Ultimate NL honours top coaches, athletes and volunteers

The 2019 Ultimate NL Award winners are pictured holding plaques. From left to right are Melissa Wheeler, Hilary Walsh, Erin Daly, Shae LeDevehat, Kyle Hedderson and Laurel Penney. Missing from the photo are Luke Dyer and Rachael Fitkowski.
Left to right: Melissa Wheeler, Hilary Walsh, Erin Daly, Shae LeDevehat, Kyle Hedderson and Laurel Penney. Missing are Luke Dyer and Rachael Fitkowski.

We were thrilled to recognize top athletes, coaches and volunteers in our community with the 2019 Ultimate NL Awards recently.

The winners of the annual awards were announced at our annual volunteer gala on Feb. 8. They are:

  • Female Athlete of the Year Award: Erin Daly
  • Male Athlete of the Year Award: Luke Dyer
  • Junior Female Athlete of the Year Award: Shae LeDevehat
  • Junior Male Athlete of the Year Award: Kyle Hedderson
  • Coach of the Year Award: Hilary Walsh
  • Justin Frampton Spirit of the Game Award: Laurel Penney
  • Kristine Cadigan Award: Rachael Fitkowski
  • Joe Coady Award: Melissa Wheeler

“Ultimate is one of the fastest growing sports in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that growth is led primarily by volunteers who love this sport,” says Nick House, president of Ultimate NL. “We feel it’s important to recognize the dedication of our volunteers and the hard work they put in year-round to coach teams, lead clinics, run leagues and more. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these contributions from members of our community.”

Meet the award winners

In 2019, Daly earned a silver medal with SOUP at the Canadian Ultimate Championships (mixed division), leading all female athletes in points per game. She was also selected to compete with Quebec’s women’s team, Iris, to become the first athlete from the province to compete at the USA Ultimate nationals. Daly also made the Team Canada squads for mixed and women’s masters that will compete at world championships in 2020.

Dyer earned a silver medal with Team Canada (open division) at the U24 World Ultimate Championships in Germany in 2019. He was second overall in scoring at the Canadian Ultimate Championships (CUC) in the open division while playing with Regiment, and was a key player with the Memorial Ultimate Touring Team, which earned its highest finish to date at the Canadian University Ultimate Championships.

LeDevehat became the first female player to play on an open team while representing Newfoundland and Labrador at a national competition in 2019. She was also selected as captain of that team, Storm, and chosen as the team’s all-star player at junior CUC. LeDevehat captained the Mount Pearl Senior High squad that won regionals in 2019, where she was the tournament’s most valuable player.

Hedderson was the top scorer for Storm at junior CUC with eight goals and two assists in the tournament. He was also the top performing junior player in the Men’s Avalon Ultimate League (MAUL)’s annual parity league with 31 goals and eight assists.

Walsh is the head coach of two ultimate teams at St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John’s as well as the youth grade school director on the Ultimate NL board of directors. She is a past coach of the junior women’s club team, Storm, and has been selected as assistant coach for the Storm open squad in 2020. In 2019, Walsh earned a tryout for the position of assistant coach of Team Canada’s under 20 women’s team.

Penney has been a coach of many school teams as well as Storm. As a coach at Beaconsfield Junior High School, she organized two SOTG tournaments with the banner going to the most spirited team of the tournament. Penney provides space for all players to gain experience and learn to love the game while exemplifying what it means to be a spirited player.

Fitkowski is the current vice-president of communications for Mile Zero Ultimate (MZU) as well as vice-president of the St. John’s Women’s Ultimate Recreational League (SWURL). She leads MZU’s gender equity committee, captains Flickipedia, and is in her second year as co-captain of Tempest. As a player, she’s competitive and versatile while also championing SOTG and gender equity at all levels of play.

Wheeler is the president of SWURL, vice-president of Ultimate NL and a co-captain of Tempest. She is a leader and voice for female-matching and LGTBQ2S+ players in the province, including participating in MZU’s gender equity committee and acting as one of the organizers for ultimate’s participation in its first St. John’s Pride Parade. Wheeler was recently featured in Ultimate Canada Magazine for her volunteer work and local impact.