PacificSport Fraser Valley handed out its award to outstanding volunteers

PacificSport Fraser Valley handed out its award to outstanding volunteers

PacificSport Fraser Valley honours athletes, coaches, volunteers

Eight Fraser Valley individuals were honoured last week with PacificSport Fraser Valley recognition awards.

Eight Fraser Valley individuals were honoured last week with PacificSport Fraser Valley recognition awards.

Nominated by their peers for contributions to community, sport and/or athlete development, the recipients are an accomplished group.

Rick Irving, an Abbotsford chartered accountant, received the outstanding volunteer award for his years with PacificSport’s annual fundraiser Operation Red Nose (ORN). Funds raised through ORN are distributed twice yearly as grants to regional high performance athletes.

Tom Nielsen of Surrey, a throws coach with a specialization in javelin, was named coach of the year.

Additionally, three athletes and six coaches were recognized with lifetime achievement awards.

Teresa Gabriele (basketball), Brent Hayden (swimming) and Mike Mason (high jump) all participated in last summer’s Olympic Games in London, and have seven Olympic appearances between them.

During her 14-year career with the women’s basketball national team, Gabriele was the lone holdover between Canada’s last two Olympic appearances, in 2000 and 2012.

Hayden won bronze in the 100-metre freestyle in London, and twice won world championship medals in the same distance (2007 and 2011).

Mason, who lives in Abbotsford and trains with the Valley Royals, finished just shy of the podium in London.

Coaching honourees were Les Coughlan (hockey), Mits Ikeda (gymnastics) and Allison McNeill (basketball).

Coughlan has been either head coach or assistant coach for multiple teams of the Abbotsford Minor Hockey Association each year, while at the same time maintaining roles as coordinator, manager, and parent helper when needed.

Ikeda established the men’s program at Twisters Gymnastics, and has sent six athletes on to the senior national team, including his sons Richard and Ken.

McNeill, of Surrey, served as head coach of the Canadian women’s basketball team from 2002-13, leading the team to two world championships appearances and the 2012 London Olympics.