By Chris Lewis | Vol 7 No. 12 (June 20, 2019)
Some of St. Peter’s Junior High’s most prominent athletes found themselves leaving the school this past week with an award or two in their hands.
On Thursday evening, June 13, the gymnasium at St Peter’s Junior High was filled with excited student athletes, waiting to hear their own names, or that of their friends and classmates, to come up to the stage to accept an award recognizing their athletic efforts during the school year.
The Pythons athletic banquet is an event held by the junior high school every year, giving the school and its students the chance to see just how successful they have been in a plethora of different sports, ranging from basketball, hockey and volleyball, to everything in between.
“We’ve had so many teams in so many different tournaments, travelling all across the province (this year),” said Richard Christopher, the school’s physical education teacher and athletic director. “We have a lot of participation here in our school, a lot of fun, and we got a lot of feedback from across Newfoundland saying how good our students were at these tournaments. This is just a big celebration, and a big thank you to the teachers, coaches, and everyone for such a great year.”
Throughout the night, individual students, as well as groups, took turns accepting awards. As each name was called, cheers erupted from their friends sitting at the tables.
However, before getting to the main portion of the night, the young Pythons were met with a special guest appearance from a former student of St. Peter’s Junior High - Drew Bennett.
“Every year now for the last couple years, we always try to bring back a former Python to come back and be a guest speaker - these are all people who have used sports as a tool to get further in life,” Christopher explained. “A lot of them really enjoyed playing sports when they were in junior high and high school, and they’ve been able to use that as a means of going on to play at a university level. Some have used it to get an education, some have even used those opportunities to open their own businesses, going through the connections and friends they made through sports. We always try to bring them back as guest speakers.”
Bennett, who was a two-time Python athlete of the year, later went on to attend Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, which is a school specializing in both athletics and academics. There, Bennett is involved in both baseball and hockey, with a few awards under his belt. Most recently, Bennett signed on with the British Columbia Hockey League.
“I loved all sports. I found myself playing hockey, basketball, baseball, and pretty much anything that I could fit into my schedule or I had time to do, said Bennett. “My parents always told me, however, that school comes before sports. I always had to get my work done before I could do anything with sports. At the time, I hated that and thought my parents didn’t know what they were talking about. But now, growing up, I realize how much academics matter. I couldn’t be more thankful for my parents for instilling that value in me.”
Bennett went on to express to the attentive Pythons just how beneficial it can be to pursue the sports they love. He spoke to the many opportunities he’s been given thanks to his involvement in sports, and just how rewarding the friendships and bonds between teammates can be, especially when moving to an entirely new country.
He said the kinships that form through sports are something that will stick with the athletes for as long as they live, but that they only come to those who remain dedicated.
“When you grow up and realize how lucky you were to be involved with a team, and to have 18 brothers and sisters on a team with you, it’s a really special feeling. Take advantage of that while you can,” he said. “Growing up, I wasn’t a superstar on the ice … it wasn’t like I just naturally had it. I just loved it, just loved sports in general, and that made me driven to see what I could do and accomplish, and to make the most of the opportunities that I got. I worked really hard and ended up where I am now.”
Following Bennett’s speech, the awards ceremony took place.
Students were given a variety of awards, ranging from MVP in their respective sports and teams, to most improved, and even the hardest working players. There was no shortage of smiling faces in the school’s gymnasium, with hundreds of up-and-coming athletes taking time to congratulate one another on a successful year in athletics.