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Mandy GreenbergBy HARVEY ROSEN

One of the highlights of the Annual Rady JCC Sports Dinner to be held at the Convention Centre on Tuesday, June 21st is the presentation of the Idy and Max Nusgart Memorial Award, which is given to the individual selected as the “Jewish Athlete of the Year.”


For the record, the first winner ever of the prestigious award dates back to 1986 when it was captured by Gordon Orlikow, an outstanding decathlete, at the Jewish Community Centre’s 14th annual YMHA dinner held back then at the International Inn.
Last summer’s winner was Mandy Greenberg, a then 24-year-old fastball pitcher with Smitty’s Terminators, one of the top women’s teams in the country, who played for four years with Minot State and led the team to their first ever NCAA Division Two National Tournament.
This year’s panel members who will help to determine the winner will be, aside from myself, legendary sports broadcaster Bob Picken, Winnipeg Sun sports editor Ted Wyman, along with Sun sports writers Kirk Penton and Glen Dawkins.
The five finalists for Jewish Athlete of the Year, in alphabetical order are:

Isaac BellanISAAC BELLAN - Hockey - now 22 and in his final year in the Manitoba Major Junior League with the Transcona Railer Express, has played defence for the past three seasons and, in 2014-15, was voted “Defenceman of the Year” in the entire league. Isaac was tenth in league scoring and first among all defencemen. The assistant captain was named a first team all-star for a second straight year. In 41 regular season games he scored nine goals and had 40 assists. He set up two goals in the playoffs.


GIL BINNUN - Ultimate (formerly known as Frisbee) - a 20- year-old psychology student at the University of Manitoba, Gil has been competing in his sport of choice for six years. He has played on the U binnun gilof M provincial team and for Team Canada. The young man has won gold, silver, and bronze medals at all levels of competition. Among his most recent accomplishments: a gold medal at the 2014 Canadian University Championships and another gold medal with the Canadian U-19 team at the 2014 World Championships in Italy. Binnun has also won a bronze medal with the national under-23 mixed team at the 2015 World Championships in England. Gil collected another gold medal at  the 2015 Canadian Prairie Champion-ships.

odwak zachZACH ODWAK - Hockey - a 19-year-old who played defence this past season for the St. Boniface Riels in the Major Junior League. In 37 games, he scored eight goals, including one on the power play, and had nine assists. The previous season Zach played for the Interlake Lightning at the Midget AAA level where he was named Rookie of the Year and was one of only four players who participated in all 44 regular season games, scoring 15 goals, including six on the power play, adding 19 assists.

YONATAN ORLOV - Baton Twirling - a 17-year-old at Glenlawn orlov yonatanCollegiate who has been competing in this internationally recognized sport for four years. Orlov was named to the provincial team in 2014 and the national team last year. In 2015, at the national championships, Yonatan won five gold medals in solo competition and three more gold in team competition. He was also nominated for the 2015 Manitoba Junior Athlete of the Year award. Yonatan recently qualified for the national team again by capturing gold in the men’s freestyle event, and will represent Canada at the world championships in Sweden in August.

wilks jenaJENA SAMARA WILKS - Soccer -  22-years-old, Jenna has played her sport for over ten years as a defender with the FC Northwest Club at the Premier level. She also played for Under-16 and Under-18 provincial teams.
After graduating from West Kildonan Collegiate, Jena attended Red River College and played for the Red River College Rebels, winning silver medals both seasons. For the past three seasons she has also played for the FC North West Titans in the Winnipeg Women’s Division One league. The team finished second overall in 2015 and won a gold medal at the Portage tournament.
So there you have it - lots of variety this year with the additions of Ultimate and Baton Twirler competitors.

POST PATTER:
Jewish catcher Ryan Lavarnway has signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays AA team, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He had been released by Atlanta’s AAA team on May 13th. The Red Sox draftee, a Yale University grad who’s 6’4” and 225 lbs, Lavarnway has played in the minors with eight different teams. He’s  had 373 at bats in the majors, compiling seven homers and 48 RBI, along with an anemic .198 batting average. If he can catch the knuckleball, perhaps he can displace Toronto’s Josh Thole, who is the personal receiver of R.A. Dickey, but hitting just .143. The Jays shouldn’t have gotten rid of catcher Dioner Navarro. Nor should they have sent Jewish utility player Danny Valencia to Oakland A’s, where he’s hitting up a storm. To wit: As of early June, in only 36 games and 132 at bats due to injuries early in the season ,the 31-year-old has eight home runs, 21 RBI’s and an impressive batting average of .346.
The writer, a Jewish Winnipegger, is a former school teacher, and covers football and hockey for Canadian Press and Broadcast News.
Keep in touch with Sporting Touch. Send news about Jewish sports to Harvey Rosen, 360 Scotia Street, Winnipeg, Man., R2V 1W7, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.