Kopp wins McWhinney Award, scholarship


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Jzraelyne Kopp has always been sporty. So when an opportunity to play football came along, she ran with it.

The play paid off. Kopp, who just graduated from Miles Macdonell Collegiate, won this year’s Glenn (Keeper) McWhinney Perseverance Award. The award is presented annually to a graduating Buckeyes football player in honour of the late Canadian Football League great, who made his home in the area.

Jeff McWhinney (left) presented Jzraelyne Kopp with the Glenn McWhinney Award on June 28. The award, which includes a scholarship, is presented annually to a graduating student from Miles Macdonell Collegiate.

“I was super honoured to receive it,” Kopp said.

Glenn’s son, Jeff McWhinney, presented Kopp with the award, which comes with a $1,300 scholarship and includes a personalized CFL ball, in Glenn McWhinney Park (401 Roch St.) on June 28, following Kopp’s graduation ceremony.

“Jeff was talking about his father a bunch, and he seemed like a very strong, decent man,” Kopp said. “I wish I could have known him. It means a lot to me that I was able to receive it, and an honour to be presented it in Glenn’s park.”

Kopp, 17, only started playing football a few years ago, for the Sunrise Coyotes in Oakbank, Man.

“I started with soccer and when high school came I started doing volleyball, basketball, badminton, sports like that,” she said. “Two or three years ago, I joined a football team with my sister. That was my first time ever playing. It was a great experience.”

When Kopp moved into the city before the start of her graduating year, she wanted to get involved in sports at her new school. She said she missed volleyball tryouts, but her English teacher, Daniel Washnuk, is also the longtime football coach.

“He introduced me to everyone on the team. The season went on, and it was super fun and great to get to know everyone.”

The team-first mentality of football is something that appeals to Kopp about the sport, as well as the physicality.

“In basketball, you don’t really get to be as physical, because of fouls,” she said. “But football, that’s the point. I really like it. I did judo for a while, I’ve just grown into that physical aspect of sport.”

Initially, Kopp had hoped to play wide receiver. But an assignment as a defensive back suited her just fine.

“I’m glad I did, because you get to tackle,” Kopp, who played defensive back and corner for the Buckeyes, said. “That’s really fun.”

While Kopp plans to attend Red River College Polytech in the fall, to study business administration, she hopes to continue playing sports, and football in particular.

“It was a super great experience for me,” she said. “I don’t want to just stop playing.”

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com Call him at 204-697-7112


Updated on Tuesday, July 5, 2022 11:57 AM CDT: An earlier version erroneously noted that Glenn McWhinney attended Miles Macdonell Collegiate, when it was his son Jeff who attended the school. We regret the error.

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