He and his family no longer live here and he hasn’t worn Richmond Minor Hockey colours for nearly a decade, yet Troy Stecher’s hometown will always be close to his heart.
He was back in familiar territory Thursday night, being honoured at the Richmond Sports Council’s 18th annual Richmond Sports Awards.
Stecher was named the Richmond News Sports Person of the Year after a remarkable 2016 that saw him help the University of North Dakota win the NCAA Division One Championship, then sign with the Vancouver Canucks. He was called up from the American Hockey League in late October and would go on to play 71 games — producing 24 points while being among the team leaders in ice time.
The 23-year-old unassumingly strolled into the McMath Secondary School’s rotunda and quietly sat at a back table with his mom Tracey. Many at the packed banquet were unsure who this nominee was until he accepted his award at evening’s end. Then came the flood of photo requests.
“It’s always good to come back to Richmond. I went to Dixon Elementary right down the street from here,” Stecher smiled. “It’s important to give back to the roots that helped raise you and show your face around the city that has helped you.”
He is currently doing some rehab from nagging injuries as part of the wear and tear from the NHL regular season grind. It will then be an intense summer training schedule that will even include the Grouse Grind once a week.
“The off-season is definitely longer than we would have liked but it’s exciting times right now in our organization with so many young faces gearing up for next year.”
Others honoured on the night included race walker Evan Dunfee — winner of the Richmond Sports Council Award of Distinction — who became one of the faces of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games for his courage and sportsmanship in the 50 km race walk.
The evening was mostly about the celebration of sports in the city — honouring the volunteers and many up-and-coming athletes.
There was the tireless Chris Kennedy — winner of the Don Fennell Award of Distinction — for his efforts working with youth basketball and community swimming. Others such as post-secondary male athlete of the year and SFU golfer Chris Crisologo was fresh off winning the conference championship two days earlier. Kajaks standout and youth female athlete of the year co-winner Camryn Rogers is getting ready to put her name in the B.C. High School Track and Field record book later this month.
So much talent and so much dedication.
Here are all of the evening’s winners:
High School Female: Valerie Wideski (Rugby, McRoberts Strikers).
High School Male: Fardaws Aimaq (Basketball, Steveston-London).
Youth Female: Bianca Go (Wushu, Wushu Canada), Camryn Rogers (Track and Field, Kajaks).
Youth Male: Daniel Judkowicz (Ball Hockey, Richmond/South Delta Ball Hockey).
Post Secondary Female: Shayla Kaplan (Softball, UBC).
Post Secondary Male: Chris Crisologo (Golf, Simon Fraser).
Junior Female: Noemie Thomas (Swimming, Swim Canada/Cal-Berkeley).
Junior Male: Nicolaas Dekker (Swimming, Richmond Rapids).
Adult Male: Tawfiq Jamal (Soccer, Richmond Adult Soccer Association).
Adult Female: Becky Hartley (Baseball, Team Canada), Caitlin Davie (Soccer, Club Ireland/Richmond FC).
Special Olympics: Jonathan Dieleman (Swimming).
Youth Female: Richmond Pee Wee Ravens (Hockey, Richmond Ravens).
Youth Male: Richmond 15U AAA Chuckers (Baseball, Richmond City Chuckers).
Adult Team: Aftermath (Cheer/Panther Athletics), Richmond F.C. (Soccer, Club Ireland).
Mixed Team: Dynamo Fencing (Fencing, Dynamo Fencing).
Support and Special Recognition
Official: Rick Sedola (Softball, Richmond Girls Softball Association).
Coach: Rob Pettifer (Swimming, Richmond Rapids).
Adminstrator: Doug Newstead (Soccer, Richmond Adult Soccer Association).
Don Fennell Award of Distinction: Chris Kennedy (Basketball/Swimming, Richmond Youth Basketball League/Richmond Kigoos).
Richmond Sports Council Award of Distinction: Evan Dunfee (Race Walking, Team Canada).
Richmond News Sports Person of the Year: Troy Stecher (Hockey, University of North Dakota/Vancouver Canucks).