After administering the award for 70 years, city will give local group a one-year trial at administering the award, with goal of reinvigorating public interest.

Stewardship of Orillia’s Athlete of the Year award will be transferred from the city to the Orillia Sport Council in an effort to reinvigorate public interest in the coveted award.

Council committee approved the transfer for a one-year trial period on Monday evening.

The award has been granted by the city since 1952, when resident Norm Davis of Davis Trophy Company donated the trophy to the city. Barring the pandemic and several years where no nominations were received, the award has been granted annually.

It is given to a local athlete whose athletic accomplishments during the past year are a credit to the city, and who demonstrates excellence, dedication, and sportsmanship in their athletic endeavours.

City staff noted the city has received just one or two nominations for the award over the past five years the program has run, where it previously averaged 5-12 nominations.

“Over the years of administrating the award, nomination levels have fluctuated; however, staff have seen the interest decline over the past years within the community in regard to nominating athletes,” stated a staff report.

“The proposed transfer of the Athlete of the Year Award stewardship for a trial of one year will allow for more time and focus to be dedicated to the program by the Orillia Sport Council.”

The Orillia Sport Council previously expressed interest in administering the award when it was founded in 2013, but staff recommended the organization become more established in the community.

Since then, the organization has inducted 23 individuals into the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame, and boasts members representing a wide variety of sports organizations in the city.

“The Orillia Sport Council’s goals align with those of the Athlete of the Year Award and there is interest from the committee to undertake the program,” stated the staff report.

“The City of Orillia Recreation and Youth Services Division are recommending that the Orillia Sport Council oversee the Athlete of the Year program for a one-year trial period with the intention to permanently transfer the stewardship to The Orillia Sport Council.”

To ensure consistency, the city and the Orillia Sport Council will enter a memorandum of understanding, which stipulates the award’s current nominee criteria will remain in effect, that a member of the recreation advisory committee acts as a voting party, that a city council member is included in the presentation of the award, and the city is included in communications about nominations.

The city and sport council are working to improve publicity for the award, as well.

In March, the Orillia Sport Council requested permission to install banners highlighting hall of fame inductees at the Orillia Recreation Centre, which was not permitted under city policy.

On Monday, council committee also approved an amendment to the city’s temporary advertising policy allowing the Orillia Sport Council to advertise both hall of fame inductees and athlete of the year recipients for four weeks per year.

“Allowing the Orillia Sport Council to promote both the inductees of the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame and the Athlete of the Year Award in the ORC will encourage community engagement in both programs, and therefore result in more success in recognizing the Orillia sport community’s athletic achievements,” stated the staff report.

Decisions made at Monday’s council committee meeting are subject to ratification at the next council meeting Sep. 19.

Original Article By: Greg McGrath-Goudie
Site: Orillia Matters
Date: Sept. 14, 2022
Link to Original: Link to Orillia Matters
Photo: Orillia Matters