Three local coaches were recognized for their contributions to sports in Manitoba recently.
On April 6, Sport Manitoba presented its annual coaching awards at a virtual ceremony. A number of Winnipeggers with ties to the northeast were among those honoured.
Tanya Pilat, a figure skating coach with the East St. Paul Skating Club, and Dave Lipchen, a triathlon coach from East St. Paul, were winners of the Konica Minolta Dr. Jack Hunt Award in the Learn to Train category.
A Skate Canada coach for the past 31 years, Pilat has previously won both the Vince Leah Award for Coaching Excellence, and Female Coach of the Year by Sport Manitoba in 2010, and Dr. Jack Hunt Award for Coaching Excellence in 2020.
"I was very surprised to even receive the nomination," Pilat told The Herald. "Having won the same award in 2020, I was not expecting this at all. I am so grateful for the recognition of our sport of Figure Skating, and thankful for the many coaches whom I work with, learn from, and who motivate me to do my best for my athletes."
Pilat credits the hard work of the skaters she trains each year for pushing her to continue and improve as a coach.
"Throughout this past year, they have had to adapt to a variety of ever-changing training methods," she said. "(They) have continued to join in on our Zoom training multiple times a week, when the arenas were shut down, and getting out to outdoor ice when it was cold enough, to keep up their skills."
A triathlon coach for 21 years, Lipchen has been awarded Triathlon Manitoba’s coach of the year winner five times. The founder of the Windburn Multisport Academy, Lipchen also established the Manitoba Youth Triathlon Association in 2008, and coached Triathlon Manitoba’s youth team from 2008 to 2012.
"It’s neat to be recognized among all the other really good coaches in all the different sports and what they’re doing," Lipchen said, adding that the award has been a bright light of positivity in the midst of a challenging time. "I was pretty pumped."
While Lipchen said the award is a "nice pat on the back," he also acknowledged that it also raises the bar for the work he does with the athletes he trains.
"It just means we gotta keep going in the direction we’re going," he said.
Rossmere’s Vlastimil Cerny was the recognized for his international work as a swim coach. Most recently, Cerny coached University of Manitoba swimming star Kelsey Wog at the International Swimming League in Budapest, Hungary in the fall of 2020, where Wog won 15 medals (six gold, five silver, three bronze) and set four provincial records.
For more information, visit sportmanitoba.ca/smca-2021/
The Herald community journalist
Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for The Herald. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112