Award is presented along with a $300 certificate for Advanced Mobility products.

Marni Abbott, Wheelchair Basketball (Vancouver)
Marni continues to excel on and off the basketball court. In 2002 Marni was named to the all-star team at the Women's CWBL Finals in Montreal with the BC Breakers and as a team veteran traveled to Japan with the Women's National Team to retain their 3rd straight World Championship Title. In 2002 Marni was also recognized as one of BC's top athletes and selected as one of 31 women athletes as leaders in sport. These athletes were recognized at an exhibit unveiling at the BC Sport Hall of Fame: Celebrating BC Women in Sport - Leaders & Legends. Marni will lead Team BC into the Canada Winter Games as Head Coach of the team.

Male Athlete of the Year Award
Again, this Award is presented along with a $300 certificate for Advanced Mobility products.

Garrett Hickling, Wheelchair Rugby (Langley)
Garrett was a key member of the National Team defeating the defending Paralympic and World Champion team from the United States 25-24 in a nail-biter final game at the 3rd Wheelchair Rugby World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. He was also recently named Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association Athlete of the Year.

BCWSA is a not-for-profit organization devoted to providing opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Since being founded in 1971, the association has worked to provide access to quality programs for athletes with disabilities. This has always been the focus and continues to be what drives the association. In partnership with other Provincial Wheelchair Sports Associations across Canada, BCWSA is dedicated to promoting wheelchair sport and community awareness. BCWSA is an active partner in the Team 2010 Sport Campaign to get the YES vote out.

For more information contact


Kathy Newman
Executive Director,
BC Wheelchair Sports Association
Tel: 604.737.3109
Email: knewman@bcwheelchairsports.com