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2024 OVAtion Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony a Success

By Ontario Volleyball Association, 06/07/24, 2:45PM EDT


2024 OVAtions and Hall of Fame Banquet

The Ontario Volleyball Association hosted the best and brightest of our past and present at Angus Glen Golf Club on Saturday June 1st, 2024.

A night of celebration of the current leaders and the honouring of legends of our provincial game. This coming together of our volleyball community is one OVA looks forward to every year and this night did not disappoint.

The night began with a welcome message from OVA President, Katie Hutchinson before awards presentations commenced.

"Welcome to the 2024 OVAtion Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. It's wonderful to see all of you here tonight, gathered to celebrate and honor the remarkable individuals who make our community and our sport truly exceptional. 

This evening, we come together to recognize and applaud the tireless dedication of those who contribute countless selfless hours to enhance and uplift our sport. Their passion and commitment are the backbone of our success and growth. We also pay tribute to the extraordinary athletes who pour their heart and soul into every game, both on and off the court. Their determination, perseverance, and spirit inspire us all and set the highest standards of excellence. 

Tonight is a time for reflection and celebration. As we listen to the stories of our community, let us take pride in our collective achievements and look forward to an even brighter future. 

Thank you for being here, and I hope you enjoy this special evening of camaraderie, inspiration, and celebration."

The following is a recap of our award winners with links to more information. We would like to thank our wonderful hosts at Angus Glen and congratulate our winners once again on their achievements.

2024 OVA Hall of Fame Class

The Ontario Volleyball Association was proud to announce the 2024 Hall of Fame Class during the ceremony. These individuals and teams have separated themselves from their peers through excellence and impact on the game of volleyball in our province to earn their spot among other legends of our game.

Class of 2024
  • Janet Cairns - Builder
  • Guy Bradbury - Referee
  • Melissa Bartlett - Athlete
  • Paul Duerden - Athlete
  • Monica Lueg - Athlete
  • Andrejs (Andy) Richters - Athlete
  • 1993 Team Ontario Men - Team
  • 2005 Team Ontario Women - Team

For the stories of these inductees, including their induction video and acceptance speech, please follow the link below.

Future Hall of Fame Class

If you know someone who you feel deserves to be inducted into our Hall of Fame, please fill out a nomination form.

2024 OVAtions Winners

Diane Woods Special Achievement Award
  • John Nguyen
    • John is in his 23rd year coaching at various levels with the Maverick Volleyball Club in Ottawa. He has played many roles within the Team Ontario pathway over the last five years including Head Coach of Team Ontario Black and Team Ontario Elite. In the summer of 2023, he supported the Team Ontario Red coaching staff and shared his experience as they prepared for the Canada Cup. John is a Coach Evaluator in the NCCP Development and Advanced Development context. He is currently working on his Performance Coach certification and has been recently named as an assistant coach for the 2025 Canada Games Women’s team.
  • Elias Soueiti
    • Prior to emigrating to Canada, Elias played volleyball for the Syrian national team and the University of Damascus, including competing against a few eastern bloc countries. 

      When he arrived in Canada, he would play at the University of Ottawa for one year and coach at the club level before joining the referee ranks in 1971 when he acquired his local badge under the guidance of Lillian Pearce. 

      He would quickly rise through the ranks, earning his regional badge in 1975, just in time to attend as line judge at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. During this period, he was actively involved in numerous matches and championships for the OUA, OWIAA, and at Provincial and National championships. In 1980, Elias received his national badge, which led to his nominations for CIAU and junior national matches. 

      In 1983, Elias traveled to Edmonton to attend the international referee clinic, where he earned his international badge. His first taste of international matches came at the World University Games. At that time, Elias was the only active international referee in Ontario following Walter Stochansky’s retirement. As such, this had him officiating at numerous international tournaments, including the World Junior Championships, NORCECA University Games, World League, CISM, and the CISM Olympic Games. He also accompanied national teams on many international tours and officiated at high-level domestic competitions such as the Hyundai Cup, Reebok Canada Cup and National Team Challenge Cup on numerous occasions. 

