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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 17, 2004 - Issue 111


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Dave Canadian Wins Coach-of-the-Year Award

by Bob Oliver - The Eastern Door

Dave Canadian accepts coach of the Year AwardWinning the Aboriginal Sport Circle coach-of-the-year award might have come as a surprise to David Canadian, but to anyone else who learned of his recent honour, the news wasn't exactly earth-shattering.

For the past 15 years, Canadian has served as head coach of the Kahnawake Survival School wrestling team. In that time, the former Michigan High School wrestler has guided his troops to 15 consecutive Greater Montreal Athletic Association team titles and countless individual honours. He's also led his charges to many individual and team provincial championships during those years, and has coached a number of his wrestlers to high-place finishes at the national level.

He is the winningest coach in the history of GMAA athletics and if that isn't enough to merit winning a coach-of-the-year award, what is? Canadian's Sports and Recreation Unit colleague Lou Ann Stacey, for one, couldn't agree more.

"It's great that someone from our community won an award as prestigious as this one," said Stacey. "He's a tremendous role model, not just for the athletes under his guidance but for other coaches in this community as well. He works hard, he always gives a full commitment in any endeavour he takes on and he gets the best out of whomever he's coaching. He's done a fantastic job over the years with the youth in Kahnawake and he truly deserves this kind of recognition."

Winning the award was one thing. Getting to the CBC building in Toronto to receive it, was another matter altogether.

"My wife (Margie) and I drove down (to Toronto) for the Canadian Sports Awards banquet and when we got to Cornwall we ran into a huge snowstorm," said Canadian. "Then we got lost in Toronto so we ended up being a little late. However, we did get there before it was my turn to receive the award."

And his reaction to having won such a prestigious award?

"I was honoured," he said. "And I was honoured to be in the same room with such worthy athletes as (Olympians) Waneek (Horn-Miller), (gold medal wrestler) Daniel Igalie, (Alpine skiing gold medallist) Becky Scott and (bronze medallist rower) Silken Laumann. Everyone there was so down to earth it made the whole experience very pleasant. The next morning in the elevator a couple of elder ladies I never met before, recognized me and congratulated me. That, in itself was a major honour."

Canadian said he had an inkling he might win the award, but it was hairy for a while because he was up against another coach and it took the awards committee four days to decide who would get it.

"I have to thank Harley (Delaronde) for nominating me and all the people who sent letters of support on my behalf."

Finally, Canadian was cornered by The Eastern Door and coerced into letting on what it takes to be a coach-of-the-year.

"Personally, I believe it's important to talk," he confessed. "Good communication between the coach and the athlete is always a requisite.

"Sometimes young athletes have nobody else (in their life) and it's important to be honest and listen to them. First and foremost, you have to care (about the athlete). If you don't care, you shouldn't be a coach."

Ahh, that's how it's done: Putting your heart in the right place.

Coaches the world over, take heed. This man knows what he's doing. He's involved in sports for all the right reasons.

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