Douglas — A bubbly and incredibly talented 15-year-old from Whitewater Region Township went home with two of the major awards at last Tuesday’s annual Opeongo High School athletics awards ceremony.

Quinn Coughlin, who won two silver medals at the Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Association (OFSAA) track and field championship earlier this month, was a co-recipient of the Most Promising Junior Athlete and the winner of the Most Outstanding Athlete awards.

Quinn shared the first award with fellow Grade 9 student Gavin Recoskie of Eganville. The All-Around Athlete award, presented to graduating students, went to Kylie Rieger and Austin Prins, who were also emcees for the evening.

Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards and the winners of the Wildcat Spirit awards were announced from all the teams, prior to the announcement of the major awards.

The ceremony was the first in-person event in three years and it was evident it had been sorely missed as the cafetorium was filled with athletes, family members, coaches and staff.

“Tonight is a celebration of not only our year of athletics but a year where we were able to get back on the courts, the fields, the track, the trails and the rinks,” Kylie noted to a round of applause. “And what an exciting year it was.

“We may have had to wear a mask and not play in front of our fans, but we also made it work and a as result, we were stronger as a team,” she added.

Principal Angela McGregor-Stewart said it was great to have the opportunity to recognize the athletes and coaches, especially in a return to the in-person ceremony.

She acknowledged the contributions of staff members, parents and community members who volunteer their time with the students. She thanked everyone responsible for staging the event, noting a new audio-visual system had been installed in the cafetorium two years ago and this was the first opportunity to use it.

Ms. McGregor-Stewart thanked the Eganville Leader for covering the OHS athletics and showcasing the athletes throughout the year.

“Seeing photos and reading about our Wildcats in the paper is a pretty special day and we are grateful for your support,” she remarked.        

Turning her attention to the athletes, she thanked them for their dedication, determination and for being such great team players, both on and off the field.

“I’ve said it before and I think it’s worth saying again, no matter the event, or where it takes place or who is involved, we hear about the sportsmanship that is always displayed by OHS athletes,” she stated. “We hear this from referees, bus drivers, fans in the stands, even athletes from opposing teams.

“Win or lose, you know and show that what matters most is sportsmanship,” she added. “And you show up with grit, determination and smiles on your faces. You have gained and taught life lessons along the way.”         

She noted on every Wildcat team there have been examples of perseverance, inclusion, acceptance and really, really awesome athleticism. Ms. McGregor-Stewart added the track and field team won its first three meets without having ever set foot on the track at OHS or field.

She acknowledged Opeongo had been represented at both the Eastern Ontario Secondary School Athletics championship and at OFSAA, where athletes not only competed against the best in the province, but brought home the medals to prove it.

Knowing she had been transferred to a position at the board office for next year, Ms. McGregor-Stewart said OHS will always hold a very special place in her heart.

“On a personal note, I feel incredibly honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to be part of the school community, cheering on these incredible athletes and coaches for the past eight years. OHS is a place like no other. This is the best school and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to be a Wildcat and I will continue to cheer you on in years to come. ‘

Coaches Recognized

Austin called all the coaches to be recognized, noting Opeongo has always been extremely fortunate to have parents, community members and staff who have dedicated countless hours of their time in developing the athletes.

“We recognize while we as athletes are working hard to improve, our coaches are right there beside us, cheering us on, giving us feedback and encouragement, whenever needed.

“Not only do they volunteer their time with their athletes, they also go home and spend hours doing paperwork, planning and making preparations to make our season as successful and enjoyable as possible.”

Major Award Recipients

The Big and Little O’s were presented by Jade Faught, the acting athletic director, to graduating students who demonstrated commitment to school athletics in a variety of capacities throughout the school year. 

Little O’s: Noah Fleurie, Morgan Sweeney; Big O’s : Austin Prins, Kylie Rieger, Emma Misener, Shaye Close, Myles Demmons, Julia Swant, Payton Leach, Emma McGrath.

