More than 300 supporters from the province and across Canada gathered at the 2023 Saskatchewan Sport Awards to celebrate the achievements of the Excellence and the Recognition Award finalists and recipients.
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 everyone at Sask Sport and Sask Lotteries, I would like to congratulate all the award finalists and recipients,” said Bill Kinash, Sask Sport Board of Directors Chair. “These individuals display their passion for sport on a daily basis, leading by example to show everyone that sport, truly, is more than a game and that sport brings so much to help make Saskatchewan communities vibrant.”
“We are honoured to celebrate numerous outstanding amateur athletes, teams, coaches and volunteers from across Saskatchewan.”
EXCELLENCE AWARD RECIPIENTS
Nominated by Basketball Saskatchewan
Paige attended seven international tournaments in 2023. As a member of Canada’s top 3X3 team, she competed in women’s series stops in Quebec, Montreal, Edmonton and the Ulaanbaatar Final. Her team also competed at the World Cup in Austria. Canada placed first in all women’s series events with Paige hitting the net at the buzzer to win Team Canada the 2023 series title. She was ranked third in shooting efficiency and in shooting value, as well as named a Top 3 Single Game Player.
Nominated by Dive Sask
For the second time in three years, Rylan Wiens is named Male Athlete of the Year. The 2020 Olympian attended the Winter Senior Nationals and earned a place on the podium, as well as two perfect 10s. At the USA Diving International Invitational, he received gold before attending the Santiago Pan American Games. In Santiago, he won silver in the men’s synchronized 10-metre platform event. Rylan qualified for the 2024 World Championships after diving to a silver medal at the Senior National Championships in Winnipeg.
Nominated by Dive Sask
As an Under-16 athlete, Lila was named Girls B top diver and broke two Saskatchewan diving records at the Junior National Championships, which qualified her for the Junior Pan American Games in August. She claimed two bronze and a silver at the Games before attending Senior National Championships in Winnipeg and collected another silver medal, an honour for a junior athlete competing at senior level.
Nominated by Tennis Saskatchewan
For the second straight year, Keegan is the recipient of the Youth Male Athlete of the Year award. He claimed his second International Tennis Federation title at the Junior Cup in Austria, which qualified him for international competition. His performance at the J300 FILA International Junior Championship qualified him to compete in three separate Junior Grand Slams in France, England and Australia, the highest level of junior competition worldwide. Keegan was named Tennis Canada’s 2023 Junior Male Player of the Year.
Nominated by North Regina Little League supported by Baseball Saskatchewan
North Regina Little League Major All-Stars claimed the title at the Canadian Little League Championships in Regina, beating defending champions British Columbia and qualified for the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania. It was the first time since 2002 that Saskatchewan represented Canada at the Little League World Series. The team walked away with a 1-2 record defeating Team Europe-Africa 3-0. The team is made up of athletes between the ages of 10 and 12.
Nominated by Swim Saskatchewan
Coach of numerous national para swimmers, Ryan has coached athletes to claim gold and break various records including the Canadian record in 100-metre backstroke at major competitions such as, the 2023 World Para Swimming Championships. He was selected as part of the coaching staff for the 2023 Para Swimming Championships in Manchester and led three athletes to achieve minimum qualifying standard for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games. For his efforts, he won a 2023 Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award.
INSPIRE THROUGH SPORT AWARD
Nominated by Saskatchewan Wheelchair Sports Association
As a Paralympian, Jessica Frotten has taken her passion for sport to encourage others. After sustaining a spinal cord injury, Jessica moved from the Yukon to Regina to participate in the First Steps Wellness Program in 2011. Through the program, she found Para athletics and won her first gold at the Canada Summer Games in 2013. Jessica competed at Tokyo 2020, where she set a personal best in the 4×100-metre relay. Last summer, she was named Team Captain for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and won four gold medals at the 2022 Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships. She now takes her experiences and leadership forward to help mentor others who have recently sustained a spinal cord injury. She introduces adaptive sport to those who are interested and encourages all to pursue what they are passionate about. Jessica helps with the development of the community by mentoring and making the community more accessible, such as mapping the accessibility of Wascana Valley Trails.
Nominated by friends and supported by Waterski Wakeboard Saskatchewan.
