The 2018/19 North Delta Huskies senior boys basketball team, who brought home provincial gold for the first time in 29 years, are among this years sports champions to be honoured at the Delta Sports Hall of Fame’s gala banquet later this week.
Started in 2005, the Delta Sports Hall of Fame aims to “celebrate Delta sport achievement, recognize excellence and honour past, present and future role models.” Each year, the hall honours its past and current inductees and sport champions (athletes, coaches and volunteers who had outstanding performances that season) at a gala dinner and celebration.
This year’s event will feature Dr. Jack Taunton, professor emeritus of UBC’s school of kinesiology, giving a keynote address about drug abuse in sport. Taunton was the co-founder of the Allan McGavin sports medicine clinic, a first of its kind in Canada. He was also the chief medical officer at the 2000 Olympic Summer Games in Sydney, Australia and the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver, and had previously served as the team physician for the Vancouver Grizzlies.
Family, friends and the public are invited to join the Delta Sports Hall of Fame committee and past and present award winners at the gala banquet, happening on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Coast Tsawwassen Inn (1665 56th St.) Tickets are $75 and can be purchased until Oct. 19 by calling Rick or Carlene at 604-943-0469. For more information on the Delta Sports Hall of Fame, visit their website at deltasportshalloffame.ca.
This year’s sports champions are:
Youth Athlete: Rawnie J. Weststrate — Softball
Rawnie Westrate has enjoyed many successes as a softball player. A pitcher for the Delta Heat ’01 softball team, she helped the team win various regional tournaments, the 2019 U19 Provincial Championships and a gold-medal finish at the 2019 USSA Western National Championships. In the final game at that tournament, Westrate pitched all seven innings, facing 25 batters while striking out 12 and allowing no runs. Westrate also played with the junior women’s national team at the Canada Cup and has been named to the final roster for the junior national team going to the WBSC Americas U17 Women’s Softball qualifier in Colombia this month.
Westrate currently attends Sands Secondary. Around her softball training and competitions, she gives back to the sport she loves through coaching with 140 Sports. She is a multi-sport athlete, also competing in volleyball, basketball and ultimate Frisbee with her school. One of the things that Westrate is very proud of is the 2016 Delta Youth Rotary Helping Hand Award given to her Delta Heat 01 team for all of their volunteer work.
In her time as one of the pitchers on Heat ’01, the team has amassed many achievements. Building towards the successes this year, the team were silver medalists at the 2016 Canada Cup, U16 provincial and national champions in 2017 (winning gold at home in North Delta), bronze medalists at the 2018 Canada Cup and U19 Canadian National bronze medalists (as a first year team), all on top of winning various regional tournaments throughout the years.
Westrate is thankful for the contributions of her parents and her sister/teammate Jessie. She has had the guidance of many coaches, including her father Jason, Bill Olexa, Bob Houtman and Doug Harris, who have taught her both softball and life lessons.
Youth Athlete: Jace Minni — Golf
Jace Minni has been playing golf for as long as he can remember. He has been a member at Beach Grove Gold Club since he was eight years old and has been playing competitively since he was 12. Minni has also competed South Delta Secondary’s golf team and led the Sun Devils to a first place finish at the Delta Police Tournament, where he captured individual honours as the low medalist.
As a highly-ranked golfer in the Golf Canada junior rankings, Minni has competed in many of the top tournaments across the country. In 2018, Minni won the BC Juvenile Championships, where he won in a playoff by sinking a 25-foot putt, his biggest personal highlight to date. In 2019, Minni was the Vancouver City Amateur champion, MJT Odlum Brown champion, and earned a fourth-place finish at the Canadian Junior Championships in New Brunswick.
Minni says his greatest accomplishment to date is achieving his goal of earning a scholarship to Gonzaga University, where he is set to start in the fall of 2020 after graduating from SDSS. Minni looks forward to competing for Gonzaga, earning his degree in business and ultimately playing on the PGA tour.
He is thankful for the support of his family and credits his dad — a golf professional himself — for being his coach and mentor, and the most influential person in his development as a golfer.
Coming from a long line of successful rowers, Aaron Lattimer continued the family tradition and joined the rowing team at Vancouver College when he was in Grade 8. One of five brothers in his family who grew up playing a variety of sports in Delta, Lattimer discovered his calling was to row.
