For the first time since 2019, supporters from Saskatchewan and across Canada gathered in person to celebrate the finalists and recipients of the 2022 Saskatchewan Sport Awards on Jan. 26 in Saskatoon.
The annual program celebrates the success and dedication of those in the province’s amateur sport community through two categories – Excellence Awards and Recognition Awards. The Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding event performances or a series of performances by a Saskatchewan athlete, coach or team within a given calendar year, while the Recognition Awards include the Volunteer and Coach Dedication Awards, as well as the Inspire Through Sport Award, all which honour individuals who have devoted their time and effort to the growth of sport in Saskatchewan.
“On behalf of Sask Sport and its membership, I would like to congratulate all of the Saskatchewan Sport Award finalists and recipients,” said Michael Rogers, Sask Sport Board of Directors Chair. “We are honoured to celebrate outstanding amateur athletes, teams, coaches and volunteers from across Saskatchewan. These individuals lead by example daily to show everyone that sport, truly, is more than a game and that sport brings so much to helping make Saskatchewan communities vibrant.
“The dedication and perseverance each award finalist and recipient shares make them great ambassadors for both sport and this province.”
EXCELLENCE AWARD RECIPIENTS
Nominated by the Saskatoon U18 AAA Stars and supported by Hockey Saskatchewan
- Emily scored two goals and added an assist, while playing a crucial checking and penalty kill role for Canada at the Olympics, helping the women’s hockey team bring home gold. She also played a key role for the team at the world championships scoring two goals and adding two assists, helping Canada win back-to-back for the first time in more than 20 years.
Nominated by Sask Snowboard and national team coach
- Mark won his third straight Olympic bronze medal in slopestyle after similar results in 2014 and 2018. In his final run in the event, he saved his best for last, scoring 88.53, which was good enough to get him on the podium. Mark also collected his sixth career slopestyle medal at the X Games, passing American Shaun White for most in the discipline. In his X Games career, Mark has won 21 total medals, including 10 gold.
Nominated by Tennis Saskatchewan
- For the second straight year, Teah wins the Youth Female Athlete of the Year award. In 2022, Teah defeated two different seeded players on her way to the ITF J3 Quebec City title, winning the semi-final and final match in three sets. She also competed at the 2022 Canada Games in Niagara Falls and the Women’s ITF Challenger in Calgary, the highest-level tournament she has ever played in.
Nominated by Tennis Saskatchewan
As an Under-16 athlete, Keegan won the Under-18 Nationals in Toronto, which took place immediately after the Canada Summer Games. He also picked up his first International Tennis Federation win in Germany, even though he was unseeded heading into the event. His remarkable year also included a gold medal from the ITF Pan American Games.
Nominated by Dive Sask
- Mary has won this award for the second straight year. 2022 marked the most successful season for the Saskatoon Diving Club and Dive Sask, thanks to the work Mary put in with her athletes, three of which are finalists in Excellence categories. Top performances for her athletes include Presley Deck, who collected national gold before going on to compete at worlds. She also helped Rylan Wiens and Margo Erlam to silver and bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games and top 10 finishes at worlds.
Nominated by Sask Volleyball
- Team Saskatchewan’s men’s volleyball team captured the province’s only team gold medal at the Canada Summer Games, beating Alberta in four sets in the final to finish first place. It was the first time a men’s volleyball team from Saskatchewan has won gold at the event since 1987. Team captain Skyler Varga was also selected at the Rolan Michener Award Winner as the top male athlete who exemplified leadership, cooperation and excellence on and off the court during the Games. This team also won gold at the Canada Cup.
INSPIRE THROUGH SPORT AWARD
Nominated by Swim Saskatchewan
A member of the national Para swim team and national record holder, Nikita Ens has always been involved in sport. Along with being an active cyclist, Nikita completed triathlons, played volleyball and won a high school provincial shotput medal. In 2010, Nikita made it her mission to cycle across Canada from Whiterock, BC to Halifax in 32 days to raise money for Haitian earthquake victims. In 2014, a car accident changed her life and after an intensive healing journey, Nikita found swimming. In the five years since, Nikita has competed for Canada at the Paralympics in Tokyo and at the World Para Swimming Championships in 2019 and most recently in 2022, where she . While striving for continuous personal improvement, Nikita always aims to be a strong community advocate and give back to fellow athletes. Nikita helps out at summer camps with Athletes-In-Action, teaches English to newcomers and gives presentations about her story to elementary schools, high schools and several western Canadian universities.
Nominated by Waterski and Wakeboard Saskatchewan
After a single vehicle collision in 2010 left him a paraplegic, Nolan Barnes made it his mission to inspire others. He’s not only overcome his injury, but he’s become a world-class athlete, motivational speaker and advocate against impaired driving. Starting from the grassroots level of adaptive waterskiing, Nolan worked his way up to become a member of the national team and went on to become a world champion and world record holder. He’s also developed into a coach, official and mentor, helping with various grassroots clinics and programs. Nolan started public speaking just five months after his injury and has since spoken to thousands across Western Canada. He has made it his mission to share the message of staying safe, the importance of decision making and helping people find fulfillment in their lives.
