Sport Newfoundland and Labrador Presents 2016 Provincial Annual Awards and adds Inductees to Sports Hall of Fame

St. John’s, NL – Sport Newfoundland and Labrador presented nine provincial awards and officially inducted three individuals into the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame at its ninth annual Stars and Legends Awards Gala on Saturday evening.

“Our Stars and Legends Awards Gala continues to showcase and celebrate the incredible talent that Newfoundland and Labrador’s sporting community has to offer,” said Rod Nicholl, President, Sport Newfoundland and Labrador. “Our 2016 recipients have all had many accomplishments in their chosen sports over the last year and have made valuable contributions to strengthening amateur sport in our province.”

More than 300 athletes, coaches, volunteers and sporting enthusiasts attended the event at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland to recognize the best athletic achievements of 2015. Sport Newfoundland and Labrador’s award selection committee chose the 2016 recipients from a list of nominees compiled by 18 member organizations across the province. The 2016 award recipients are:

· Senior Male Athlete of the Year: Sean Cleary (softball)

· Senior Female Athlete of the Year: Sarah Davis (hockey)

· Junior Male Athlete of the Year: Liam Hickey (sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball)

· Junior Female Athlete of the Year: Samantha Marsh (target shooting)

· Team of the Year: Galway Hitmen Softball Team (softball)

· Coach of the Year: Keith Randell (volleyball)

· Executive of the Year: Doug Redmond (soccer)

· Official of the Year: Joan Butler (swimming)

· Volunteer of the Year: Brian Hunt (baseball)

* Biographies for each of the recipients are below

The Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony also paid tribute to the three 2016 inductees, who were selected by the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame Board of Governors and announced in February. The 2016 inductees are:

· Nigel Facey in the “Athlete” category (Soccer/Hockey)

· Sandy Faulkner Ash in the “Athlete” category (Soccer)

· Howie Meeker in the “Builder” category (Hockey)

*Biographies for each of the inductees are below.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame recognizes and honours individuals on the basis of playing ability, sportsmanship and character and who have achieved extraordinary distinction in any sport, whether that be achieved in amateur and/or professional athletics.

“We are proud to celebrate another successful year for sport in Newfoundland and Labrador by honouring these accomplished and dedicated athletes, coaches and volunteers with our annual awards program,” added Nicholl. “I extend sincere congratulations to our 2016 award recipients and all finalists on their achievements and hard work over the past year.”

Sport Newfoundland and Labrador is the volunteer organization committed to the promotion and advancement of amateur sport throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Sport Newfoundland and Labrador represents 55 provincial sport organizations and more than 70,000 individual members, offering a broad range of programs and services.

2016 Provincial Annual Awards Finalists Biographies

Senior Male Athlete Of the Year – Sean Cleary (softball)
Hailing from Harbour Main, Sean Cleary enjoyed a golden year on the softball diamond and pitching circle at the local, provincial, national and international level. In league play, he led his team to a first place regular season and playoff finish, onto a first place provincial finish and was named top batter and most valuable player. Sean’s team, the Galway Hitmen, won gold at the Senior Nationals and Sean was again named playoff MVP. Sean pitched for Team Canada winning gold medals at both the WBSC World Championships and the Pan American (Pan Am) Games.

Senior Female Athlete of the Year – Sarah Davis (hockey)
Sarah Davis of Paradise was the first woman from this province to be selected to a National Women’s Hockey Team, picked twice in 2015 and capturing two silver medals in both the Four Nations Cup and the Women’s World Hockey Championships. She also enjoyed a successful season and second place regular season finish with the Calgary Inferno in the elite Canadian Women’s Hockey League, playing 24 games with seven goals and six assists. Sarah’s accomplishments have turned her into a high-profile role model for aspiring hockey players in the province.

Junior Male Athlete of the Year – Liam Hickey (sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball)
Liam Hickey of St. John’s has had a tremendous year as a sledge hockey and wheelchair basketball athlete. He is the first player in Newfoundland and Labrador to be named to national teams in both wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey and one of a very few to be named to both teams in the same year. Liam has represented Canada in wheelchair basketball at the Parapan American games in Toronto placing second and qualifying for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Brazil. His sledge hockey skills led him to become one of 20 players to represent Canada for the 2015-2016 team as they build the next team for the 2018 Paralympics in South Korea.

Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Samantha Marsh (target shooting)
Target shooter Samantha Marsh of Mount Pearl had an incredible 2015 that saw podium finishes both provincially and nationally. Samantha captured second overall in the 10m Rifle Provincial championships, third overall at the 10m Rifle Atlantic championships and then won gold at the Canada Games 10m Rifle competition and gold in the team event. Her outstanding showings led her to compete internationally as she took part in the 10m and 50m Junior Cup and the 10m and 50m Universiade.

