Class of 2018: Special Olympics builder Bilous to be inducted into Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame

The Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the upcoming induction of Special Olympics coach Donna Bilous.

Bilous is being honoured as a community sport builder, and she’s the first-ever Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame inductee whose contributions have primarily come in the realm of the Special Olympics. She will be officially enshrined at the annual Hall of Fame banquet on Saturday, April 28 at the Legacy Sports Centre.

In addition to welcoming Bilous as a permanent inductee, 12 individuals and four teams (listed below) will be recognized as Wall of Famers. The Wall of Fame honours athletes in the 14 to 25 age bracket who had outstanding accomplishments in 2017. They will each have a plaque on display at Legacy Sports Centre for one year.

The public is invited to join in the celebration of these outstanding athletes. Banquet tickets are $60 each or $450 for a table of eight, and can be purchased at Hub Motor Service (33839 Essendene Ave.).

DONNA BILOUS

Bilous has coached athletes in both winter and summer sports at multiple provincial, national and international competitions over her 14 years with the local chapter of Special Olympics BC. During that time, she’s fostered continual development of athletes, helped to expand programming options, and recruited and mentored young adults to join her in the coaching ranks.

Bilous’s involvement is primarily in speed skating and soccer, and she’s served in a wide variety of coaching, officiating, mission staff and administration roles. She’s coached with Team Canada at four Special Olympics World Games: the World Winter Games in 2009 (Boise, Idaho), 2013 (Pyeongchang, South Korea) and 2017 (Graz, Austria), and the 2011 World Summer Games (Athens, Greece). Her work has garnered a number of awards – in 2011 and 2017, she was Special Olympics BC’s Howard Carter Award recipient as coach of the year, and she was named Special Olympics Canada’s female coach of the year for 2017. She’s also a Speed Skating Canada Level 3A-certified official – one of just four females at that level nationwide.

In addition to her work with local athletes, Bilous has promoted the growth of Special Olympics speed skating at an international level. At her past three World Winter Games (2009, 2013 and 2017), she spent considerable time with less experienced coaches from other nations – including Poland and Syria – on technical aspects including skate sharpening, equipment maintenance and sport rules.

She’s also become a recognized expert in health development for persons with disabilities, in light of her experience as a coach, as a parent of a Special Olympics athlete, and as a registered nurse with over 40 years experience. She’s spoken at several high-profile events, including the 2017 Champions for Health Care summit.

Bilous’s coaching philosophy emphasizes mutual respect and lifelong learning, and she’s helped her athletes develop confidence and independence along with their sport-specific skills.

WALL OF FAME INDIVIDUALS

Cole Brandsma, volleyball | Brandsma’s 2017 volleyball season was outstanding. Over the summer, he earned MVP honours in leading the Fraser Valley Volleyball Club to a U16 B.C. title, and in the fall, he was a first team all-star at AA high school provincials as his Abbotsford Christian Knights won silver. He also suited up for Team Canada at the U16 level, participating in a major international tournament in Florida. Brandsma also enjoyed track and field success, winning the provincial gold medal in the junior boys triple jump.

Turner Cyr, judo | A medal magnet on the judo mat, Cyr had a memorable 2017. He won gold at the Youth Provincial Championships, a pair of golds at the Canada West Invitational, and gold and silver at the Rainier Cup. He also climbed the podium at the Edmonton International (silver), the Quebec Open (silver), the Saskatchewan Open (bronze), the U.S. Open (bronze), and the Ontario Open (bronze). In addition, he was selected to compete in the Elite 8 Nationals in 2018.

Hunter Czeppel, rugby | The highlight of Czeppel’s year was representing Canada at the U18 level in fifteens rugby. She helped Team Canada sweep a two-game series against the United States by an aggregate score of 83-17, scoring a try in each game. She also suited up for Team B.C. in both sevens and fifteens, winning a national title with the B.C. sevens.

Josh Dhillon, basketball | Dhillon was the spark that lit the fuse for the Rick Hansen senior boys basketball team as the Hurricanes won the first B.C. AAA high school title in program history. He was named MVP of both the Fraser Valley and B.C. championships, capped by a 30-point outburst in the provincial gold medal game. Dhillon also won a national karate championship in the under-55 kg weight class in February 2017.

