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PECI honours its athletes in celebration of sports

Story and photos by Desirée DeCoste
Prince Edward Collegiate Institute’s (PECI) finest and sharpest athletes gleamed on stage during a celebration of sports this week at Picton’s Regent Theatre.

“I think it’s important that even though we are here this evening and we’re going to be hearing some great things about our students and our community, I think one of the things we need to recognize is that we’re also here to celebrate all those other things about sport and athletics that make it worthwhile,” said Andrew Ross, principal of PECI. “I will be a little corny, I am a principal, I am an educator so I do have to have a bit of a corny message here, it’s really only losing when you let it be losing. And that’s a really important message not just in sport but also in life.”

The senior female athletes of the year award was presented to two athletes – Bethany Foster and Maeve Veenstra.

“Our first athlete excelled in five sports this year and embodies the true spirit of leadership, sportsmanship, and competitiveness,” coach Jaeger said. “To her core, she is an athlete that loves to compete and will do anything to win. The best athletes are the ones that you want to play with and not against – she is no exception.”
“Our second athlete is calm, cool and collected,” coach Wilson added. “She leads by inspiring her teammates through unwavering dedication and relentless effort. She never seeks the spotlight, but her commitment to giving 100 per cent every minute she is on the court or field shines through. She generates opportunities for the team by refusing to give up, even in the face of adversity. She is a coach’s dream: she is fast, strong, smart and always finds a way to dig deep and elevate her game to a new level.”

Riley Grumman and Liam Rice shared the senior male athlete of the year award as coaches noted both athletes are similar in personality, desire, dedication and work ethic.

“The first athlete is the epitome of coachability, toughness, team player and leader,” said coach Holt. “He showed his toughness and always had a no complaints, attitude during the rugby season, playing through injury and starting at multiple positions before settling into his role as scrum half and captain. Leadership of the team was passed to him from the coaches for boys OFSAA rugby. He played soccer and badminton, was an MVP in rugby and went to East Regionals in track.”
“We are unsure how the second athlete of the year had time for anything, as he played soccer, basketball, badminton, rugby, and baseball this year,” coach MacKinnon said. “Playing on this many teams obviously presented some conflicts in scheduling. One of these conflicts occurred when Bay of Quinte Baseball and Rugby were on the same day. Instead one sport over the other, he initially went to baseball and in the semi-finals drove in the game winning run, then made it to the semi-finals for rugby, made some key plays, then won BOQ for rugby and flew back to Wellington to win BOQ baseball… producing one of the coolest sports stories we have ever heard of.”

Rowan Colby was named junior male athlete of the year and the Jeremy Vincent Award winner for demonstrating excellence in track and field. He was recognized as a student who displays strong athletic skills and consistent dedication to his training and perfecting his talents.

“He is a natural team leader who displays excellent sportsmanship at all times. He is known for setting high standards for both himself and his team, while actively helping teammates improve their own individual skills. This athlete is the kind of representative of PECI that makes all who know him incredibly proud,” said Mrs. Kupiers. “He was a member of the Junior Boys Basketball, Cross Country, and Track teams. He was the only track athlete to compete at OFSAA, where he placed among the top 20 in the province for the 400m.”

Presenting the Jeremy Vincent Award to Colby, coach Laurie Spencer said “We were proud to watch this athlete combine the physical and mental aspect of training that is required to achieve results at the next level. This athlete worked conscientiously through injuries, learning how to do recovery training and how to prevent further injury. This athlete was humble, eager to learn, and a great teammate.”

Junior female athlete of the year was Drew Spencer, recognized for her intensity, physicality, toughness, leadership and character.
“During the season she was a key piece of a new program, leading the team in scoring and teaching the new girls every time she had an opportunity to speak. Her spirit and attitude were a key piece in convincing even us coaches to join the sing-alongs on bus trips,” Coaches Doug Holt and Brandon MacKinnon added “This athlete was JR Girls Rugby MVP, JR Girls Soccer MVP, reached East Regionals in track and played volleyball.”

Grade 9 female athlete of the year was Kate Cowan, recognized as a multi-sport athlete, fiercely competitive and a coach’s dream.
“With her strong work ethic, physical play, and willingness to learn and improve, there is no doubt she will continue to accomplish great things in her next three years at PECI,” stated coaches Mrs. Jaeger and Miss Wilson. This year she was a member of the Girls Varsity Hockey Team, PECI Rugby, and also competed as a Panther in soccer, volleyball and track and field. “She is hardworking, and absolutely tough as nails. Not only did this athlete excel within her school, but she also was a member of the Napanee Crush, who were crowned this year’s OWHA Southern Champions.”

