Alberni Valley Wrestling Club celebrates 2021 graduates

Members of the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club gather via Zoom to celebrate the 2021 graduates. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)Members of the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club gather via Zoom to celebrate the 2021 graduates. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)
Graduate Brett Lehtonen speaks at the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club’s year-end event. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)Graduate Brett Lehtonen speaks at the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club’s year-end event. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)
Graduate Paige Maher speaks at the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club’s year-end event. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)Graduate Paige Maher speaks at the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club’s year-end event. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)
Graduates Bobby McKenzie, Mason Bodnar and Andrew Audet speaks at the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club’s year-end event. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)Graduates Bobby McKenzie, Mason Bodnar and Andrew Audet speaks at the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club’s year-end event. (ZOOM SCREENSHOT)

Despite an unusual year, the Alberni Valley Wrestling Club was still able to gather virtually for a celebration of their new graduates last week.

James Messenger, president of Alberni Valley Wrestling Club, said on Wednesday, March 31 that he wanted the night to be about celebrating.

“Rather than focusing on what we can’t do, I want to focus on what we can do,” he said.

The event was the 43rd annual year-end event for the wrestling club, and the second one hosted via Zoom. Although the club was not able to participate in any competitions this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, five graduating wrestlers received a send-off from the club: Andrew Audet, Mason Bodnar, Brett Lehtonen, Paige Maher and Bobby McKenzie.

“In so many ways, what you’ve experienced in this—your Grade 12 year—isn’t fair,” Messenger told the grads on March 31. “There are many things you have been robbed of. But in life, just as in wrestling, when you get taken down, you have to get back up. Often we learn more from our losses than our victories.”

The five graduates shared their stories of their favourite wrestling memories and thanked their coaches over the years.

“This is not how I pictured my time as a high school athlete ending, and accepting and dealing with that has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through,” said Maher. “But no matter how difficult things got, I was able to push through and keep moving foward because of the lessons and the strength that wrestling has given me.”

McKenzie, Bodnar and Maher each received a Knights of the Armada bursary and plaque, which is presented to graduating wrestlers who have been a part of the program through their entire high school career.

McKenzie and Maher both received scholarships from the Educated Wrestler Society, started by former Alberni Valley wrestling coach Walter Taylor. To receive a scholarship, athletes were asked to demonstrate an appreciation and integration of wrestling with art history, religion and world history.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Port AlberniWrestling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Logging Camp Nine on Great Central Lake overlooks a large forest fire across the lake in this historical photo from May 1943. Camp Nine was bustling, with residences for logging camp staff, a rail line and rail cars visible. This is one of 24,000 photos contained in the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives, available for public viewing at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN12220 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Great Central Lake’s sawmill

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Vally Museum

Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ goalie Luke Pearson stopped all 22 shots the Cowichan Capitals sent his way to collect a 5–0 shutout in B.C. Hockey League action, Saturday, April 10, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BCHL: Pearson earns shutout in Bulldogs’ win over Cowichan Capitals

Alberni Valley will face Victoria Grizzlies Sunday, April 11 at 3 p.m.

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Princess Elizabeth and her new husband, Prince Philip—behind the wheel—visited the Alberni Valley on the princess's inaugural visit to Canada. A photographer with Charnell Studios in Port Alberni captured the young newlyweds along the parade route on Oct. 25, 1951, months before Princess Elizabeth became Queen. Prince Philip died April 9, 2021, just shy of his 100th birthday. This photo is one of 24,000 in the Alberni Valley Museum's online archives, available for public viewing at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN 13605 COURTESY OF ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Prince Philip and his new bride visit Port Alberni

A special look back with the Alberni Valley Museum to honour the life of Prince Philip

John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
John Ambrose Seward, 33, is described as Indigenous and five-foot-eight with short black hair and brown eyes. (Police handout)
High-risk sex offender banned from central Island, living in Vancouver: police

John Ambrose Seward, 33, has been released from prison under a number of conditions

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read