City council votes in favour of transferring stewardship of award following group’s ‘tremendous’ job of renewing interest,

After a successful trial over the past year, the Orillia Sport Council will permanently oversee the city’s Athlete of the Year award.

Since 1952, the annual award has recognized local amateur athletes who are a credit to the city for their athletic ability, sportsmanship, and achievements — but the award has seen a drop in interest and nominations in recent years.

Last year, city council voted to transfer stewardship of the award to the Orillia Sport Council for a one-year trial period, given its strong involvement in recognizing and honouring local athletic achievement.

Following a “tremendous” job reinvigorating interest in the award over the past year, council voted at Monday’s meeting for the sport council to permanently oversee the award.

There has been a strong uptake in athletic activity since the Orillia Recreation Centre opened, reported city staff, who noted transferring stewardship of the award will free staff up to submit nominations themselves.

“Transferring the stewardship to Orillia Sport Council also allows for staff to now submit nominations of individuals who are making great strides in their athletic development, hopefully helping to foster a community of lifelong healthy and active living,” stated a staff report.

Coun. Tim Lauer questioned whether the award would still be “owned” by the city, despite the fact the sport council will administer it on an annual basis.

“I have complete faith in the sports council; I think they’re good they’re doing a good job and will do a good job,” he said. “Looking down the road 10 years from now … if that organization faded away, or whatever happened, (I’m wondering if) we automatically pulled it back into our domain.”

Marcia Russell, the city’s director of recreation, youth, and culture, said the award will still be owned and displayed by the city, and will come back under the city’s control should the sport council dissolve.

The recreation advisory committee will continue to be a voting party in the award process, and city staff will be included in communications about award nominees.

The Orillia Sport Council has recommended local athletes “truly performing at the height of their athletic careers” be allowed to receive the award on more than one occasion.

A member of city council will also be included in the presentation of the award.

Original Article By: Greg McGrath-Goudie
Site: Orillia Matters
Date: Dec. 12, 2023
Link to Original: Link to Orillia Matters
Photo: Nathan Taylor