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2020 Row NS Award Winners

Junior Rower of the Year - Tom Stender - Halifax Rowing Club

Junior Rower of the Year

Tom Stender has proven his dedication and commitment to the sport of rowing is unwavering, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Throughout the 2020 winter training season, Tom trained twice a day in preparation for the 2020 Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association Championships, and when in-person rowing was shut down, he immediately adjusted to maintain a high level of training while in lockdown. When all 2020 regattas were canceled, Tom identified new training goals that he could control, by focusing on areas in his fitness, technique, and cross-training. He continued to train on a high-performance schedule while leading a variety of virtual and socially distanced team activities that helped his teammates cope with the isolation during lockdown. Tom was one of the biggest supporters of HRC’s isolation challenges and stood out as a leader with his ability to adapt to the circumstances of COVID-19.

In August 2020, following an on-water season dedicated to developing his individual goals, Tom Stender pulled another personal best 2000m test, with a time that earned him a spot on the Nova Scotia Provincial Team’s Performance Group. Tom’s incredible athletic performance in 2020, coupled with his ability to maintain a mid-90’s average in advanced level courses at school, have earned him a spot in Queen’s University Men’s Rowing program.

Tom’s tireless dedication to his training as a high-performance junior athlete, coupled with his strong leadership skills and adaptability, have allowed him to thrive during a difficult year. Throughout the past year, Tom set new personal bests and sought out opportunities to hone his skills as a competitive athlete, in a year when all competitions were canceled.

His nominee writes, “I have truly never met an athlete who is more driven, disciplined or supportive of their teammates. Tom makes the boathouse a welcoming and inclusive place, but his passion for the sport of rowing pushes everyone around him to become better athletes, and people in all aspects of their lives.”

Senior Rower of the Year - Dawson Peachey - North Star Rowing Club

Senior Rower of the Year

“Dawson was an all-around club guy this summer, while also training as a Provincial Team athlete. As one of the summer student coaches, he took A LOT of initiative in helping out with a huge variety of things at the club. He was an integral part in the process of reopening the club, ensuring that the COVID protocols were followed, and making sure that all sessions were covered by one of the coaches.”

When the club’s Head Coach needed to step back due to work commitments, Dawson took on the very tricky position of coaching his peers. He coached the competitive program a few times a week, doing his own training on his own. He asked other coaches at the club a lot of questions, trying to learn as much as he could and to improve as a coach. Going into the winter training he took on the task of creating weekly training programs. He is keen to further his coach education.

On top of his coaching, Dawson is keen to participate as an athlete as well. He is always looking to do what he can- if he is early, waiting to be picked up at the end of the day, or at the club, without something to do for some other reason he will always find something that he can be doing (vacuuming, sweeping out the bays, cleaning bathrooms, etc). I think it says a lot that he has remained so dedicated to his training all while coaching various groups, including his peers.

Masters Rower of the Year - Mark Sebestik - Mic Mac AAC

Masters Rower of the Year
“Mark started rowing 2017 after seeing how much his son was enjoying and benefitting from the sport. His curiosity quickly became an obsession, and he embraced all things related to rowing – daily training on the water, followed by daily training in the winter on the erg, in the weight room, and running. He is a student of the sport, frequently sharing tidbits from his own research, and constantly seeking to improve. He can proudly count on one hand the number of practices he has missed since 2017, and in all cases made up for it with an extra workout on his own.”
In addition to being an active member of the club's indoor and on-water programs in 2020, he expanded his rowing circle by joining two coastal rowing events - the Mahone Bay Islands Coastal Rowing Tour, and the inaugural row to Tancook Island. When rowing at the club was not an option due to COVID, he kept himself fit and active with kayaking and running, and was in top form when we were able to resume rowing.
Mark has taken on several leadership roles at the club. In 2019 he accepted the role of Treasurer for Mic Mac AAC - not just for the rowing program, but for the entire club (rowing, paddling, catering, and venue rentals), managing an annual budget of $800,000. Mark’s personality is a wonderful mix of kindness and persistence. This, combined with excellent attention to detail, has helped him build trust within all levels at the club. As a result, numerous old issues have been addressed, and he is implementing changes to help modernize and streamline the accounting practices at the club.
On top of his own training and treasury work, Mark has also taken on the challenge of becoming a Coach. He has completed the Learn to Row Coach training and is actively involved with leading Adult Indoor Learn to Row programs. Mark has quickly built a reputation as someone who is reliable, consistent, fair, and skilled at the work he does, making him an excellent teammate and motivator for all.

Coach Innovator of the Year - Holly Davy - Halifax Rowing Club

Coach Innovator of the Year
“I think it is well known across the province what Holly has done for HRC through the pandemic, but she has also offered lots to all of our member clubs!”
Through the pandemic, Holly Davy has gone above and beyond to support her athletes. Holly created monthly wellness and fitness challenges outside her coaching duties, keeping many athletes engaged and interested from home. If not for her innovative and engaging club challenges, many of the athletes would have lost motivation and physical fitness. She vastly contributed to the overall positive health and wellbeing of HRC members, as well as many other NS rowers. Additionally, if other club coaches lost motivation to engage with members, Holly consistently stepped up and prioritized the wellbeing of the athletes.
“Holly Davy really stepped up to support HRC athletes during the initial COVID-19 shutdown, providing motivation and social interaction by organizing and managing various online events and challenges, a portal she created to share information about training, gear, motivation, and nutrition. She worked with the HRC Board to plan and implement a back to rowing plan, and then made sure that COVID-19 protocols were followed while also allowing for good rowing and training experiences with a strong focus on technique, and ensuring that those rowers who weren't experienced with 1x rowing were given the attention they needed to succeed.”
Holly works hard every single day to make the club stronger and more inclusive for every athlete, and always promotes a sense of family and togetherness even when we cannot train together. She is always engaging with the club members, whether through a check-in phone call or a quick text to see how everyone is doing. “It is astonishing how much she has done for the athletes during such a tough year."