      Elias has made significant contributions on the administrative side of volleyball as well. Starting in 1986, he served as the Region 6 Referee Chair for nearly a decade, focusing on recruiting and developing a strong base of regional, national, and international referees, as there were so few in the area. For the past 10 years, Elias has been an Area Supervisor and mentor at the Ontario Championships, providing leadership and guidance to referees during this crucial end-of-year event. Just this past April, Elias was part of the team that managed almost 100 referees at the EY Centre in Ottawa. Additionally, he returned to Edmonton for the VC National Championships this year, continuing his role as an Area Supervisor. 

      He is still involved in the region, provincial and national level in promoting the game he loves. His wife always reminds him that volleyball was his first love, then her. Elais would like to thank his wife, Donna, and their kids, Chantale, Leeann, Jamie, and Elias Jr, for putting up with him and giving him the opportunity to accept all the nominations sometimes on short notice and leave her with four kids.  

      Well, we are very glad that they were a driving force behind you, as it allowed your career to blossom and now you can share this award with them.

Mike Bugarski Male Coach of the Year Award
  • Jessy Satti
    • Jessy's coaching journey spans multiple levels, from guiding 18U and 16U Boys teams to overseeing house league programs impacting over 4000 children weekly. He's not only a certified Advanced Development Coach but also a Development Coach Evaluator with the OVA/NCCP, shaping the next generation of coaches. 

      At Pakmen Volleyball, Jessy's impact extends far beyond coaching rep teams; he conducts specialized training for all 300 rep players weekly and mentor's coaches within the club. Since 2009, he has led Pakmen's beach program to remarkable success, securing over 50 Provincial Titles and 20 National Titles. 

      Jessy's coaching accolades speak volumes about his expertise and dedication. From winning multiple Provincial and National Championships to earning the Volleyball Canada Beach Champions Award, his teams have consistently excelled under his leadership. Notably, his 18U teams clinched Provincial and National titles four consecutive years including the 2024 Ontario and National Championships, a testament to his exceptional coaching prowess.

Sandy Silver Female Coach of the Year Award
  • Tori Crowley
    • Tori is a former high-level beach athlete who represented Canada on multiple occasions. She has seamlessly transitioned her expertise to coaching the indoor game, demonstrating exceptional skill and leadership. 

      Tori has been coaching at Phoenix Volleyball Club for the past nine years and has been working with her current group of athletes for several years. This season, Tori led the 17U Phoenix Legacy team to remarkable success, securing victories in every single OVA tournament they participated in, including the Fall Classic and the Grand Prix. 

      At the Provincial Championships, Tori's team continued their winning trend, taking home the gold medal while only dropping one set in the semi-finals. Their dominance didn't stop there; at the National Championships, they stormed to victory, winning the gold medal without dropping a single set. Legacy player Sol Henson earned the MVP title, while Toni Wilson and Athalia Duong were named All-Stars. 

      Tori's coaching achievements this season are a testament to her dedication, strategic acumen, and ability to inspire her athletes to perform at their best. Her leadership and passion for the sport have not only brought success to her team but have also contributed significantly to the development of volleyball in Ontario. 

      This incredible display of dominance and excellence underlines why Tori Cowley is the deserving recipient of the 2024 Sandy Silver Female Coach of the Year Award.

Female Development Coach of the Year Award
  • Gita Ljubicic
    • In September of 2019, Gita took on the role of co-Head Coach at the Hamilton Volleyball Academy, a program operated by the Mountain Athletic Club for boys aged 7 to 12 years. When the pandemic brought Club activities to a halt, Gita's unwavering commitment to the sport saw her return to the courts in 2021, assisting at the 6v6 (13u) level and participating in the Team Ontario Regional Program over the summer months. 

      The following year, Gita transitioned from her assistant coach role to become the Head Coach of MACs 4v4 (12u) team. Leveraging her extensive experience from the Academy, her assistant coaching, and the Team Ontario Regional Program, Gita successfully recruited enough athletes to form two 4v4 teams. These teams trained diligently throughout the season, culminating in a triumphant performance at the Ontario Championships, where one team secured the 4v4 Boys/Co-Ed Provincial banner, and the other achieved an impressive 5th place finish. 

      In 2023, Gita returned as the Head Coach for MCAs 4v4 program, expanding her efforts to build three teams for the season: MAC Copper “M”, MAC Copper “A”, and MAC Copper “C”. With several boys returning from the previous season's championship team, Gita and the MAC Copper teams were triumphant and ending up bringing home the Championship banner and silver medal!  

