Ucluelet council considering fund that would support young athletes

Council declined to assist with a local athlete’s travel costs but will consider allocating funds towards athletic endeavors of local youth in the future.

Heather Morrison, a grade 10 student at Ucluelet Secondary School, competed in the National Cadet Wrestling Championships in Guelph Ontario from April 2-6.

Before she left, she asked council for some assistance with her travel expenses.

Council declined, stating the deadline for grant applications had passed, but Coun. Sally Mole wants to see the district help young athletes like Morrison in the future.

She suggested setting up a fund of $500-$1000 to help young athletes represent their hometown abroad.

“So that if we have youth from our community representing Ucluelet at a regional provincial or national level we have money set aside so we can offer some kind of financial support for those kids to represent us,” she said.

She suggested the fund should be separate from the district’s support of its schools.

“There are some things that are supported really well through the schools and I know we also support the schools in those endeavors but there are also cases where a child or youth is competing as an individual but still representing (Ucluelet).”

Coun. Randy Oliwa said there is a parks and recreation funding program that is currently underused.

“I’m constantly seeing that in our budget that it’s underspent,” he said. “We’re constantly hearing from rec. that that’s not tapped into; they may already have the money sitting there.”

District CAO Andrew Yeates said Morrison’s request did not fit into the program’s current criteria but council could adjust this criteria for 2015.

Corlozzoli noted Morrison’s request came in after the district’s Jan. 31 grant application deadline.

“Unfortunately most of the applications were received and we’re always short of funds when it comes down to the large lists of people that are in need,” he said “It’s a difficult one; it’s always nice to be able to support youth and programs but unfortunately I think were stuck in a situation where we’re spent.”

Morrison was able to raise enough funds to travel to the competition and plans to kick off local fundraising efforts to help offset some of the travel costs she incurred.

She did well in the championship, getting off to a hot start and winning her first match 7-2 against Newfoundland’s Jamie Lake but she was knocked out of medal contention after two losses to Ontario wrestlers, Jayd Davis—who went on to the gold medal match—and Jessica Jenkins.

Before leaving for Guelph she told the Westerly News she was nervous but excited to represent her community on a national stage.

“As the only person from Ucluelet going to Nationals I think it’s a great opportunity for me to represent Ucluelet and Vancouver Island,” she said. “This is all of Canada, so it’s nice to be able to know that I’m representing our small town.”

With three of her siblings having gone through Coach Mike Rhodes’ wrestling program at USS before her, Morrison comes from a family rich in wrestling success.

Her sister Sidney won gold at the 2010 Junior Canadian National wrestling tournament and won gold again at the Women’s College Wrestling Association’s College Nationals in January 2013.

Heather quickly fell in love with wrestling after being introduced to the sport by her siblings.

“It’s a nice balance between individuality and teamwork,” she said. “When you step out on the mat you’re by yourself and you’re depending on only you but you still have the rest of your team beside the mat cheering for you.”

Morrison went through several qualifiers to earn a shot at the national crown including a third-place finish at Vancouver’s ‘War on the Floor’ tournament in December.

 

reporter@westerlynews.ca