A whole lot to celebrate: The past year was a big one for Mount Pearl and its athletes, coaches and builders

By Melissa Wong | For The Pearl | Vol. 7 No. 2 (January 31 2019)

According to Gerry Rice, the Mount Pearl Sport Alliance’s annual celebration of athletes and sports builders is different from similar events held in other communities.

Rice returned for the third time this past year as the chairman of the Sport Alliance and helped oversee the annual Sports Hall of Fame and Athletic Awards ceremony held at the Reid Community Centre last week.

For the Coach of the Year Award, the finalists this year were Rudy Norman and Margaret "Muggs" Tibbo. It went to Tibbo, a para-sports coach. When asked about her athletes, Tibbo said she is proud of Jeremy Jones who won a bronze medal at a Canadian national event for male wheelchair racing.

She met Jones through her work. Tibbo was a recreation specialist for 37 years at the Children's Rehab centre at the Janeway. She was part of a medical team that followed youth with physical challenges.

Tibbo helped Jones and started him off with an off-site treatment program.

"I actually went to Pippy Park and tried him in a sit-ski," Tibbo said. "He liked that activity and then he joined the Avalon Nordic Ski Club."

Jones went on to various other activities in the ski club. He is now with the provincial team and going to Red Deer for Cross Country Skiing. He will be going to the Canada Games for two weeks of wheelchair basketball.

"Its always hard to cut my job off from my volunteer stuff," Tibbo said. "Now that I'm retired, I don't have to call it work, none of it is work… It would start off as work but then it grew out beyond work into evenings, weekends and trips to White Hills for downhill skiing because we have a para program out there."

For Executive of the Year, the finalists were Julia Howard, Perry Dalton and Robert Hayes.

Officially called the Peter Halliday Memorial Award, it honours the memory of a former chairman of the Sport Alliance.

"I am very honoured and humbled to accept this award on behalf of our skating club," Dalton said, referring to the Mount Pearl and Paradise Skating Club.

"I have been involved with the club for many, many years now," Dalton said. "I joked to a few people that I started by moving a few chairs, a few tables, the next thing, I came to an executive meeting and the rest is history. We have a great exec in Mount Pearl. Our club has over 700 members."

The Mount Pearl Junior Blades were honoured as the Team of the Year. The squad had a blazing season of victories in the St. John's Junior Hockey League last year, capturing the President's Trophy as league champions.

"On behalf of the team, we would like to thank the Mount Pearl Sports Alliance for awarding us the honour of Team of the Year," said Michael Barns, team captain.

For the Female Athlete of the Year, the finalists were Brittany Antle and Chantal Barnes.

"Dream," Kathy Barnes said when asked what went through her mind when her granddaughter, Chantal, won Female Athlete of the Year.

"She is a competitive runner," Kathy said. "There are many other competitive runners who are out there at her age and she worked really hard."

Chantal ran in the U20 age category at the Atlantic Championships in Charlottetown, PEI, and at the Athletics Canada Track and Field Championships in Ottawa.

For Male Athlete of the Year, the finalists were James O'Brien, Levi Moulton and Terry Ryan Jr.

Ryan, a former NHL player, was a 2012 Mount Pearl Sports Hall of Famer and scored the Male Athlete of the Year Award. He brought his daughter, Penny Lane, to help collect his award.

“We are close, Ryan said of his daughter. “You need a support system that allows you to play at my age. If my wife and my daughter weren't cool with it, I wouldn't be able to do it. I have other responsibilities. Penny Lane comes to all my hockey games and most of my ball hockey games and they are very much a part of it all. So, I guess she came up because I really do feel like she shared it with me."

The Mount Pearl Sports Alliance inducted two athletes into its Hall of Fame.

Lana (North) Burns returned to Mount Pearl from Port Williams, Nova Scotia for the ceremony. She moved to Nova Scotia after her time at Acadia University to continue to play soccer. In, 2015, Acadia named Burns an honorary captain to recognize her time at the university and her support of the program.

"It’s quite an honour to join the 87 other inductees," Burns said about the Hall of Fame.

The other nominee, Cindy Greening, could not attend the ceremony so Laurie O'Keefe, a family friend, accepted the recognition on her behalf.

As a child in the 1970s, Greening played Atom and Pee Wee Hockey at the Smallwood Arena in the boys' division, because there were no female hockey leagues at that time.

To have the annual event, the Sports Alliance has two committees that accept nominations for inductees and awards. Rice said the Hall of Fame Committee was chaired by Harold Stapleton and the Awards Committee chaired by Wayne Andrews. The committees are tasked to choose finalists and winners which are based on a set of predetermined criteria, available online.

“This is a subjective thing," Ryan said during his acceptance speech. "We are all athletes and we all have great seasons and great years… It is great to be here but every single reason I am up here and every situation, I needed a team around me to be able to do that.

"Have a good year and good luck to everyone out there again," Ryan added.

Posted on February 7, 2019 .