Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School honoured their top two graduating Raiders with athlete of the year honours but also managed a strong nod to their future at the athletic department’s awards banquet on Wednesday night.
Boys’ volleyball star Tanner Rehn was named male athlete of the year while Kelsie Smale and Kelsey Lalor were named co-female athletes of the year.
For Smale, the award was the culmination of a decorated four-year career at the school.
“It’s such a great honour, I’ve been playing sports here for such a long time and dedicated to so many sports,” she said. “I trained super hard in all my disciplines and coming out with this award is just the cherry on top.”
Smale, 18, also took home the most improved award for the girls basketball program.
She was a busy athlete at LTCHS also competing on the volleyball, handball, rugby, tennis and track and field teams.
She is now off to Red Deer College, entering their bachelor of science and human ecology program and may be trying out for their basketball team.
Lessons she learned as a Raider will help her throughout her life.
“I learned that if I believed in myself, anything is possible,” she said.
Athletic director Darren Kochan said she has meant a lot to Raiders’ sports during her years at the school.
“Individually, each sport she’s represented us in, she’s regarded very highly with her coaches and she embodies what a Raiders is — very polite, hard working, not pretentious, she’s just a strong athlete,” he said.
Lalor represents the future at the school.
Last year she was named the Grade 9 female athlete of the year, but she did not take long to adapt to the senior teams at the school. She was named the MVP of the track team with her gold medal in junior girls javelin, silver in discus and gold in 4×100-metre relay at provincials, co-MVP of the basketball team and most improved on the volleyball team.
She also helped the cross-country team to their first zone title in 25 years and is a promising member of the tennis team.
She is just 16 years old.
“There’s so many great athletes here and it’s just an honour to be recognized,” said Lalor.
She adds she’s had some pretty good mentors in the veterans on the teams, especially the graduating players like Smale.
“I learned so much from them, like how hard you have to work in practice to improve and to be a top competitor,” she said. “You have to be a leader for your teammates and bring everybody up with you.”
Kochan says the department uses a mathematical process to figure out the top athletes and then had a long meeting between all of the coaches to figure out who should win athlete of the year.
He says there was little separating Lalor and Smale, despite the age and experience difference.
“Every sport she plays (Lalor’s) dominant at,” he said. “She’s an all-round great athlete.”
Rehn, 18, may not have had as busy of a sports calender as some of the other nominees, but few were as dominant as he was in his two, arguably one of the best in the province in both volleyball and basketball.
At LTCHS, there was none better in those sports as the six-foot-seven, 205-pounder was named MVP on both teams.
“Just being nominated was a thriller, it’s just crazy to be the recipient,” he said of being named athlete of the year.
Kochan said he was a man amongst boys at six-foot-five when he started at the school in Grade 9, and he managed to dominate every year there.
“He’s the type of kid that wants the ball in his hands, he wants to make a difference and he wants to dominate his opponent, that’s what he brought to Raiders athletics and we’re truly going to miss him here,” he said.
Rehn will get the opportunity show he can dominate on a national level next year when he joins the RDC Kings volleyball team as a left side power. The Kings are coming off a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Championship and are perennial powers in the sport, attracting some of the best players in the country to the program.
Just getting on to the floor could be a bigger challenge than some of the guys he will play against.
“It means I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m ready to take the next step with RDC,” he said.
Chris Graham and Nikki Thomas were honoured as the Lindsay Thurber Grade 9 male and female athletes of the year, while Cody Domoney and Aly Andersen were announced as co-winners of the Curtis McKee Award.
Lindsay Thurber athletic awards winners:
Golf — Most improved (MI): Saah Thomas; Raider Award (RA): Tanner Shapka; MVP: Melvin Ang.
Grade 9 cross country, female —MI: Shelby Bickley; RA: Tanis Wiancko; MVP: Morgan de Boon.
Grade 9 cross country, male —MI: Xavier Rose; RA: Wade Brown; MVP: Kurtis Willougby.
Senior cross country, female — MI: Shaelyn Moltzahn; RA: Anne-Marie Peturson; MVP: Rachelle Doyon.
Senior cross country, male — MI: Jeff Willoughby; RA: Noah Mulzet; MVP: Ben Holmes.
Grade 9 girls volleyball Red — MI: Amy Halldorson; RA: Charis Harvey; MVP: Brianna Paish.
Grade 9 girls volleyball Black — MI: Nikki Thomas; RA: Kallie Loewen; MVP: Jayda Aasman/Sierra Laye.
Grade 9 boys volleyball Black — MI: Andrew Ma; RA: Luc Taylor; MVP: Reece Lehman/Chris Graham.
JV girls volleyball — MI: Taylor Snider; RA: Maddy Gomes/Charlie Just; MVP: Kiera Fujimoto.
JV boys basketball — MI: Barrett Beaudoin; RA: Brayden Nowosad; MVP: Jack Wakefield.
Senior girls volleyball — MI: Kelsey Lalor; RA: Kennedy Graham; MVP: McKenna Barthel.
Senior boys volleyball — MI: Keiran Sudlow; RA: Jarrett Zilinski; MVP: Tanner Rehn.
Grade 9 girls volleyball Red — MI: Tanis Wiancko; RA: Shania Capner; MVP: Laura Widmer.
Grade 9 girls volleyball White — MI: Muftha Adair; RA: Mackenzie Peturson; MVP: Kallie Loewen.
Grade 9 boys volleyball White — MI: Austin Hammond; RA: Caiden Shybunka; MVP: Andrew Ma.
JV girls basketball — MI: Gaia Shaw; RA: Janalyn Tuazon; MVP: Kristen Demale.
JV boys basketball — MI: Allistair Mahood; RA: Hiram Sanchez; MVP: TK Kunaka.
Senior girls basketball — MI: Kelsie Smale; RA: Aly Anderson; MVP: Emma Newton/Kelsey Lalor.
Senior boys basketball — MI: Cameron Black; RA: Gaige Rehn; MVP: Tanner Rehn.
Curling — MI: Luke Fletcher; RA: Chris Lowry; MVP: Graham Bickley.
Grade 9 badminton — MI: Julian Jones; RA: Austin Hammond; MVP: Chris Graham.
Senior badminton — MI: Linus Reiher; RA: Jasmine Hafso; MVP: Karma Sherpa.
Wrestling — MI: Jett Grande; RA: Miguel Pharand; MVP: Carter O’Donnell.
Grade 9 boys handball — MI: Jayden McIntyre; RA: Kurtis Willoughby; MVP: Caden Shybunka.
Grade 9 girls handball — MI: Morgan de Boon; RA: Christina Morigeau; MVP: Natalia Ganson.
Senior girls handball — MI: Aly Anderson; RA: Isabelle Lauener; MVP: Kennedy Graham.
Senior boys handball — MI: Alex Rogers; RA: Tyler Dudar; MVP: AlHasan Al-Sammarraeie.
Tennis — MI: Justin Van Tetering; RA: Anna Micaylichenko; MVP: Jayden Halsey.
Senior boys rugby — MI: Jordan Partridge; RA: Ray Seewalt; MVP: Miguel Pharand.
Senior girls rugby — MI: Mackenzie Tilstra/Molly Ruhmor; RA: Brittany Shaw; MVP: Emma Newton.
Grade 9 girls track and field — RA: Elizabeth Cundict; MVP: Morgan deBoon.
Grade 9 boys track and field: MVP: Randy Murdoch.
Grade 9 dedication — Drew Seguin.