Troy Westwood

Troy Westwood

Westwood's Sports Heroes

Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Troy Westwood writes about Winnipeg’s unsung sports heroes every other week in the Canstar Community News weeklies.

Recent articles of Troy Westwood

She’ll tumble for ya

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Preview

She’ll tumble for ya

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

Emily Miller is nine years old and attends Forest Park Community School, where she is in Grade 4.

“Math is my favourite subject in school,” she says. “It is a lot of brain work and I like using my brain. Ms. Lee is my teacher. She is nice and she is very kind.”

Emily is also a gymnast, and she loves it.

“I have been in gymnastics for five years. My favourite part of being in gymnastics is tumbling. It’s fun to fly in the air when you tumble. You have to run and use your body and that is what I like doing,” she says. “When I am doing gymnastics, it makes me feel good and confident.”

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

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Nine-year-old Emily Miller does gymnastics at the Keystone Kips club and harbours dreams of one day competing at the Olympic Games.

This little soccer player has a dream…

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Preview

This little soccer player has a dream…

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022

Lucas Kwiatkowski is a seven-year-old Grade 2 student at St. Alphonsus School, where he says his favourite class is gym.

“Gym is my favourite because I get to play a lot! I get to play basketball, soccer, and foursquare. My home room teacher’s name is Ms. Whitney. She is an awesome teacher. She helps me with things and she is funny,” Lucas says.

Because he’s growing up in a soccer-loving home, a love of the beautiful game comes naturally to Lucas.

“Soccer is my favourite because you get to score goals and hang out with your friends and stuff,” he said. “I like defending, too. I played sometimes in net and that was fun, too. I like watching soccer with my dad. My favourite player is Robert Lewandowski. He plays for Barcelona. He is really good and he scores a lot of goals. The Honey Badgers are my favourite team (because) that was the team I played on.”

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022

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Lucas Kwiatkowski loves playing soccer with his team, the Honey Badgers, and his father, Mike.

Kamenz shows his strong side for Rifles

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Kamenz shows his strong side for Rifles

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

Brandon Kamenz is a 21-year-old SAM linebacker in his fourth year with the Winnipeg Rifles junior football team, which plays in the Prairie Conference of the Canadian Junior Football League.

Before switching to playing strong-side linebacker, he was a defensive back.

“DB was fun and challenging with lots of running backwards. You always have the fastest guys running at you,” he said. “Switching to SAM wasn’t that much of a change, because I am outside the box and in coverage a bunch. The hard part was learning how to be effective at stopping the run. My eye-discipline had to get a lot better. We are coached to not watch the running back, but to read the offensive lineman and to make plays off those reads.”

The Rifles are a close-knit group who see each other as brothers.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022

Budding star sounds like a coach’s dream

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Preview

Budding star sounds like a coach’s dream

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022

Max George is a 13-year-old who attends the Starbuck Hockey Academy at Starbuck School.

“It’s great,” Max says. “The instructors are great, teachers are great — the entire program is great. It’s awesome to jump on the ice every day during school hours. School is going good. I am doing pretty well in my classes. My favourite class is social studies. I enjoy it. I like history and things like mapping.”

Max is one of those kind of kids who lives, eats, and breathes the sport he loves.

“I started playing hockey when I was three,” he says. “I play centre. That is my favourite position to play. To me the most important part of playing centre is supporting the defensive zone. It is really important on our team to support the defence. The most important part is defence.”

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022

Max George plays centre for the U15 AAA Winnipeg Wild Gold.

Player, captain, coach, ref… this girl’s got game

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Preview

Player, captain, coach, ref… this girl’s got game

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2022

Brooke McNab is a 15-year-old Grade 10 student at J. H. Bruns Collegiate who plays soccer with the Bonivital U15 girls.

“I have been playing soccer since I was four years old (and) I have been playing for Bonivital since I was 10,” she says. “Our U15 team is great. Everyone supports everyone. Our team environment is a lot of fun to be in. I play centre back (and) I like being a defender. I like being able to see what is going with the game in front of me and communicating with my team.

