The elite of Windsor and Essex County’s athletes, coaches, and executives gathered Monday evening at the Caboto Club to honour the area’s very best at the 11th annual WESPY Awards. In the glow of the WE TV camera lights and over the subtle din of cutlery on china, the coveted Windsor-made glass keepsakes were handed out to the shining examples of athletic excellence.
Taking top honours as Team of the Year were the Tecumseh Thunder Senior AAA Baseball Team, the Canadian National Tournament champions. Accepting the WESPY as Male Athlete of the Year was 28 year-old professional triathlete Lionel Sanders. The award for Female Athlete of the year was accepted on behalf of Canadian Olympian Melissa Bishop by her long-time University of Windsor coach, Dennis Fairall.
The John DeNapoli Sports Community Service Award. was presented to AM800 sports caster Steve Bell while Coach of the Year went to Windsor Lancers basketball’s Chantal Vallée.
The keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony was Rhode Island native Heather Abbott, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Abbott spoke of being wounded in the bombing, the chaos during the aftermath, and the painful decision she had to make about amputating her left leg below the knee and facing life as an amputee.
Even more riveting were Abbott’s stories of the friendships she’s made since that day, the success she’s had, the creation of the foundation that bears her name, and the inspiration she gets from other, younger amputees.
In her acceptance speech, Vallée congratulated WESPY founder Dominic Papa for choosing to bring Abbott to Windsor to tell her motivational story. Abbott, a non-athlete, had a profound effect upon those in attendance.
11th Annual WESPY Award Winners
- Team of the Year: Tecumseh Thunder Senior Baseball Team
- Male Athlete of the Year: Lionel Sanders
- Female Athlete of the Year: Melissa Bishop
- John DeNapoli Sports Community Service Award: Steve Bell
- Coach of the Year Award: Chantal Vallee
- Courage and Determination Award: Gil Langlois
- Mickey Renaud Captain’s Leadership Award: Isiah Osborne
- Female Legacy Award: Chris Brecka
- Male Legacy Award: Rick Cranker and Gary Semeniuk
- Female Parasport Award: Virginia McLachlan
- Male Parasport Award: Corbin Watson
- Gino Fracas Football Award: Jalen Jackson
- Female Golf Award: Alyssa Getty
- Male Golf Award: Bryce Evon
- Female Volunteer of the Year Award: Sandra Garofalo
- Male Volunteer of the Year Award: Joe Cleroux
- Female Softball Award: Sarah Bondy
- Male Baseball Award: Paul Lamantia
- Female Hockey Award: Devon Facchinato
- Male Hockey Award: Spencer Pommells
- John Ferguson Circle of Seven Horseman of the Year: Ron Adams
- Male Soccer Award: Stephen Ademolu and Leighton Speechley-Price
- Female Soccer Award: Emily Ditty
- Female Wrestling Award: Jade Dufour
- Male Wrestling Award: Brody Collison
- Female Swimming Award: Amber Lefler
- Male Swimming Award: Ethan Fazekas
- Figure Skating Award: Molly Ghanam
- Female Volleyball Award: Layne Van Buskirk
- Male Volleyball Award: Jason Hernandez
- Dennis Fairall Female Track & Field Award: Nicole Sassine
- Dennis Fairall Male Track & Field Award: Corey Bellemore
- Ken Dryden Executive of the Year: Abe Fehr
- Female Basketball Award: Korissa Williams
- Male Basketball Award: Quinnel Brown