Ethan Thompson and Cameron Billing were recognized as Grade 9 male athletes of the year.
“These boys went above and beyond all year to help their team be as successful as they can be,” said Mr. Holmes. “They embodied the meaning of student athlete as they are dedicated in the classroom as they are on pitch, field, courts, trail or track. They have amazing work ethics, positive attitudes and both coaches and teammates can’t help but love having them on their team.”

The Joe Scott Award was presented to Hayden Blakely as a student that shows specialized excellence in their sport and recognizes achievements beyond the high school level.
“When watching young athletes starting out in sport, it is always an asset to an athlete to have a balanced approach to sport that allows them to try new things and develop transferable skills,” coach Spencer said. “At a point in their career, specialization will begin. This athlete is at that point. A future in their sport is bright. This athlete has what it takes to excel at the next level based on the qualities of being coachable, dedicated, hard working, focused, and always ready to challenge themselves. This athlete made the difficult decision to take his game to the CTA program based out of Ottawa this year. He billeted in Ottawa to play for a program that prepares student-athletes for play at the university and national level. PECI was fortunate to have this athlete maintain his love of trying new things beyond their specialization. Upon completion of his season with the CTA program, he returned to PECI for the spring season, and with his transferable skills he tried his hand at baseball and rugby.  For both teams, he was commended for bringing a work ethic that was without a doubt top notch. For both teams, he was commended for bringing a work ethic that was without a doubt top notch.”

The OPIE Award is presented to students who have unselfishly contributed to interschool sports or the life of sports in the school. The OPIE this year went to Kieran Young, Sage Nixon, Brooke Spencer, Rowan Colby, Mohammed Al Jasem, Shelby Swackhammer, and Dawson Mallett.
“As athletes and supporters of athletes, you know that the behind-the-scenes efforts of volunteers is what makes sports possible. These winners took on volunteer roles in PECI athletics, and we are all grateful for their efforts.”

Individual sports awards with coach remarks: (MVP – most valuable player, MIP most improved player, MDP – most dedicated player, MDR – most dedicated runner, MVR – most valuable runner)

Cross Country
Ethan Thompson, MDR – This athlete was hard working, conscientious, and a supportive teammate.
Josh McGill, MVR – This runner made a plan, executed his plan through consistent training, and ended the season representing PECI at the OFSAA Cross Country Championships.

JR. Girls Rugby
Drew Spencer MVP – A leader on the field, she could be relied upon to set a physical tone in every game we played. She was also, most importantly, the lead DJ on every bus ride.
Izzy Bailas, MDP – Her intensity on the field and at practice is something that all coaches want in their athletes. She could be relied upon to lead, to communicate with her teammates, and to execute the game plan effectively.

SR Girls Rugby
Bethany Foster, MVP – She could be relied upon to score, set out defense, and will be moving onto play rugby with The Belleville Bulldogs this summer.
Carly Rideout, MDP – She stepped up to the challenge and became one of our most reliable tacklers, as well as a key piece to sparking our offense. She led by example and played through injuries that demonstrated her toughness as the season progressed.

JR Boys Soccer
Will Theakston, MVP – With two stunning corner kick goals, one a perfectly executed bend into the net and another a powerful header into the top corner, he showcases his exceptional skill and ability to seize crucial moments. A consistent leader, his infectious energy and work ethic inspired his teammates to reach new levels.
Cameron Billing, MDP – He was always looking for feedback and constantly stayed late at practice to perfect his skills. His hard work and determination on the field were unmatched. His speed and strength were a powerful force in the striker position where he generated some amazing offensive opportunities for the team.

SR Boys Soccer
Kieran Young, MDP – It was clear from the beginning of the season that one of the most dedicated players was there to recruit the best player prospects, install a desire to win and set the team’s sights on OFSAA.
Hudson Flynn, MVP – This gifted soccer player played almost every minute this season and was instrumental in helping to control game play, as well as, in scoring and assisting goals.

JR Boys Volleyball
Ethan Thompson, MDP – He can be counted on to give 100 per cent in practice and be counted on to leave it all on the floor in the game.
Grady Holmes, MDP – He developed a strong court presence and could be counted on for the consistency in his serve and play at the net.

Varsity Girls Basketball
Maeve Veenstra, MVP – As the PECI girls returned to basketball competition after a two year absence, we were fortunate to have a player who stood out with her positive attitude, leadership skills, and next level talent that inspired her teammates and impressed coaches and fans every time she played this year.
Brooke Spencer, MDP – She was a key member of the team as we returned to league play, and she was also able to be an extremely successful multi-sport athlete! She was able to be a leader on the court, while also being a key ‘shut down’ defender guarding the opponents best scorers.