“I am also captain of our team so it is very important for me to communicate at a high level so we all know what is going on during a game.”

Brooke also coaches younger, would-be soccer players.

Wednesday, Sep. 28, 2022

Brooke McNab is captain of the Bonivital U15 girls soccer team, and also coaches and referees the sport.

Always be confident in yourself

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Always be confident in yourself

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

Nicholas Parrott is a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Churchill High School. Away from school, he spends a lot of time training for and playing his two favourite sports — basketball and football.

“I started playing football when I was in Grade 5. I started basketball when I was in Grade 7,” he says. “Basketball is my favourite of the two. There are a lot of parts to the game that I really enjoy. There are a lot of things away from the game that I really enjoy. My mom and dad both played the game, as well, so that makes it special to me.

“I play football for Churchill, and I made the final roster for Team Manitoba. Running back is my primary position. With basketball I play for the Northstar Preparatory Institute I play point guard and shooting guard.”

Kobe Bryant is Nicholas’s all-time favourite athlete.

Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2022

Nicholas Parrott is a Grade 12 student at Churchill High School who hopes to earn a university football or basketball scholarship.

Young offensive lineman all-in for championship run

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Young offensive lineman all-in for championship run

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022

Sean Rowe is a 17-year-old going into Grade 12 at Dakota Collegiate.

“School last year was awesome,” he said. “I tried to keep my grades strong and I had a lot of fun. Phys ed is my favourite class. I like English too. I like learning different things about our language.”

Sean is 6-foot-5, 305 pound tackle on the offensive line for the Dakota Lancers football team.

“The experience at Dakota with football has been amazing,” he said. “I started playing football in Grade 9. COVID was challenging but gave me time to catch up. During COVID all of the gyms were closed down. I had some weights at home and during that time I was able to make myself better. Now, going into my senior year, I am completely focused on winning the championship.”

Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022

Sean Rowe is 6-foot-5, 305 pound tackle on the offensive line for the Dakota Lancers football team.

For the love of the game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

For the love of the game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

Leju James is a 15-year-old soon to be going into Grade 10 at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute. Leju is an exceptional student who has made the honour roll for the last two years.

“My favourite class is science. It really captures my interest. When I walk into science class I am always interested and excited to learn,” he said. “School is really important to me. I am raised in a house that really emphasizes education. I have been raised to value the importance of education and to get the best education and highest degree possible.”

Leju has been playing soccer since he began walking.

“I used to always hang out with my dad and his friends and play with them. I love the game of soccer with all my heart,” he said. “I will do anything to help make sure I can play the game of soccer. Right now I play for the U16 FC Northwest team. We have a good team. We are like a family. Sometimes we have to battle through adversity, but we always come back as a family. Coach John and Blair are good coaches and guys and we have a close, good squad.”

Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

Leju James, 15, attends Daniel McIntyre Collegiate and plays soccer for the FC Northwest U16 team. An excellent student, he dreams of playing soccer professionally someday.

Rebels captain stays focused

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Rebels captain stays focused

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

Prabh Bhathal is a 13-year-old getting ready to enter Grade 8 at St. John’s Ravenscourt. Along with being a very good student, he is proving himself an exceptional young hockey player, too.

“I have been playing hockey since I was six,’ Prabh said. “Last year I played for the Rebels U13 AA Black team. I play centre and I do my best to play hard at both ends of the ice. I play a fast-paced game, a fast transitional game with equal emphasis on offence and defence.”

People speak very highly of Prabh on and off the ice, including his coach, Troy Slater.

“Prabh was an absolute pleasure to coach this past winter,” Troy said. “He was selected as our captain for many reasons but mostly for his true dedication to hockey and hard work. Prabh took us from a good team to a great team and helped our Rebels team win two playoff series.”

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022

Prabh Bhathal, who was captain of his AA Rebels team last season, works hard to b e his best on and off the ice.

