Over the next two weeks we present our Top 10 Sports stories from 2019 as assessed by The Interior News editorial staff. This week numbers 10 though 6.
10. Par 3 golf course closes
Smithers RV is now without a Par 3 golf course.
The Par 3 and RV is shutting down the golf side of the business after the better part of two decades operating as a dual golf course and RV park.
The business will continue to open its RV portion of the business.
Owner Delee Wah Yuen said he recently turned 69 and with so many of his friends retired he has began to think it might be time for him to ramp down his own workload.
Delee said that he and his family have run the business for around 16 years.
“When we took it over, I didn’t know a thing about it but I gradually learned. It didn’t take long to get used to it,” he said.
He felt that it was great to get to know what you needed to and when looking back, it was hard to believe he had progressed so much in such a short period of time.
“As a business it’s been fine. The RV park has been fantastic. That does not change. More and more people my age, baby boomers, are getting into that. The RV park will remain open. It’s easy to take care of compared to the golf park,” he said.
He particularly likes meeting people.
“I like to sit at the campfire with them and chat. It’s nice. Very enjoyable,” he said.
He felt that winter was tough because there are still duties such as snow removal and trying to make sure that things do not freeze up.
When he took over the business, he got involved with the RV park and the land was always on his mind.
“For the family the main work was the golf course at first. There was a lot of learning curve and the amount of work was unbelievable. The irrigation was just a total nightmare,” he said.
The golf course had been there for over 30 years. It started with a nine-hole course but was eventually increased to 18.
“When you do the work to make it nice, it’s a very nice golf course,” he said.
Delee said the golf course will still be maintained.
“We will still keep it mowed down low. We don’t want it to look bad for the people in town. If they want to come out for a nice walk, we want them to feel free. It’s a real shame that we have to do this because it’s a community recreational place,” he said.
“We’ll leave it in such a way that if someone wants to turn it into a golf course in the future, it will be possible but not in my time. We don’t have plans on selling it as a golf course. We would never do that,” he said.
9. Smithers Secondary soccer star Cara Brawdy recruited by UNBC
A Smithers Secondary School (SSS) midfielder will be joining the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) women’s soccer team next season.
In a press release Oct. 2, the Timberwolves said recruiting Cara Brawdy “added an intelligent athletic presence” to their squad.
With the announcement Brawdy becomes the first member of the recruiting class for the 2020-2021 season.
“It’s really exciting for me,” Brawdy said. “It’s been a long time coming and I feel like it’s a really good fit. Neil [Sedgwick] is a really good coach, and what I have already learned from him has helped me so much. I can’t wait to see how far it can go.”
Brawdy worked out with the Timberwolves in August.
“I really liked the level of play and the commitment and energy that went into it all,” Sedgwick said.
“Having people who wanted to play as hard and as much as I did was really cool. He really cared about making each player better individually, so the whole team could come together. He wasn’t so worried about winning this game or that game. It was about getting better as a team and as a whole.”
The 17-year-old Grade 12 honour roll student is scheduled to graduate from SSS in June 2020 and will join her new team for summer training camp in Prince George.
“I am extremely excited to have Cara join the program in 2020,” Sedgwick said. “She is a strong athlete who is committed to her personal development. From our interactions in prospects camps I have seen her take the messaging and show immediate growth. I am looking forward to the years ahead.”
Brawdy is planning on studying Human Resource Management. She said the Timberwolves recent improvement was a major reason for her choice of UNBC.
“They have progressed a lot, which is another reason I chose to come here. It shows how much they can improve in a short time, and I want to be a part of that.”
The team is currently in fourth place in the Pacific Division of Canada West Sports with a record of 3-2-3.
Last season, Brawdy scored 11 of Smithers Secondary’s 19 goals.
“This included four goals, all of which were critical in enabling the team to win the Northwest Zone Championship,” said Bill Price, former president of the Bulkley Valley Soccer Society. “Last year Cara also ran cross country and played volleyball and was named Smithers Secondary senior athlete of the year.”
8. 79-year-old Telkwa diver at World Masters in Gwangju South Korea
After catching an early-morning flight Aug. 8, Virginia Hoover is headed to Gwangju, South Korea to participate in the International Swimming Federation’s (ISF) 2019 World Masters Championships being held from Aug 5-18.
Hoover will be participating in the one-metre, three-metre, and either five, seven-and-a-half or 10-metre tower dive events.
It’s her third time participating in the championships.
“This is my last chance to [participate] in the 75-79 age group because it only happens every second year, so I’ll be a bit older the next time they have it.”
Discussing her jump into diving, Hoover said she has always loved the sport.
Growing up in wartime England, however, wasn’t the best backdrop to learn.
That didn’t stop her from trying, though.
“I remember at some beach when I was quite young — maybe nine or 10 — trying to invent the sport of diving off a submerged rock on the beach.”
And while she might not have made a splash back in post-WW2 England, fast forward some 50-odd years later, when Hoover decided she wanted to began (re) practicing diving.
