Team success was put on the back burner for a night at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Wednesday evening, as the Raiders handed out individual honours at their annual Athletic Banquet.
From most improved player and MVP awards as well as the athletes of the year, there was plenty to celebrate for the collection of Raider athletes.
Longtime teammates and friends Nicole Thomas and Hayley Lalor were named co-Female Athlete of the Year award recipients, an honour each said they were proud to share with the other.
“It means a lot. She’s been a really important teammate to me, played basketball and volleyball with her for the past two years. It’s really awesome to share it with her,” Lalor said.
Thomas added: “I’ve known Hayley for a long time we’ve played lots of sports together and I think almost all of the sports I played this year were with Hayley except rugby, it’s really exciting. I always expected Hayley to get it. She’s a phenomenal athlete and I think it’s really sweet to share.”
Both were key components in a silver medal at provincials for the Raiders girls volleyball team on their home court and Thomas pointed to that as one experience she won’t soon forget.
“Cheering in volleyball is something I’ll never forget. How everyone comes in to celebrate every point, that’s the most exciting thing for me,” she added.
A grade 12 student, Thomas said she’s still deciding whether to head to RDC next year to play basketball or make the trip down to University of Calgary to play for Dinos rugby.
“it’s a big difference,” she said about the tough decision ahead. “Really it’s the coach for me. I have a lot of relationships with the coaches here (at Lindsay Thurber) and I want the same thing at my next school.”
The duo were also co-mvp’s for the senior girls basketball team. Thomas was also a co-mvp for the Raiders senior girls rugby team that will compete at provincials on the weekend.
Lalor, who played point guard on the senior girls basketball team and setter in volleyball and was the co-Raider Award winner there, said she grew up in the halls at Lindsay Thurber and was just proud to win the Athlete of the Year award.
“I just really like playing and running around, being in the action, it’s fun,” Lalor said. “My parents coach and teach here, so I’ve been here my whole life. It’s like my second home. It means a lot.”
The grade 11 student said she just looks forward to playing high school sports again next year and hopes she can push towards a few more provincial appearances.
Journey Flewell, Emma Holmes, Jamie Lalor and Sierra Laye were also nominated.
Reece Lehman excelled in several sports over the year but was named MVP for the provincial silver medal winning senior boys volleyball team and parlayed that into the Male Athlete of the Year on Wednesday.
“It’s pretty sweet. I worked hard. It’s pretty awesome,” he said.
Lehman, who had to make the switch from middle to right side this volleyball season said he’s got a ton of great memories from his time as a Raider, but said getting out and competing was what he’ll remember most.
“I really fit in here, it’s been great for me. It’s been a lot of fun playing for these teams. I’m big on volleyball and ending it off with a silver medal at provincials that was really fun,” he added.
The multi-sport athlete will head to University of Calgary in the fall to play volleyball for the Dinos, something he said that has been a long time dream.
“My dream has always been to play in the CIS, to be able to do that and play for the Dinos, I think that’s pretty sweet,” he said.
Caleb Heinrichs, Easton Leedahl, Cayden Shybunka and Sean Vandervlis were nominated for the award.
Hannah Wirtanen was the grade 9 Female Athlete of the Year and Jacob Hicks was the grade 9 Male Athlete of the Year.
The Curtis McKee Memorial Award was given to Kallie Loewen and Heather Ritchie.