Not since the days of Erica Wiebe has the Stittsville community had such a huge wrestling success story to share! It starts with Erica’s alma mater, Sacred Heart High School (SHHS). Wrestling has been an active sport at SHHS since it opened 20 years ago.
In the past few years, the owner of Stittsville’s Pathway Jiu Jitsu, and a Sacred Heart alumni, Tim Hickey has been the grades 7&8 and high school varsity team community wrestling coach, giving freely of his time to both teams, attending all their matches and leading multiple practices each week. Last year, under Tim’s guidance, Sacred Heart brought home a gold and a fifth place finish at the Ontario Federation of Student Athletic Associations (OFSAA). This is the highest level of competition in the province inclusive of students from grades 9-12 with no exceptions for your age. That means novice Grade 9s can face off against seasoned grade 12s in multiple city competitions as well as at the final OFSAA competition.
What makes this year special? Scared Heart had eight wrestlers. Some of the larger Ottawa teams such as Carine Wilson or Sir Robert Borden have more than 20 wrestlers on their teams. After losing one wrestler to injury mid-season, Sacred Heart’s seven remaining wrestlers went on to win seven gold medals in each of their respective weight categories in the Ottawa West Finals. They then went on to win six gold medals and one silver medal at the Ottawa City Finals, making all seven wrestlers eligible for the big OFSAA competition. This even included one novice grade 9 wrestler. OFSAA was held this year in Ottawa from March 4-6 at TD Place for the first time in 50 years!
(Sacred Heart Wrestling Team l-r: Wanda Malone, teacher coach, Yallini Deshpande, Sam Griffin, Max Roxburgh (all grade 11), Liam Roxburgh (grade 9), Erin O’Neill (grade 10), Paul Noble and Jenny Mackean (both grade 12), Tim Hickey, SHHS Wrestling coach)
Wait! It gets better!! Out of seven wrestlers, six made it to the second and hardest day of OFSAA and FIVE of them made the podium. Two silvers, two fourth places and a fifth place. This is a competition of over 200 schools and over 800 competitors. Some of the Toronto area schools arrived with a contingency of 20 or more competitors. Yet, with this small group of seven wrestlers, Sacred Heart finished in the top 10 in the province and first overall for the Ottawa high schools.
To date, Sacred Heart’s best finish was 4th on the podium. This week, history was made at Sacred Heart and not accomplished through sheer luck. These seven athletes, as well as two students from Holy Trinity and Louis Riel put in countless hours of extra training at the Pathway dojo. Tim and his brother Ryan provide training to these kids five days a week. Ryan also provides diet and nutrition plans to the kids to maintain their goal weight for optimum success. Both Hickey brothers travel with these kids to tournaments on behalf of the Sacred Heart Wrestling team and to provincial and national tournaments as club wrestlers for Pathway. Every single one of these four young men and three young women from Sacred Heart High School extend their sincerest thank you and acknowledgement of their success to their coaches, Tim and Ryan, and their teacher coach Wanda Malone, for the sheer number of hours and encouraging cheers they have offered to support their goals.
Now for some interesting background to this big success story!
1) Tim Hickey is 25 years old. After graduating from Sacred Heart he opened Pathway Jiu Jitsu dojo on Iber Road. This is his business, yet he closes it down to travel with these kids to wrestling tournaments all over the country. He and his brother Ryan, 26, who also teaches at UOttawa and is finishing his PhD, give their time freely and whole-heartedly to support this amazing team of athletes.
2) Due to the ongoing success of the Sacred Heart Wrestlers, five schools in Ottawa asked Tim to help coach their teams this year. Tim ran from mat to mat at tournaments all season long to support his wrestlers from Sacred Heart, Holy Trinity, All Saints High School, Paul-Desmarais, and Louis Riel.
3) One of our female competitors, Jenny Mackean (grade 12), made the women’s national wrestling team last year and traveled to Japan to compete. This is even more amazing for the fact that she lost her mother to cancer last year and her father several years before. This young lady had a dream to compete for the national team and reached it despite all the heart-break facing her last year. And even more heart warming? The community of Stittsville crowd-funded to get her and Coach Tim to Japan. She made it thanks to the love and support of this entire community!
4) Jenny Mackean was honoured both at the Ottawa City Championship and again at the OFSAA championship with the top award for female athlete of the year in both Ottawa and the entire province of Ontario.
5) Paul Noble won the Ottawa award for top male athlete, and also had the honour of winning gold at the Ottawa City Championships all six years – through grades 7-12.
Who are our amazing athletes you ask?
Grade 9 – Liam Roxburgh
Grade 10 – Erin O’Neill
Grade 11 – Yallini Deshpande (Silver medal); Sam Griffin (Fourth place); and Max Roxburgh (Silver medal)
Grade 12 – Jenny Mackean (Fourth place); and Paul Noble (Placing 5th in 2018 and 2019)
(Paul Noble and Jenny Mackean, recipients of Ottawa’s top male and female athletes of the year. Photos provided by: Carrie Roxburgh)
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