This past Saturday, September 19th, 2015 at the Varsity Theater in Toronto, the Coaches Association of Ontario proudly recognized the men and women who coach in Ontario. The Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards Program is a means by which the CAO has been celebrating the dedication and commitment of exemplary individuals who inspire, innovate and share knowledge of sport with others. The Awards recognize the importance of leadership, performance and the value of human insight which are all integral to great coaching.
All nine winners and their friends, families and fans had a blast at the sold out ceremony, hosted by CAO Executive Director, Susan Kitchen and Director, Ann Doggett. Director of the Sport and Recreation Branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport Janet Gates was also in attendance to congratulate the Coaches. The audience enjoyed a short but heartfelt tribute video vignette about each winner, which can be found on our YouTube channel, or click on each Coach below to watch them individually.
The following are the winners of 2015 Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards:
- Robert Sondermeyer - Grass Roots Coach (Male), Soccer and Hockey, Toronto
- Heather McTavish Taylor - Grass Roots Coach (Female), Ringette, Mississauga
- Darlene Denniss - School Sport Coach (Female), St Thomas
- Mark Lewis - School Sport Coach (Male), Iroquois
- Luda Zakharenko – Good-to-Great Coach (Female), Diving, London
- Mark Yanchus - Good-to-Great Coach (Male), Rugby, Guelph
- Stacey Ditchfield - Trailblazer Coach, Soccer, Tecumseh
- Gerry Benoit – Everyone Matters Coach, Basketball, Pembroke
- Ernie Overland – Andy Higgins Lifetime Achievement Award, Speed Skating, Kitchener
If you couldn’t make it to the ceremony, here is some of what you missed:
Janet Gates, Director of the Sport and Recreation Branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, handing out the Trailblazer Award to winner and soccer Coach Stacey Ditchfield. “I am truly honoured and humbled. I am blessed to coach such amazing young women and have a great support system.”, said Ditchfield about the Award.
Ontario Federation of School Athletics Association’s (OFSAA) Devin Gray presenting the School Sport Award (Male) to Seaway High School Coach Mark Lewis of Iroquois, ON. “I am honoured and humbled to receive such a prestigious award”, said Coach Lewis.
The 2015 Ontario Coaching Excellence Awards kicked off National Coaches Week in Ontario, a week to recognize Coaches for the integral role they play by simply saying #ThanksCoach! To find out more about Ontario Coaches Week events such as free NCCP courses across the province here.