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nscSt. Catharines, ON – The Niagara Sport Commission hosted the 4th Annual Sport Niagara Awards Breakfast on Thursday, June 9 at the Holiday Inn and Suites St. Catharines Conference Centre.

Nine major awards were handed out to recognize the 2015 achievements of athletes, coaches, and supporters from across the Niagara Region in various sporting disciplines.

Here is the list of winners:

Sport Niagara Female Athlete of the Year

Olivia Di Bacco       Wrestling – Brock University

2015 CIS and OUA Gold Medal Winner – Undefeated in both Championships.

Silver medalist at the Senior National Championships.

Bronze medalist at the Olympic Trials.

Bronze medalist at the Torneo International Tournament in Italy.

Brock University Badgers Female Athlete of the Year


Sport Niagara Male Athlete of the Year

Daniel de Groot     Rowing – Princeton University and St. Catharines Rowing Club

Overcame serious injury and returned to competing in rowing at a high level.

Won Two Gold Medals at the Row Ontario Championships.

Won Three Gold Medals at the Royal Henley Regatta.

Won Gold at the Head of the Welland Race.

Member of the Princeton University Tigers Rowing Team.


Sport Niagara Female 55+ Athlete of the Year

Janet Lancaster      Rowing,  St. Catharines Rowing Club

Placed in the top 3 in 14 competitive events – 7 Golds, 4 Silver, and 3 Bronze medal finishes.

Sat in the lead rower position for a number of Gold medal races.

True team player with all of her 14 events being crew events.


Sport Niagara Para Athlete of the Year

Shelley Gautier  Paracycling

Placed first in the time trial and third in the road race at the Canadian Championships.

Placed first in the road race and second in the time trial at the World Cup in Italy.

Second place in the time trial at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games.


Sport Niagara Special Olympic Athlete of the Year (*New In 2016)


Julia Longo  Swimming


One of 22 summers who qualified at the National Special Olympic Games in Vancouver.

She won four medals at the Nationals – Two Golds and Two Silvers.

Represented Canada at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.



Sport Niagara Champion of Sport (Co-Winners)


Mike Hurley Basketball, Pelham Panthers Minor Basketball Association


Dedicated 1200 hours to Youth Basketball

Has held seven different positions with Pelham Panthers Minor Basketball Association.

Head Coach of the U-13 Pelham Panthers Boys Basketball Team that place 12th in Ontario.

Head Coach of the U-10 Pelham Panthers Girls Basketball Team that won Division 1 at the Provincial Championships.

In the past five years, he has assisted over 45 athletes obtain scholarships in the NCAA, CIS, and CCAA.


Sharon Stewart      Athletics, Niagara Olympic Club


Served on the Ontario Athletics Board

Led the Niagara Olympic Club to a host of improvements to their facility

Assisted in attracting key events to Niagara including the 2015 Canadian Junior Masters Track & Field Championships

Provided strong leadership to the Niagara Olympic Club Executive Board

Served as a coach and role model for young athletes at the Niagara Olympic Club and helping them to compete at the local, provincial, and national levels.


Sport Niagara Coach of the Year


James Davis  Wheelchair Basketball    Brock Niagara Penguins


Led his team to a gold medal at the 6th Annual Brock Niagara Wheelchair Basketball Tournament.

Davis displays unwavering commitment to the Brock Niagara Penguins Wheelchair Basketball Program.

Enthusiastically moves players towards self-improvement and fosters a positive and inclusive team environment.

Overcoming his own physical challenges have been inspirational to his athletes.

His message is clear “If I can do this, you can do this.”


Sport Niagara Event of the Year


Meridian Celebrity Ice Cup       Hockey          St. Catharines/Niagara Falls


A two-day charitable hockey tournament that allowed amateur hockey players the opportunity to play with and against legendary NHL alumni.

The event attracted 220 participants.

Raised $115,000 for Hotel Dieu Shaver Foundation.

Economic Impact of $75,000 in the Niagara Region.


Sport Niagara Team of the Year


Brock University Badgers Women’s Wrestling Team


Coach: Marty Calder


Team: Olivia Di Bacco, Farrantina Gatta, Kristina Mclaren, Carmella Fleurant, Indira Moores, Jessica Brouillette, Emily Schaefer, Carlene Sluberkski.


Won 2015 OUA and CIS Women’s Wrestling Championships.

First Women’s Wrestling Program to win five consecutive CIS National Titles.

Most dominant performance by a team in CIS Women’s Wrestling history.

They won all eight of their season meets.

Two team members will be representing Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympic Summer Games.