Baseball Canada Recognizes its Best
EDMONTON, AB – Baseball Canada gave away its annual awards at the Fall Convention, recognizing some of the country’s hardest working people in the sport.
This year’s recipient of the volunteer of the year award is Paul Riopel (Alberta). The coach of the year award goes to Roger Anholt (Saskatchewan) and Rocky Nickel (Saskatchewan) receives the official of the year prize. Howard Chapman (British Columbia) collects the umpiring long-time achievement award, Karin Gagné (Québec) is awarded the Women’s National Team Most Valuable Player and Saskatchewan is recognized as the top provincial association.
Paul Riopel’s list of volunteerism makes him very worthy of this award. Paul has been a volunteer for over 30 years and his dedication to the sport of baseball far exceeds explanation. Paul is a very thorough organizer and still to this day spends countless hours coordinating leagues and administering clubs. In order to get him hooked on assisting in any baseball initiative all you have to do is present a solid plan and tell him that we will have fun doing it. That is usually enough for Paul to jump in head first and begin to work his magic.
Roger Anholt has devoted a great deal of time and effort to the game of baseball in Saskatchewan. In 1990, he began coaching midget baseball in Moose Jaw as he formed the Moose Jaw Cardinals, winning the provincial title in 1997 and 2000.
Roger has also guided Team Saskatchewan to a silver medal in 1993 and capturing the gold in 1994 at the National Championships. As head coach for Team Saskatchewan at the Baseball Canada Cup since 2005, he led his teams to two fourth place finishes and one 5th place finish placing Saskatchewan in the elite pool of the Canada Cup.
When the season is over, Roger does not take any time off as he works with players indoors to hone their skills. He is a certified Level 3 coach and is a current member of the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Rocky Nickel has served on the Saskatchewan Baseball Association’s Umpire Committee for many years and was the Past Supervisor this past year. He is also the Assistant Supervisor of Umpires for Baseball Canada.
All of his accomplishments over the past year are remarkable considering he was recovering from a life threatening illness. As his physical condition was deteriorating during the fall, he vowed he would return as an active umpire.
Return he did! He started by organizing, instructing and being the key contact for the Saskatchewan Superclinic. From there, he continued to serve on the province’s evaluation committee and he was the Umpire Supervisor for the Provincial Junior Championships, umpiring as well as being the acting supervisor.
He would attend the National Championships in Quebec City as National Assistant Supervisor and as one of the Supervisors for the Bantam Girls Championship. Upon returning to Saskatchewan, he supervised the Western Canadian Junior Championships.
Although Rocky does a great deal nationally and provincially, he is an advocate for the grass roots umpire. He instructs at local clinics, and when he is not umpiring, he mentors young officials.
Howard Chapman is in many respects the face of baseball umpiring in British Columbia. With more than 40 years in umpiring, and more than 30 years leading the vocation in British Columbia, his achievements are remarkable.
From his base in BC, he has been a major force and presence in Canadian baseball umpiring, and has represented Baseball Canada nationally and internationally. Howard has championed umpire development, and strongly advocated for quality umpiring that is recognized and promoted by all baseball organizations. He has been a forceful voice on behalf of the sport, of officiating generally, and with a fierce loyalty, on behalf of “his” umpires.
Howard’s love of umpiring endures, and while he is leaving his post as provincial supervisor of umpires in BC, his role will evolve as he extends his legacy of developing Canadian umpires and umpiring.
One of the stalwarts of the Women’s National Team, Karine Gagné (Granby, QC) helped lead the way for Canada to capture the Three Nations Cup in Cary, North Carolina, beating out the United States and Japan.
Already a world class outfielder, Karine converted to shortstop this season and didn’t miss a step. Offensively, she was a force in the tournament, leading the team in average (.333), hits (seven), runs (five) and stolen bases (four).
Saskatchewan has won the province of the year award for the seventh time. The province was the model association as it placed first in governance as the association directed the province to some great results.
In the part of development, both coaching and National Team areas placed third in the rankings. They placed fourth in player registration, maintaining their registration numbers and despite finishing out of the medals at the National Championships; Saskatchewan was fifth in championship performance.