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Ontario Volleyball Celebrates Past and Present with the 2023 OVAtion Awards and Hall of Fame Banquet

By Ontario Volleyball Association, 06/05/23, 10:15AM EDT


On Saturday, June 3, the Ontario Volleyball Association celebrated history, accomplishment, volunteering excellence and devotion to the growth of volleyball at the Association's annual OVAtion Awards Banquet.

The banquet was held at Binegeman's Conference Centre in Kitchener and recognized the impacts and contributions of numerous individuals in the Ontario volleyball community through the OVAtion service awards. The night also saw the induction of the 2023 OVA Hall of Fame class, honouring the legacies of key members from the Ontario volleyball community who have helped make the sport what is it today.

The banquet was emceed by Howie Grossinger, Director at Large on the OVA Board of Directors with awards presented by fellow Board members Daphne Choi (VP Administration/Secretary), Leigh Pearson (Director at Large) and Kelsey Orth (Director at Large) who began with celebrating the 2021 & 2022 Hall of Fame classes. Due to the pandemic, the OVA was unable to host an awards banquet and inductions were announced and presented virtually. In attendance from the previous Hall of Fame classes were: Peter Stefaniuk, Julie Andruchiw, Michael Marchut (accepting on behalf of his late father, Stan Marchut) and Paul Gratton (Class of 2021); and Bob Rocque, Halya Stefaniuk and Lisa Eyles (Class of 2022).

OVA Hall of Fame Class of 2021

From left: Jo-Anne Ljubicic, OVA Executive Director; Peter Stefaniuk (Athlete inductee); Julie Andruchiw (Athlete inductee); Michael Marchut (accepting for Coach inductee); Paul Gratton (Athlete inductee)

OVA Hall of Fame Class of 2022

From left: Jo-Anne Ljubicic, OVA Executive Director; Lisa Eyles (Coach inductee); Bob Rocque (Referee inductee), Halya Stefaniuk (Athlete inductee).

The OVA's 2023 Awards Banquet saw 7 inductees into the Hall of Fame and 43 services awards handed out, including the Doug Robbie Volunteer of the Year Award, which awarded for those creating a great impact on the promotion and development of volleyball for the OVA at the regional or provincial level over the past year. This year's recipient was Shaun Illingworth, President of the Ottawa Fusion Volleyball Club. Shaun was unable to attend the event and Tauri Caputo, Region 3 President accepted on his behalf.  

This year, the Scarborough Solars Athlete Awards were presented to Delaney Watson, a KW Predators commit to the University of Toronto and Mateusz Wlodarski, a graduate student and outside hitter on the McMaster Marauders men's volleyball program. The Scarborough Solars Award is awarded annually to Ontario athletes who have been selected to, or who have the ability to, represent Ontario/Canada in international volleyball or beach volleyball competitions. The award comes with a cheque of $1,000 for each athlete.

2023 OVA Scarborough Solars recipient Delaney Watson

Delaney Watson with Jo-Anne Ljubicic (left) and LP Mainville, OVA Director of Athlete Development (right). Mateusz Wlodarski was unable to attend the event.

The OVA Official's Award of Merit went to the late Ed Yu, a Provincial and National Level referee from Region 6. His brother, Weyman Yu, was in attendance to accept the award. The Official's Award of Merit is presented by the Officials' Committee in recognition of dedicated service to officiating in Ontario.

2023 Official's Award of Merit presented to Ed Yu

Wyman Yu accepting the Official's Award of Merit for his brother Ed. With him are Region 3 Regional Referee Chair, Samara Sevor (left) and Ontario Regional Referee Chair, Andrew Robb (right).

Matthew Schnarr (Smash Raiders Volleyball Club, Team Ontario) and Ashley Nixon (KW Predators, Team Ontario) were selected as the Mike Bugarski  Coach of the Year and  Sandy Silver Coach of the Year, respectively. The Development Coaches of the year were awarded to Rod Humana (Titans Volleyball Association) and Hailey Wort (Phoenix Volleyball).

All coaches from the recent Canada Summer Games  were recognized for their achievements. Ontario had a strong showcase in Niagara, bringing back three out of a possible four medals from the Games. They are:

Indoor Men's Team
  • Frank St-Denis, Matthew Ragogna, Danny Gosselin
    The men's team earned a bronze medal at the Games.
Indoor Women's Team
  • Jimmy El-Turk, Matthew Schnarr, Natasha Spaling
    The women's team finished the tournament in 6th place.
Men's Beach Team
  • Andrew Kos
    The team of Jonny Pickett and Steven Abrams won the gold medal.
Women's Beach Team
  • Jason Marchant
    The team of Emma Braticevic and Sophia Hlladyniuk won the silver medal.

The Recognition Award was the largest group honoured at the banquet, given to outstanding members from the community for five years of service in the sport. In attendance to accept their award were Andrew Advincula, Brian Maxfield, Khan Vu, Dave Perron, Dave Williams, David Reed, Ed Bosveld, Hailey Wort, Holly Van Der Marel, Justin Kusloff, Katie Sharkey, Katie Irons, Kelvin Yee, Rob Stimers, Tony Kiriakou and Ryan Olmstead. Not in attendance were: Melonie Allin, Jason Stanat, Jamie Huot, Kennedy Ramsden, Ryan McDoom, Brittany Saunders, Brad Girardo, Adam Pelton, Kate Pelton, Adam Svendsen, Stephanie Wares, Melissa Cook, Mark Sampson.

Region 4 President Dwayne Cochrane and OVA club coaches Gerry De Girolamo and Derek Kokkinen were presented with the Achievement Award, given to those who have had an impact in volleyball for 10 years or more.

Rounding out the OVAtion service awards were the recipients of the Diane Wood Special Achievement Award. Mark Sutton (Synergy Volleyball Club), Rick Beedham (Brant Youth Volleyball Club) and Hoi Leung (Durham Attack Volleyball Club) were selected for the award for their 15 years of dedication to the development of the game.

Images of all the award recipients from the event have been published on the OVA Facebook page.

Hall of Fame

Throughout the evening, the inductees of the 2023 Hall of Fame class were celebrated with those who were able to attend providing the crowd with heartfelt speeches. Before they were called to the front, a video was played for each highlighting their significance in the grand scheme of volleyball in the province - their careers contributing to a crucial piece to how large the Association has grown and how readily accessible the sport has become in many communities around Ontario.

The OVA is pleased to have welcomed the following into the OVA Hall of Fame:

Kai Heinar

Athlete Inductee

Renzo Milan

Referee Inductee

David Preston

Coach Inductee

Barry Brownlee

Builder Inductee

Sandy Beedham

Builder Inductee

Russ Woloshyn

Builder Inductee

Linda Melnick

Furlani Legend Inductee

Images of the Hall of Fame inductees from the event have been published on the OVA Facebook page.

Information on the awards handed out during the evening can be found here. Information of the OVA Hall of Fame categories have been linked here

The OVA would like to thank all of those in attendance for making the banquet a memorable evening as well as the OVA Board of Directors for presenting. It was a great return to celebrating the sport's history and individual achievements after a hiatus from an in-person occasion. The OVA would also like to thank Nothers Award Store for providing the plaques and awards given to the recipients and to Bingeman's Conference Centre for hosting the event and their staff for an excellent service.