A local soccer superstar took home a prestigious award from the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (ISPARC) last week.
Sydney Kelly, 18, attended a ceremony Oct. 28 at Prince George’s Nusdeh Yoh Aboriginal Choice School and received the 2018 Premier’s Award for Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport. She was one of eight recipients from the province’s northeast region.
Award recipients were nominated from across the province, to honour Indigenous athletes under 25 years of age who are competing in performance sport and committed to living healthy, active lifestyles. Kelly is a member of the Lax Kw’alaams Band.
A total of 48 recipients were chosen within ISPARC’s six regions – Northeast, Northwest, Interior, Fraser, Vancouver Coastal, and Vancouver Island.
ISPARC flew Kelly back to Prince George from Alberta, where she is taking the Education program at Grande Prairie Regional College, and also playing soccer for the college’s team, the Wolves.
“It was cool finding out I was being recognized. It was really nice recognition,” she says of the award.
Kelly is currently a striker on her college team, and says she has enjoyed her first season.
“It was much higher level and there were times I thought I really excelled, which was amazing for me at a new level. It was a rebuilding team this year, so that’s a reason I think we couldn’t have gone further in our season. But it is what it is, we are all new to each other … it was still good and I enjoyed it.”
In her first week on her new team, Kelly was awarded Athlete of the Week, which was part of the reason she was recognized with the Premier’s Award last week, along with her performances on Vanderhoof teams, where she consistently received Player of the Tournament awards. Before leaving for college, Kelly played soccer for Nechako Valley Secondary School in Vanderhoof, and played on community teams. She says she started playing soccer when she was four or five years old.
Kelly also coached younger players while in high school.
“I coached seven-year-old boys with my brother. That was cool, because I was able to teach soccer while I was playing.”
In addition to playing locally, Kelly trained with the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves team two or three times a week while she was in high school.
“I trained with them and went to camps to further my knowledge. It was cool, you get to see their level and they tell you how university is,” she comments.
Kelly says she loves soccer and hopes to further her soccer career.
“I’m definitely going to play throughout my college and university years. I could very well transfer to Vancouver Island or even UNBC, who knows. It depends on my program,” she explains.
The regional recipients automatically serve as nominees for ISPARC’s Provincial Awards. A total of 12 Provincial Awards (six male and six female) will be selected in January 2019. Provincial recipients will be presented with their award at Gathering our Voices: Indigenous Youth Leadership Forum in Port Alberni March 19-22, 2019.
“I’m very proud to support these awards, which provide much-deserved recognition for our top young Indigenous athletes,” says Premier John Horgan in a press release. “It’s great to see these young champions achieving top results in such a wide variety of sports.”
Ken Edzerza, Northeast regional lead for ISPARC, says: “The Premier’s Awards recognize our young people who are leading by example and giving back in a big way to their sport and communities. Congratulations to our recipients.”
The seven other northeast Premier’s Award recipients include:
Camryn Scully, age 17, Hockey, Fastball, Métis Nation BC
Loveena McCorkell, age 14, Judo, Skin Tyee First Nation
Garnet Currie, age 18, Swimming, Métis Nation BC
Nicholas Krawczyk, age 14, Lacrosse, Duncan’s First Nation
Teaira Bishop, age 14, Rugby, Basketball, Lake Babine First Nation
William Swyers, age 15, Swimming, Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation
Daniel Sturgeon, age 14, Lacrosse, Métis Nation BC