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Athlete of the Year awards to be doled out

Last year was a good year for sports in Woolwich, with the opening of the Woolwich Memorial Centre, so it’s fitting that the Athlete of the Year awards will be handed out here May 26.

Elmira native Dennis Wideman is among this year’s nominees for the award, which recognizes the achievements of athletes from Kitchener, Waterloo, Wilmot, Wellesley and Woolwich.

Dennis Wideman among nominees; Graham Snyder to receive award of excellence
Dennis Wideman among nominees; Graham Snyder to receive award of excellence

The other nominees are pairs figure skater Andrew Poje, golfer Cam Burke, Alyssia Lagonia (soccer), Colin Doyle (lacrosse), wrestler Jake Jagas and Ron Vankoughnett (duathlon).

Ken Brooks, one of the members of the selection committee, said the wide variety of sports represented by this year’s nominees is nice to see.

“They’ve all accomplished tremendous things, from medals in Canadian championships to participation on national teams and involvement in international sports.”

Wideman had a career-high 50 points and 37 assists, helping the Boston Bruins finish first overall in the Eastern conference last year. He was also second among NHL defencemen with a plus/minus rating of +32.

All of 2009’s nominees have picked up hardware and won accolades provincially, nationally or internationally, but it’s still important to recognize them locally, Brooks said.

“Most of these athletes are out of the community competing, but they built their talents and skills locally. They have said time and time again that it’s so important to be recognized locally, because that’s where they got their start, that’s where their families are, that’s where their support network is.”

The athlete of the year program also includes awards of excellence for an individual, organization and team that have demonstrated leadership, excellence and influence in the sporting community. This year’s individual recipient is Elmira’s Graham Snyder.

“He’s devoted much of his life to sport in the community – a volunteer, an advocate, a coach and a supporter,” Brooks said.

With the opening of the Woolwich Memorial Centre, including the Dan Snyder Memorial Arena, it’s fitting to honour his contributions this year, Brooks said.

The Athlete of the Year award will be handed out May 26 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre. The event starts at 6 p.m., with food sponsored by local restaurants. Tickets are $30 each, with proceeds going to Camp McGovern, a camp for underprivileged children. For tickets, call 519-242-0663.

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