The Nelson High School Bomberettes are seen here in 1954. L.V. Rogers is considering a name change to its Bombers sports teams, which is one of 2019’s sports stories of the year. Photo courtesy Touchstones Museum

YEAR IN REVIEW: Nelson’s top sports stories of 2019

Reporter Tyler Harper reviews the year in Nelson athletics

Nelson’s local athletics community was about a lot more than wins and losses in 2019. Here are the stories that defined the city’s sports scene this year.

1. Granite Pointe to sell off land for housing

Nelson’s golf course decided to solve ongoing financial problems with an audacious plan to sell parts of itself off to housing developers.

At its annual general meeting in June, then-president Barry Auliffe revealed plans to sell 17.5 acres of the 99-year-old golf course that would be developed into 306 residential units.

Granite Pointe has been bleeding money for years — it announced a loss of $157,801 for the 2018 financial year at the AGM — and Auliffe said a sale was required to stop the bleeding.

“If that first piece sells, that will put us on the road to turning this around,” said Auliffe.

The plan has since faced some community backlash from neighbours concerned with the traffic influx, but it was given zoning approval by the city in December.

The proposed development calls for construction over a 15-year span, and promises a very different look for Granite Pointe as it heads into its second century.

2. Ice plant problems at the Nelson Curling Club

Curling came very close to being knocked out of Nelson this year.

An ammonia leak was discovered at the club’s refrigeration system in February, which shut down the building and prematurely ended the local curling season.

The leak came only four months after the club requested the ice plant’s operation be taken over by the Regional District of Central Kootenay following a similar leak at a rink in Fernie that killed three people in 2017.

The $70,000 repair bill was also too much for the club to take on, especially after posting a loss of nearly $20,000 in December 2018.

But the city forked over $30,000, and the club fundraised the remaining amount to fix the plant.

3. Concussions force Nelson Leafs’ retirements

Three current and former Nelson Leafs walked away from the game this year due to concussions.

Assistant captain Logan Wullum was the first. In January, the 20-year-old forward announced he was done playing after suffering two concussions the month prior.

Wullum was followed in October by defenceman Andrew Gates, who suffered hits to the head in consecutive games. Gates said he’d previously had six or seven hockey-related concussions and had been advised by a doctor to retire.

“I think I’ve had too many concussions,” said Gates. “I really don’t think I should have played. But it’s something I’ll have to live with, and it’s something I’m okay living with.”

A concussion also ended a former Leafs’ time in the BCHL.

Defenceman Kyle Chernenkoff, who played during the 2015-16 season with the Leafs, suffered a career-ending concussion during a game with the Trail Smoke Eaters in January. He finished the season as one of the team’s assistant coaches.

4. L.V. Rogers considers scrapping Bombers moniker

For decades it has been associated with athletics at Nelson’s high school. But the name Bombers means something different in 2019.

In April, principal Tamara Malloff said internal discussions has begun about changing the name of L.V. Rogers’ sports teams, which had been in use since at least 1940.

Sports teams across the continent have been reckoning with outdated nicknames. Last year students at McGill University in Montreal voted to change the name of its varsity sports teams from Redmen.

Malloff said it will take time, and consultation with students, to find a new name.

“We need to rethink and say what does it mean to an athletic team as part of our culture in 2019.”

5. Nelson Reflections surprise at provincials

A pool closure in 2015-16 forced Nelson’s synchronized swimming team to completely rebuild itself. But you wouldn’t have known it in 2019.

In May, the Reflections’ 13-to-15 age team routine won gold at the Jean Peters Provincial Championship, as well as a silver medal for overall performance. Kaitlyn Fitchett also won a silver for a solo routine.

“It’s a pretty good comeback story from not having any club to being on the podium in both events that we competed in,” said head coach Erin Fitchett.

Pretty good is an understatement.



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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