By Adam Morissette
OTTAWA- In conjunction with Baseball Ontario’s 100th anniversary celebrations in Hamilton, Baseball Canada handed out their National Awards honouring volunteers, coaches, officials and athletes from across the country.
The Grand Ballroom at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel was packed for a memorable evening that celebrated Baseball Ontario’s rich history in their Centennial Year. Baseball Ontario added seven members to their Hall of Fame including longtime National Team business manager Bernie Soulliere and former Baseball Canada vice president Linda Lewis along with the first president in the organization’s history WJ Smith, and Jim Lutton, Dennis Ryan and Howie Birnie.
For the sixth time in history, Baseball Québec took home the coveted Province of the Year Award, while five other awards were handed out by Baseball Canada.
Jimmy Rattlesnake Award - Jennifer Gilroy
This award is given to a player from the Women’s National Team for their on-field accomplishments, as well as their team spirit and leadership.
A member of the Women’s National Team program for nearly a decade, Jennifer’s competitiveness, desire and leadership on the field are ideal qualities that makes her a player that teammates look up to. Her leadership capabilities and strong play were on display last summer when the National Team program had several younger players participating for the first time.
Women’s National Team MVP – Nicole Luchanski
Baseball Canada presents the Women’s National Team MVP Award to the player deemed most valuable to the Women’s National Team.
Now a two-time winner of this award, Nicole was at her best last summer during the Canada/USA Development Series in Washington where she led Canada in hitting and provided equally stellar performance on the defensive side of the game.
Baseball Canada and Major League Baseball Volunteer of the Year Award – Louis Côté
This award was created in 2001 to recognize the contribution of the most dedicated, enthusiastic person who has devoted at least ten years of volunteering within their provincial association.
A volunteer whose hard work has been felt by many across his home province of Manitoba, Louis Cote is the epitome of a dedicated volunteer. President of the Carillon Baseball League, Louis has been at the forefront of growth and expansion in the region where hundreds of kids have been able to enjoy the great game of baseball. His innovative ideas and reception to change have improved programs, leagues and associations across Manitoba for the betterment of the game.
Lionel Ruhr Elite Coach of the Year Award – Faron Asham
The Lionel Ruhr Elite Coach of the Year Award is awarded to acknowledge outstanding leadership and guidance as a coach demonstrated by an individual.
With over 30 years coaching experience in baseball, Faron’s career reached new heights in 2017 as he led a group of Manitoba teenagers to the championship contest at the Canada Games in front of 7,000 fans at Shaw Park in Winnipeg. The squad captured the hearts of many Manitobans and eventually came away with a silver medal to match the highest achievement of a Manitoba baseball entry at a Canada Games event.
Dick Willis Memorial Award for Umpire of the Year – Scott Mills
The Dick Willis Memorial Award recognizes Canada’s official of the year for their outstanding contribution and umpiring of the game of baseball.
A dedicated worker who spent a lot of time officiating on the field in 2017, Scott is also largely responsible for making sure games are covered across many leagues in Saskatchewan. Scott’s hard work and dedication to his craft were on display in 2017 as he worked two playoff games at the Canada Games in Winnipeg before being selected to attend Tournament 12 in September.
Province of the Year Award – Baseball Québec
While all other awards acknowledge individual contribution to baseball in Canada, this prestigious award recognizes the outstanding achievements of member provinces.
In addition to National Championship success in 2017, Baseball Québec achieved success across many areas including registration and grassroots programs where they ranked first and second respectively among Baseball Canada’s 10 member provinces.