By Lethbridge Herald on April 2, 2015.
Kim Veldman and Jim Steacy each came out of local high schools as heralded and much-recruited athletes. They both decided to stay in Lethbridge, and on Wednesday, they were named the Kinsmen Club of Lethbridge sportsmen of the year.
Steacy won a gold medal in the hammer throw at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August while Veldman was a Canada West Conference all-star for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns womenâ€™s basketball team, and also earned the Sylvia Sweeney award for excellence on the court, in the classroom and in the community.
For Steacy, itâ€™s the fifth time heâ€™s been named the Kinsmen male sportsperson of the year but he said heâ€™s proud of every one of them. For Veldman, sheâ€™s getting her first award and she admitted she had no idea what the award was before she was told it was coming her way.
The award is not just a recognition of athletic excellence but also reflects an impact on sports in the community as a whole. Even without their athletic accomplishments, these two made a strong case.
â€œWeâ€™re homegrown kids. Iâ€™ve lived here my whole life, and Kim has, too,â€ said Steacy. â€œLethbridge is a great sports community and great community at large. I canâ€™t speak for her but Iâ€™m proud to be from Lethbridge and proud to have done all my schooling in Lethbridge and proud to be a graduate of the University of Lethbridge.â€
Veldman went against the grain when she chose Lethbridge over other institutions when she came out of Immanuel Christian five years ago.
â€œI chose to stay in Lethbridge because I am from Lethbridge and I love the community and being involved in the community with this team has been a huge part of my career. So to be honoured by the community, itâ€™s pretty cool.
â€œOther awards are just for basketball and this one, Iâ€™m told, is also about being involved in the community and your sport so itâ€™s kind of the whole shebang.â€
Veldman was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Sweeney award winner thanks to a season which saw her lead the Canada West conference in scoring most of the way, finishing second with an 18.6 points per game average and getting a first-team all-conference honour as well. Sheâ€™s worked extensively with the Pronghornsâ€™ Reading Buddies program, going into local elementary schools to promote literacy and has worked summer camps for years. Sheâ€™s also done youth work at her church â€” while maintaining academic all-Canadian marks as she earned her Nursing degree in four years. She spent this season working on her Masterâ€™s in Nursing.
Steacyâ€™s Commonwealth Games gold medal came after a trying run of injuries and the death of his mother, Debby. After spending much of the previous years attempting to return to form from a leg injury, Steacy said the throw of 74.16 metres which won the gold proved heâ€™s still relevant as a competitive athlete.
Steacy won the award previously for his achievements as an Olympic representative and his Canadian hammer-throw titles and national university championships as a Pronghorn. He chose to stay in Lethbridge when he graduated from Winston Churchill High School (via Gilbert Paterson and Ã‰cole Agnes Davidson School) because he wanted to stay close to his family and stick with Pronghorn track and field coach Larry Steinke.
â€œI donâ€™t regret it for a second. I had many offers to head to huge Division 1 schools in the States in the NCAA, and I bet Kim did as well, being a tall, very physical, smart athlete on the basketball court.
â€œIts a testament to the program here at the U of L. Sheâ€™s gone through two coaches and she stuck it out and had a very, very successful career here, so thatâ€™s again, just a testament to the quality of athlete and person sheâ€™s become.â€
The hammer throwerâ€™s little sister, Heather, is a past winner of the Kinsmen award as is his sister-in-law, Ashley, who has represented Canada and the U of L as one of the best rugby players in the world. And Steacyâ€™s brother, Sean, is a past CIS champion in the hammer throw for the U of L. His parents met as University of Saskatchewan Huskies, after Debby starred as the best player in the local 4A basketball loop for the LCI Clippers.
â€œThereâ€™s no way you can do what you do as an athlete without the support of your family and Iâ€™ve been very fortunate to have both my parents, my brother and sister. My brotherâ€™s wife Ashley (Steacy, a national rugby star) is a multi-time winner of this award, too.
â€œIts neat to share that with them and ultimately, itâ€™s something to celebrate as a family.â€
Veldman and Steacy will receive their trophies at the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fameâ€™s annual induction banquet on May 2 at the Enmax Centre lounge. Tickets are $50 each and are available now at the Yates and Enmax TicketCentre outlets.