Nanaimo Community Sport Hero ® Award Winners

Nanaimo Community Sport Hero® Award Winners

Sylvia Taylor – Special Olympics BC
Sylvia was instrumental in founding Special Olympics BC – Surrey, and worked hard to build a foundation on which the local could grow. When she moved to Nanaimo, she helped found Special Olympics BC – Nanaimo and has volunteered as Local Coordinator for this community since 1987. Additionally, she coaches Athletics and Rhythmic Gymnastics and teaches athletes about public speaking and how to be ambassadors of our organization. Sylvia has also served as the Regional Coordinator for Region 6, Vancouver Island, for Special Olympics BC, Chef de Mission for Region 6 to the 2003 Provincial Winter Games, and was a member of Team BC’s Mission Staff to the 2004 Special Olympics Canada national Winter Games. Her extensive experience with Special Olympics has brought many benefits to Nanaimo as shown by the dedicated volunteers and coaches she’s surrounded by and the joy of the athletes that participate in Special Olympics.

Jacquie Poulin – Action Schools! BC and Premier’s Sports Awards Program
Jacquie has worked in the Nanaimo School District for 13 years. She is a powerful advocate and role model for physical activity and assumes multiple roles which allow her to promote healthy living to students, teachers and fellow administrators across the district. As the principal of Forest Park Elementary, she works with staff to create a healthy, active school culture and supports their involvement in school based initiatives like Action Schools! BC and the Premier’s Sport Awards Program. She is closely involved in her school’s sports programming and coaches, referees or coordinates basketball, volleyball, cross-country, touch football, and track and field. Jacquie is also the district’s Healthy Schools Coordinator and an Action Schools! BC Regional Trainer.  In these positions, she supports healthy living in local schools and promotes physical activity, physical education and healthy eating best practices. Her volunteer experiences include being the past chair and current treasurer and co-chair of Nanaimo Elementary Teachers of Physical Education Association which is the organization responsible for coordinating the entire district’s extra-curricular sporting events and coaching and referee clinics. She is also involved in a local dance studio and swim club, where she volunteers her time assisting at swim meets. As a supporter and role model of physical activity in the Nanaimo area for more than a decade

Diana Johnstone – Community Leader-Multi Sport Games
When Nanaimo 1st held the BC Summer Games in 1985, Diana was there. When they returned in 2002, she again was their Operations Manager.  The BC Disability Games of 2005 saw her manage the fundraising, and when the BC Seniors Game came in 2007, she was their President. Diana is a passionate sport volunteer, her organizational skills, her quiet leadership, and her community passion make her a top notch Community Sport Hero.  Never one to sit still, Diana has used her acquired skills to gain a seat on Nanaimo City Council.  Community and passion equals this wonderful candidate.

Pat Irwin – BC Golf Association
Pat has been a tireless worker for the sport of golf for more than 20 years.  He was instrumental in ‘reviving’ the junior golf program at Mt. Brenton Golf Club more than 20 years ago.  The membership grew every year due to Pat’s diligence and encouragement of young golfers.  For the past 10 years Pat has been involved on the Zone 6 Golf Committee in the capacity of Junior Chair.  He schedules tournaments and clinics for a group of young golfers from Duncan north on Vancouver Island.  Pat also works as a tournament official at local, provincial and national golf events.  Most recently Pat has been assisting the BC Golf Association Provincial coach with delivering entry-level golf to elementary schools. Pat spends a tremendous amount of time traveling to various golf courses to support junior golf and has made a difference in many lives.

Bill Merriman – BC Soccer
Coaching was a new found passion for Bill some 25 years ago. Bill has taken his youth sides to tournaments in England, Austria, Czech Republic, France, California, Las Vegas, Seattle, etc. exposing players to the highest level and giving them the most opportunity in the sport that they love. He recently took over Nanaimo United Div.1 Men’s team; a very young, new team and got them off to a 4-1-1 start with a huge victory over the current BC Provincial Champs. He has been appointed head coach of the District Development Centre in Nanaimo. Bill has dedicated countless hours of his own time into an Academy program to develop U-11 and U-12 players here on the island. It is not only what he has recently done in the past year but also what he has achieved as a coach overall and given to the game; Bill coached the Nanaimo Women’s Premiere team to League Champions, and Terry Price Cup Champions. Bill has coached IPL boy’s teams, BC Summer Games teams and has also coached in the metro league for 11 consecutive years. His teams always finished in the top 4, also winning several Nike Island soccer Tournaments, two of the years winning the tournament, most sportsmanlike team and also Nike Island MVP. Bill has produced players that are dedicated 100% to play as a team, with sportsmanship and class, so many of his players have matured into great role models and are now looked up to by the youth and are highly respected by their communities.

Nelson Wong – DanceSport BC
Nelson is a volunteer with the Nanaimo Ballroom Dance Society, former president and past board executive for at least 17 years; Awarded honorary membership by Nanaimo Ballroom Dance Society in 2008;  past and current Chair of the Competitors Committee with the Society. He is the Founder and Chairperson of the prestigious Island Fantasy Ball featuring the Provincial Ballroom and Latin Championships in 1993. He continues into its 17th year hosting such Championships, bringing in athletes and spectators from all over BC to the community of Nanaimo and providing a chance for the members of the Nanaimo community to experience the thrill of DanceSport. Nelson taught ballroom dancing to elementary and high school students on a volunteer basis for at least 10 years and is being invited to continue teaching within School District 68 year after year; he supported and sponsored the Jive Contest in 2008 where over 500 students attended with their families, friends and teachers. Donated many coaching hours to children and competitive dancers since 1996, a few of whom are currently ranked highly in BC, including major achievement with his son who is the current and past 5 years Provincial Champion in both the Ballroom and Latin divisions as well as Canadian finalist and representative to the World Championship

Peter Gibbons – Skate Canada – BC/YT Section
With a total involvement of over 50 years in the sport, Peter is a former coach and now a nationally ranked judge, who is always willing to give freely of his time and knowledge. One of our organizations most respected members he is especially valuable as an official at competitions and test days from the local to the national level.  Peter always does the best he can for the skater, giving fair evaluations at competitions and constructive feedback

Toni Vance – Gymnastics BC
Toni has been a key member of Nanaimo’s gymnastics community for the past 20 years. As a judge, coach and administrator, she has worked tirelessly to ensure that all athletes have the opportunity to participate and excel in gymnastics. Toni retired as a national level judge in 2004. Since that time, she has devoted her time to assisting with the growth of Harbour City Gymnastics in Nanaimo. This club regularly places athletes on Team BC for both Western and Canadian Championships. Toni volunteers to assist Team BC as a coach and chaperone in order that all athletes may participate. For 8 years between 1995 & 2005, Toni volunteered to represent Zone 6 (Vancouver Island) as the Zone Director on the Gymnastics BC Board of Directors.  In this role, she dedicated her time to ensuring that gymnastics continued to grow within Nanaimo as well as all of Vancouver Island.