After high school, Lattimer competed for Team B.C. and at the 2013 Canada Summer Games. He carried on to compete for both UBC during the year and the Canadian National Team over the summer. Lattimer graduated from UBC in 2017 and is in his third year training and competing with the Canadian Olympic Team, with his sights set on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Lattimer’s enjoyed a great deal of success along the way. In the last year he’s placed fourth in the 2018 World Championship in Bulgaria, setting the fastest Canadian Lightweight Men’s Skulls (LM1x) time of 6:45. In 2019, Aaron placed sixth in the LM1x at the World Rowing Championships in Austria.
Off the water, Lattimer has also done very well on ergometer testing. He holds the Canadian record (Lightweight) for 10,000 metres with a time of 33:07, the world record for 6,000 metres with a test time of 19:16, and the world record for the one-hour ergometer test distance of 17,850, breaking the previous 11-year-old record.
When he’s not training or competing, Lattimer guest-coaches at various rowing clubs. He hopes that sharing his experiences with younger athletes will inspire them to work hard to follow their own dreams, as his coaches did for him. Lattimer is very thankful to all of the coaches he has had over the years at every level, from Vancouver College to the Canadian Olympic Team. He is also thankful for the support that he and his brother Max have been given by the Delta community throughout their careers. After training together along the Delta Deas waterway this past summer, he was reminded that “coming home is always something special.”
After the 2020 Olympics, Lattimer will attend Cambridge University to study law and compete with the school’s rowing team.
Athlete: Cody Tanaka — Curling
Cody Tanaka was introduced to curling in elementary school and immediately hooked. He is a 2012 South Delta Secondary graduate and led his school team to many wins, including third place honours at the BC High School Curling Provincials.
Tanaka has been a member of the Tunnel Town Curling Club since the beginning of his curling career and has developed into an impressive curler on both men’s, mixed and mixed doubles teams. In 2018 Tanaka’s mixed team placed first at the BC Mixed Provincials, followed later that year by another first place finish and MVP honours at the Traveler’s Championship in Miramichi, N.B.
Tanaka saw continued success in the 2019 season. As lead of his team, Tanaka has achieved another first-place finish at the BC Mixed Doubles Championships, as well as a top-12 finish at the Canadian Mixed Doubles in Fredericton, N.B.
Tanaka is currently training with his competitive men’s team at a variety of clubs, working towards his goal of competing at the Brier. In addition to his own training, Tanaka has taken the time to share his expertise in teaching skill-development clinics and coached the U18 and U21 boys teams. Tanaka was also selected to coach a provincial wheelchair curling team in 2018.
Coach: Doug Harris — Softball
Doug Harris has been coaching and mentoring young athletes in Delta for more than 24 years,. Like many dedicated parents, Harris began by coaching his children, but unlike most he continued long after his children moved on from youth sports. Harris has coached softball since the beginning, as well as soccer for 18 years, and Delta Special Olympic softball for eight years. Harris has led many teams including the South Delta Invaders (2002-2010), Delta Heat ’01 (2011-2019) and Delta Heat ’02 (2020).
This past year, Harris served as part of the three-man coaching staff for the Delta Heat ’01 softball team. They had an outstanding season, culminating winning both the U19 BC Provincial Championships as well as the USA Western National Championships. He has been with the Delta Heat ’01 team since their inception and is admired and respected by players and parents alike.
Harris is most happy quietly using his experience and knowledge to benefit youth “using sport as a tool to teach life lessons like discipline, accountability, responsibility, commitment and teamwork,” he said. “The development of these skills, taught through sport, will help children deal with the highs and lows of life.”
He is also passionate about his work with 140 Sports and reaching out to many more youth to build strong skillsets in the “athletic, emotional and mental areas of their lives.”
According to his players, Harris brings a positive sense to the game and never once doubts them on or off the field. At every opportunity, he emphasizes to his athletes that their accomplishments belong to them and are theirs to claim. Typically, Harris does not even come on to the field to collect a medal at the end of successful tournaments, saying “I didn’t win it, you all won the game.”
