Curl BC announces 2016 Annual Award winners

Youth Olympic Games

The awards will be handed out at the 2016 Curl BC Annual Awards Banquet on June 11 at the Fortius Sport & Health building in Burnaby

Two BC curlers who won gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer and a curling insider who was named to the World Curling Hall of Fame are among the athletes and volunteers who will be honoured at an awards ceremony in June.

Tyler Tardi and Sterling Middleton became world champions in 2016, along with Nova Scotia’s Mary Fay and Karlee Burgess, at the Youth Olympic Games in Norway. The pair have jointly won Curl BC’s Junior Male Athlete of the Year. Tyler, from Surrey, and Sterling, from Fort St John, were also champions at the 2016 Tim Hortons BC Junior Men’s Curling Championship. They claimed the bronze medal at the Canadian Juniors.

Port Coquitlam resident Warren Hansen, who has an impressive record both as a curling administrator and as an athlete, will also be honoured at the 2016 Curl BC Awards. Hansen was a Brier champion as a member of Hec Gervais’s 1974 Alberta team. He was also Curling Canada’s longtime Director of Event Operations, and is now working to promote the sport in the United States. He was inducted into the World Curling Hall of Fame in April.

A total of 20 awards will be handed out at the event which recognizes the vital contribution that volunteers, coaches, insiders and athletes have made to the sport of curling in BC over the past year.

Deborah Pound, the Chair of Curl BC’s Recognition and Awards Committee, paid tribute to the winners, saying: “Every year we are amazed by the commitment and dedication of our athletes, who continue to perform so well on the national stage. We are also grateful for all the volunteers and financial supporters who put so much into making our sport enjoyable for all. These awards are a tribute to these people.”

The awards will be handed out at the 2016 Curl BC Annual Awards Banquet on June 11 at the Fortius Sport & Health building in Burnaby, the home of Curl BC. For more information about the awards banquet, or to purchase tickets costing $40, visit

Other winners included:

Team of the Year – Team Tardi (Surrey, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley and Fort St John)
Team Tardi won gold at the 2016 Tim Hortons BC Junior Men’s Curling Championship in Kamloops. The team of Tyler Tardi, Daniel Wenzek, Jordan Tardi, Nicholas Meister and Sterling Middleton were unbeaten in the competition. The team travelled to nationals where they won bronze, the first medal for a BC Junior Men’s team since 2006. The team also entered the BC Men’s playdowns and, against teams with much more experience, earned a spot in the BC Men’s Championship. As previously mentioned Tyler and Sterling also travelled to Norway where they won gold with Team Fay.

Wally M’Lot Award for Official of the Year – Patti Caldwell (Coquitlam)
Patti was Curl BC’s Officiating Coordinator in 2015-16. Patti is a true leader and highly respected by athletes and other officials. Her passion for officiating is contagious and she inspires and mentors her officials to perform at their best. She is very popular among players for her professionalism, fair but firm decisions, and friendly personality. She is especially popular with junior and juvenile players; and is famous for encouraging fun sportsmanship by having a player tell a joke before each draw. Her work to standardize officials’ procedures and paperwork is proving to be instrumental in creating a much more consistent and professional experience for all participants.

Junior Female Athlete of the Year – Marika Van Osch (Nanaimo)
Marika Van Osch threw third rocks for Team Daniels, the 2016 Tim Hortons BC Junior Women’s Championship team. Marika’s hard work and dedication helped her team to accomplish silver at the Canadian juniors. Marika brings a calm intensity that instills confidence throughout the team. Along with winning silver at nationals, she was named to the event’s first All Star team. She threw the highest percentage for all positions at the nationals (86%) and was in a league of her own provincially. Marika was also a member of Team Craig, the Mixed team that won the 2016 AMJ Campbell BC Mixed Curling Championship. According to her coach, Marika is a humble athlete who can make every shot yet maintains an almost zen-like demeanour.

Female Athlete of the Year – Karen Lepine (Surrey)
Karen Lepine started off the season right by winning a gold medal at the 55+ Games held in August at the Vancouver Curling Club. In November 2015 she skipped a masters men’s team to victory at a bonspiel, despite being the only woman in the bonspiel. She then went on to win the 2016 BC Masters Curling Championship, earning the chance to represent the province at nationals in Nova Scotia. Immediately after nationals, she headed to Kelowna to skip another team to victory at the Pacific Coast Masters Curling Association/BC Interior Masters Curling Association Combined Championships from March 13-18. Karen’s enthusiasm for curling, her unparalleled knowledge of the game and her incredible drive and determination has made her an inspiration to others, regardless of age or gender.

