District Celebrates Athletic Excellence

May 29, 2023

Teachers, coaches, and other District staff gathered last week at the Langley Events Centre to recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions that coaches have made to their respective sports, and to student-athletes across the District.

The annual District Athletics Evening, held Friday, May 26 and emceed by Fort Langley Elementary principal Logan Kitteringham, was an opportunity not just to honour some of the District’s longest-serving coaches, but also a chance for staff from all schools to gather, share stories and learn from one another.

After welcoming speeches from assistant superintendents Marcello Moino and Lisa Lainchbury, and from deputy superintendent Woody Bradford, the biggest award of the evening was handed out.

The 2023 Jim Ehman Memorial ‘Difference Maker’ Award was given to Nicole Saumier, a longtime teacher and coach at H.D. Stafford Middle School.

The Difference Maker award is given annually “in recognition of an individual who has coached a minimum of 10 years, and who has exemplified the Langley School District’s core values of integrity, courage, community and excellence throughout their coaching career.”

Prior to Saumier accepting the award from Gary Lutes, who won the award last year, a video tribute to Saumier was played featuring testimonials from coaching and teaching colleagues past and present, as well as from family members. A large contingent of colleagues were also on hand to celebrate with her.

The video tribute also noted, as Saumier herself mentioned in her speech, that she never expected her career to included coaching at all. Originally, she was more interested in music and the arts, but one day, her school at the time needed someone to coach girls basketball, and when asked if she could do it, she said, “Sure.”

Saumier soon discovered her love for basketball, and went on to coach hundreds of middle school girls through the years. Regardless of skill level, Saumier said she was never one to cut a player from a team, believing instead that every student deserved a chance to play.

Coaching Excellence Awards were also handed out by Jonathan Harris and John Hantke, both members of the District’s Athletic Committee. Two coaches were honoured for 30-plus years of service – Rory Allen (Basketball, Cross-Country, Golf) and Wendy Cook (Badminton, Basketball, Cheerleading, Cross-Country, Gymnastics, Track and Field, Volleyball).

As well, five coaches were honoured for 20-plus years of coaching – Troy Bannister (Hockey, Track and Field, Volleyball), Debbie Davidson (Gymnastics, Volleyball, Track and Field), Greg McNeill (Soccer, Badminton, Track and Field), Vicki Nirranen (Swimming) and Aaron Rowe (Basketball, Cross-Country, Rugby, Soccer).

The evening wrapped up with a short speech from superintendent Mal Gill, who spoke about the importance sports has played in his own life, while also thanking all teachers and coaches in the District who go the extra mile for our student-athletes.

See gallery below for highlights from the evening:

Athletic Banquet-02