Mileage Award - Julia Mills - North Star Rowing Club

Mileage Award

"Julia is an integral member of the North Star Senior Program and has been for a number of years. Whether she is the only athlete to show up, or lining up beside a men's double, or hopping into a crew boat, or joining in with another group's session, Julia always shows up and is keen to join in. She is ready and willing to learn, always looking to improve, and is learning to challenge herself by getting out of her comfort zone. She does a fantastic job of maintaining and celebrating her club connection in many ways."

She is a consistent face in the North Star community and welcomes everyone, no matter age or level of ability, or years involved, in any way she can. She is keen to hop in with any crew for a race and she enjoys racing as often as possible. This past year, Julia was determined to participate in any form of race that was available to her-- whether that be club time trials, the virtual Sprints Regatta, the Atlantic Indoor Rowing Champs (the last in-person event before the pandemic), or the very first Beast of the East challenges. Her love and passion for the sport and the people involved are easy to see in her commitment to the club and the well-being of her teammates and members of the larger rowing community.

Umpire of the Year - Julie-Ann Vincent - North Star Rowing Club

Umpire of the Year
"It has been a challenging year for the rowing community without regattas and racing, but Julie-Ann’s efforts and planning to make regattas run more efficiently, safely and fairly never stops and will only help Row NS once racing resumes."

Julie-Ann demonstrated her commitment to the Nova Scotia rowing community through her efforts on the newly formed Row NS Umpire Committee and sitting on the RCA Umpire Committee. Her work on these two committees has ensured that, although no regattas are occurring, Nova Scotia and our umpires are at the forefront of the rules of racing, new information pertaining to umpires and discussions on COVID protocols at regattas. Additionally, Julie-Ann has continued the pursuit of her own personal growth as an umpire by planning to attend Chief Umpire training when COVID allows the training to occur.

Volunteer of the Year - Michelle Raiche-Marsden - Mic Mac AAC

Volunteer of the Year

Michelle burst onto the rowing scene at Mic Mac AAC in June 2015 in one of our Adult Learn to Row programs. Since that time, she has continued with year-round training, eventually transitioning to the Master’s Adult Competitive programs. Her vivacious personality, experience running a sport program, and dedication to the club draws people to want to work with her.

In 2016 she joined the Mic Mac AAC Board as a Rowing Representative, serving in the role of Secretary throughout 2020. It takes excellent diplomacy skills and patience to move initiatives forward, and Michelle has made significant strides down that road. She is the first member of the rowing program in recent memory to take on an executive role with the Board, creating an environment that others want to be part of. She stays focussed on long-term, strategic activities, and empowers other volunteers. That being said, she will roll up her sleeves to put docks in and out, scrub the floor, knit hats for the entire crew, or any other tasks needed.

Michelle helped integrate weekly swimming practices as part of our winter training program. In early 2020 Michelle co-lead a club initiative to host “Swim, Row, Go!” - a triathlon-style event that involved swimming, erging,  and an outdoor run. Michelle leads all of the logistics aspects of this event by coordinating with the venue to secure space for all three activities and transition zones, as well as arranging an online registration platform. The event was scheduled for April 2020, so was unfortunately canceled due to COVID.

“Michelle is a force to be reckoned with, an excellent support to her peers, a ton of fun to spend time and train with, and above all, an effective and dedicated leader at our club. Not only is Michelle involved, but six members of her immediate and extended family have been involved in rowing programs. She is a tremendous promoter of the sport and of our club!”

President's Award - Holly Davy - Halifax Rowing Club

President's Award
"Holly is unfailingly positive and enthusiastic, which many of us struggled to be this year. Without Holly rowing in NS would have been vastly bleaker this year. She situates HRC in the broader context of rowing around the world by interacting with Canadian, American, and World Rowing accounts in ways that have led to both club member engagement and increased awareness of the HRC on a larger stage."
She is also an inter-club builder here in NS, consistently supporting other clubs' achievements and efforts. When the second lockdown took effect in Halifax, Holly ran an advent calendar for rowers. She is in daily contact with members of HRC, keeping them on track and engaged. She supports all rowing initiatives in Nova Scotia, and her enthusiasm is infectious. She has been largely responsible for the retention of athletes' to the HRC, in particular, the cadre of juniors that love rowing and simply, love being around her.
What is perhaps most admirable, though, is that Holly does not view coaching or leading as the mere act of training physical bodies. Rather she is consistently focused on athletes' emotional and mental well-being and on the very human need to have fun. It would be rare to have two days go by without a solid post from Holly reminding us why we love rowing and keeping us up on all the rowing happenings around the world.