By Darren Lum
Published June 18 2019
Even before the standing ovations and the raucous applause many in the audience knew who would be named as the Red Hawks Athletes of the Year at the 41st annual Athletic Banquet on Thursday June 13 at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion in Haliburton.
This year’s recipients Aidan Coles and Natalya Gimon exhibited the grace and humility you can expect of award winners.
Coach and teacher Janice Scheffee presented the award to Gimon recalling how as a three-year-old Gimon attended volleyball practices in her pyjamas sometimes retrieving balls and sometimes falling asleep. (Her mom Andrea Borysiuk worked with Scheffee to coach the girls’ volleyball team and brought Natalya to games and practices.)
She called Gimon a “natural athlete that understands success doesn’t just happen. It comes from countless hours of hard work and training. She is committed to both. She doesn’t cut corners and doesn’t give up. When things get tough she simply digs deeper and works harder. She leads by example. She is the first one at practice and the last one to leave. She asks her coaches for guidance and puts their suggestions and strategies into practice. Her teammates respect her work ethic and admire her passion for sport and competition. She treats every practice like game day and that level of play elevates the skill level of her teammates. It doesn’t matter which sport she commits completely. She is humble in victory and gracious in defeat … tonight Natalya retires as a Red Hawk after four extremely successful years and her legacy will live on here forever.”
Gimon not only led her senior volleyball team to an eventual OFSAA berth last year and then a COSSA final this year she also finished fourth at COSSA with mixed doubles partner Denver Allore after dominating Kawartha as singles player. She played all four years at HHSS for the soccer program leading her teams in scoring every year.
“She is humble and genuine and she doesn’t look for the glory even though it always seems to find her” Scheffee said.
While at the podium Gimon smiled and accepted the honour giving thanks to others such as coaches and her parents who she said told her to “reach for the stars.”
After the event Gimon said she appreciated the ovation from the audience and the recognition.
“It’s amazing to be recognized for all the time that I put in and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have put in the time. The coaches are amazing [for how they go] unnoticed how much time they put in – I live with one” she said referring to her father Dan.
After four years she welcomed the opportunities to be a leader and to help in something that means so much to her at high school.
“Sport is such a big part of our lives. It’s what makes high school for me. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I didn’t have the sports” she said. “It’s been so great having amazing role models. Janice Scheffee is incredible and [it’s] so nice having such a strong female to look up to. Since Grade 9 she’s been my gym teacher. Since then I’ve always looked up to her. She’s just incredible.”
She hopes her narrative in athletics which included success in high school sports but also club volleyball where she helped her team the Orillia Suns win an 18-under national title this past year will be an inspiration for others.
“I hope other people see opportunities in what I’ve done like going for club volleyball. I hope others see that if she could do it I could do it. I really hope others reach out for that opportunity” she said.
Gimon said it wasn’t always smooth sailing with her father as coach who she “butt heads with” sometimes. However she said their relationship provided her perspective.
“He’s an amazing coach and father. He helped me understand the importance of sport. And because he plays as well it’s nice to look up to him in that aspect. He’s such a great asset” she said.
Next year she plans to try out for the volleyball team at Dalhousie University where she plans to study.
Teacher and wrestling coach Paul Klose presented the award to Grade 12 athlete Coles who always worked to improve and inspired others to be their best.
After four years of wrestling Coles went to OFSAA three times finishing in the top eight three times including a career best fourth last year. The wrestler is also a passionate football player who played for the HHSS football program but also the Wolverines in Peterborough where he won a championship.
“Champions are not born in a day or a month or a year. It is who you are Aidan and it is what you do” he said.
What Klose respected most about Coles was his humility.
“He never pretends to be better than the sport he plays. He just makes the sport better” he said.
“Aidan you’re an athlete a scholar a leader a gentleman and a friend. I wish you the best” he said.
Coles a wrestler who finished fifth at OFSAA (fourth in 2018) and one of the key players for the football program said there are a lot of great athletes at the school and he never expected to be named but hoped it would happen.
“It’s a huge honour to win. I’m really glad that … four years of work has finally come to fruition and to be rewarded for all my work. It’s a really good feeling” he said.
He has contacted the coaches for wrestling and football. His hope is to play one and possibly both sports next year at University of Toronto. He is leaning towards football if he has to choose between the two.
“Football has always had a special place in my heart and it’s one of the first sports I’ve ever played competitively and overall it’s a little further ahead in my mind” he said.
Getting that standing ovation meant a lot to him.
“To be able to have all my friends and peers respect what I’ve been working for and honour me in a way that is very public by no means did I expect it at all but I did appreciate it” he said.
The thing that will stand out for Coles after all the sweat and blood he has shed for the Red Hawks is the athletes.
“Honestly it’ll be my teammates. For any sport you do require physical ability to progress or succeed but ultimately it comes down to other people who you are practising with and playing with. Nothing I accomplished this year or any past year could have been possible without my teammates” he said.