For the love of the game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

For the love of the game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

Lukas Bladon is a 15-year-old student at Kelvin High School who is enjoying the summer as he prepares to start grade 10.

“Grade 9 was really good,” he said. “I really enjoyed Kelvin. Overall the teachers were great at helping us and educating us. They did a great job of helping to make the experience fun.”

Lukas is an athletic young man who has tried and enjoys a number of sports, but he does have one sport that stands out as his favourite.

“I have been playing tennis since I was eight years old. The way I got into it was that my mom had a Leisure Guide and we were looking through it. We saw Taylor Tennis and decided to give it a try.”

Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2022

Lukas Bladon is a promising young tennis player who says he plays the game to enjoy it — and to beat his dad.

Watch out world, here comes Kaiiana

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Watch out world, here comes Kaiiana

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

Kaiiana Olivier-Job is three years old and already showing promising signs of being a dedicated student and athlete. Asked to name one of her favourite books, Kaiiana said, with authority “Peter Rabbit!”

She has the entire Peter Rabbit collection and it is not unusual for her to be cuddled up in mom’s or dad’s arms reading her favourite book.

What the future holds athletically for this young lady is still yet to be known, but if mom and dad are any indication, Kaiiana is going to find something she loves to do and become very good at it. Mom Nicole is well known in the Winnipeg squash community, playing at a provincial level and she’s even competed in a number of professional matches in local tournaments. Dad Tevin is a university-level basketball and soccer player who can still be seen out on a court or soccer pitch in our city.

Kaiiana has taken to football and has lots of fun watching games with mom and dad. It is not unusual, while watching a game, for her to scream “You gotta catch it man!” or “Touchdown!”

Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2022

Kaiiana Olivier-Job can’t wait to start training in the gym with her daddy.

Perseverance pays off with pro contract

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Preview

Perseverance pays off with pro contract

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2022

Matthieu Gomercic is a 24-year-old hockey player from Winnipeg who recently graduated with a degree in kinesiology from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, where he also played hockey for the Ridgebacks.

He’s now enjoying his life playing professional hockey, after finishing the 2021-22 season with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL.

“University was a great experience for me,” said Gomercic, who was one of the 13 survivors of the 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

“I was able to set up my classes so that my school day was done at about noon. After that I could relax a bit and focus on hockey. The last two years of classes were interesting with everything being online.”

Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2022

Matthieu Gomercic turned pro last season with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL.

Take him out to the ball game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Take him out to the ball game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

Nixon Carriere is a 17-year-old Grade 11 student at Garden City Collegiate who is very focused and determined to do well.

“School is going good,” he says. “My favourite class is calculus. I like solving numbers, I find it fun.”

Nixon is also pretty darn busy with the sport he loves, and that sport is baseball. He plays for the North Winnipeg Pirates, the Elmwood Giants junior teams, the Garden City Gophers and he’s trying out for the U17 Team Manitoba Canada Summer Games squad.

“It would be a lot of fun to make that team,” he says. “The games are in Niagara Falls.”

Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2022

Nixon Carriere plays on both corners, pitches and hits in the heart of the order for his baseball teams.

The five most important words in sport

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

The five most important words in sport

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

Kruno Brnjas is a six-year-old Grade 2 student at Dr. F. W. L. Hamilton School in East St. Paul.

Kruno is a little shy but when he decides to speak he doesn’t mess around.

“I like math. I like numbers,” he said when asked how school is going.

“My teacher is Ms. Sarapu. We all call her Ms. S. She is a good teacher. She is nice and friendly, and she is good at math.”

Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

Kruno Brjnas plays soccer at the A.K. Soccer Academy in East St. Paul but he says is favourite sport is hockey, much to the chagrin of his father, Joey.

Dedication, commitment help young player shine

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Dedication, commitment help young player shine

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2022

Payton Chornley is a 12-year-old Grade 7 student who attends Collège Churchill High School’s Churchill Hockey Academy.

