Charles and Smiley named top athletes

Josh Charles and Taryn Smiley wrapped up their decorated Cowichan Secondary athletic careers as they were named the school’s Athletes of the Year for 2014/15 last Thursday.

Actually, Smiley’s career wasn’t quite over, as she had one more day of competition at the provincial track and field championships in Langley, where she helped Cowichan to gold in the senior girls 4x100m relay and won a bronze medal in the 100m dash. As a result, she wasn’t able to attend the banquet at the Island Savings Centre. Her mom, who knew the whole time, had to keep it a secret until 8:30 p.m. Smiley was nominated for the award last year, but wasn’t disappointed when it went to a graduating athlete, field hockey star Stefanie Langkammer.

“I was hoping but I knew they usually gave it to a Grade 12,” she said.

In addition to her high school accomplishments, Smiley won the national title in the 100m at the youth championships last year, and finished second in the 200m. She has locked up a scholarship with Missouri State University beginning next fall.

“It will be different not having the school series next year, but I imagine I’ll be super busy,” she said. “Hopefully next year I’ll be home in time for provincials.”

Charles, who led Cowichan to the senior boys provincial basketball championships and qualified for the track provincials in two events, was named Senior Male Athlete of the Year as a Grade 11 and Grade 12, and captured the junior award in Grade 10.

“It’s an honour,” he said. “After all the work I’ve put in here, being recognized means a lot.”

Charles is bound for the University of Victoria next year, where his Vikes teammates will include his older brother Jordan.

“It should be fun,” he said. “We haven’t had a chance to play serious basketball together before.” Sara Goodman and Desirae Ridenour shared Junior Female Athlete of the Year honours. Goodman was a key member of the field hockey team and will play for the B.C. provincial team this summer. Ridenour is an accomplished athlete in multiple sports, and like Smiley, missed the banquet to attend the track and field provincials, where she won the junior girls 3000m and placed fifth in the 1500m.

The Junior Male Athlete of the Year was Zach Waddington, who went to provincials with the junior boys basketball team and also plays with the Parksville Royals of the B.C. Premier Baseball League.

The Sportsperson of the Year award was shared by Tyler Hudson and Sartaj Dale. Both were members of the school’s basketball teams, and Hudson was also a lineman for the midget Cowichan Bulldogs during the fall football season.

“It’s a great honour,” Hudson said. “It’s great to be recognized.”

“A lot of people believed in us,” Dale added.

While they aren’t sure right now where their athletic careers will take them, Dale will head to UVic next year, and Hudson is bound for Camosun College.

The G.D. Corsan Scholar Athlete of the Year award went to Sara Lowes, who put up a 4.0 GPA over the school year while also playing for Cowichan’s senior field hockey and rugby teams. She will also play for the B.C. provincial field hockey team this summer.

“It means so much to me,” Lowes said. “I’m so excited. So overwhelmed. There are so many people who I’ve gone to school with for years who are so talented and smart.”

Lowes credited her competitive nature with allowing her to accomplish so much as an athlete and a student.

“I’m very competitive with athletics and academics,” she said. “I strive to succeed in both. I’ve learned so much in both.”

What Lowes will remember best about her time at Cowichan Secondary is the connection she has felt with the teams she has played on.

“Jen [Budding], my field hockey coach, calls it the T-Bird Spirit, the T-Bird in your heart,” she explained.

Lowes will head to the University of British Columbia next fall, where she will play for the Thunderbirds field hockey team and work on her Bachelor of Science with the goal of going to medical school.

She wondered if one day, she might return to the awards banquet as the guest speaker, as 2012 graduate Mitch Knippelberg did this year.

“I hope one year I’m called back to the athletic banquet here to speak,” she said. “Maybe they’ll want me here one day as well.”