Selecting the top 10 individuals and groups who impacted the sporting scene for Prince George in 2010 isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Here’s how the Free Press put together this top-10 list. First, a few of the obvious ones that came to mind were called up biathlete Megan Tandy, Cougars captain and Team Canada forward Brett Connolly, UNBC men’s basketball guard Inderbir Gill and Canadian elite boxer Kenny Lally to name the top four.
(Editor’s Note: The Inner City Boxing Club as a group had a successful season, and as a result, I mentioned Lally’s coach Bob Pegues and training partner Jag Seehra under the same number.)
These four came fairly obviously to me. But after that, it got tricky. I went and looked back over stories though the Free Press archives online, checking for names repeatedly mentioned, or individuals who received awards and accolades for their impacts at major sporting events. I settled on a list of 15, from which I was going to have another look and pick the remaining six.
My co-worker Allan Wishart even asked me sarcastically, are you sure that isn’t enough? Actually, it wasn’t. There are many athletes, coaches and sports builders who aren’t on this top 10 list, a lot who won’t even get mentioned as honourable mentions.
People do work behind the spotlight and don’t get as much recognition, or others who move away from Prince George to bigger centres and go from being the big fish in the small bowl, to the small fish in the big bowl. It happens.
We don’t go into reporting if we aren’t open to some criticism. I’ll start at the top of my list. You might think Connolly is a more deserving choice as Number 1 since he performed on the ice throughout the year, while Tandy took a break from biathlon after the Olympics. However, she was Prince George’s only participant in the biggest winter sporting event in the world.
The Winter Olympics is such a high-scale sporting event, and this past year it had a bigger impact on Prince George since it was a record year for Canadians and held down the road in Vancouver and Whistler. I couldn’t refuse placing Tandy at the top.
Groups and individuals placed on this list were placed on a combination of their accomplishments, efforts throughout the year, and impact they had on the city.
All that mentioned, perhaps the top honourable mention should go to triathlete Angela Naeth, who’s made a significant impact on the international triathlon stage. Unfortunately for reporters here in town, when athletes from Prince George reach a certain level, they usually have no choice but to leave the city to reach the heights they’re capable of. It makes it harder for us to keep in touch.
However, they can’t be blamed for putting themselves in a position to reach their full potential. Naeth, who travelled south of the border for university and to train full-time, is one of these athletes.
Other honourable mentions include: Dan Gallo – arm wrestling; Ryan Howse – hockey; Matt Neumann – biathlon and cross country skiing; Tim Hempsall – speed skating; Alix Wells – alpine skiing; Tom Masich – track and field; Sullivan Reed – mountain biking; Emma Balazs – middle distance running; and Joe Rea – wheelchair curling.
Editor’s Note: Certain individuals not listed here are mentioned in Friday’s list of the top 10 sports stories for 2010. But rather than note them here, I’ll keep you guessing until then.