Colby Barlow, one of the top prospects in junior hockey in Canada, has been named Orillia’s Athlete of the Year for 2022.
The captain of the Owen Sound Attack, Barlow, has 36 goals in 45 games, which ranks him second in the Ontario Hockey League in goal scoring.
On Thursday night he was honoured at the Orillia Recreation Centre’s Sports Hall of Fame Lounge by friends, family members, local dignitaries and community members.
Barlow says it’s “a massive honour” to win the award that has been granted by the city since 1952.
“There are a lot of well-known names on this trophy and a lot of great people of this community,” he told OrilliaMatters after the presentation. “It’s definitely an honour to be a part of that.”
Barlow, who was born and raised in Orillia, played minor hockey in Orillia and then graduated to the region’s ‘AAA’ program, where he played with the North Central Predators. He says he didn’t expect to be honoured by his hometown with such an award this early into his hockey career.
“If you told me this was going to happen five months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. “I didn’t even expect to be a part of the conversation, but I got the call this week and it became real.”
Barlow says he was thankful to see the large turnout of community members at the award announcement on Thursday evening.
“Everyone who showed up tonight has supported me since day one,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here today without this support.”
On hand to watch their son accept the coveted award were Barlow’s father, Dean, and mother, Carla.
“It’s such an honour to have Colby be recognized by the Orillia community,” Carla said.
“Being from Orillia and growing up here, this is a bit surreal,” Dean added.
Orillia Sport Council president Roy Micks says Barlow is “very deserving” of being named Orillia’s Athlete of the Year, noting he represented Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this past summer.
“He’s had an incredible year,” he said. “We have never had anybody at that level represent their country from the Orillia area.”
Barlow, who was named the youngest captain in Owen Sound Attack team history at age 17, has a bright future, Micks says.
“Everything you see and hear about him is that he’s a positive influence on his teammates, community, and school,” he said. “He comes back here and is always willing to help. He’s just a good kid.”
Micks says Barlow’s accomplishments are inspiring to Orillia’s youth.
“He’s showing young kids who play the sport to always work towards their dreams, goals, and aspirations,” he said. “It shows that they have the opportunity to do it too.”
Barlow says it’s a special feeling to have youth from his hometown looking up to him. He hopes his accomplishments continue to inspire youth to follow their dreams.
“I want to be a role model for the kids,” he said. “Hopefully I can help those kids when our paths cross.”
This year, the responsibility for choosing the recipient of the prestigious Athlete of the Year award was transferred from the city to the Orillia Sport Council.
“By promoting the award a little bit, we had 11 excellent nominees,” Micks says. “I think that was all positive and there are some great Orillia athletes in the area.”
While overseeing Orillia’s Athlete of the Year award was a one-year pilot, Micks says he hopes the volunteer sport council is once again given the opportunity to look after it again in 2023.
“The Orillia Sport Council is made up of individuals who have been involved in the community from a volunteer basis to an athlete basis for the course of the last 35 to 50 years,” he said. We have a wide spectrum of people on the committee.”
Original Article By: Tyler Evans
Site: Orillia Matters
Date: Feb. 9, 2023
Link to Original: Link to Orillia Matters