Sixteen years ago, Blake Lamontagne became a T4 paraplegic and was introduced to the world of waterskiing by another adaptive athlete. Blake leads his life with an optimistic perspective, knowing no obstacle is too big to overcome. He has developed into a successful athlete in waterski, shattering the MP3 Men’s Trick World Record at the recent 2023 IWWF Disabled World Waterski Championships. Blake has received the honour of being Waterski Wakeboard Canada Male Adaptive Athlete of the Year for three straight years from 2019 to 2022. On three occasions, he has attended the World Disabled Waterski Championships and continues to excel in all events offered in waterski. His performance at Worlds brought Team Canada a silver medal, the first team medal ever awarded to Canada at a World Disabled Waterski Championship. Blake uses his time outside of training and competing to demonstrate that there are various opportunities for people with a disability to engage in life.
Nominated by Gymnastics Saskatchewan.
Team Saskatchewan Gymnaestrada (TSG) is a unique group of athletes who use their various artistic abilities to perform acts of reconciliation. The group was established in 2022 and consists of members with various backgrounds and ages, ranging from 11 to over 60. The collaboration between gymnasts and powwow dancers has led the athletes to actively practice reconciliation on and off the world stage, by participating in Indigenous workshops and lessons to form a better understanding of the negative impacts of colonization. TSG traveled to Amsterdam for the World Gymnaestrada in August of 2023. The team’s performance at the event caused a wave of motion to take place within the realm of sport and reconciliation. “Re-Creating Community,” and provided insight to the positive impact of inclusion. The group’s performance used music, drumming and regalia from Indigenous artists to depict their theme of a shared vision for a harmonious future in Canada. The routine received critical acclaim at World Gymnaestrada as the first performance incorporating traditional Indigenous culture and inspired people from across the province and around the world to collaborate and celebrate sport together.
COACH DEDICATION AWARD
Nominated by Saskatchewan Baton Twirling Association
Maureen Johnson has guided innumerable athletes to success at the local, provincial, national, and international level. She takes her 70 years of coaching experience to help athletes and develop coaches through the learning process. Maureen has coached at every WBTF World Championships Event since the inception in 1980, apart from 1981. She leads with the philosophy “every elite athlete was once a beginner,” a belief that has guided her athletes to claim multiple world medals. Apart from her time coaching, Maureen prioritizes her own growth by attending workshops, courses and clinics. Stepping in as an educator to other coaches, she has presented at various webinars hosted by Canadian Baton Twirling Federation.
Nominated by Queen City Minor Box Lacrosse and supported by Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association
Don Larson became an essential part of the lacrosse community in 2000 when his son was introduced to the sport. Since first joining, Don has coached 65 different teams over 20 years, from novice to senior levels. He has coached numerous teams to reach provincial and national medals, valuing his time with each group of athletes. Don coached the Saskatchewan U16 North American Indigenous Games team in 2014. Apart from prioritizing the success of his athletes, Don has reached his own success over the years. In 2009, he was the SLA Volunteer of the Year recipient and has received the SLA Coaches award on multiple occasions. More recently, Don was awarded The Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medal for 30 years of Volunteer Service for sport in the community, province and Canada.
Nominated by Prince Albert Sharks Swim Club and YMCA and supported by Swim Saskatchewan
Guiding his athletes to numerous medals, Hazem Hussein has led individuals and teams to achieve success in Canada and the UK. In recent competitions, Hazem guided a para-athlete to achieve exceptional growth in the last year, receiving four medals in the Canadian Western Championships and qualifying for finals at nationals. In 2013, Hazem’s Prince Albert Sharks Swim Club earned the prestigious title of the Top Club at the Junior Provincial Championship, highlighting the collective achievement of the entire team while under the guidance of Hazem. In addition to his coaching, Hazem seeks to educate others and has acted as keynote speaker at various facilities including, Canadian Swimming Coaches Association, the University of Saskatchewan, Sports Medicine & Science Council of Saskatchewan and Terry Fox College. Hazem has a PhD in Sport Physiology and obtained a Post Doctorate in molecular exercise physiology. He can pull from his academic achievements when guiding his athletes and other aspiring coaches.
Nominated by Football Saskatchewan
Over the past 33 years, Pat Barry has dedicated himself as a positional coach, coordinator and head coach of football. His athletes have attended various levels of championships and found success under his guidance. Pat coached the first all Indigenous team that attended the 6 Nations Challenge as a regular coach and at the Northern League Jamboree, acting as a positional and safe contact leader. In recent years, Pat took on the role as head coach of the Saskatoon Valkyries, bringing the team to the win the last three titles. He has watched members of the Saskatoon Valkyries develop from young athletes into veterans, becoming close to many of the athletes. Pat’s ability to guide his athletes goes beyond the field, he helped his team through the loss of an assistant coach midseason. Along with coaching, he attends various camps and coaching clinics, both as the attendee and as the educator.