Jared Douglas, rugby | A graduate of Robert Bateman Secondary and a product of the Abbotsford Rugby Football Club, Douglas had a breakthrough year on the rugby pitch. He made his international debut at the senior level, suiting up for the Canadian men’s rugby sevens squad at tournaments in Hong Kong and Singapore. He ended up playing 22 matches for Team Canada in 2017, scoring three tries, and contributed to Canada’s first-ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament title in Singapore.

Payton Harris, judo | Harris was a dominant force in judo, winning gold medals at the Saskatchewan Open, the Youth Provincial Championships, the Pacific Open, and the Canadian Open Nationals. He added fifth-place finishes at the Quebec Open and Ontario Open tournaments, and was selected to participate in the Elite 8 Nationals in 2018.

Tanjot Kahlon, wrestling | Kahlon had an outstanding Grade 12 season with the Abbotsford Traditional Titans, winning a gold medal in the 100 kg class at the B.C. high school championships. He went on to win silver at the Canadian juvenile championships, and added individual bronze and team silver medals at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.

Colton Loewen, volleyball | Loewen’s sparkling high school career with the MEI Eagles featured a provincial AA title in 2015 accompanied by MVP honours, and a AA bronze medal in 2016 that saw him earn a first team all-star nod. The dynamic outside hitter recently wrapped up his rookie year at Trinity Western University, and was part of the Spartans’ U SPORTS national silver medal-winning squad.

Paige Norton, speed skating | Norton is an accomplished multisport athlete, competing in the Special Olympics for the past 14 years in speed skating, track and field, swimming, soccer, basketball, baseball and golf. Her outstanding 2017 season saw her represent Canada at the Special Olympics World Games in Graz, Austria, winning a gold medal in the 1000 metres in a personal best time, and silver in the 500m. In the latter event, despite being knocked down by a fellow competitor, she got back up and roared back into the race to secure the podium finish. Norton wrapped up 2017 with a pair of awards: the Special Olympics BC athlete of the year, and the Special Olympics Canada female athlete of the year.

Brock McCartney, rugby | The highlight of McCartney’s year was representing Canada at the U18 North America 4 Series in Arizona in December. He also celebrated a Fraser Valley championship with his Robert Bateman Timberwolves school team, a provincial title with the Fraser Valley East regional squad, and a national silver medal with Team B.C.

Karam Shergill, wrestling | Shergill, who has been wrestling since age five, had an outstanding performance at the Canadian juvenile championships, winning gold in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions. He also won a B.C. high school gold medal in behalf of the W.J. Mouat Hawks, and finished atop his weight class at the Western Canada Games.

Jade Trolland, wrestling | After winning a silver medal at the 2017 B.C. high school wrestling championships as a Grade 10 athlete, Trolland staged a breakthrough performance at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. She posted a perfect 7-0 record in the women’s 60 kg division to earn the gold medal, and her performance helped lift B.C. to the team gold medal as well. She was also selected to participate in a tournament in Japan as part of Wrestling Canada’s developmental program.

WALL OF FAME TEAMS

Abbotsford Senior Panthers senior girls rugby | The Panthers won the B.C. AA high school rugby fifteens championship in decisive fashion, blowing out Lake City 41-10 in the title game. Abby Senior’s girls rugby dynasty has made it to the provincial AA final each of the past six years, winning four titles in that span.

Rick Hansen Hurricanes senior boys basketball | The Hurricanes secured the program’s first B.C. AAA high school championship in thrilling fashion, rallying from a double-digit deficit to defeat the South Kamloops Titans 69-63 in the title game. Hansen, which also won the Fraser Valley championship, was led by provincial tourney MVP Josh Dhillon and second team all-star Aman Dhillon.

University of the Fraser Valley Cascades men’s golf | The Cascades had a dominant 2016 campaign, winning the PACWEST conference and CCAA national titles. The UFV squad won the PACWEST crown by 19 strokes with All-Canadians Daniel Campbell and Ben Whiton leading the way. Then, at the CCAA national championships in Whitby, Ont., the Cascades crushed the field by 16 strokes thanks in large part to an outstanding performance from Campbell, who won the men’s individual gold medal by an eight-stroke margin.

University of the Fraser Valley Cascades women’s golf | The Cascades women’s squad matched the men, sweeping the PACWEST and CCAA championships. They thoroughly dominated the PACWEST conference, winning the team title by an astounding 128 strokes over the four-tournament season. Emery Bardock, Hannah Dirksen and Madison Kapchinsky won the PACWEST’s individual gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively. At the CCAA nationals, the Cascades prevailed by 21 strokes as Kapchinsky secured an individual silver medal.

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