Harris says that he gets his gratification in feeling that his role as coach allows players to feel supported and confident enough to take on and ultimately overcome life’s challenges. Further, he lists the relationships that he has developed with his players and being able to watch them grow into community minded, successful individuals as his greatest accomplishments. His focus and emphasis is always on the girls, the team, the kids; the true epitome of what a coach should be.
Team: 2018/19 NDSS Senior Boys Basketball
With a number of core players returning after a bronze medal performance the previous season, the 2018/19 North Delta Huskies senior boys basketball team entered the season with high expectations. Coaches Jesse Hundal, Gary Sandhu, Bill Edwards and Manvir Gahir knew their goal of finishing the season as AAA provincial champions would be a challenge. Top-ranked in the pre-season the Huskies began their long journey to the provincials with a very difficult schedule and a renewed focus on mental discipline and toughness.
The path to glory though would not be an easy one. Key players were injured at various points in the season, and the injury-depleted squad struggled through the Fraser Valley playoffs. After a fourth-place finish in the Fraser Valleys, the Huskies entered the AAA provincials seeded nineth, a season low. Competing in a group that featured four teams that had all been ranked first at some time during the regular season, their journey was not going to be easy. Two key players, Vik Hayer and Suraj Gahir, competed with significant injuries, and the Huskies comfortably beat Byrne Creek to open provincials.
The Huskies dispatched number one seed Sir Charles Tupper in the quarter finals, setting the stage for two of the most exciting games of the tournament. In the semi-finals, with just seconds remaining, Gahir’s three-pointer secured a 62-61 victory over Duchess Park. In the tournament final versus Vernon, once again the outcome was decided in the dying seconds. Trailing by four with just over a minute remaining, a three-pointer by Arun Atker, followed by a driving layup from tournament MVP Gahir, earned the Huskies a 46-44 victory. After a wait of 29 years, the Huskies returned to the podium to accept the 2019 AAA championship trophy.
Congratulations to the players — Arun Atker, Jag Johal, Vik Hayer, Abbiel Mate, Bhavraj Thiara, Ryan Cabico, Suraj Gahir, Eshaan Kapoor, Gary Singh, Manraj Singh, Sagar Ranouta, Gurjiwan Dhindsa and Parm Hothi — and the coaches of the North Delta Huskies, whose highly successful season included 31 victories, titles at the Delta Cup, Burnaby South Rod Thompson Memorial and St. Thomas More Chancellor tournaments, as well as provincial gold. “Toughness, determination, and heart” equalled success.
Volunteer: Sue Demuynck — Field Hockey
Field Hockey BC defines a volunteer as, “a person who freely offers to undertake a task” and “who has contributed endless hours of time and energy.” Sue Demuynck has more than exceeded these criteria as she has volunteered with Field Hockey BC for over 40 years, working at the local, provincial, national and international levels.
In the last three years alone, Demuynck has received the 2017 Field Hockey BC award for event management, the 2018 Field Hockey BC award for governance support and the 2019 Sport BC President’s Award. Of her many awards, Demuynck is most proud of winning the 1994 Barb Schrodt Award, which is presented to “someone who has made a difference to women’s field hockey in B.C.”
Demuynck joined the BC Women’s Field Hockey Federation executive in 1975, assuming many roles. After the amalgamation with the men’s association in 2005, Sue led the women’s high-performance athlete portfolio, then added the men’s portfolio before becoming president of Field Hockey BC. She was president for the maximum allowable three terms, stepping down in 2018.
From 1991-2017, Demuynck volunteered as technical director, advisor, judge, coach and officer at every level, from local through international events. According to Mark Saunders at Field Hockey BC, “We cannot remember a Field Hockey BC event that Sue has not volunteered for or led.” Demuynck was tournament director for the BC High School Championships for five years and organized the UBC high school tournament for three years. She coached field hockey first in Victoria and later at Seaquam Secondary School. Demuynck was an executive member of the North Delta Minor Baseball Association and the North Delta Soccer Club.
Demuynck is still active as a tournament technical official. “I stayed because the sport is one of my passions and I enjoy the close friendships I have established.” Within the field hockey community, many individuals were part of her success, especially Pat Hall, Jenny Johns and Sue Jameson. Demuynck credits her parents with her passion for volunteering, as they instilled in her the idea of giving back to the community.