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Photo by Mark Newman

Photo by Mark Newman

Anthony Romaniw (left), Dr. Nicole Forester and Kia Nurse were the featured speakers at the 13th annual Breakfast of Champions on Monday.

Words of encouragement for local athletes

Athletes and coaches honoured at Breakfast of Champions

 By Mark Newman, News Staff

It was some sage advice from three world-class athletes.

Kia Nurse, Anthony Romaniw and Dr. Nicole Forester were the featured speakers at the 13th annual Breakfast of Champions that honoured about 500 hundred of mostly young athletes and their coaches at Carmen’s Banquet Centre on Monday.

The event was presented by SportHamilton and the city.

Nurse, a 17-year-old St.Thomas More student who recently accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of Connecticut, told the gathering that as the youngest member of Canada’s national women’s basketball team, she has set her sights on the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“Today my dreams have gotten nothing but bigger,” Nurse said. “Now I want to be an Olympian and actually medal at the Olympics with the national team.”

Looking around the packed hall, Nurse noted she has a special bond with several of the young women in the room.

“There are girls in this room who I’ve played with and against since I was in Grade 4 and these people are not necessarily my best friends, but they’re my sisters and they’re going to be my sisters until the day that I die.”

Nurse pointed out athletes can learn a number of lessons from sports such as teamwork, passion, dedication and discipline that they can take beyond their athletic endeavours.

“Sports becomes the biggest learning tool for us,” she said. “I encourage each and every one of you to continue to play to use the power of sport as long as you can because it’s something that is so truly amazing.”

Romaniw, a More graduate and University of Guelph student who ran the 800 metres at the world championships in Moscow this past August, said playing hockey, soccer and taking part in track and field as a youngster in Hamilton helped get him to the international stage.

“Hamilton was my playground and I learned so much here,” he said.

Romaniw advised the young athletes to determine what their strengths and weaknesses are so they will know when to take risks and when not to.

He reminded them that through sport they are choosing the path they will be taking in life.

Forester is a Burlington resident, sports psychologist and former high jumper who won a gold medal for Canadaat the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

She told the athletes to be resilient and not to be afraid of failure or let any lack of success deter them from pursuing their dreams.

“The pursuit of excellence is (when you) time and time again (are) knocked down and you get back up,” she said. “Have big, bad, bold dreams; don’t let failure set you back.”

Among the award winners at the breakfast: former R.A. Riddell student and swimmer Danika Huizinga received the R.A. Riddell Sport Academy Award; Daniel Pulsone, a Grade 7 St. Matthew Catholic Elementary School student who plays hockey and soccer and runs cross country and Victoria Orfei, a Grade 7 student at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Elementary School student who plays basketball and flag football, received Hamilton Catholic District School Board awards of excellence; the Dr. Gene Sutton Youth Leadership Award went to Orchard Park Secondary School student Mallory Young; the Ray Lewis Community Service Award was given to Redeemer University student Julie Koopmans; Westdale graduate and McMaster student Phoebe Cseresnyes received the Mark Graham Memorial Scholarship Award and the Mary Keyes Leadership Award went to Cathedral student Grace Ovando.


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