By Martin Cleary
Volunteers are the sturdy backbone of the amateur sports community.
Without the dedicated service of adults and youth of all ages to serve as coaches, officials and administrators, there would be no athletic activities for today’s youth.
While the Ottawa Sports Awards Dinner has been honouring the city’s top athletes for the past 70 years (it started as the ACT Sportsmen’s Dinner in 1953), the Lifetime Achievement award was introduced six years later to recognize a dedicated sportsman or volunteer.
Tennis icon Eddie Condon received the first ACT Lifetime Achievement award in 1959 and the cast of Ottawa sport builders that followed were just as impressive, including canoe/kayak’s Mike Scott, ski jumping’s Fred Morris, basketball’s Hazel Minor and ringette’s Lois Kemp.
When Gary Mighton and Mike Milligan stepped down as co-chairs of the ACT dinner 20 years ago, administrative teams led by chairs Pat Reid, Doug Scorrar, Josh Bell or Barclay Frost over the past two decades have vastly increased the recognition of volunteers in amateur sport.
Since 2003, the dinner has given Lifetime Achievement awards to a coach, a technical official, a volunteer/administrator and a member of the media. The Mayor’s Cup also was introduced for an outstanding individual(s) who “have a long-standing association with the City of Ottawa and have contributed many years of direct support and dedication to amateur sport in a variety of contexts.”
Todd Nicholson and his wife Emily Glossop of Dunrobin have been dedicated, stalwart and creative leaders in developing sport opportunities for athletes with disabilities. They have experienced para sport as an athlete or a guide and, after their retirements from competition, have become heavily involved behind the scenes at many critical levels.
The organizing committee of the 70th Ottawa Sports Awards Dinner will pay tribute to Nicholson and Glossop on Feb. 8 by presenting them with the Mayor’s Cup.
The dinner will be at The Centurion Conference and Event Centre. Tickets are $70.
The dinner also will present Lifetime Achievement Awards to badminton’s Fei Tam (volunteer/administrator), hockey’s Sean Reid (technical official), rowing’s Ed Fournier (coach) and TV sports broadcaster Terry Marcotte (media).
Wheelchair fencer Trinity Lowthian will become the sixth winner of the Spirit of Sport Award, which is presented to a person setting “a meaningful example for others through (his or her) personal journey in sport.”
“As individuals, Todd Nicholson and Emily Glossop have made remarkable contributions, first as athletes, and later shaping the parasport landscape locally, nationally and internationally,” the Ottawa Sports Award Dinner press release said.
“As a team, they have had an outstanding impact through their tireless dedication and volunteerism, leading important movements in Ottawa and beyond.”
Nicholson was the captain of Canada’s sledge hockey (now para hockey) team for 15 years. During his five consecutive Paralympic Winter Games, he played a vital role in helping Canada win gold, silver and bronze medals and was named Canada’s Opening Ceremony flagbearer for the 2006 Paralympics. He also won two gold medals and one bronze at the world championships.
After his athletic career, Nicholson shifted to the administrative side and has been named to many significant positions. The Canadian Paralympic Committee named Nicholson its Chef de Mission for Team Canada at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
Nicholson served as chair of the International Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council from 2013-17, which made him a Governing Board member for the IPC. Shortly after serving as Chef de Mission, he was named chair of Own the Podium, which provides technical leadership and assistance to national sport organizations to help Canadian athletes achieve more medals.
Inclusion and accessibility are two major topics for Glossop, who is an advocate for bringing children with disabilities into sport and an organizer to grow athletic activity.
She is the executive director of Abilities Centre Ottawa and is driven to make sport and recreational activities more accessible to everyone. Alongside Ausome Ottawa and the Ottawa Sport Council, Glossp organized a summit of local sports leaders called Sport For All in Ottawa and followed up with the first Ottawa Inclusive and Para Sport Expo, the OSA release noted.
“Emily’s incredibly positive. She’s one of those people who always lends a hand for everything. She’s always willing to try something and she’s very committed to what she does,” Ottawa Sport Council executive director Marci Morris told the Ottawa Sports Pages. “And she empowers a lot of people around her. She has a fundamental belief in what she’s doing and she inspires people with that belief.”
Glossop also was a member of the Canadian para-alpine national ski team, serving as a guide for visually-impaired skier Kathleen Forestell of Ottawa. Forestell was a multiple World Cup medal winner before she retired in 2009 at age 22.
As a recreation therapist, Glossop worked almost 20 years at the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre and CHEO and directed many youth into adaptive sport.
Fei Tam is head coach of the Kanata Junior Badminton Club and has been a valuable volunteer and administrator for more than 30 years. She has been president of the Ottawa and District Badminton Association since 2005 and has been a key player in staging its championships.
“A highly respected volunteer, she galvanizes others to join her on committees, as coaches or simply as a tournament volunteer to ensure development opportunities for the membership from every age, including entry level players to the national level,” the dinner press release added.
Sean Reid was recognized last year for officiating his 1,000th career game in the Ontario Hockey League. He has served as an on-ice official for 22 seasons and participated in his 12th OHL major junior championship series in 2022.
“Highly respected by teams, players and fellow officials, Reid is a veteran of multiple Memorial Cups, is a past winner of the OHL’s Bodie Award for demonstrating a passion and dedication to officiating and the game of hockey and best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice,” the press release said.
Ed Fournier has been connected to the Ottawa Rowing Club since 1988 and is the lead coach of the senior men’s competitive program. He has trained and watched his rowers compete at provincial, national and international regattas and has 10 gold medals to his credit from the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta.
“He has helped to not only inspire a love of the sport of rowing within his athletes, bringing them back to continue to compete year after year, but also has inspired a generation of rowers to share their love of the sport with others by becoming coaches themselves,” the press release said.
“His achievements and lasting impact helping athletes reach their potential are felt in the rowing community in Ottawa and across Canada.”
Terry Marcotte spent 38 years in journalism, including his final 33 years at CJOH/CTV Ottawa as a news reporter and sports director. He became sports director in 1999 and was noted for covering all aspects of the Ottawa athletic scene, including telling many stories in his soft-spoken style about interesting people and sports that rarely hit the media radar.
The Algonquin College grad recently co-authored Hockey Moms with Theresa Bailey.
Trinity Lowthian is an inspirational wheelchair fencer, who only started the sport last May and has already won international medals. Wheelchair fencing isn’t popular in Canada so her first two meets were the world U23 and the Pan-Am championships. She won one silver and three bronze medals at the Pan-Ams, while fencing epee, sabre and foil.
Lowthian has dealt with a series of medical issues over the past several years, which have left her an inability to eat food or drink any liquids. Instead, the third-year University of Ottawa nutrition and food science student receives her daily balance of protein, carbs, minerals, dextrose, electrolytes and vitamins through an intravenous feeding.
The Ottawa Fencing Club, which is operated by head coach Paul ApSimon, also will be honoured at the dinner. The club will receive the Ottawa Sports Endowment Award and $500 for its para program.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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