Team of The Year – Galway Hitmen Senior Softball Team (softball)
The Galway Hitmen Senior Softball Team captured the province’s fourth straight Canadian Senior Men’s Fastpitch Championships edging out Nova Scotia 4-3 for the gold medal. The win makes Newfoundland and Labrador one of only two provinces to capture four consecutive wins (British Columbia being the other). The team’s overall record at the nationals was an impressive seven wins and one loss.

Coach of the Year – Keith Randell (volleyball)
Clarenville volleyball coach, Keith Randell, had a very successful 2015 locally, provincially and nationally. Keith coached the Clarenville Middle School Boys Grade 9 team and the senior boys team at Clarenville High. In total, Keith’s teams won 14 tournaments, most notably the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association’s U15 provincials, Volleyfest, Juvenile A championships and the School Sports NL 4A title for the fourth consecutive year. The year was capped off when Clarenville High travelled to Calgary for the National Championships and took home the Tier 2 gold medal. Between his two teams, Keith’s coaching record in 2015 was 86-4 and his teams were awarded Junior and Senior Team of the year by the Newfoundland and Labrador Volleyball Association.

Executive Of The Year – Doug Redmond (soccer)
Doug Redmond of St. John’s has been a tireless worker for soccer, serving as President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association for many years and with some 40 years of administrative experience with the sport. Doug has an active role with all major committees and finds time to attend provincial training camps, tournaments, jamborees and festivals. A career highlight this year was Doug’s appointment as the Canadian Soccer Association’s Head of Delegation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, liaising with the Moncton Local Organizing Committee.

Official of the Year – Joan Butler (swimming)
2015 was an extraordinary year for Joan Butler of Kelligrews as a swimming official. Nationally, Joan is regarded as one of Canada’s top swimming officials. She was one of just seven to be nominated by Swimming Canada’s Technical Swimming Committee to be granted the title of a F.I.N.A. (Federation Internationale de Natation) official. Now eligible to officiate at international swim meets, Joan was asked to officiate at the Canadian Pan American Trials in April 2015, as well as the Pan American Games held in Toronto. Locally, Joan has volunteered her time to referee at various club level meets.

Volunteer Of the Year – Brian Hunt (baseball)

In 2015, Brian Hunt of Mount Pearl was the driving force behind many of Mount Pearl Minor Baseball initiatives to make the sport better for all involved. He is the face of minor baseball in Mount Pearl and has steadily increased registration and programming, making it the second largest association in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is heavily involved in bettering the game and is the Eastern Director for Baseball NL (BNL) making him responsible to ensure all BNL sanctioned tournaments on the Avalon Peninsula have BNL representation. He works tirelessly to ensure things are done properly on top of his nightly baseball activities and lobbying for several major infrastructure upgrades for facilities in this province. He has secured funding for the new, lit baseball field currently under construction in Mount Pearl and has secured funding for several other renovations to multiple fields, giving players safe and inviting fields for their sport.

2016 Hall of Fame Inductees Biographies

Nigel Facey – “Athlete” (soccer/hockey)
Nigel Facey has had a long career participating in multiple sports. His athletic skills and determination made him a top contender in hockey and soccer in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is one of a select few athletes to have represented Newfoundland and Labrador at a Canada Summer Games and a Canada Winter Games. Competing at the national level in two different sports was an indicator of his athletic talent, ability and diversity.

Nigel’s soccer skills led him to play with the Fieldians Senior Soccer team in both the St. John’s and Challenge Cup leagues as a defender and striker. He was recognized as a lead scorer multiple times throughout his career, most notably in 1976 when his scoring total was double the next competitor – despite missing the last five games of the season. From 1986 to 1994, he played with the Fieldians Master Soccer Team winning three St. John’s Master Soccer League titles. On the field, Nigel was a fierce defender and a prolific scorer. His determination and winning attitude made him an asset to any team.

A strong skating defensemen, Nigel showcased exceptional determination and impressive leadership skills in his long-standing hockey career. After enjoying successful minor and school hockey careers, he moved on to spend more than 15 years playing senior hockey. He was a member of the St. John’s Capitals, winning the provincial senior title and the Herder Memorial Trophy in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976. He was seen as a great benefit to his team demonstrating a winning attitude and spirit. His leadership and hockey skills often had him elected Team Captain and it was in this role that he led Mike’s Shamrocks to the 1979 Herder. Nigel played in 12 Herder playoffs scoring an impressive 15 goals and 35 assists.

