Passion was the theme of evening when the 48th Cornwall Lions Club Sports Awards Dinner took place Wednesday night at the Best Western Parkway Inn.
Approximately 300 attended the annual event which honoured local athletes, coaches and supporters in a variety of sports.
Guest speaker, Matt Dunigan, a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, spoke to the crowd, addressing in particular the student athletes about living with passion and the importance of education.
“If you don’t pass you don’t play. Get your priorities straight.”
The two-time Grey Cup winner who now works as an analyst for TSN recounted his time in the CFL, up to his last game 16 years ago, the moment he realized, after a hard hit, that his career was over.
“Live with passion. Respect your gifts. Train hard, attack life,” said Dunigan who also addressed parents in the crowd warning them about being too critical of their children’s performance in sports. He said to trust that the coaches are doing their job.
“Learn from my mistakes,” said the father of three.
More than 50 awards were given out with the highlight of the evening, The Jacques Richard Trophy, going to Cornwall and area’s top sports personality.
Rod Simpson received the award, for his contribution to, and passion for, the game of football.
Simpson began as a defensive tackle at General Vanier from ‘81 to ’83, then returned as a coach in 2003 prior to spearheading the junior program at St. Joseph’s in 2005.
As a founding member of the Wildcats program in 2004, while also serving a term as the club’s president, Simpson has been instrumental in its success. The program currently has more than 500 players.
“This is a huge honour; I was actually really shocked,” said a visibly emotional Simpson, who shared, during his acceptance speech, that his mother had passed away last week after a battle with cancer.
Jacques Richard, the trophy’s namesake, was a talented young area baseball player who died in a boating accident, at the age of 18, in 1958.
The first recipient of the award, Doug Carpenter, a former NHL coach, was on hand to present Simpson with the honour. They were joined by Jim McDonald of the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame, and John Gordon of the Lion’s Club.
The Joe Assaly Top Junior award presented to Kristian Rasenberg.