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Track and field athletes from across Nova Scotia honour departed coach during provincials


Parents pushing for para and special athletes to contribute to school teams score

WOLFVILLE, N.S. —

1,000 athletes, 100 coaches, parents, friends and more descended upon the Acadia Athletics Complex on May 31 and June 1 for the annual NSSAF track and field provincial championships.

The event was named in honour of beloved coach Steve Wohlmuth, who passed away in March earlier this year. His passing impacted many athletes competing during the day, especially those from the Western region.

Emmalee Harvey, 16, from Central Kings Rural High School, competed in shot put and discus at the event and was previously coached by Wohlmuth.

“I really like coming to provincials because it just means a lot to get here,” Harvey said. “I’m really proud of myself, especially after the loss of my coach earlier this season and it’s just been a little harder getting back to where I was before.”

But, she added that she’s excited to compete today, something she’s doing for Wohlmuth.

“He was always on the bright side of things, he never really talked about the negative, he focused on getting better to reach your goals,” she said. “He was always cheerful and made you feel good about what you were doing.”

“I know he’ll be watching everybody today,” she added.

Milena Ramirez, 16, from Horton High School, competed in discus, shot put and javelin.

She said it was great to bring the province’s track athletes to her community and highlight the area.

“I never been part of hosting one of these before, and it’s really cool to see,” Ramirez said.

Wohlmuth was also Ramirez’ coach, and his absence was being felt by her as well.

“It’s been pretty hard, but we made it,” she said.

Read More:

A lot to learn from Wohlmuth's legacy 

Petition for special and para athletes

Lana MacEachern of Caribou River, Pictou County, said she’s concerned that special and para athletes weren’t receiving the same recognition at the event and has started a petition to get that changed.

“I started the petition when I learned that para and special track and field athletes, who compete at NSSAF school meets, were not being awarded performance points that would contribute toward their schools’ attempts to win banners,” MacEachern said. “Their efforts were not being counted for their school in the way that their able-bodied teammates’ efforts were.”

MacEachern’s son is an able-bodied high school track and field athlete, who has competed for his school for the past three years, but they were not aware that this disparity existed until reading a Facebook post by Vanessa Knock, the mother of Quentin Knock, a Grade 12 para track and field athlete at Amherst Regional High School. Vanessa Knock has been pushing the organization to change this.

“It’s simply inexcusable for the para and special athletes to not be acknowledged in the same way for their efforts,” she said. “It’s sending the message that they are not truly part of their schools’ teams, that their efforts don’t matter. These athletes do very much matter. They train just as hard and give as much effort as their other teammates.”

MacEachern wrote a letter to the NSSAF director, expressing her concerns and began an online petition (link - http://chng.it/GLLxmBZ6) which calls on the NSSAF to award para and special track and field athletes the same performance points based on their results as they do for able-bodied athletes, which would then count as part of a school’s point total.

The NSSAF just announced the addition of a new banner for the provincial track and field meet, which will consider the performances of para and special athletes.

For MacEachern, this is a good start, but she remains hopeful the para and special athlete points would be tallied with the others in the long term.

Dale Sanford, Western Regional Director of the NSSAF said he can appreciate the concerns of those bringing this issue to the forefront.

“I think the issue has always been just that the numbers of para athletes have not been that high,” Sanford said. “In response to the feedback we received we came up with the Chairman’s banner, which is a short term solution, and we’ll see where it leads next year.”

Sanford also said that the Track and Field Provincials represents one of the best events the organization runs, bringing together hundreds of athletes, coaches and parents from across the province.

The provincials continue into June 1. 

Record-breaking season for Avon View Track & Field

Leading up the provincials, Avon View High School experienced a record-breaking season.

Coach Ian Shaw said this track and field season is proving to be one of the best on record for athletes and coaches at Avon View High School in Windsor, NS.

With a record number of 50 athletes competing —thanks in part to a new throwing program—the school has broken seven records and tied one, brought home the Senior Boys Western Regional Championship Banner, and has 20 athletes heading to provincials.

“The commitment and dedication from our athletes over the past several years has been very impressive,” Shaw said. “The crazy thing is that the record-setting season probably hasn’t ended yet because we still have the Provincial track meet this weekend.”

At the NSSAF Kings-Hants District competition at Acadia University May 8–9, there were 10 district records broken or tied during the competition, seven of which were by Avon View athletes:

Intermediate Boys

•    400m, new record: Zach James, 52.36

Senior Girls

•    Triple Jump, new record: Taylor O’Leary, 10.25 metres

Senior Boys

•    100m, new record: Dan Lord, 10.81

•    200m, new record: Dan Lord, 22.42

•    400m, tied record: Dan Lord, 51.29 (Lord now shares the record with former Avon View teammate Noah James)

•    3000m, new record: Jacob Benoit, 9:08.34 (bettering his own record set the previous year)

•    4x400m relay, new record: 3:38.91 (Austin Cleveland, Robert Williamson, Benoit, Lord)

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