His personal success in hockey continued with appearances at seven national Allan Cup competitions with 12 goals and 18 assists, making him the sixth highest scorer of all participants. Nigel was a great hockey player with a confident and intelligent approach to the game. He had a 259 game career with 260 points, finishing as the second highest scoring defenseman in provincial senior hockey history. For his efforts, Nigel had tryouts with two National Hockey League (NHL) teams; one in 1972-1973 with the Omaha Knights, the farm team for the Atlanta Flames, and another in 1973-1974 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His contribution to hockey, soccer and various other sports earned him a fierce reputation as a respected player full of skill and determination. Nigel gave his utmost playing ability to every game he participated in. During his athletic career, he displayed a “team first” attitude that contributed greatly to the excellent success that teams for which he played enjoyed.

Nigel was a true athlete displaying skills in multiple sports. His impressive hockey statistics led to his induction into the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

Sandy Faulkner Ash – “Athlete” (soccer)
Sandy Faulkner Ash has competed at the highest level of women’s soccer for close to 25 years. Her dedication, soccer skills and competitive desire have made her a top athlete epitomizing soccer excellence in this province and across Canada.

Sandy is known for her exceptional pace, quickness and technical ability, making her an inspiration and motivation for her teammates and those who have watched her play. The results of her ability are evident as she was a top scorer, was named an MVP and received numerous all-star selections in Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta, where she now lives. She has won 13 provincial titles ‒ 11 in Alberta and two in Newfoundland and Labrador. She has competed 13 times at the National Jubilee Trophy Senior Women’s Soccer Championships and her efforts have resulted in her team winning three gold, one silver and three bronze medals.

Sandy had stints with the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team competing in a CONCACAF qualifying competition. She also competed in the North American Women’s Semi-Pro Soccer League and the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union (CIAU) Championships while she was playing at the university level.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to Memorial University’s athletic program Sandy was elected to membership in the university’s Athletic Honour Society in 1990. Election to membership in the Athletic Honour Society is the highest athletic award that can be conferred on a student of Memorial University. In 1991-1992 she received the University of Alberta Academic/Athletic Excellence Award for maintaining an 80 per cent average while playing CIS sport. In 2011, Sandy was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Hall of Fame.

Howie Meeker – “Builder” (hockey)
Howie Meeker built an impressive hockey career while influencing generations of hockey players throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. For more than 50 years Howie has touched multiple aspects of hockey as a player, coach, general manager, announcer and broadcaster. He has instructed and influenced those involved in hockey at all levels from grade school to the National Hockey League (NHL) and various international hockey leagues.

For older generations, Howie is remembered for his impressive NHL career playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. There were many career highs, including awards for Rookie of the Year in 1947, All-Star player of the game for three consecutive years from 1947-1949 and four Stanley Cup wins in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. His time with the Maple Leafs Hockey Franchise continued as he returned to coach for a season in 1956 and then became their General Manager in 1957.

Howie finished playing in the NHL at the age of 29, but he continued to play hockey professionally for another 15 years. He moved to Newfoundland and Labrador in 1957 where he quickly became involved in local hockey, helping to create a large group of talented players. His coaching contribution had a major influence in hockey in the province. He coached high school, junior and senior leagues in St. John’s, including the St. John’s Capitals who won a Herder Memorial Trophy in 1970. He is remembered as “simply an excellent coach”, having a philosophy and instructional leadership that benefited many kids, as well as accomplished players.

Adding to his coaching career, Howie created a hockey school teaching the fundamental skills needed to skate, stickhandle and play the game. He was known for emphasizing thinking ability, which led to skilled players and parents becoming knowledgeable coaches. From 1973-1977, Howie Meeker’s Hockey School was featured on a Canadian television series broadcast by CBC for 107 fifteen-minute episodes. These episodes showcased the “unique Meeker imprint” with his enthusiasm for the game, highlighting basic physical and mental skills needed to play.

His instruction and coaching continued as he wrote two books while living in Newfoundland. Howie Meeker’s Hockey Basics was published in 1973 and More Hockey Basics from Howie Meeker was published in 1975. These books were extremely influential in shaping the way hockey is played today. His opinions on the lack of basic playing skills led to his book creating the groundwork for how hockey was taught in the future. He recognized his time in Newfoundland with his training school as the perfect opportunity to test his theories of developing skating power from balance. His first book was selected by the Literary Review of Canada as the 63rd most important book of all time.

Howie’s expertise soon found him employed as a Hockey Analyst for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. He enjoyed this position with CBC until 1990; then he joined TSN and worked there until his retirement in 1998. His broadcasting career can be remembered for his use of the telestrator where he made the game simple and easy to understand. He was an open-minded broadcaster who contributed to the advancement of the sport with a drive and determination to fix problems and create skilled players.