The Top Team award, presented by coaches Dave Dobson and Scott Schoenfeldt, went to the junior boys’ volleyball team. Mr. Dobson noted the team lost its first game this year to Madawaska Valley (Barry’s Bay) and was a little disheartened but went on to win eight straight after that. They finished second, losing only one other set to Bishop Smith of Pembroke, and downed McKenzie Community School of Deep River in the semi-finals. That put them in the finals against the 11-0 Bishop team and the Wildcats won in five games to earn the county championship. Mr. Schoenfeldt noted it has been 26 years since a junior boys’ volleyball team won a county championship and it was coached by his mother, Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt, the former athletic director at OHS.          

The Participation medallions were also presented by Ms. Faught to graduating athletes who have participated in a variety of sports during their tenure at Opeongo.

“The recipients this year have consistently participated in a minimum of at least five different OHS sports,” explained Austin.    

The recipients were: Shaye Close, Jevyn Davidson, Myles Demmons, Jenna Drefke, Noah Fleurie, Emma McGrath, Julia Swant and Connor Vincent.

The Most Promising Junior Athlete award was presented by Mr. Schoenfeldt and Ms. Enright to the Grade 9 athletes who demonstrate self-discipline, improvement and potential, respect for coaching and the ability to work with others.

“This year, there are two very worthy recipients,” he said.

He noted how the recipient, Gavin Recoskie, participated in both hockey and track and field, is a leader both on and off the ice, is always aware of what is going on, and has the ability to execute the plays.

“On the track this year, he won county medals for Top Novice Boy with first place in the 100, 200 and 400 metre. He qualified for EOSSAA and East Regionals but unfortunately an injury prevented him from attending OFSAA.”

He said he worked hard at practices and was very well-liked by his team-mates          

Ms. Enright said the other co-recipient, Quinn Coughlin, participated in all three seasons of sports at OHS this year — running cross-country and playing ultimate frisbee in the fall; hockey in the winter, and ran track and field in the spring. She won the Novice Girls county championship in cross-country but the season ended due to COVID.

“In ultimate, she was enthusiastic and positive to her team-mates.”

Ms. Enright described Quinn as very coachable and quick to learn new skills.

“In hockey, she was a terrific defensive player and earned a lot of ice time as a rookie because of her speed, consistency and tough play in front of the net protecting the goalie.”

In track and field, she showed dedication and skills, winning the Novice Girls division in the county in the 400 800, and 1500 metres and followed that with similar first place results at EOSSAA. She won both the 400 and 800 at East Regions and was second in the 1500, qualifying her for OFSAA. She dropped the 1500 metres at OFSAA due to scheduling conflicts but went on to win silver in the 400 and 800.    

“She is extremely coachable, ridiculously hard working, and always brings an infectious, positive attitude to practices.”

The All-Around Athlete award, presented to a graduating student who shows co-operation, leadership and character, was presented by Coaches Dave Dobson and Cindy Brash.

Mr. Dobson noted the female recipient, Kylie Rieger, excels both academically and athletically and has been a member of the rugby, hockey, volleyball, downhill skiing, basketball, badminton, track and field and cross-country.

“She contributes to the school as well in many ways by volunteering for activities such as the elementary school track meet, is a member of the OAA and many other things, including the fact she was able to initiate the streaming of games when there were no fans in the stands.”

He noted she was invited to be part of the Rugby Canada developmental academy, had played in Florida with many of the Team Canada athletes, and was invited to the Canada Summer Games team. He said other coaches described her as hard-working, a great leader, resilient, knowledgeable and more.

“I coached her in volleyball and she was an amazing young athlete. She worked hard in practices and games.”

He said he knew he was coaching a “special young lady” when she gave 100 per cent in practice and then left to go to Ottawa to train for rugby.

“In my longtime coaching, I can honestly say that she is probably one of the finest all-round female athletes that I have the honour to coach.”

He noted she is attending Ottawa University in the fall where she will be a member of the GeeGees rugby team.

Ms. Brash said an all-around athlete is a person who not only excels at a variety of sports, but they also demonstrate character, leadership and a willingness to improve.

“The all-around athlete shows perseverance and strives to be better,” she said.

She noted she has had the pleasure of coaching the recipient, Austin Prins, since Grade 9, noting he has played volleyball, basketball, track and field, ultimate frisbee and soccer.

“In all of the sports he has played, he has demonstrated a commitment to the team, leadership and he listens to the feedback that he is given by his coaches. And he understands that there is always room for improvement.”       

