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Fleetwood Park Secondary teacher Nancy Champagne has won the BC School Sports Female Provincial Coach of the Year Award.
The award recognizes her commitment to coaching cross country, and track and field, for more than 30 years, plus her work as an athletic board member, a zone coordinator, and a provincial commissioner.
“Through all of that, she has remained a tireless advocate for athletics and the importance of sport within our schools,” say Fleetwood Park’s athletic director Mike Sweeney and principal Cory McLaughlin in their nomination letter.
They note Champagne had coached more than 2,500 different athletes with an ‘all welcome’ policy, and her track and field teams won the Surrey Championships more than 15 years in a row after Fleetwood Park opened in 1993.
“This is testimony both to her coaching ability as well as her capacity to motivate athletes to do things they didn’t think were possible,” they add.
Student athletes need opportunities to compete and as Surrey’s cross country co-ordinator Champagne has organized five or six big races every year over the past two decades. She is the current B.C. high school provincial cross country commissioner. She also played an instrumental role in creating a separate governing body for cross country, the nomination says.
Furthermore, Champagne introduced the first BC School Sports Junior Championship and lowered the entry fee from $40 to $15 per student athlete to help expand the accessibility of her sport and increase participation in it.
“I was totally surprised,” says Champagne after discovering she had won the award. “I didn’t even know I was nominated.”
Champagne, whose main jobs are teaching Humanities 9 and co-ordinating the Health and Career Education program for grades 8 and 9 at Fleetwood Park, is proud of the coaching and organizational networks that have been developed in Surrey.
“Surrey is well taken care of,” she says. “We get a lot of support and there are a lot of school districts that do not.”
But, like all good coaches, she has identified areas for improvement. “I would like to encourage more young coaches to be involved,” she says.