But because Bulkley Valley Regional Pool (BVRP) doesn’t have a diving board (let alone a five-metre platform) Hoover said she had to look elsewhere to train.
“I [had] to drive … to Prince George and back just to get any training.”
But train she did, and over the next 16 years Hoover has participated in a number of competitions, both within the ISF and through other venues.
But make no mistake, she doesn’t expect to win.
That’s because Hoover said these events are heavily-dominated by people who have been diving for much longer than she has.
“I’m just a wannabe — the hasbeens can beat the wannabes anytime.”
Despite acknowledging a personal competitive nature, Hoover said the real reason she goes to the events is to participate in a sport that has always fascinated her.
And while placing would be nice — it’s not expected.
In fact, Hoover said she has only ever placed higher than dead last once in all the diving competitions she has attended.
“I’m not even sure why, it happened in Montreal … and there was six of us on the one-metre springboard and I was fourth — I was just amazed.”
In her spare time outside of her income tax preparation business, she is also an avid snowboarder and pole vaulter.
As for the future, Hoover said she is planning to continue participating at future ISF championships in the 80-84 age bracket.
Not quite what you’d expect for someone about to enter the 80+ age bracket, but when asked about her unconventional sport choices, she laughed it off.
“You have to have exercise of some sort [and] I’m not about to go pump iron at the gym.”
7. Smithers teen Peyton Belisle dominates B.C. girls motocross circuit
A 13-year-old motocross racer from Smithers dominated the Young Ladies (7-14) circuit in B.C. this year.
In her first competitive racing season, Peyton Belisle earned 347 out of 350 available points to win the Future West Moto BC Motocross Championship Series in her class.
She also competed against older female racers and boys finishing 13th overall in both the Ladies and 85 cc (ages 12 – 16) classes.
The result took her to the Western Canadian Amateur Nationals in Kamloops where she also won, qualifying her for the Walton Grand National Championship.
She came in ninth overall at that race, which featured the fastest riders from across the country.
Belisle said her greatest sense of accomplishment was qualifying for Nationals with only one season of competition under her belt.
In fact, she first got on a dirt bike only three years ago and has only been riding seriously for the past two. She said it was sheer determination coupled with training that took her to the top.
Belisle is sponsored by MX North 54 (MXN54), a northern B.C. motocross youth development program founded by Trevor Patenaude this year that acts as a go-between for riders and industry, and provides off-track support and coaching.
In its first season, MXN54 took on 10 riders. Patenaude said Belisle’s applicaton caught their attention.
“Peyton seemed like an excellent fit, so we signed her to a one-year-contract and she spent the year representing MX North,” he said.
A former rider himself before a serious injury sidelined him, Patenaude said he has never seen anything like what Belisle accomplished.
“I think to go from your first race to lining up in the biggest race in Canada with some of the fastest riders in your class in a year, is remarkable,” he said.
Patenaude will be expanding the stable of riders this year to 35 and said he hopes Belisle will be among them.
“What we said to Jason [Belisle, Peyton’s father] is she’ll always have a home with MX North,” he said. “We’re happy to extend her. If she has other things cooking come end of the year, she’s always a part of our family regardless of whether she runs the MX North gear or the MX North graphic.”
Although pleased with her performance this year Belisle now has her sights set higher.
“I want to try, within a few years, to get on the podium in Nationals for the girls 9-16 [class],” she said.
Patenaude has no doubt she will.
“The thing about Peyton and the whole family is there’s so much drive, there’s so much attention to detail, there’s so much work ethic that that girl will set her site on a goal and I don’t care what that goal is, I don’t care what sport it’s in, just from the little time I’ve known her, she’ll achieve it, absolutely she will.”
In fact, the B.C. and Western Canadian motocross champion were not the only titles she claimed in 2019. Belisle was also the provincial champion in U13 Female Snowboard Cross.
She will be back at that come January. She will also be competing in Arenacross, an 8-round indoor motocross series which started in November and continues Jan. 31 to Feb. 7.
6. Smithers dojo wins quadruple gold at Canadian championships
Four of Smithers very own karate kids made it big at a recent karate competition.
Local competitors Karim Abu Khadra, 17, Billie Flint, 10, Lando Ball, 12, and Kyra Abu Khadra in the adult division all fought their way to gold medals at the Canadian World Karate Union Championships.
The four competitors are all members of the Shogun Dojo in Smithers.
The dojo’s instructor-coach-teacher is Marwan Abu Khadra, who has produced a number of champions on the national stage during his time with the dojo.
Abu Khadra told The Interior News he has a philosophy that the sport is not about short-term results that may occur through participation in the sport but rather the long-term benefits that involvement can bring, including improvements to both physical and mental fitness.
His dojo offers a range of martial arts as well as a variety of fitness-oriented classes.
The martial arts have become popular activities worldwide and are becoming sports included at the Olympics. Wrestling made it onto the program when the modern Olympics returned but it was not until 1964 that judo made its first appearance.
Taekwondo debuted in 2000, while karate is set to be contested at the 2020 games in Tokyo.