Determining top 113+ youth athletes of the year never an easy task

Tennis player Johannah Hixson of Brentwood College. - Andrew Leong/file
Tennis player Johannah Hixson of Brentwood College.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

The process of narrowing the field of the valley’s youth athletes to a list of the top 113+ each year is a painstaking process.

I guess I’m a bear for punishment.

It all begins around early November when I send out emails to coaches and people in the know about the current high school crop of boys and girls who are not only excelling in their chosen sports, but also in the classroom. They also must be good sportsmen, dedicated and committed to their causes and so much more.

It’s a fine line at the very top where any of the athletes in the top 50 could really be scrambled and the order would still work. It all comes down to my final decisions and basing it on seniority — i.e., preference to the older athletes in Grades 11 and 12 — makes it only slightly easier to put the finishing touches on who should be placed where.

But there are always exceptions and exceptional Grade 10s and even Grade 9 and 8 students have been known to sneak into a high position well before their times.

The main objective is to give the community a sense of what great things our young people are doing in the world of sports. So many kids are putting so much time and energy into it, they don’t have time for much else when you tack on their school workload.

That’s why we go all out to recognize their achievements.

In this first installment of the best of 2013, we focus on No. 81 to 113 plus numerous honourable mentions.

This may be the lower end of the list, but these athletes are by no means average. When you consider the hundreds of kids not on the list, they’re all way above average.

Some of the athletes in this grouping are younger while others are older who deserve to be mentioned before they graduate from high school in June.

A few of the younger members of the Cowichan Secondary School senior girls’ field hockey team are among those filling out these positions, including goalkeeper Tara Eriksen, Sara Goodman, Kelsey Goodman and Beth Corish. All have additional years of eligibility remaining and will surely make a large advance next year.

Sara Goodman is only in Grade 9, but she’s a player. She doesn’t shy away from battling the older girls which will make her a talent to watch in the years ahead.

Cody Sayer and Liam McKay are part of the outstanding rowing program at Shawnigan Lake School. Sayer won gold with the Junior B eight and 4+ at Brentwood, Shawnigan and the national championship regatta while McKay had a hand in the Shawnigan Junior eight and 4+ sweep at the same three events and also plays rugby and squash.

Darrian Gerard is a pitcher and outfielder for the Victoria Fastball Club. She loves the game, carries a strong bat and displays amazing speed on the bases.

Darby McIntyre is one of the many members of the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club reaching a highly-competitive level. She is especially committed, travelling to Duncan from Salt Spring Island to train.

Chantal Arnold’s stock as an elite female field lacrosse player in B.C. continues to rise.

Brentwood College boasts a top tennis talent in Johannah Hixson, whose claims to fame in 2013 include a gold medal for girls in the Independent Schools Association.

Tyler Hudson is a big guy with great credentials in both football and basketball.

Another Salt Spring Islander, Catherine Rankin, is only in Grade 10 at Queen Margaret’s School and her dedication to equestrian is a commitment that spills over into all aspects of her life.

Watch for big things from Nick Kapteyn, a Grade 10 Duncan Christian School student who’s already gained an enormous amount of experience at the senior level in basketball and volleyball.

Jordan Topping is a rookie with the B.C. Hockey League Cowichan Valley Capitals and working well into a regular rotation, with aspirations of moving to the Western Hockey League next season.

Mathieu Jung and Brian Robb just learned they made the B.C. Under 16 field lacrosse team that’s going to the Founder’s Cup on the Labour Day weekend next year.

We can’t possibly mention something about everyone, but peruse the list and see who’s on there that you recognize.

The abundance of honourable mentions is necessary just because so many younger athletes have made an impact in their sports this year. Athletes like Emily Cake, who’s in Grade 8 at QMS and performs so well in equestrian and track and field, have wonderful futures ahead if they continue on the same path.

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