      Gita's passion for volleyball and her dedication to nurturing young athletes is truly remarkable. Despite having two sons actively playing at MAC, Gita remains committed to fostering the sport's growth in Hamilton and beyond. Her professional life takes her to Northern Canada, where she has also devoted time to running volleyball clinics and providing used volleyballs and equipment, helping to teach, build, and grow the sport in those communities. 

      Gita Ljubicic's impact on Mountain Athletics Club and the wider volleyball community is profound. Her dedication, expertise, and enthusiasm continue to inspire both her athletes and fellow coaches, ensuring a bright future for volleyball in the Hamilton region.

Sylvia Jaksetic Female Referee of the Year Award
  • Kennedy Ramsden
    • Kennedy's dedication and leadership have greatly enriched our referee community. Her commitment to developing and certifying new referees is exceptional. She delivers Level 1 clinics and eScore clinics in Region 3, mentoring many and ensuring the next generation of referees is well-prepared. This season, she is assisting with the Level 2 Provincial Upgrade Program, all while pursuing her Level 4 Upgrade to obtain National Badge, exemplifying her pursuit of excellence on the stand. 

      Her calm, confident presence on the stand has earned her numerous prestigious nominations this past season, including OCAA Men's and Women's Gold Medal Matches, Canada Cup Girls 18U Gold Medal Match, Ontario Championships Boys 18U D1T1 Gold Medal Match, and Humber Cup Men's Gold Medal Match 

      Kennedy’s administrative contributions to region 3 and the province are equally impressive. She serves as a Level 2 Course Conductor, is a Certified Clinician, eScore Clinician, and Certified Mentor, playing a pivotal role in training and certifying referees and has assisted the OVA in bringing the level 1 theory course and exam from paper to online delivery – providing the opportunity for those even in the farthest corners of the province to take the level 1 referee course. Additionally, as an Area Supervisor at Provincial Championships, she ensures the highest standards are maintained across all competitions. Her administrative work demonstrates her dedication to the growth and excellence of officiating in our region and province.  

      Kennedy embodies dedication, leadership, and excellence. Her mentorship and pursuit of professional growth make her an invaluable asset to our community. As she continues towards her National Badge, she will undoubtedly inspire and elevate those around her. 

Achievement Award
  • Robin Kidd
    • Robin has been coaching in the OVA since 2010 and just finished his 2nd year with Durham Attack where he took on the Head Coach role with the 18U Girls Blaze and is currently a member of their Executive.  

      His dedication to developing athletes is evident to all who have worked with him. He currently serves as the Director of their Early Contact Initiative and leads the Durham Attacks Learn to Play Program. Robin has coached both male and female teams in his career and is a certified Development Coach.   

      Robin has previously coached with Unity Volleyball where he was on the Technical Training Advisory Council where he designed and updated the Club’s technical resources for coach development. He has also been a member of Ontario Volleyballs Regional and Team Ontario Summer Programs since 2019.  

      His commitment to developing and mentoring athletes is at the forefront of everything Robin does and focuses his energy on continual growth and improvement. Robin continues to be active in the game himself, playing both indoors and on the beach. 
  • Malcolm Mousseau
    • This remarkable individual has been a beacon of positivity and excellence in the officiating community of Ontario for over 35 years. Malcolm's journey in officiating began in 1977 when, at the young age of 16, he received his local badge. His dedication and passion for the sport saw him rise swiftly through the ranks, becoming a National level official by 1986 at just 24 years old. Since 2001, Malcolm has served as an International Level Indoor official, representing Ontario and Canada at prestigious indoor events around the globe. 

      Throughout his illustrious career, Malcolm has tirelessly promoted and developed officiating programs in Ontario. His contributions are extensive, including: 
      • Serving as the Provincial Officials Chair for Ontario  
      • Acting as the Regional Upgrade Program Head Clinician  
      • Being a National Upgrade Clinician 
      • Chairing the Indoor Rules of the Game for the National Officials' Committee 
      • Chairing the VC High Performance Referee Development Committee  
      • Writing and publishing the Rule of the Game FAQs for Volleyball Canada 
      • Serving as a member of the Domestic Development Committee (DDC), where he interpreted FIVB rule changes for Volleyball Canada 
      • Being a member of the OVA Referee Development Team at major events in mentorship and Area Supervisory roles. 

