By Ian Shalapata
(WINDSOR, ON) – The time is fast approaching for the 9th annual WESPY Awards to be held April 15 at the Caboto Club. With the first award ceremony launched in 2006, the WESPY’s have recognized the best and brightest stars of this area’s young athletes.
The brain-child of Windsor’s sports authority, Dominic Papa, past recipients of the coveted WESPY have included Canadian repeat Olympic hockey gold medallist Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Spitfires Captain Mickey Renaud, three-time world boxing champion Mary Spencer, and Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers.
“The selection committee put a lot of hours into this. The voting is so tough, now,” said Papa. “The level of athletics in our area, the teams, make it a tough job to make a selection.”
This year’s WESPY winners for Knobby Knudsen volunteers of the year were announced as Deanna Turton, of the Windsor Stars Soccer Club, and Dave Lesperance with the Windsor Stars baseball club. Also announced yesterday were the Legacy Award winners; sports writer Mary Caton and baseball coach Bob Marchand.
Sponsored by Unifor Local 444, David Cassidy and Mike Lovric were on hand at the WESPY announcement.
“On behalf of the Local and the membership, we are very honoured to be part of this again,” Cassidy told Papa. “There is a lot of work that goes into this and hopefully, if Mr [Sergio] Marchionne steps up to the plate, Local 444 will be part of the WESPY’s moving forward.”
The president of Windsor Minor Hockey Association, and Windsor Square writer, Dean Lapierre reminded those in attendance how important the WEPSY Awards are for this area.
“This event has always been done with class,” he said. “The City of Windsor and Essex County need this. I think everybody appreciates it. It doesn’t get much bigger than having one of our own kids from Essex County, Luke Wilson, winning the Super Bowl, who also happened to play Windsor Minor Hockey when he was a kid.”
Along with the tremendous athletes recognized each year, the annual gala features a key note speaker from the world of sports. Past attendees include Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader Pete Rose, gold medal figure skater Dorothy Hamill, Stanley Cup champion Ken Dryden, and the hero of the ‘72 Summit Series, Paul Henderson. This year’s key note speaker joined the press conference by phone from Florida.
None other than former CFL and NFL great Joe Theismann will address the award winners and gala attendees on April 15. Theismann appreciated his three years in Canada with the Toronto Argonauts and attributed it as an important step in his own development. He also spoke about sports being a critical part of a successful life.
“The that’s important for young athletes to understand is that their dreams can come true,” said Theismann. “There’s such a great relationship between the world of sports, the world or business, and our own lives. If you look at a lot of people who had success in life, you can go back to their foundation in athletics.”
This year will also mark the first time that the awards ceremony will be live-streamed online, exclusively by WE-TV.