G.P. Vanier Secondary in Courtenay hosted their 27th annual athletic banquet on Tuesday, June 4 in their gymnasium where 300 athletes, parents, coaches, and special guests had the opportunity to recognize excellence in athletics for the past school year as well as past excellence.
Numerous awards were presented not only to current student-athletes, but to former ones in the form of Wall of Fame inductees. Big screen picture presentations played to the audience throughout the evening. Guest speakers, head coaches, and fine food all made the evening a special one to end Vanier’s much-touted athletic seasons – ones that rival any in the province at the Triple A level.
All the Grade 8 and 9 athletes received Certificates of Merit for participating in sport throughout the past school year. Eight of these athletes also received Athlete of the Year and All Around Athlete of the Year awards … the future of Vanier’s athletics looks promising.
Vanier inducted three main players in our community sports for their accomplishments in sport not only at Vanier but beyond. Murray McRae (builder), Steve Knight (builder) and Simon Nessman (athlete) will each have their plaques posted on the Wall of Fame in the gym.
For mini-bios of these three, prepared by Vanier athletic director Larry Street, read this story online at www.comoxvalleyrecord.com under ‘sports’.
One of last year’s Wall of Fame inductees was the main speaker this year. Cam Levins was the NCAA athlete of the year in track and an Olympian for Canada in London. He now is running as a professional sponsored by Nike and is on the world stage in his prime events of distance running.
The crowd was so appreciative of having their very own Black Creek product sharing personal moments with them. At last year’s banquet the whole gym cheered Cam on in his winning 10,000m race for NCAA championship.
Every year the audience looks forward to the Major Award winners where nominees are announced to the crowd, then the winner is announced. In all cases a very appreciative audience shows their approval of the eventual award winner.
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Wall of Fame – Athlete
Tonight we are inducting an alumni of 2007 to our Wall of Fame who is certainly one of our most deserving candidates based primarily on his accomplishments in athletics while here at Vanier.
He still has goals that include playing varsity sport at a university that were put on hold due to a “mini-career” he has pursued these past five years … a career that has placed him on a list at the top of the world in regards to his value to their business.
We are speaking about Simon Nessman – an outstanding athlete who epitomizes all the ingredients coaches value in their athletes at any level, on any team in the world.
Before we speak about Simon the man, let us look at what he did that no other Vanier Towhee EVER did wearing the green, black and white. Simon is the only Vanier athlete to represent our school in seven provincial championships; three in rugby and four in basketball.
His former rugby coach Ken Erikson says the following about Simon:
• A tremendous leader both on and off the field
• Simon very successfully played in three Triple A B.C. rugby championships in the 15s and the 7-a-side
• He was very versatile while he played #10, #9 and flanker throughout his career
• He had very good skills reading the game and making quick decisions
• Probably the best attribute I saw in Simon was his ability to rise to the occasion; to play his best when it mattered most and while doing so creating an environment for his teammates to excel and bring out their best
• Truly, Simon is one of Vanier’s best all round athletes and a role model for what we see in a global leader, and a global citizen.
Simon used the life lessons he learned, and it took him to the top of the modelling world. I saw him at the LA airport on the wall in the duty free shop. In People magazine. In Sports Illustrated. On a music video. You can’t tell me that what he learned as an athlete didn’t take him to the top!
And now he wishes to play basketball at university next year. I think he’ll succeed and here’s why:
He was a starter at the junior boys basketball provincials; he was a key Grade 11 player at provincials in 2006; he was a starter and key player for us at the provincials in 2007; in 2007 he was a member of the provincial championship 3-on-3 team.
He was highly regarded by all our coaching staff, who picked him as our Most Inspirational Junior Athlete in 2005.
He was Junior Athlete of the Year in 2005; won the Howie Ellis Award as the top Grade 11 athlete in 2006; won the Norm Hill Award for gutsy play in 2007; was Vanier’s All Around Top Athlete of 2007.
He is a winner, and a fine young man!
The Comox Valley is very proud of his accomplishments, and his world status. May he inspire many more young student-athletes.
Wall of Fame – Builder
Murray arrived at Vanier in 2008-09 and as an administrator has never stopped immersing himself into our school community and all the activities we enjoy. As well as joining us in all we were doing, he also initiated numerous programs that helped make Vanier a better place to be.
Murray initiated and organized the construction of our Earth Day garden. He started the Breakfast Program. He started the lunch hour Student Support homework club. He was involved in ordering and mounting the TV monitors at Vanier.
Murray actively attended many Vanier events and activities. But it was our Athletics program that he made a tremendous impact on. Murray initiated Vanier’s Alumni Association. This took many hours of meetings, phone calls, and e-mails. He helped out at numerous school tournaments throughout the years, doing such things as opening the gym on weekends and presenting trophies.
Murray organized the purchase of the weight room equipment and weight room stereo. He was active as Administrator in charge of Athletics, along with Steve Knight. He co-coached junior boys basketball. He travelled on numerous team road trips, assisting with driving.
He purchased our school van and helped secure the monthly sponsorship for it. Murray is responsible for developing the Friends of Vanier group who have helped us maintain and keep the van for the use of groups at G.P. Vanier. This took many hours of meetings, and hard work and we all greatly appreciate what this has meant to our programs, so we can compete at a high level in the province, and also be financially more secure.
Murray McRae devoted five great years to athletics at G.P. Vanier and is a deserving member of our Wall of Fame. Thank to Murray for the time you gave to us.
Wall of Fame – Builder
Steve arrived at Vanier in the early 21st century, coming to us after stints at various schools in the Valley (most notably Cumberland Junior), and after a stellar athletic career at Highland Secondary back in the 20th century.
We inherited a man who gave our school community constant support in many activities, an infectious smile, and a spirit befitting a Towhee. We are inducting this man onto our Wall of Fame for the countless hours he dedicated to athletics – a job that was only part of a much bigger job of being a school administrator. Another special part of this honour for Steve is to be placed on the same Wall that his father Irv is on, one of the original nominees to go onto the Wall of Fame.
Steve was a very active administrator, coach, and athlete. He was our Adminstrative Rep (along with Murray McRae) for years. He was on numerous committees for various Island championships at our school. Steve coached Grade 9 girls volleyball and managed junior boys soccer.
He was a liaison with our school district to get our gym floor redone and finished each year. He started the Music Fest fundraising project that helps support athletics and other programs at G.P. Vanier
Steve was instrumental each year in finding coaches for teams that had no coach, to keep that Vanier spirit going, and ensure our students could still participate in sport in our community.
He was a willing MC for many major athletic events in our gym, including numerous championships. Steve coordinated many athletic events, he assisted with many touring school and team visits from other provinces and countries, and he assisted with many tournaments.
Steve Knight put his heart and soul into Towhee Athletics, just as he did with many other school ventures. What sets him apart is the gusto he showed, that smiling happy face he showed, his visible energy and his ultimate fairness to everyone he connected with. Steve is a very deserving recipient of the Wall of Fame award.
– Vanier Athletics