By Ian Croft
Randy Spenrath, former principal for St. Mary’s School, was recently awarded the Alberta School Athletic Association’s ‘Lorne Wood Award’.
Spenrath was nominated by the St. Mary’s Athletic Department due to them wanting to recognize him for dedication towards school athletics. The Lorne Wood Award recognizes individuals within school administration who were active role models in supporting and promoting sportsmanship and encouraging individuals to be involved in school athletic programs. Spenrath’s first encounter with organized sports was when he was in Grade 5 where he played baseball. He also played two years of minor hockey before focusing on school sports such as badminton, basketball, track and field, and volleyball. Following high school, Spenrath attended the University of Lethbridge where he played on the Pronghorns Volleyball team. This was also his first experience with coaching in sports as the Pronghorns team engaged in teaching and coaching with their program.
Then in 1986, Spenrath began his teaching career where he also took part in coaching the aforementioned badminton, basketball, track and field, and volleyball as well as slo-pitch during his first year of teaching.
“I am honoured to receive this award,” said Spenrath. “I don’t see it as an individual award but as a team award. There are many people who have put in countless hours to provide amazing opportunities for our youth through participation in athletics. Brother Baudoin, Ken Gabruck, Alvaro Zanolli and Pat Pyne were coaches that spent countless extra hours providing these opportunities and they instilled a passion and love of athletics that I was able to pass on and hopefully provide times for student athletes to develop physically, mentally, socially, intellectually and spiritually. AJ Bergenhenengouwen, Carolyn Siemens and Derry Kolody are the work horses today. They are the people who are volunteering countless hours and providing athletic opportunities for the students of today.”
Spenrath singled out sporting colleagues for special praise.
“I thank AJ for taking time from his busy schedule to nominate me for the Lorne Wood Award and thanks to Carolyn, Derry and Pat Pyne for their letters of support. It has been an honour working with people of such character. I would be remiss if I did not express a very special thank you to the families of our coaches. Spouses and children of coaches are not seeing each other as normal during busy athletic seasons. The support, graciousness and understanding of coach’s families is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank the parents for the support that they provide schools, athletic directors and coaches. Their work in fundraising, at tournaments and providing transportation makes it possible for students to engage more fully in athletic events. Thank you to parents, Staci and John Muller for their support in the nomination of the award.”
Volunteerism through individuals willing to step up and take on the role is a vital part of school sports at all levels, argues Spenrath.
“Finally, I would like to thank God for the gifting and the blessing He has given all coaches who dedicate their time and energy to minister to our youth through athletics. Sportsmanship, resiliency, teamwork, time management and comraderie are just a few of the tremendous benefits that our youth receive because of the commitment a person has made to make a difference. Thank you all who step up and accept this calling. I am grateful to have been chosen for this award but it is an award that so many should be receiving.”
Finally, Spenrath spoke on the values of sportsmanship and how proud he was in having the boys volleyball team of 2006 receiving the sportsmanship banner at the end of their season’s tournament.
“Sportsmanship has always been an important aspect of what all people involved with athletics should instill, demand, and support in all our athletes, fans and coaching staffs. At the 2006 Boys Volleyball Provincials we had a great tournament but it was highlighted by being awarded with the Sportsmanship banner. It’s so terrific to see our current coaches, especially the likes of Derry, AJ and Carolyn strive to have the most sportsmanlike teams along with a competitive and skilled team. I learned through my years as a player, a coach and an administrator that sportsmanship just doesn’t come naturally, one has to work at it. I thank the players I have coached, the coaches I have worked with and the parents who support athletics for continuously keeping sportsmanship as a key part of athletics.”