Nominated by Regina Piranhas Summer Swim Club and supported by Swim Saskatchewan
Over 37 years of coaching, Jason Cawkwell has worked to better athletes and coaches alike. He has led numerous athletes to success in the pool, while keeping the sport fun. Along with leading the Regina Piranhas to success at provincial championships, Jason has guided Regina Master athletes to claim Canadian and provincial records. He has worked with the Regina Dolphins and University of Regina athletes as an assistant coach, assisting them throughout finals. Mentoring more than just his athletes, Jason recruits new coaches and teaches them how to foster a team environment. Jason has received the Recreation Coach of the Year award in 2022 from Regina Artistic Swimming and was recognized by the Regina Piranhas for his years of service.
Nominated by Saskatoon Racing Canoe Club and supported by Canoe/Kayak Saskatchewan
Rob Sleeth has taken a unique approach to coaching, stepping outside of the average expectations and encouraging current athletes to explore the realm of coaching. Rob was an Olympic coach for five teams between the years of 1980 and 1996. The K2 team claimed an Olympic gold and bronze medal in 1984 under his guidance. Rob led Canada’s National Team program from 1985 to 1999 and in 2016, he prepared the women’s kayak team for their appearance in the Rio Olympics. Recently, Rob coached a SRCC athlete to win three silver and one bronze in the canoe kayak events at the 2023 North American Indigenous Games. He has taken his abilities and applied them in the community and worked with CNIB to offer “Learn to Paddle” initiatives for athletes with visual impairments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rob advocated for the importance of athletes having access to canoe/kayaking and developed a protocol for the safe return, which served as a model for several clubs across Canada.
VOLUNTEER DEDICATION AWARD
Nominated by Football Saskatchewan
After being a part of football in Saskatchewan for over 50 years, Bob Coffin continues to involve himself in sport in various capacities. From 1975 to 2011, Bob coached high school football teams in Saskatoon and Prince Albert and was attentive to each athlete he led. He follows his core value that collaboration will mean greater success in the future, exemplified through his dedication to various programs. Bob has been involved in the volunteer community as a coach, administrator and official. In 2010, he became a member of officiating crews doing six, nine- and 12-player football games for high school, peewee and Kinsmen Football League bantam level. Among many other accomplishments, Bob received the Bronze Award from Saskatchewan Amateur Wrestling Association for his contributions to amateur wrestling in the province and in 2017 was inducted into the Prince Albert Hall of Fame in the Builder category.
Nominated by Saski Skiing for Disabled supported by Saskatchewan Ski Association
For over four decades, Pat Prokopchuk has served the skiing community as a coach, ski patroller, aid in the production of sit skis for athletes and administration. Pat finds a way to make sure all individuals interested in pursuing adaptive ski have the opportunity. Around 1978, Pat was a CANSI-qualified ski instructor and spoke with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to discuss opportunities for visually impaired individuals to get involved in skiing. Pat charted a provincial program that embraced the aspirations of all adaptive skiers and people who wanted to get involved as aids. In addition to her volunteer work, she prioritized the goals of others, helping competitive adaptive skiers qualify for national teams and high-profile competitions such as the Special Olympics and World Disabled Ski Championships . After getting involved in skiing, Pat spent a term as president of the non-profit group Dance Saskatchewan and founded the inclusive Oriental Dance Arts of Saskatoon school. In an act to expand inclusion in skiing, Pat sold sit ski equipment throughout North America and as far as Korea.
Nominated by Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and supported by Basketball Saskatchewan
Starting his volunteer journey in 2002 at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG), Mike Tanton has attended the Games on five occasions, volunteering as a basketball coach in 2002, 2005, 2008 and as Chef de Mission in 2017 and 2023. With a passion for basketball, Mike continues to partake in events surrounding the sport, working as a community engagement advisor for Wakeride Saskatoon for four years. In 2016, Mike helped co-found One Love Basketball and in 2019 co-founded Living Skies Basketball League, he continues to coach teams and youth camps to this day for both foundations. Mike is also a basketball official and board member of Basketball Saskatchewan. His dedication to basketball was recognized in 2023 through the Role Model Campaign for the Toronto Raptors, celebrating his advocacy and support for the sport over the last 30 years. Mike has a passion for sport, especially basketball, and continues to make sure all individuals can enjoy the sport he has put his heart into for decades. If the community requires an extra hand, Mike is there to help in any way possible.