New Brunswick Sport Awards recognize dedicated volunteers, Paralympians

Still of some of the nominees for the athlete of the year ward. (Submitted: Sports NB)

On Nov. 18, Sport New Brunswick hosted the annual New Brunswick Sport Awards in Fredericton, which aim to recognize outstanding achievements of New Brunswick athletes, teams, coaches, officials and volunteers across the province. 

Adam Matchett won Volunteer Administrator of the Year for his work with Aboriginal Sport and Recreation New Brunswick (ASRNB). He first began with the organization in 2018 and mainly assists with their hockey and paddling programs. 

“I was humbled to win,” said Matchett. “You volunteer to help kids. You don’t do it for recognition, so when you actually get recognition for it, it’s rewarding for sure.” 

Before joining ASRNB, Matchett had experience coaching minor hockey in Miramichi and in the schooling system, but got his start with the organization at the North American Hockey Championships. The following year, he had the chance to travel to Whitehorse as a coach. 

“As a volunteer and as a coach you’re being rewarded by the places you see and helping the kids you get to help,” he said. 

Still of Adam Matchett, winner for the Vo0lunteer of the year award. (Submitted: Sport NB)

One of his favourite memories comes from a paddling program he ran a few years ago, where they got to send two children home with a bike and a canoe, respectively. After joking with one of the workers at the entrance to Tobique First Nation each morning when he brought canoes in for the paddling, the worker’s son ironically won the prize for the canoe at the end of the program. In another ironic twist, the boy’s brother won the bike, making it the first time he owned his own bike in a large family of over 10. 

“It’s pretty nice to know that that big family now was also going to have a canoe that if they want to go paddling, living there on the water, that would be something they could do.,” said Matchett. “As well as with the new techniques and skills that they learned.”

Moncton swimmer Danielle Dorris took home the Female Athlete of the Year Award, after a strong performance at the World Para Swimming Championships this summer. 

Still of Danielle Norris winner of winner for Athlete of the Year at the New Brunswick Sports Awards. (Submitted: Sports New Brunswick)

Held in Manchester, Dorris won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze. Though she was nervous to go up on stage and accept the award, Dorris was confident she could win after her successful year of swimming. 

After being disappointed with her previous year, she was happy with her performance in Manchester leading into the Paris Paralympics in 2024. 

“Having won all these medals and performing to the best of my abilities at that point and helping myself from the year before, I think I was just very happy and relieved that I got back to the spot where I can be happy with my performances,” she said. 

Dorris got her start swimming in Ontario before she moved to Moncton and swam for the Club de Natation Bleu et Or (CNBO). 

Her favourite swimming memory came at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics,held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic), where she broke a world record in the women’s 50-metre butterfly S7 with a time of 33.51 seconds.

“Because it was COVID times they had us putting our medals on ourselves, so I had asked my coach to come with me to put my medal on which was a very special moment for the two of us,” said Dorris. 

Now she is looking towards trials for the 2024 Paralympics in Paris, which are happening in May of 2024 in Montréal. 

“Coming out with four medals this time was just a shock,” said Dorris. “I think it just bodes well for what this year is going to come to so I’m very excited for this Paralympics that are happening this summer.”

If she makes Team Canada once again, it would be her third time representing the country at the Paralympic stage. Her first was when she was only 13 years old, at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. 

“My career kind of rocketed and then I haven’t stopped.”