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Harbour Grace celebrates its top athletes and builders of past and present

Braeden Sullivan, right, won the Junior Male Athlete of the Year Jamie Korab Award at the Harbour Grace Sports Hall of Fame and Town Awards in Harbour Grace last month, which was presented by Olympic curler Korab himself. Korab said he looks forward to the Hall of Fame and athletic awards banquet every year and congratulated all of the recipients for being cemented into Harbour Grace’s History. Chad Feehan photo
Long time minor hockey coach and organizer Robert Lynch, left, was inducted into the Harbour Grace Sports Museum Hall of Fame last month for his contributions to the sport. Upon receiving his plaque from Zoe McDonald, right, Lynch congratulated the other recipients on their awards. Chad Feehan photo

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Harbour Grace Sports Museum and Hall of Fame held its annual awards at the Danny Cleary Community Centre last month, with a number of athletes and community builders being recognized for their achievements.

Emcee Don Regular noted the purpose of the museum founded in 1988, is to recognize, honour, and pay tribute to groups, associations, families, and teams for their playing ability, sportsmanship, and character. These individuals, he said, have achieved extraordinary distinction in their sports, whether amateur or professional.

Four people were inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, including the late Nathaniel Lynch, Robert Lynch, the late Alice Parsons, and Diane Parsons.

Nathaniel Lynch was a fixture at the Harbour Grace Regatta site for over 20 years, and would be at the pond as soon as the snow melted to do whatever was needed to ensure the site was ready for rowers, be it mowing, painting, or boat maintenance.

Lynch would congratulate every rower on race day whether they won or not, and was made a lifelong member by the regatta committee in 1999.

Lynch’s daughter Alice Pye accepted the award on his behalf.

The next hall of fame inductee was Robert Lynch, who began coaching minor hockey in the 1978-1979 hockey season. He was the first coach in the CBN minor league to take part in the Esso Medals of Achievement program, which was designed to seek out and gauge athletic abilities all across Canada. Eventually Lynch would become president of the Conception-Trinity-Placentia Minor Hockey Association, making regular trips to stadiums throughout the region to help out.

Primarily known for her speed skating, the late Alice Parsons was inducted as a builder in the Hall of Fame.

Through her career in the 1970s and 1980s, Parsons was a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Speed Skating Association, where she promoted the sport as secretary and treasurer. She was instrumental in bringing people into speedskating, and organized fundraisers for athletes to compete in New York and New Brunswick.

As an avid seamstress, Parsons even sewed together suits for the skaters, as there was nothing available at the time.

Parsons’ daughter Diane accepted the award on her mother’s behalf, and was also inducted as an athlete herself.

Diane was known for curling, hockey, figure skating and speed skating throughout high school, and competed in the 1979 Canada Winter Games in Brampton, Ontario in speed skating, as well as the 1980 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games in Burin in cycling.

As for the individual and team awards, Cheryl McCarthy was the first up, as she was accorded the Paul Moriarty Memorial Sports Volunteer Award.

McCarthy was praised for promoting active, healthy living in Harbour Grace, and for being a devoted volunteer with team sports. In 2021 she started the walking and hiking group Happy Feet as part of the newly formed Earhart 50+ Club.

In 2023, McCarthy and her fellow volunteers brought back line dancing to the Danny Cleary Community Centre, which promotes physical activity in a welcoming environment.

The Team of the Year – the Dick Power Memorial Award – went to the members of the Rest NL Mattresses Rowing Crew, who began their 2023 season finishing first in the Placentia Regatta, and second in the Harbour Grace Regatta that same week. Later in the season they placed first in the qualifying race at the Royal St. John’s Regatta.

The crewmembers were noted for having an excellent attitude towards rowing, with members often filling in for other teams when needed.

The 1992 Summer Games Scholarship was awarded to Maggie Shute, who has received a slew of awards over the past few years for her activities in hockey, soccer, and academics.

Shute is pursuing a degree in human kinetics and recreation at Memorial University, and was valedictorian of her high school graduating class.

The Junior Female Athlete of the Year – the Sonia Williams Award – was given to Jade Bennett for achievements in volleyball and soccer which spans both the province and a competition in Saskatchewan.

Bennett was recognized for her good character, sportsmanship, determination and grit, and for being a hard worker, who understands the value of goal setting and teamwork.

The Junior Male Athlete of the Year, Jamie Korab Award, went to Braeden Sullivan for his achievements in football.

Last year, Sullivan was named top defensive player for the CBN Warriors, won a bronze medal at the Atlantic Bowl, and was captain of defense of the U16 provincial football team.

His personality, commitment to success, and athletic ability were mentioned as his strongest qualities, as well pushing his teammates to succeed through adversity as well.

Rachel Owusu-Ansah took home the Senior Female Athlete of the Year Doris Murcell Memorial Award, for her participation and coaching accomplishments in skating, dance, ballet, cross country running, and volleyball, among other sports.

Owusu-Ansah also participates in the Special Olympics club at Carbonear Collegiate, which pairs Special Olympians with students such as Owusu-Ansah who take on mentorship positions.

In addition to her commitment to sports, Owusu-Ansah also maintains a high academic average in school.

Rounding out the sports awards for the evening, Connor Parsons was given the Senior Male Athlete of the Year S. W. Moores Memorial Award for bodybuilding.

Parsons participated in the Flex Lewis Canadian Classic in Moncton last year, placing first, second and third in a variety of categories.

Parsons was noted as having respect for his fellow competitors and building relationships alongside his strong drive for success.

Parsons has served in the Canadian military, and is now preparing to pursue a career with the RCMP.

Closing out the evening, Harbour Grace volunteer firefighters Dave Regular, Paul Ash and Paul Snow were presented with Municipal Long Service Awards for clocking in 45, 40, and 40 years respectively with the Harbour Grace Volunteer Fire Brigade.

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