Male Athlete of the Year – Corey Chester (Victoria)
Corey Chester has been able to achieve an incredible amount this season, even though he was enrolled in full-time education. In addition to dedicating himself to two curling teams, he coached in the Victoria Curling Academy. His hard work paid off this season as he reached new heights at the 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship, finishing in fourth place with Team Jackson. In March he skipped his University of Victoria Vikes team to a bronze medal at the CIS/Curling Canada University Curling Championships. His fellow athletes view him as a great role model and very deserving of this award.

Master Athlete of the Year – Keith Switzer (Vancouver)
One year ago, you might not have bet on Keith Switzer reaching the podium at a BC championship in 2016. In February last year, at the BC Mixed Doubles Championship in White Rock, Keith suffered a serious heart attack on the ice. His heart stopped and he had to be revived through CPR and two AED shocks. He spent several weeks in the hospital and required surgery to repair a near total blockage. Fast forward a year and Keith not only got back on his feet and completely recovered, but he also became a BC champion for the second time in his life (He was BC Mixed Champion in 2013). He competed in the 2016 Senior Men’s playdowns and the 2016 BC Mixed playdowns (making it to the C semi-final). Most impressive, he led his team to win the 2016 BC Master Men’s Championship and finished an amazing fourth at the Canadian Masters Championship against teams with Brier experience. His incredible recovery and outstanding athletic achievements are an inspiration to everyone.

Adaptive Curling Athlete – Vince Miele (Richmond)
Vince threw lead rocks on Team LaBounty, the team that won the BC Wheelchair Curling Championship and travelled to wheelchair curling nationals in 2016. In addition to his high performance success, Vince has shown leadership behind the scenes. He is involved in four different curling leagues at three different clubs and volunteers with the International Wheelchair Curling Bonspiel, held annually at the Richmond Curling Club in November. Vince pushes himself and his teammates to achieve success, while also encouraging new people to get involved in the sport.

Anita Cochrane Award for Coach of the Year – Katie Witt (Coquitlam) and Paul Tardi (Surrey)
Katie Witt was an enthusiastic and hard-working coach for Team Daniels, the 2016 Tim Hortons BC Junior Women’s Curling Champions. She helped lead the team to the gold medal game at the Canadian Juniors, where they fought hard but couldn’t get past Team Fay from Nova Scotia, who went on to become world champions. Team members said whenever they asked, Katie would be “there in a heart beat” to provide whatever support was needed. Katie, who over the years has coached, junior, women’s, men’s and seniors teams, gives 100% to each and every athlete and team she coaches. Her hard work came to fruition this year with Team Daniels winning silver at nationals.

Paul Tardi led Team Tardi to success at the 2016 Tim Hortons BC Junior Curling Championships. The team won gold at provincials and bronze at nationals and a spot in the Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship. Widely respected by athletes and coaches, Paul is a true leader. Key to his success has been his level-headed approach to coaching. Described by his team as “a great role model” Paul exhibits outstanding sportsmanship both on and off the ice. The team said his help was invaluable, and that the award would show him that he is appreciated for all that he has done to push them to be better.

Regional Sponsor of the Year – Langley Chrysler (sponsor of the Region 11 BC Men’s Tour)
Langley Chrysler has been an important sponsor of the Region 11 Men’s Bonspiel Tour for several years, giving the tour a much-needed boost in 2015-16. The dealership and its sales rep Tommy Booth have also been supporters of Tunnel Town Curling Club for almost 20 years. Langley Chrysler has financially supported all club bonspiels, special events and initiatives that benefit the entire membership. Their generosity has allowed Tunnel Town to grow and succeed.

