BOW VALLEY – With a full year of sports in the books, things are starting to feel like normal again – especially at local schools.
And at the three Bow Valley high schools – Banff Community High School (BCHS), Our Lady of the Snows (OLS), and Canmore Collegiate High School (CCHS) – in-person ceremonies returned to honour its students' athletic excellence.
"It was such a great season," said Quinn Webster, CCHS' male athlete of the year. "I was so glad I got to play with COVID [being prevalent] and stuff and I just had a ton of fun with the boys."
At CCHS, the major award winners included Webster; Kierra McCaffrey won female athlete of the year; Asher McKay won the Wolverine Honour Award; Nadia Fish received the Andrew Hunt Memorial Soccer Award; and Alex D’Aoust won coach of the year.
Playing big roles on Canmore Wolverines' basketball, football and soccer teams, Webster is always at the heart of every sports team.
As well as male athlete of the year, Webster also was named MVP in boys soccer during his final season as a Wolverine.
"I hadn't played soccer since Grade 9, so it was such a great sport to finish off [high school] with," said Webster, who was a striker. "I loved the team, loved the practices, great coaches. It was a blast to play in."
McCaffrey, a prominent voice in the huddle, was captain of the basketball squad, played volleyball, and took eighth place in javelin at track and field zones.
Like most student-athletes, she had missed the feeling of the team environment after schools were forced to stop sports last year due to COVID-19.
At OLS, taking home the big awards were Corey Banks winning senior male athlete of the year; Meagan Lang won senior female athlete of the year; Gabriel Bongbong won junior male athlete of the year; and Mary Huggill won junior female athlete of the year.
Banks, who'll drop 30 on you by halftime, is one of the top basketball players in the valley. Aside from being captain of the Avalanche, the 18-year-old was selected to represent Alberta in basketball at the Canada Summer Games in August.
"It was a good feeling when I heard my name [called for the award]," said Banks. "I was thinking that my hard work paid off."
Lang, a leader among her peers, played basketball, coached Grade 7 girls basketball, and played volleyball during her final year at OLS.
Her most memorable moment came in volleyball at regionals during a third set. The ball was in her hands to make the big play when it counted most.
"In that third set, I ended up going on a streak with my serves and I was able to get eight consecutive serves and that’s what won us the game," Lang said. "That's what was really special for me because my serve has always been a little inconsistent, so it was really reaffirming for me."
In their Grade 9 years, Banks and Lang also won the junior athletic awards together.
At BCHS, the athlete of the year awards were given to Stewart Steele and Brio Hempstead; and Clay Milne and Fuzuki Kiyota won the Allen Tollestrup Award, which is the school's most distinguished award recognizing excellence in athletics, academics and leadership.
Kiyota, a key player, teammate and coach for any team she was a part of, was an uplifting energy whenever the team needed a boost. She played volleyball, rugby, basketball, and helped bring together a second senior girls basketball team this season.
Milne, leader of the boys' rugby team, was truly the heart and soul of the squad. Despite being injured, he showed up to every practice and match to encourage his peers and help out wherever he could. With connections to the Canmore Wolverines during his time on the football team, Milne actively recruited players to rugby to ensure the Banff Bears had a boys team this season.