The winner of this award will have coached a B.C. high school sport during the 2012/2013 school year. They will have contributed not only to the development of athletic skills in their students but to building their character and confidence while emphasizing the importance of academics.
Over the school year, students, parents and others submitted nominations for this award to The Province. From those submissions, four finalists were selected by The Province editorial department led by High School Sports Columnist Howard Tsumura. Howard has interviewed the finalists and their stories are posted here. We’re looking to you, our readers, to vote for the winner.
The nominee with the most votes by 1pm on May 23rd will receive a $250 cash award and $750 for the purchase of athletic equipment for their school. They will also be featured in a full page article in the Head of the Class special section published in The Province Monday, June 17.
George Bergen - Boys Basketball, Langley-Walnut Grove
The head coach of the senior boys basketball team at Langley's Walnut Grove Secondary is sitting on top of the world these days after leading his team to the B.C. Triple A championship in March. But that's not what endears him most to the rest of the province's sports community. Wrote one nominator: "I have never met an individual with more passion and interminable belief in the youth he donates his time, energy and wisdom to. He finds something good in each and every student and helps them reach beyond their potential."
Frank Chan - Girls Basketball, Mission-Heritage Park
The head coach of the senior girls basketball team at Mission's Heritage Park Secondary has for years, opened the prism of life's possibilities for his players, and that is very apparent by reading the many nominations that he received. Wrote one: "He goes beyond his responsibilities as a coach." Added another: "It's a privilege to be coached by a person who cares so much about his players' personal growth and achievements. A million thank you's would not be enough compared to what he has taught us."
Rick Funk - Football Coach, Abbotsford
Parents at Abbotsford Secondary stood and cheered at Subway Bowl this past season when the Panthers junior varsity head coach accepted the team Sportsmanship Award as voted on by the referees. When the program was on wonky knees a few seasons back, he helped keep it alive. The school has named a character award (The Rick Funk 'Panther Pride' award) after him. Wrote one parent of the far-reaching effects he has had on youth: "When I think of Rick, I think of the ripple effect when a pebble is tossed into a pond."
Don Herman - Girls Basketball, Maple Ridge
He's been coaching high school basketball for over 30 years, and recently, in his most current posting as the head coach of the Maple Ridge Secondary senior girls team, the ever-smiling Herman recorded his 1,000th career win. But ask anyone in the province about him, and they will first begin by talking about his character and demeanour. Beyond the Xs and Os that have made him a successful coach are the positive relationships he has forged with players, parents, and fellow coaches. "To me," one of his nominators wrote, "Don Herman is the model high school coach. They don't come any better."
About the Head of the Class Reader’s Choice Awards
Each year, The Province publishes our annual Head of the Class special section celebrating the top accomplishments of some of our province's most complete student-athletes.
Yet our 24-page, full-colour pull-out section, this year scheduled for June 17th publication, is never complete without the inclusion of our two Reader's Choice Awards.
During the school year we take nominations from the public for our Coach of the Year, and our Adversity Award, presented to a Grade 12 athlete who has overcome significant obstacles to play his or her sport at the high school level.
After looking at all of the nominations that were made, a committee at The Province has whittled the list down to a Final Four in each category.
The winners in each of the two awards categories will not only be featured in the 2012 Head of the Class edition, the adversity winner will receive a cheque for $500, and the coaching winner a cheque for $250 with a further $750 cheque which will go towards the purchase of sports equipment at his or her school.
Voting begins Tuesday, May 7 at 5 a.m. and closes at 1 p.m. on May 23. One voter will be randomly drawn from all votes cast as the winner of a $500 Best Buy Gift Card.
The Province Head of the Class Coach of the Year Winners
Mark McRae - 2012
The firefighter has made Surrey inner-city school Guildford Park a B.C. high school wrestling powerhouse building the program from the ground up and introducing the sport to the many young athletes, several new to the country and looking for a direction in their high school lives. The results have been incredible, with the Sabres annually contending for all of the spoils at the provincial championships.
Kyra Iannone - 2011
Iannone is the head coach of the senior boys volleyball team at Surrey's Semiahmoo Secondary where she had led the Totems to two B.C. Triple A titles in three seasons including the year she won COY. As a woman coaching teen boys at the highest level of the sport, she has earned praise from all who have played for her. Said her nominator: "She has taught us how to be men and prepared us for the step in our lives as we graduate from high school. I have never met someone as influential at Kyra, and the relationship that we have created, the friendship and trust developed will mean she is a mentor and a leader in my life for years to come."
Kevan Gaull - 2010
Gaull coached three different teams at Sands high school in Delta the year he won. In- September, he led the senior boys soccer team to the B.C. championship title, the first provincial banner won in any sport by the school in its 33-year history. He then went on to lead an undermanned junior boys basketball team to the Fraser Valley tournament, then led the school's junior girls soccer team, comprised mainly of eighth and ninth graders, to a Final Four finish at the Fraser Valley championships.
Mike Carkner - 2009
In the year he won, Carkner coached PoCo’s Riverside Secondary junior girls to second place in B.C. When the Fraser Valley Christian senior girls team in Surrey needed a mentor to help a younger coach, Carkner also stepped up. And when another coach — due to a complicated pregnancy — could not lead a team of Grade 4-5 girls in a Steve Nash Youth League, guess who was there to add a third team to his day planner? It doesn’t stop there. Carkner has, for a number of years, run Just a Bunch of Girls basketball clinics in Port Coquitlam — twice-weekly, fundamentals based sessions for girls Grade 4 and older that he provides free of charge.
Melissa Boettcher - 2012
The Province Head of the Class Adversity Award Winners
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10, the senior basketball player with Surrey's Elgin Park Orcas turned in an outstanding senior varsity career, twice helping her team reach the B.C. girls Triple A championship tournament. Boettcher, who relies on an insulin pump 24/7 to stay alive, tests her blood between 15 and 20 times during every game and must adjust her sugar intake accordingly. For her, diagnosis of a life-changing disease has not prevented her from chasing her dreams.
Tessa Beauchamp - 2011
Tessa has already battled through two surgeries to remove cancerous tumours from her brain, the second of which left her deaf in her right ear. Beauchamp, one of B.C.'s top girls basketball players, found out in February that her cancer had returned. Despite a battery of tests and increasing pain, she helped lead the Crusaders to third place at the B.C. Double A championships. There is no treatment available for her rare and aggressive form of cancer yet she continues to battle and maintain her spirit.
Kiya Posthumus - 2010
Provincially-ranked crosscountry runner was hit by a car during a January training run, suffering a broken pelvis, internal bruising and head trauma. Doctors credited her survival to her extremely high level of fitness. Now back walking, she has not given up on her collegiate running dream.
John Tee - 2009
With a vision rating of 20/400, John is legally blind. But nothing could stop the gutsy senior at East Vancouver's Notre Dame Regional Secondary from competing with all of his able-eyed teammates on the Jugglers' full varsity squad for his entire five-year high school wrestling career. "Unless we tell him, he can't see the score and he can’t see the time (remaining in a match)," says Benjie Hutchison, the Notre Dame wrestling coach who nominated Tee for consideration. "Maybe that’s why he never gives up." Tee, one of the top junior players nationally in the Paralympic sport of Goalball, has attended student-led conferences and camps across the country and professes a passion for coaching and counselling young children with similar disabilities.