​​​​​​​Malcolm's expertise in the rules of the game is unparalleled, and he is a go-to authority for officials across the country on questions of rule interpretation. Beyond his technical prowess, Malcolm has mentored countless officials, imparting his knowledge with a positive, encouraging, and always calm demeanor. His legacy is one of dedication, integrity, and unwavering commitment to the sport of volleyball. His influence will undoubtedly continue to shape the officiating community for many years to come. Congratulations Malcolm!

  • Jenny-Lynn Palagrino
    • ​​​​​​​Over the past six years, Jenny-Lynn's unwavering dedication and willingness to lend a helping hand have made her an invaluable asset to Smash Raiders Volleyball Club and their community.

      Beyond her contributions to Smash Raiders, Jenny-Lynn's coaching journey extends to Mohawk College, where she currently shares her expertise and was recently offered the head coach position.

      Previously, she spent five years coaching at Niagara College and has been involved with Team Ontario programming for seven years where her teams have earned hardware, including a gold at Canada Cup and a bronze medal at the 2018 Ontario Summer Games. Congratulations Jenny.  
  • Mike Slean
    • Since 2010, Mike has been a vital part of Durham Attack, coaching both boys' and girls' programs. Over the years, he has led his teams to numerous provincial and national titles. Currently, Mike serves as the club's lead physical trainer for all programs, ensuring their athletes reach their peak performance. Congratulations, Mike, on your outstanding achievements and dedication to our sport.
  • Robyn Stafford
    • Robyn's journey began in the 1998/1999 season, showcasing her exceptional talent and dedication from Bantam to the 18U division. As an 18U athlete, she co-coached a 14U team, demonstrating early leadership skills. 

      Robyn earned a scholarship to play for the Humber College Hawks. Over six seasons as the starting Right Side, she helped her team secure five OCAA Provincial Titles and five berths to National Championships. After college, she moved to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, and was recruited as an assistant coach for Vancouver Island University (VIU), where she helped the team win the CCAA Nationals. 

      Robyn returned to Storm Volleyball, first as an assistant coach, and then coaching her own team through from the 12U to 18U divisions. Recently, she became the Head Coach for another team in the Club. 

      In addition to coaching, Robyn is deeply involved in the administrative side of Storm Volleyball, gradually taking over many duties from her father, the club’s founder. She manages uniforms and gear, handles social media, and performs numerous tasks to keep the club running smoothly. 

      Beyond the club, Robyn has been a leader for Team Ontario’s Tall Maples summer camp and currently runs an Introduction to Volleyball Skills program for the Town of Aurora under the Storm Volleyball name. She also oversees several of Storm’s Summer Camp Skills programs. 
Scarborough Solars
  • Robert Kemp
    • Robert is a talented indoor and beach athlete with aspirations of playing in the 2028 Olympic Games. 

      Last summer Robert solidified his status as one of the nation’s top beach volleyball players. He achieved podium finishes at all domestic competitions, earning a silver at the OVA Adult Beach Provincials, bronze at the Vancouver Open, and bronze at the Adult Beach Nationals. Additionally, he made a main draw appearance at a World Beach Pro Tour event. Demonstrating his all-around athleticism, Robert also became a starter with the York Lions in his rookie year this past winter. 

      This summer, as a member of Team Canada's Next Gen Beach program, Robert aims to represent Canada at multiple overseas events, where he will seek to acquire world tour points and gain valuable experience to support his bid for the 2028 Olympics. 

      Off the court, Robert is dedicated to giving back to the sport. He coaches both at the club and summer camp levels with the Phoenix Volleyball Club, consistently modeling his values of hard work, continuous improvement, and competitiveness. 

      We hope that this scholarship will help cover some of the costs associated with representing Canada overseas, ensuring that financial barriers do not hinder his pursuit of his dreams. 

  • Maddie Seo
    • Maddie journey through the OVA’s club and high-performance pathway has been remarkable. She was a standout club player for the Halton Hurricanes where she became a National Champion and National MVP in her 17U season, and nearly duplicated that success by becoming a Provincial and National runner-up and National Championship All-Star in 18U. During this time, she also proudly represented Team Ontario – most notably as a member of the Team O Black and Team O Elite programs. 

