Celebrating success and dedication

by | Oct 9, 2023

Western Valley Centre for Coaching hands out awards to dedicated coaches and volunteers

The success of amateur sports relies on the skills and dedication of coaches and volunteers. 

On Sept. 21, at the appropriate venue of the Florenceville Curling Club, the 25th annual Western Valley Centre for Coaching Awards banquet saluted a coach, a volunteer and a pair of young athletes whose dedication helps sports thrive in the Upper St. John River Valley. 

Florenceville Curling Club coach Jacob Elsinger of Woodstock was presented with the Tom Hanson Coach of the Year Memorial Award. 

The curling club’s long-time volunteer Brent Brown of Juniper earned the Volunteer Sport Administrator Award. 

Hartland’s Ellie Orser and Woodstock’s Kaden Graham accepted the Youth Achievement Awards during the banquet. 

Kent Kuhn, Carleton County resident and Consultant for the Sport and Recreation Branch, welcomed everyone to the event.

He introduced representatives of Coach NB, who joined the celebration of excellence, including Executive Director Manon Ouellette, Madeline Belding, Women in Coaching project manager, and Andrea Creer, project manager. 

They were joined by New Brunswick alpine ski coach Kay Mills, who served as the evening’s keynote speaker. 

Ouellette introduced Mills and noted the banquet fell on National Coaching Week. 

“It’s my favourite time of the year,” she said. 

Ouellette noted Mills became the New Brunswick Alpine Ski Team’s first female head coach. 

She and Kuhn cited the team’s tremendous success under Mill’s guidance, 

“It’s amazing to see what a 22-year-old can accomplish,” said Ouellette. 

As a mission representative for New Brunswick’s team at the Canada Winter Games, Kuhn said he fell in love with alpine skiing. 

He also praised the results Mill’s team produced. 

“They’re relaxed because she’s relaxed,” Kuhn said. 

He said officials from across the country commended New Brunswick’s alpine team members for their competitive performance and positive demeanour outside the competitions. 

Kuhn explained Mills, currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick, is also a Learning Facilitator with Coach NB and the Coaching Association of Canada, delivering four NCCP training modules. 

“Through evidence-based coaching and an athlete-centered leadership style, Kay aims to build her athletes’ toolkits for success on and off the ski hill,” he said. 

Mills told those attending the banquet that coaching means focusing on the athletes and building on their strengths. 

“When we say it’s all about you, we mean it’s all about you,” she said. 

Mills handed out flashcards, asking them to place their names on one side and list their accomplishments on the other. She explained the exercise will help people remind themselves of their achievements. 

During the award presentations, Joy and Mary Harson, family members of the award namesake Tom Hanson, presented the Coach of the Year award to Elsinga. 

Kuhn outlined Elsinga’s active efforts at the Florenceville Curling Club, especially with their Little Rock and junior program.  

“Not only does he coach these programs, but Jacob can also be found helping the club with bonspiels, funspiels and many other events that the club puts on,” he said. “He is just more than a coach to his athletes, but a mentor, friend, and confidant.” 

Elsinga thanks the Western Valley Centre for Coaching for the honour, noting his enjoyment in the sport and helping spur young curlers’ skills and interest in curling. 

“We don’t help out in sports for the awards,” he said. 

Kelcy Kuhn introduced Brown as the volunteer award recipient, noting his years of dedication to the Florenceville Curling Club in many roles. 

While he currently serves as the club’s president, she said Brown volunteers his time and efforts wherever required, including cooking, cleaning and filling in as an ice-maker. 

“You have done a fantastic job for this club,” Kelcy said. 

Brown expressed humility in accepting the award, saying he’s part of a group.

“It’s not just me, it’s a group,” he said. “This award is for the entire board.” 

Hartland Community School teacher James Allison introduced Orser to accept the Youth Achievement Award, while Hartland recreation staff member Dana Stokoe presented it. 

Allison noted how he and other school members rely on Orser’s reliable volunteer efforts. 

“Ellie has set an example for four years,” he said. 

Orser’s contributions involve working as a minor official and helping with Hartland’s middle school athletics. She is a member and leader in the HCS soccer, basketball, volleyball and golf programs. 

In introducing the male Youth Achievement Award winner, Kent Kuhn described Graham’s contributions to sports and critical community programs. 

Starting at a young age, Graham volunteered with the Two Fools on a Roof fundraiser for cancer. The first-year NBCC student also volunteers for Relay for Life, Woodstock Ribfest, Kids Zone activities, Special Olympics, Western Valley Regional Games and more. 

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