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Unity coach surprised at annual awards night

UCHS vice principal received Battle West Excellence in Coaching Award and Award of Merit from SHSAA.

UNITY – Unity Composite High School held their annual Warrior Night on May 16, recognizing the many students that excel in the athletic department of high school extra-curricular activities. While most years the recognition is given to the students, this year one coach was in for a surprise.

Ken Parker was presented with not one, but two awards at the end of the program, the Battle West Excellence in Coaching Award and the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association's Award of Merit. Unbeknownst to him, staff members at the school, friends and family all worked together to put forth his name for the two honours.

Principal Aaron Melnyk was the one to present the Battle West Excellence in Coaching Award to Parker. In Melnyk’s speech, he recognized Parker as a “cornerstone in the athletics program for decades.”

“Throughout his extensive coaching career, Ken has impacted the lives of hundreds, if not maybe even thousands of athletes. His commitment to their development, both as players and individuals, is unparalleled,” continued Melnyk.

The principal continued to say that Parker is a modest coach, dedicated to maximizing participation, growth and community.

“His name is recognized and respected across the province. Coaches, athletic directors and executive members alike admire his community centred values and his workout, but his passion and energy are well known as seen by his antics on the sidelines,” he added.

Just as Melnyk finished his presentation, Graeme Gieni, vice-principal at Unity Public School and District Officials Commissioner for Battle West, ran into the gymnasium with a megaphone and Battle West flag. His stall tactic worked long enough for another group of people came onto the stage.

Greg Mamer who is with the Battle West district, presented another award to Parker, the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association Award of Merit, the highest award that is bestowed upon individuals. Parker’s wife, Anita and children Kyle, Layne and Kasey were all on hand to witness the momentous occasion.

Mamer said the award is to honour people with outstanding leadership and services with the SHSAA, along with contributions to the total program of the SHSAA over time, much like a Hall of Fame.

“There are a limited number of these awards handed out in Saskatchewan every year. Ken is a first ballot Merit Award winner,” added Mamer.

Greg Knot, who is the incoming president for the SHSAA organization, spoke on behalf of president Brad Nemish. Parker was identified as “a champion of high school sport and will continue to be for years to come,” as well as a “true Warrior.”

Mary Linnell, who is a Merit Award winner and past president of the SHSAA, also had a chance to speak on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Living Sky School Division.  She spoke on how instrumental Parker was when Battle West was becoming a new district, which is now known as one of the best districts in the province.

A special message from Kelly Schneider was also shared via video. He and Parker have worked alongside each other as Battle West representatives, becoming close friends. Schneider teased Parker throughout the video, ending it by saying he was happy and proud of him receiving such an honour.

Parker has been a teacher at UCHS for 29 years, starting in 1995. Along with his commitments to the school, Parker also became a part of the community joining the Kinsmen Club and the golf club. With his volunteerism in coaching various sports, within and out of the high school, Parker was chosen to be Unity’s Citizen of the Year in 2015.

Although Parker did not address the audience, he appeared extremely honoured and surprised, bringing tears to his eyes and a huge smile to his face.