      As a varsity student-athlete Maddie's work ethic and commitment has continued to advance. She approaches each practice and game with specific development objectives, actively seeks feedback, and tirelessly works towards improving her skills. Off court, she regularly watches and studies game film, reviews stats and performance data, and meets with coaches to talk volleyball. Maddie is a total student of the game and cares about mastering her craft. These efforts have culminated in Maddie becoming the starting setter of our team as a rookie and have earned her a place on the OUA's All-Rookie all-star team this past season. 

      Maddie's aspirations to represent Team Canada and win a U Sport national championship align with the spirit of the award make her an ideal candidate to receive this honor.  Congratulations Maddie! 

Ken Davies Memorial Award
  • Chris Tautrims
    • Chris serves as captain for both his club and high school teams, exemplifying leadership through his actions. He is always the first player ready to train and the last one helping to take down the nets. His commitment to excellence is evident in his constant engagement with teammates to bring out their best and his proactive communication with coaches to enhance his own game. 

      Chris's exceptional play has led to multiple provincial and national championships. He is also a talented beach player, having won the 2023 17U provincial gold and national silver medals. His versatility is further demonstrated by his involvement in both indoor and beach Provincial programs. 

      Chris has twice been a member of Team Ontario Indoor Elite and Team Ontario Black, contributing to a bronze medal at the Canada Cup. Additionally, he has been a member of Team Ontario Beach for three years. Chris is a two-time provincial champion on the OVA Beach Tour and has received OVA Awards of Excellence and All-Star accolades. He has earned All-Star honors at national championships and with his high school team, where he was named to the Halton All-Star team and led his team to a silver medal at the AAA OFSSAA Championships. 

      In addition to his athletic achievements, Chris has also been a dedicated volunteer swim coach, volleyball coach, and an active participant in school and OVA Athlete Councils. Despite his busy volleyball schedule, he manages to work part-time as a swim instructor, math tutor, and dog walker. 

      No matter the playing surface, Chris consistently demonstrates dedication, passion, sportsmanship, and strong values. He stands out for his commitment to growing the game by mentoring younger players within his club and driving impactful change through his role on the OVA’s Athlete Council. 

      This fall, Chris will be heading to Queen's University, where he is sure to make an impact just as he has in the OVA.

Evelyn Holick Award
  • Sarah Bumstead
    • Sarah's volleyball journey began in 2011 at the age of six, participating in the KW Predators Mini and Pee Wee Preds program. Since then, she has been a dedicated member of the Predators organization, volunteering with youth programs from Mini Preds to Junior Preds, coaching a 4v4 team, and assisting at summer camps for both indoor and beach volleyball. 

      Sarah's commitment extends beyond volleyball. She has volunteered for the club's non-volleyball events, including their Christmas Food Drive, working at the Food Bank, and serving meals for the homeless. At any club event or competition, you will find Sarah helping, whether by lining, scoring, or simply supporting her peers. 

      On the court, Sarah leads by example with a "first to the gym, last to leave" attitude. She competes hard but is always gracious, whether in victory or defeat. Her sportsmanship and dedication are truly commendable. 

      Beyond the Preds, Sarah has been part of numerous Team Ontario teams and earned OVA all-star recognitions at both the 17U and 18U levels. Her leadership shines outside of volleyball as well; she volunteers at her church, organizes school-wide multicultural days, and supports special education students through the Best Buddies program. She received the Double Blue Award and was named Senior Athlete of the Year at Laurel Heights Secondary School. 

      This fall, Sarah will take her talents to NCAA Division I as she attends Marist College. 


Recognition Award
  • Tessa Alyman
  • Gary Armstrong
  • Sarah Blunt
  • Dwayne Boecker
  • Carissa Chapman
  • Cory Ciacinti
  • Andrew Courchesne
  • Deb Hartnett
  • Aleksandar Ljubicic
  • Mee Luang-Asa
  • Kayde Marshall
  • Geoff Matheson
  • Alex Nedin
  • Joe Nezic
  • Dean Oberle
  • Elaine Pilgrim-Susi
  • Joe Prsa
  • Taylor Robertson
  • Matthew Schnarr
  • Mark Stevens
  • Dasha Ustinov
  • Chris Wilkins

 The OVA would like to congratulate all of our winners!

Award Descriptions and Nominations

For a full description of each award, past winners, and nomination forms for 2025 awards, please follow the link below.