JR Boys Basketball
Rowan Colby, MDP – He dug in from day one and didn’t let up.
Declan Vincent, MIP – He went training wheels to F1 minutes in a season. Impressive.

SR Boys Basketball
Luke Graham, MVP – He has shown unwavering commitment to the game, relentless work ethic and has left an indelible mark on the Senior Boys Basketball team this season. He led our team in points and garnered attention from other coaches and referees who always commented on his sportsmanship and skill.
Kieran Young, MIP – A hockey injury took him out of our season part way through, but he preserved and kept his head in the game by helping to coach the junior boys. As our best defensive player, his return to our line-up near the end of the season helped us make it to COSSA.

JR Girls Volleyball
Grace Wallach, MDP – She played more than one position, had excellent attendance, was always a positive presence on the court and did whatever she was asked to do. She played hard and the team would not have been the same without her.
Sadie Caissie, MIP – Her hard work in practice, positive attitude and excellent communication with teammates all contribute to the elevation of her skills this year.

SR Girls Volleyball
Grace Werkhoven, MIP – She faced every new challenge with a positive attitude and overcame all of the obstacles in her path to becoming a key component to the teams success in the 22-23 season.
Maeve Veenstra, MVP – With the most blocks and hits, this player was a dominant force at the net.

Varsity Girls Hockey
Bethany Foster, co-MVP – For us she was an offensive defensemen, a leader on the ice and in the dressing room, an exceptional athlete, and was the natural choice for the team Captain.
Lainey VanVlack, co-MVP – Often stopping double or triple the shots of opposing goalies, this talented young woman provided our team with the much needed confidence to stay competitive.

JR Badminton
Declan Vincent, MDP – He was committed to improving his technique and strategy and was tirelessly always ready for another match.
Sophie Eskins, MIP – She had the greatest success amongst her teammates this season, qualifying to compete in this year’s Bay of Quinte tournament. She has a quiet and fierce competitive nature and excels due to her coachability.

SR Badminton
Chase Colby co-MDP – Always looking for some extra practice or court time, they found ways to improve their game through their dedication to the sport.
Grace Conley, co-MDP – They were always seeking feedback on skills and strategies and were a pleasure to coach as they consistently improved as the season progressed.

JR Boys Rugby
Connor Borton, MVP – He’s a natural athlete and leader, and took his role as scrum-half seriously. He led the team in scoring, in kicks, and it was consistently like having an extra coach on the field.
Cole Carruthers, MIP – He was a complete leader, and most vocal forward on the team, and could be relied upon to lead his teammates into battle.

JR Girls Soccer
Drew Spencer, MVP – Our recipient tonight has demonstrated a level of commitment, passion, skill, and leadership that is truly awe-inspiring.
Gwen Gillingham, MDP – Our recipient tonight has shown unwavering commitment to their team, personal skill development, and perseverance by going above and beyond to excel on the soccer field.

SR Girls Soccer
Maeve Veenstra, MVP – Her dedication to sports extends beyond her work on the soccer field as she consistently demonstrated sportsmanship, determination and an unwavering commitment to teamwork in every sport she played this year.
Stella Thompson, MIP – She showed tremendous growth in her ability to read the field and was a force to be reckoned with during our last regular season game, taking on striker duties and playing the field like a pro.

This year, championship teams in baseball, senior boys rugby and track and field were also celebrated, winning Bay of Quinte Championships.

Varsity Baseball
Ben Smith – MDP – A member of the PECI baseball family since his Grade 9 year. He distinguished himself at several important positions including Pitching, Catcher, Second base and Shortstop
Brody Partridge – MIP  – Has only played baseball for two seasons. Despite the limited amount of experience, and the amount of time he dedicates to his true passion of hockey, this player became our starting right fielder and delivered one of the most important hits of our undefeated Bay of Quinte Season.

Senior Boys Rugby
Co-MVPs, Austin Stock in the forwards and Riley Grimmon in the backs.
Stock is the physical tone setter in all of Senior Boys Bay of Quinte rugby. He easily gets the most touches and most tackles per game. Grimmon as the season went on, developed his leadership becoming the most vocal player on the field and playing the most important position at a high level, ensuring our offense was organized in our playoff run through Bay of Quinte and COSSA.

Track and Field
Most Dedicated Athletes, Riley Grimmon and Josh McGill.
As Most Dedicated Player, our first athlete completed an impressive high school Track & Field career by competing at the East Regionals Championships. Our second demonstrated the drive and commitment needed to excel at the junior level at the East Regionals Championships. Against tough competition, he accomplished incredibly impressive results.

Filed Under: Featured ArticlesHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardLocal NewsPECI - It's a Panther ThingSports & Recreation

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