Payton is incredibly mature and well-spoken for her age. She averages 98 per cent in school, so I asked her what happened to the other two per cent and we had a good laugh.

“Math is my favourite class,” she said. “I enjoy solving problems and trying to work things out. Math is very challenging.”

Payton also enjoys the challenge of the sport she loves, which is hockey. I loved her answer when I asked what her goals are for both her education and her hockey:

Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2022

Payton Chornley was captain of the U13 Winnipeg East Saints for the 2021-22 season.

Goalkeeping in her blood

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Goalkeeping in her blood

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022

Amy Norris is a 14-year-old Grade 8 student at St. Mary’s Academy and a goalkeeper in the Bonivital Soccer Club’s developemental program

She says the beautiful game is in her blood.

“I started playing when I was five,” she said. “I started with the academy that was associated with the Bonivital Soccer Club. Then, at nine, I started to play in the developmental program with Bonivital. I have been playing keeper my whole life.

“My dad and my brother also play keeper,” she said, explaining her choice of position. “I like being able to see everything in front of me. When I am playing it feels like being in net is the right spot for me. It’s hard to explain but something draws me to the keeper position. I love communicating and that helps me to be able to communicate to my teammates during the game with what we need to be doing in our end of the pitch.”

Wednesday, Apr. 13, 2022

Amy Norris (left) is pictured with Desiree Scott. The Winnipeg midfielder won an Olympic gold medal with Canada’s national women’s soccer team in Japan last summer.

Running like the wind

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Running like the wind

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022

Jordan Soufi is a 20-year-old third-year student at the University of Manitoba and he’s also one of the fastest young sprinters in the country.

Nothing is more raw and pure than speed. In sports, speed is the most treasured asset. Jordan is speed.

“For indoor track I run 60 and 200 metres. For outdoor, I run the 100- and 200-metre races,” he said.

Jordan’s indoor season-best at 60 metres is 6.71 seconds, good enough to rank him seventh among all Canadian sprinters. He set that mark in the preliminary rounds of the Canada West conference championships on March 18 at the University of Manitoba’s Jim Daly Fieldhouse. The next day, he ran 6.72 to finish second in Canada West and set himself up well for the U Sports championships, to be held March 31 to April 2 at the University of New Brunswick, in Saint John.

Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2022

Dancing her way to the stars

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Dancing her way to the stars

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2022

It is really beautiful to see the impact a sport or activity can make on a young life. Navaeh Pontes-Botelho, now 10 years old, has been dancing since 2016, and the affect it has had on her has been profound.

“It was a little rocky at first, but by the time she hit the stage she had blossomed into this spunky, confident little girl. L.A. Dance Studio has been a great support,” says her mom, Lucy.

Navaeh’s dance classes consist of ballet, jazz, and lyrical.

“Lyrical and jazz are my favourite styles,” she says. “Through dancing you can express your feelings in different ways. I want to keep dancing for a long time. I want to say thank you to Ms. Lindsey and Ms. Kelly. Thank you for teaching me and thank you for helping to make it fun.”

Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2022

Young dancer Navaeh Pontes-Botelho will perform her first lyrical dance solo this year.

For the love of the game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

For the love of the game

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

Randy Horel is a lot of fun to talk to. He loves sports and, holy smackers, does he ever have a lot of great sports stories.

As an adult, the two sports Randy has dedicated most of his time to are hockey and fastball. About eight years ago Randy tore his rotator cuff, which put hockey on pause for a bit while and brought an end to pitching in fastball.

Despite the injury, Randy loves fastball and he still wanted to be involved in fastball.

“I then became an umpire. I have been umping now for eight or nine years. It’s my little way to give back to the game,” he said.

Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

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When a rotator cuff injury ended his pitching career, Randy Horel turned to umpiring in the Crestview Men’s Fastball League.

Stressing the importance of activity

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Stressing the importance of activity

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

Lotus Mendoza is a 12-year-old Grade 7 student at École Leila North Community School who says school is slowly starting to return to normal.

