VIDEO: Okanagan’s Minard moved by top athlete accolade

Panthers football team, Wray also honoured in 25th anniversary awards

VERNON — Getting jolted with more than 14,400 volts of electricity with approximately five amps of current is about 500 per cent more than most humans can withstand before their bodies shut down.

Curt Minard survived the 2008 B.C. Hydro accident and lived to talk about it as a motivational speaker. He lost his left hand and endured several surgery complications but bypassed the pity parties and eventually dove right into sports.

The 39-year-old father of two sons is living life to the fullest and was bursting with smiles Tuesday night as he accepted the 25th annual Tim Hortons North Okanagan Athlete of the Year trophy at Lakers Clubhouse.

Minard was a member of Canada’s snowboard team at the Paralympic Games in South Korea after bagging a bronze medal in a pre-Paralympic test race in PyeongChang. He captured gold with Canada’s Standing Amputee Hockey team at the 2012 World Championships in Finland.

“This is the 10-year accident anniversary for me — my accident happened 10 years ago — and I look back and think about where I came from, and to be honoured with such a prestigious award from my community, I’m just very thankful for that honour,” said Minard, who was born and raised in Weyburn, Sask.

“When you put a story out there when you’ve touched death two or three different times, people really start to chime in and ask all the nitty, gritty questions about what really happened and how close to death I was, and to come from laying in a hospital bed to being part of world championship hockey teams to the success I’ve had in snowboarding the last couple of years. Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought like I would have accomplished that. It’s such an extreme honour to know you have a community like Vernon behind you.”

Minard plans to relax and reflect on a hectic season with his family this summer. He aims to keep competing and badly wants a World Cup snowboard gold medal. He is still employed with Hydro.

“I’m a foreman powerline technician so I look after our apprentice program. I’ve got about 100 apprentices all over British Columbia so when I’m not chasing snow all over the world, I’m chasing apprentices all over British Columbia,” he laughed.

Nordic skier Hannah Mehain, 19, was the runner-up. Mehain was the top Canadian finisher at the world junior championships in Switzerland last February.

Longtime Vernon Viper hockey team owner Duncan Wray was posthumously given the Leadership Award. His daughter Erica accepted it for the family.

“To see the impact he’s had on the community as a whole and on the hockey team specifically — and for athletes in general — it’s really special to me to see the legacy live on,” said Erica.

“He made this community his home. He moved here before I was born and he was ever since. He’s instilled that love of Vernon in me. I’ve chosen to come back after school and I’ll raise my family here. It’s just a really special place and it’s got a lot of memories with my dad.”

Wray says her family is carrying on ownership of the Vipers, with her mom, Libby, the new owner and governor.

“There’s definitely a learning curve, but it’s something that was so important to my dad, and it’s important to the whole family to see it succeed and to have his legacy live on and continue to watch these players grow as players and young men and athletes, and continue on in their lives,” said Erica.

Ian Murphy, who founded the European FC and futsal programs for local youth soccer players three years ago, was the runner-up.

The Vernon Secondary School (VSS) Panthers, who went undefeated en route to taking a B.C. junior football championship at B.C. Place, took Team of the Year honours.

VSS head coach Sean Smith says it was a perfect season in many ways as his players worked and played like champions. They were the first Vernon team to win a provincial junior or senior football title and the first Interior team to ever claim a B.C. junior football crown.

“We went into probably every game this year being smaller in stature and size than everybody we played, but there was a lot of fight in these guys, and they were competitors, and we always seemed to come out on top because they were skilled and they had will,” said Smith, whose senior Cats claimed Team of the Year last year.

Smith said the Panthers are striving to be better as the bar gets raised each season.

“These guys are only in Grade 10 and they’ve got the attitude and the commitment to do some good things for a couple more years.”

The Vernon Coca-Cola Midget Tier 3 Vipers hockey team, coached by Casey Sherriff, were the runner-up choice after a one-loss season.

The awards are chosen by a panel of community and media representatives, including Funtastic founder John Topping, Tim Hortons franchisee Dan Currie, former city councillor Jack Gilroy, Ken Richardson, Betty Selin Pete McIntyre, Josh Winquist and Kevin Mitchell.

 

VSS Panther coach Sean Smith, left, athlete of the year Curt Minard and leadership award winner Erica Wray celebrate with the 25th anniversary Tim Hortons North Okanagan Athletic Awards cake. (Kevin Mitchell/Morning Star)

Erica Wray receives the 25th annual Tim Hortons North Okanagan Leadership trophy on behalf of her late father, Duncan Wray, from committee directors Kevin Mitchell, left, and John Topping.

The VSS Junior Panthers receive the 25th annual Tim Hortons North Okanagan Team of the Year trophy from Dan Currie of Tim Hortons. The provincial champion Cats, from left, Brady Szeman, Zack Smith, Caden Danbrook, Matthew Reich and head coach Sean Smith. (Kevin Mitchell/Morning Star)

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