It's a quiet week around Gig Harbor as winter sports season has officially ended for local athletes, and the Peninsula School District is closed for mid-winter break.
Mat Classic XXV brought a close to the prep wrestling season, as did the state swimming and diving championships last weekend. And the Gig Harbor Tides girls basketball team, the only local hoops squad to reach the postseason, was ousted last week with losses to Beamer and Skyview.
I'm working on several things for our Feb. 27 print issue, and it's definitely nice to see spring sports officially open Monday. We'll likely publish baseball and fastpitch previews in our March 6 issue.
Next week, you can expect to see a feature on Peninsula High senior Aspen Ison, who has starred on the softball diamond for the Seahawks in each of her first three seasons.
I also received an announcement from the Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team that I'll share today. Head coach Alan Anderson, assistant Graham Ulmer and volunteer Missy Hill received some prestigious awards over the weekend from USA Canoe/Kayak.
Three Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team leaders were honored with awards from USA Canoe/Kayak at its annual coaching and leadership conference, held Feb. 15-17 in Oklahoma City. Gig Harbor head coach Alan Anderson earned the national organization’s 2012 Coach of the Year award. He is the first repeat winner of the award, said Mac Hickox, USA Canoe/Kayak’s national sprint development director.
Last August, Gig Harbor won the Sprint National Championships at Green Lake in Seattle, the first national title in the club’s 10-year history.
Anderson is also in the process of making Gig Harbor a center for paracanoe and parakayak activities, and serves on USA Canoe/Kayak’s Paracanoe Committee.
“Alan has a philosophy of gender equity and inclusion of athletes with disabilities in their program offerings,” Hickox said in a news release. “Gig Harbor has become a model club for the other clubs within USA Canoe/Kayak to follow.”
“I am honored to receive this recognition of our efforts in Gig Harbor,” Anderson said. “These accomplishments will be shared by our paddlers, our parents, and the many friends we have throughout our community.”
The club is working toward building a permanent boathouse for its athletes and equipment on Gig Harbor Bay.
“The support that we are getting from the community of Gig Harbor has been incredible lately, and we hope to find a home here so that we can continue to inspire young people to reach for their dreams,” Anderson said.
Gig Harbor’s Graham Ulmer took home the Development Coach of the Year Award. He is the second Gig Harbor coach to win the award in as many years, after canoe coach Jonathan Sousley was the 2011 recipient.
Sousley presented the award to Ulmer.
“Graham is the key reason why we continue to have a pipeline of talent,” Sousley said. “Whether covered in mud or soaking wet, Graham’s always-present, calm manner, instant smile and easy laugh encourages the young Gig Harbor athletes to constantly improve day to day through an environment that is stress-free.”
“The under-14 pipeline has been a steady stream of talent in this Northwest hotbed for the last five years,” Hickox added. “Graham does not like the spotlight, but at some point, his efforts had to be acknowledged on a national level.”
In accepting the award, Ulmer stated “this award is recognizing the team approach that Jon, Alan and I have implemented at Gig Harbor.”
Missy Hill earned the Volunteer of the Year award. Her daughter, Katy, is a graduate of the Gig Harbor racing team who now competes at Oklahoma City University, and Missy said she got involved as a paddling official as a way to channel her nerves during Katy’s competitions.
“I want to be sure that Gig Harbor youth continue to enjoy a healthy lifestyle associated with the program offered by coach Anderson,” Hill said.
Hill serves as chairperson for the USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint Events Committee, is a member of the Paracanoe Committee, and is an official for the national championships, U.S. Olympic Trials and the Lake Placid (N.Y.) International Regatta.
“USA Canoe/Kayak is proud to present the volunteer award to Missy to acknowledge our gratitude for her service and dedication to our membership,” Hickox said.