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April 2021: A roundup of local sports action

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By Ottawa Sports Pages

Ottawa Aces join new North American Rugby League

The two-year-old Ottawa Aces rugby club will be part of the new 14-squad North American Rugby League, which was introduced in March. The Aces and the Toronto Wolfpack will compete against 12 U.S. teams in the league that’s planning to start its inaugural season in June. Since the Aces’ founding in March 2019, the club has been working toward joining the Europe-based RFL League 1, but have bumped those plans to 2022 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for this year’s North American Rugby League season would see play take place in two groups, the Western Conference and Eastern Conference. The Aces will play in the latter in a bubble-style series of games. The Aces are also scheduled to play a Canada Cup competition against their implicit rivals from Toronto, sometime later this year.

Rachel Homan captures 11th Grand Slam just weeks after having second child

Rachel Homan curled well during her pregnancies of each of her two children, but may have bested those efforts this April by winning the Humpty’s Champions Cup, her 11th Grand Slam title, just weeks after giving birth to her daughter. The rink she skips, which curls out of the Ottawa Curling Club, outlasted the team of defending Champions Cup winner Silvana Tirinzoni by a score of 6-3. “When you’re out here and able to compete, (it) gives you more energy,” Homan told Sportsnet after the final. “It has been great, definitely tiring and lots of sleepless nights with a newborn, but we’re just so happy to be out here curling.”
Fellow Ottawa curler John Morris recently won a bronze medal at the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship. He and partner Danielle Schmiemann, of Canmore, Alta., rebounded after losing their first draw at the March championships to win every game before ultimately falling short by scores of 7-6 in both of their chances to qualify for the gold medal contest.

Ottawa’s Makinde appointed to AthletesCAN diversity committee

Segun Makinde, who was raised in Ottawa and competed with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, was recently appointed to AthletesCAN’s diversity and equity advisory committee. As part of the committee, it will be his role to offer guidance and recommendations to AthletesCAN, which represents Canada’s national team athletes, on current and future programming to advance their goals of widening sport access and improving diversity. “I want to use my experience and the experiences of others in the BIPOC community to help amplify marginalized athletes’ voices, push for adequate representation of BIPOC individuals, promote development and leadership opportunities for BIPOC athletes, create safe environments, and work with National Sport Organizations to eliminate any potential or perceived barriers within the Canadian sport system,” Makinde said in a press release.

Lions’ Jacques, Brown to race at World Relays event with chance of qualifying for Olympics

Ottawa Lions alumnae Farah Jacques and Alicia Brown were chosen in April to represent Canada at the 2021 World Athletics Relays Silesia21, to be held on May 1 and 2. The 2021 event will be the first global track event since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Athletics Canada. Both Jacques’ and Brown’s teams, the 4×100-metre women and 4×400-metre women, respectively, would qualify for the Olympic Games by advancing to their event’s finals. The appearance by Jacques, 31, at the Silesian event will be her third straight world championships appearance. Fellow Ottawans Glenroy Gilbert and Shyvonne Roxborough were also named as extended members of the team. Roxborough was named a non-travelling alternate, while Gilbert is Canada’s head coach.

Wesley Clover Parks to host Ontario’s largest equestrian competition

Nepean’s Wesley Clover Parks will be the site of this year’s Trillium Championships, the province’s biggest equestrian competition. The event is planned to be held from Sept. 1-5. The event that usually attracts thousands of spectators is likely to look a little different this year, amid the ongoing COVID crisis. “I really want to hit it out of the park with this championship,” Karen Sparks, executive director of Wesley Clover Parks, told the Ottawa Citizen. “We want to get (Wesley Clover Parks) into the rotation.”

Ottawa author publishes equestrian guide

Ottawa author and sports performance coach John Haime recently published a book about confidence in the equestrian industry, something he said is “critical” to both achievement and enjoyment in sport. “The book is a pathway to both understanding, building and sustaining confidence,” Haime said ahead of its release. “While this book is written for equestrian athletes, it is transferable to all sport and performance.”

Nepean Jr. Wildcats alumna Maddi Wheeler wins NCAA hockey championship

Forward Maddi Wheeler, who played four seasons with the Nepean Jr. Wildcats, won the NCAA women’s hockey championship with the Wisconsin Badgers in March. The title is the Badgers’ sixth, a record in the NCAA. Wheeler, who had a stint as captain of the Wildcats, scored two goals and recorded two assists for four total points in 20 games in her freshman season with the University of Wisconsin.

Governments chip in to expand Kanata Recreation Centre

The federal and provincial governments announced in April that they would be providing a project to renovate and expand the Kanata Recreation Centre with a combined $3.2 million. The cash, which is on top of another $1.2 million that the City of Ottawa is putting toward the project, will help add new meeting and program rooms, update its interior, install an emergency exit stairwell to increase program capacity, upgrade the facility’s lobby and enlarge a nearby splash pad at Walter Baker Park. “The improvements being made to the Kanata Recreation Centre will be beneficial for our residents for generations to come,” Mayor Jim Watson said in a press release.

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