Provincial Sponsor of the Year – Warner Rentals (sponsor of the 2016 BC Junior Curling Championships)
Warner Rentals was a presenting sponsor of the 2016 BC Junior Curling Championships in Kamloops. Their sponsorship gave the event a boost, helping the committee make it the success story that it was. In addition to the financial support they provided, they went above and beyond and purchased matching jackets for all the junior curlers who were sign-bearers for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Janette Robbins Award (Builder) – Colleen Trozzo (Elkford)
Colleen has been instrumental in bringing youth curling back to Elkford Curling Club. In addition to applying for grants to train coaches at the club, she worked to bring Rocks and Rings introductory floor curling to the elementary school as well as coordinated leagues and inter-club play. As an executive member of the curling club, Colleen recognized that having younger curlers at the club was key to its ongoing success. Her background as a figure skating and fastball coach and her experience as an aboriginal youth care worker at the schools made her a shoe-in as a curling coach. She decided to take her first curling clinic in 2014. After her first Little Rookies session with 18 kids, she applied for a grant to host a local coaching clinic and then encouraged others to participate. By the third Little Rookies session, the club had 26 Little Rookies and a waiting list of more than a dozen. The word was out among the kids that curling was fun! Colleen now has two additional trained coaches working with her and there is interest in junior and high school curling. All her hard work has led to a huge boost in interest and participation in Elkford in two short years.

Elsie MacKenzie Youth/Junior Curling Award – Ray Olsen and Brenda Nordin (Kamloops)
Ray Olsen has been a long-time supporter of junior curling in Kamloops. For the past three years, Ray has run the Kamloops Curling Club Junior Program. Thanks to his hard work, participation in the program has been increasing every year. The numbers had previously been in decline. In addition to the junior program, Ray helps to promote and organize Jam Can and organizes instructors for school groups that come into the club. Ray is willing to help out with any event. His fellow club members say they are fortunate that he gives his time so freely, never accepting payment for what he does.

Brenda Nordin led the host committee for the 2016 Tim Hortons BC Junior Curling Championships. She worked tirelessly to make sure the event was a great experience for the athletes and volunteers. Brenda, who also won this award in 2015 for her support of junior curling, is a great ambassador for the sport. She juggles numerous commitments, but always manages to support those commitments 100%.

Volunteer of the Year – Earl King (Golden Ears Winter Club in Maple Ridge) and Ross Milward (Lillooet)
Earl King went above and beyond the call of duty to help his club get back on its feet, managing the Golden Ears Winter Club without pay for two years in a row. Earl has been tireless in his dedication of time for the club, running the club as a general manager would, looking after all the details and ensuring no task was left unfinished. He was always there when he was needed. His presence was so reassuring that a common saying developed at the club – “Keep Calm and Ask Earl” – proof of his dedication to the position. His fellow club members say he single-handedly ensured the club remained open.

Over the past eight years Ross Milward has dedicated himself to the Lillooet Memorial Curling Club, doing everything possible to ensure Lillooet would have some of the best ice in BC, enhancing the appeal of the club to the membership and the wider community. When Ross moved to Lillooet 10 years ago, he knew what it felt like to curl on great ice (since he had been in the Brier). He wanted to share that feeling with the curlers in Lillooet, so he took on the position of volunteer head ice maker. Ross dedicated himself to the club and put countless hours into improving the ice. With his help, the popularity of the club has increased. The club went from almost cancelling its annual spiel to having over 34 teams attending! Ross volunteers his time not only for the ice, but also for the benefit of the club, doing everything from running the bar to vacuuming the floor. Alongside his wife, he will jump in to lend a hand where needed, no questions asked.

Long Service Volunteer of the Year – Maurice McIlrick (Invermere)
Maurice has volunteered as the Financial Director of Invermere Curling Club for more than 30 years. His help around the club has been invaluable because not only is he great with bookkeeping, but he is also a skilled handyman who is able to fix things when they go wrong. He is always willing to lend a helping hand. If something needs to be done, he is there to do it, no questions asked. What’s more, despite being in his 80s, the avid curler still gets out on the ice.

Friendship Award – Gary Kingston (Vancouver Sun)
Gary Kingston was with the Vancouver Sun as a sports writer from 1989 to earlier this year, when he retired ahead of his 60th birthday. He first covered the CFL and NBA, but started to write about curling when he inherited the Olympics/amateur sports beat around the year 2000. But he told PostMedia news, his former employers, that he didn’t discover his calling until he was assigned on late notice to cover a Paralympics. Ian MacIntyre, a columnist for PostMedia, said Gary was a natural in this role. He wrote: “You get Paralympic sports when you stop seeing the athletes as disabled. This seemed to happen instantly with Gary, who went on to cover six Paralympics and became the defining media voice on the movement in Canada.” Over the years, Gary covered wheelchair curling and curling for the Vancouver Sun. Despite an ever-increasing workload juggling a huge sports beat, which in the later years included all amateur sports and covering the Vancouver Whitecaps, Gary continued to follow BC’s top curling events, giving recognition to BC’s athletes.