“Things at school have been OK, since they started to lift the COVID restrictions,” she says. “The last couple of years have been pretty difficult. Most of the school experience has been taken away from us because of COVID.

“By taken away, I am talking about all of the different activities one can typically take part in during the school year.”

Lotus really enjoys being active and especially enjoys participating in sports.

Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

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Lotus Mendoza enjoys being active in all kinds of sports, including basketball, badminton, swimming and skating. She's thinking of playing hockey or trying figure skating.

Broadening your sporting horizons

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Broadening your sporting horizons

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

Brooklyn Fotty is a 12-year-old, Grade 7 student at John W. Gunn Middle School in Transcona.

She and her family believe in being active and participating in new activities. This is reflected in the number of sports that Brooklyn has participated in.

“In school I tried rugby and I like that. I tried volleyball too, and I really liked that. I played football and that was fun. I played on the O-line and it was lots of fun. I really liked playing soccer. I had fun playing forward and passing the ball to help people score goals,” she says.

“I also cross-country ski. I started in Grade 4. Now I cross-country ski with my mom. I like how it is peaceful and how it’s out in nature. I also like swimming. I have liked swimming for a long time. I just got into competitive swimming. My favourite stroke is the front crawl. I like to be in the water. It feels natural to me. I enjoy the endurance part of it.”

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

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Brooklyn Fotty, pictured here in her Transcona Nationals football uniform, loves trying all kinds of sports, from rugby to cross-country skiing.

He’s got football in his blood

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Preview

He’s got football in his blood

Troy Westwood 3 minute read Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

Everett Reid is a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Vincent Massey Collegiate who has a great sense of perspective and focus.

“School is going good,” he says. “I am taking some university courses focusing on the sciences. I am hoping to go into kinesiology or health science in university. These last couple of years have been difficult. It has been a lot more stressful with all the on- and off -again stuff. No in-school sports for a while was really hard.”

Like so many athletes during this COVID-19 era, Everett missed an entire season of playing a sport he loves.

“Going into Grade 11, we thought our football team was going to be really good. It was a punch in the gut to not have the chance to play. Coach said to keep training, though, and to work hard. Luckily we were able to play our season in Grade 12.

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022

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Everett Reid (in white, with the ball) was thrilled to once again play football with his teammates at VincentMassey Collegiate last fall.

Dreaming of playing in ‘the dub’

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

Dreaming of playing in ‘the dub’

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022

Shea Chornley is a 14-year-old Grade 9 student at Shaftesbury High School who applies himself both in the classroom and on the ice for the sport he loves.

“Things are going really good this year with school. I have good marks and I am getting all my assignments in on time,” he said.

Since September, Shea has been a part of the Rink Hockey Academy and is playing with its U15 prep team. He said that he is loving every second of it.

“It has been awesome. The group and the culture is the best hockey I have ever played and been a part of,” he said. “We go to school until noon and then go to The Rink until 4 p.m. We travel a lot as well, into the States and across Canada. It has been a lot of fun.”

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022

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Shea Chornley, a member of the Rink Hockey Academy’s U15 prep team, will be eligible for the Western Hockey League draft in May 2022.

The importance of hard work

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Preview

The importance of hard work

Troy Westwood 2 minute read Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

John Lubenda is a 14-year-old, Grade 9 student at Sisler High School.

His favourite thing to do away from school is to play the sport he loves, which is soccer. John gets a big smile and his eyes begin to twinkle when he speaks of the game he loves.

“I have been playing since I was about seven years old. Soccer is definitely my favourite sport,” he said. “The team I play for is U15 FC Northwest. Our coach is John Paolucci and he is a great coach. He helps me a lot.

“We have a real good team and we are always working to get better,” John added. “When I was younger I played striker. Now I play centre back. I really like the position. I like reading the play in front of me. I like stopping other teams from taking shots at our net. It is a great challenge to suppress other teams and players.”

Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

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John Lubenda is a central defender for FC Northwest’s U15 soccer team and dreams of one day playing professionally.