COACH DEDICATION AWARD
Nominated by Biathlon Saskatchewan
For the past 27 years, Doug Sylvester has been a dedicated biathlon coach. His athletes have earned numerous medals at the Canada Winter Games and other national championships, with four of his athletes making it to the senior national team. Some of those athletes have competed in the Olympics, World Cups and World Championships. Doug has always stayed close with his athletes that move on to the national team, ensuring he is still supporting them. Along with coaching and mentoring his athletes, Doug encourages the next generation of coaches by regularly putting on coaching clinics and professional development sessions, as well as mentoring newer coaches in the province and across Canada. Doug has also served on the jury at national competitions for several years because of his impartialness and fair opinions. Doug has received Biathlon Canada’s Coach of the Year Award on two separate occasions. Prior to getting involved in biathlon, Doug spent 10 years coaching volleyball, soccer, high performance swimming and baseball.
Nominated by the Thunder Creek Volleyball Club and supported by Saskatchewan Volleyball Association
Guiding her teams to numerous medals and championships, Tracy Hazen has a knack for empowering her volleyball athletes. Along with leading the St. Joseph High School’s women’s volleyball team to several provincial medals, Tracy has won many club medals in age groups from . She coached Team Sask at the Canada Summer Games and in 2018, guided the Team Sask 18U group to the gold medal at the Canada Cup. It was the first 18U Saskatchewan team to win the gold medal in 21 years of the Canada Cup. After the win, the head of Volleyball Canada praised the team for being the first to achieve this title and Tracy for her coaching ethics, mentorship and leadership as a strong female in sport. In 2022, Tracy guided the Saskatchewan women’s volleyball team to a fourth-place finish at the Canada Summer Games, which was the best finish by a provincial team in more than 30 years.
VOLUNTEER DEDICATION AWARD
Nominated by the Debden Speedballs Boys Minor Broomball and supported by Saskatchewan Broomball Association
Volunteering to coach four broomball teams, Leslie Bilodeau has made a major impact in the community of Debden and is always doing so with a smile on his face. Since 2014, Leslie has served as head coach for the U14 boys’ broomball team and during that time has added the U16, U20 and men’s teams to his resume as well as national team championships appearances. Leslie first got involved in 2012 when he put together an adult mixed team, organizing an adult and mixed provincial tournament that same year. In 2021, he developed and started a provincial men’s league. He’s currently on the organizing committee for the 2023 national championship that will be hosted in Saskatoon.
Nominated by the Saskatoon Valkyries and supported by Football Saskatchewan
After first getting involved in football as a volunteer trainer with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in 1997, Michelle Duchene has given back countless hours to the sport. In 2010, a trip to the world championship as a trainer with the national women’s tackle football team sparked her interest in creating a women’s tackle football program in Saskatchewan. In 2011, thanks in large part to the dedication of Michelle, the Western Women’s Canadian Football League was born. Michelle co-founded the Saskatoon Valkyries and has continued to work with them since 2011. She also established the Rush girls’ flag football league in Saskatoon in 2014 and is now heading the creation of a girls tackle football team in Saskatoon to join the Prairie Girls Football League. While doing all of that, Michelle has managed touch and flag football teams for 23 years and served as a flag coach for the past 18 seasons. Outside of football, Michelle volunteers in minor hockey, sits on various councils and boards and always gives her time during major events happening in Saskatoon.
Nominated by the Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association
For more than 20 years, Ryan Gaudet has been a key figure of the wheelchair rugby officiating crew in Saskatchewan. He has officiated in all levels of the sport and also plays a hand in developing the next generation of officials. Ryan started officiating wheelchair rugby in 2002 and from his first year until 2022, he worked every national championship. In 2012, he began to oversee all officiating development in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, helping newer officials rise to the ranks. His career highlight came in 2021 at the Tokyo Paralympics, when Ryan was selected to work the bronze medal game. Ryan recently retired from international officiating after working the 2022 World Championships in Denmark to spend more time with his five kids. Ryan is still involved provincially and nationally in a developmental role.
Nominated by Special Olympics Saskatchewan
A crucial part of the Special Olympics Melfort Committee, Tony Caissie has been volunteering with the organization for more than 10 years, currently serving as the program coordinator. Going above and beyond the regular call of duty, Tony helps organize meetings, apply for grants, assist with registration, community accreditation, as well as volunteer and athlete recruitment and facility booking. In 2020-21, Tony was named the Special Olympics Saskatchewan Bob Peddie Memorial Award Winner, which is given to a long-standing volunteer, for his dedication to Special Olympics in the province.