She said he showed great leadership and skills from the beginning and even when injured and unable to play was there to support his team.

The Outstanding Athlete award was presented by Coach Dennis Brash to Quinn Coughlin

“This year’s outstanding athlete is a student who excels as an individual and as a team member,” he remarked. “Her natural talent is evident, but she puts her God-given abilities to work with hours of preparation, be it cross-country, hockey, ultimate frisbee or for track.

“She is very determined to succeed and is self-motivated,” he added. “The effort she puts into workouts are consistently strong, even though practices can sometimes be mundane and boring.”

He said she is respected as an individual by competing athletes and coaches, adding she is keen, spirited, very excited, encouraging, positive and has proven to be a great team-mate.

He noted Quinn had broken two longstanding Opeongo records this year, in the 1500 meter which stood for 19 years and in the 800 which stood for 38 years.

“Her silver medals in Toronto (OFSAA) were something to behold as far as the races themselves. You can consider her to be the second-fastest novice female runner in the province; that’s something.” 

He said she has high expectations of herself, which is sometimes a little too demanding, in her attempt to be perfect and succeed.

“This is a person who changes the phrase ‘could have, should have,’ to ‘I did’. Where she goes in sport will be dictated by her continued desire to excel.   

“With all these qualities in mind, this year’s outstanding athlete deservedly goes to an individual who is well on her way to making a name for herself and her school,” he announced.       

Closing Remarks

Ms. Brash thanked Ms. Faught for stepping into the role of athletic director during Michelle. Harris’ leave of absence, saying she somehow found time to juggle all the additional responsibilities with her already busy schedule.  

Ms. Faught admitted she had no idea what she was stepping into, thanking everyone involved in making the season and the evening a success. She also thanked everyone who supported her for the past five months. She noted earlier how great it was to see so many people trying out for the teams this year, saying she didn’t ever remember interest being as high as it was.

Team Awards

Jr. Badminton – Liam Copeland, Quinn Coughlin, MVP; Sam Hyatt, Marlo Van Lindenberg, Wildcat

Sr. Badminton – Keysha Two-Axe McMullen, Ava Zadow, MVP; Jevyn Davidson, Wildcat

Jr. Boys Basketball – Ethan Bourgeois, MVP; Braden Smaglinski, Wildcat

Sr. Boys Basketball – Brent Ready, MVP ; Jude Pinkerton, Wildcat

Jr. Girls Basketball – Megan Enright, May Mundt, MVP; Zoe McLaren, Wildcat

Sr. Girls Basketball – Emma McGrath, Annabelle Dunn, MVP; Keysha Two-Axe McMullen, Ava Zadow, Wildcat

Cross-Country – Liam Copeland, Quinn Coughlin, MVP; Sam Hyatt, Marlo Van Lindenberg, Wildcat

Golf – Cash Welk, MVP

Varsity Boys Hockey – Tyson Verch, MVP; Dustin Miller, Wildcat

Jr. Boys Hockey – Gavin Recoskie, MVP; Carter Zomers, Riley Lariviere, Wildcat

Varsity Girls Hockey – Julia Swant, MVP; Sam Hyatt, Wildcat

Soccer – Varsity Boys – Jack Egan, MVP; Austin Prins, Wildcat

Varsity Girls Soccer – Aliah Nizaha, MVP; Julia Swant, Wildcat

Track and Field – Quinn Coughlin, MVP; Baillee Dombroskie, Wildcat

Jr. /Sr. Ultimate Frisbee – Holly Howarth (Jr), Liam Davis (Sr) , MVP; Andy Copeland, (Jr), Lily Snider, Ethan Bourgeois, (Sr.) Wildcat

Jr. Girls Volleyball – Khaia Zadow, MVP; Jenna Schison, Wildcat

Sr. Girls Volleyball – Keysha Two-Axe McMullen, Ava Zadow, MVP; Kylie Rieger, Wildcat

Jr. Boys Volleyball – Aaron Coulas, MVP; Braden Smaglinski, Wildcat

Sr. Boys Volleyball – Austin Prins, Jack Egan, MVP; Myles Demmons, Noah Fleurie, Wildcat