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Leaders in recreation
Mother, daughter among Fort Simpson recipients of Sport North honours

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Fort Simpson residents have been recognized for their contribution to, and performance in, sport in the NWT.

NNSL photo/graphic

Showing their awards presented at a Sport North banquet in Yellowknife Saturday are Val Gendron, left, Madison Pilling and Shane Thompson, all of Fort Simpson. - photo courtesy of Roger Pilling

Shane Thompson, Val Gendron and Madison Pilling were each presented with a Sport North Award at the organization's annual awards banquet in Yellowknife on May 26. The awards, which began in 1977, are given out yearly to recognize athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers for their performance and contribution to sport in the territory.

Thompson received the Ruth Inch Memorial Contributor to Sport Award. The award is named in memory of the late Inch, who contributed to sport in many ways including as a coach, official, administrator and fundraiser.

Thompson said he was honoured to receive the award. He went on to downplay his involvement in sport saying that he just does what needs to be done and that there are many people who do the same thing and are just as deserving.

"To me it's just being a person who cares about what's going on in our community," he said.

Thompson began volunteering in sports at the age of 12 in Hay River when his mother volunteered to coach fastball despite the fact she didn't play the game. She recruited Thompson to help her co-coach the team.

Thompson's volunteering has grown from there to include coaching wresting, slo-pitch, track and field, hockey, basketball and volleyball over the years. He is also currently the president of the Seven Spruce Golf Course.

Thompson said he felt compelled to give back and be engaged because many people in his past took the time to help him and his siblings succeed.

"I always had the feeling one good deed deserves another," he said.

Thompson has also been coaching youths in soccer for 15 years. Like his mother and fastball, Thompson said he didn't know much about the sport when he started but gradually developed the knowledge.

Thompson said the accomplishment he's most proud of is that all of the participants in his girls soccer team graduated from high school and have gone on to be successful in a variety of areas. Six members of his boys team have also graduated. One of the byproducts of my involvement is that success, he said.

Thompson said he's been honored over the years to be able to work with a lot of other great volunteers in Fort Simpson and the territory, people who have made commitments to youth.

"Once you are helping people it makes a big difference for the youth and your society," he said.

Thompson is now a two-time Sport North Award winner. He won the Senior Male Athlete of the Year Award in 1983.

Also in the spotlight at the banquet were Val Gendron and her daughter Madison Pilling.

Gendron received the Delma Kisoun Memorial Community Contributor Award. Kisoun began volunteering for the Northern Games at age 15 and went on to become a trusted official in Arctic Sports and the Arctic Winter Games.

This award for Gendron comes just a week and a half after she received the NWT Outstanding Volunteer Award in the individual category.

"I was proud and honoured because you're amongst your peers there who are also hard workers and volunteers," she said.

Gendron said she was also very happy for and proud of her daughter.

"She works hard," Gendron said.

Pilling, 15, received the Youth Female Athlete of the Year Award for her achievements in speedskating. The award goes to a female athlete in the age category who has excelled in her sport at various levels of competition.

"I felt honored to be recognized," she said.

This season Pilling won four bronze medals in individual races at the Arctic Winter Games and one gold in relay. She also won all her races and earned the title of overall territorial champion in her age division at the NWT Speed Skating Championships.

Pilling said her biggest accomplishment was finishing second overall in the 14-year-old female division at the Canada West Short Track Championships in Winnipeg.

She spent September to January training with the Prince George Blizzards in British Columbia. Pilling said the training definitely enhanced her performance this year.

"It's just like a focused group that's working towards similar things as you. You feel motivated to train," she said.

Pilling plans to return to Prince George this summer to do cycling and conditioning and to train with the team for at least part of the next season. Her goals for next year include going to the national short track championships to get a better sense of how she's performing compared to speedskaters from across the country, "And go from there, I guess," she said.

According to staff with Sport North, Gendron and Pilling's awards may mark the first time family members have received awards in the same year. A Fort Simpson company was also recognized at the banquet; Rowe's Construction was a nominee for the Corporate Contributor Award.

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