There’s no time to rest for the Falcons Grade 12 male athlete of the year.
And Sam Simard, Foothills Falcon basketball and football standout on top of being captain of the Okotoks Bow Mark Oilers AAA hockey team, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It was a huge commitment – I never had time to do anything,” said Simard. “There was a time there where I was playing football, basketball, hockey at the same time at the highest level possible, it has to be what you want.
“It was super hard on the body, there were days where I couldn’t walk, I would hobble around the school with sore muscles and would have workouts.
“It was tough, but I loved it. Every minute of it I don’t regret.”
Though hockey is his main sport, with Simard committed to the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drumheller Dragons next season, it never took away from his commitment to Falcons athletics.
“Sam brought us passion, leadership and compete level that pushed the whole team,” said Falcons basketball head coach Amron Gwilliam. “Despite doing double duty Sam was still the hardest worker at every practice and in every game.”
Simard made an immediate impact on the gridiron as a newcomer to football, playing as an aggressive defensive end while earning some snaps at runningback as well. Simard earned defensive player of the year honours for the Falcons.
“We wanted him out for the last two years and finally convinced him that last year in his Grade 12 year to come out,” said head football coach Nathan St. Dennis. “He came in not knowing a whole lot, he had a great attitude, whatever happened, he just simplified things and played fast and played hard and it worked out well for him and helped us immensely.
“I love the fact that he won this award because it does a great job of showing people that multi-sport athletes have the ability to excel in multiple sports.”
Simard, a close friend of Falcons runningback Eton Nelson, took the plunge into football after being asked to do so for the past two years.
“It was never really something that I aspired to do, because I was a hockey player first, they were kind of around the same time, both big commitments,” Simard said. “But coach St. Dennis was willing to make it work, there was one game where I drove to Lethbridge, played the first half of the football game and drove straight into Calgary for my hockey game.
“It was the most fun I’ve ever had playing a sport to start out. I scored a touchdown my first game, it was the craziest experience. I scored the only touchdown in my first football game ever, had two or three sacks.
“I realized it’s not like hockey, you can hit guys without the ball. I was getting crushed here and there, crushing kids here and there. It was just super fun.”
If not for the pandemic sidelining high school sports in mid March, he would have likely added two more activities to his totals with plans to compete in both badminton and track-and-field.
“Sam Simard is a dedicated, outstanding team leader, he pushed everybody around him to be better,” said Falcons athletic director Curt Colfer. “When I think of what an athlete looks like I think of Sam Simard.”
The Grade 11 athlete of the year shared the same element of versatility.
Jamison Strilchuk played three school sports at the Comp, starring as a hard-hitting safety on the football team, competing in basketball and running with the cross-country team.
“He’s a great all-around athlete, brings a lot to the table,” Colfer said. “We’re super excited to see what his Grade 12 year brings for him.”
Strilchuk made his presence felt on the football field as a ferocious open field tackler for the Falcons, earning himself co-defensive rookie of the year honours.
“It was exciting to have him out,” said St. Dennis. “We knew he was a great athlete and we knew he had a football background and he flourished when he stepped on the field for us.
“He played fast, he played hard, he had a great attitude and definitely deserves recognition.”
The Grade 10 athlete of the year, Ryan Goeson, shared the co-defensive rookie of the year award.
“Ryan is new to us, he moved here from BC and made a major impact for us,” said St. Dennis. “Defensively, we could count on him and he ended up being a major part of our offence as well as the season went on.
“We’re excited to see what he can do in the next two years.”
Goeson also made his mark on the hard-court as the most improved player on the Falcons JV basketball squad.
“Ryan displays some excellent athletic ability overall,” Colfer said. “He brought a lot to those teams and we’re super excited to have him in our programs the next two years.”
Click here for a feature on the Falcons female athletes of the year.
Team Award Winners
MVP — Nolan Edwards
Most Improved — Eli Cramer
Most Inspirational — Tait Marshall
MVP — Cam Boroskewich
Most Improved — Ethan Doering
Most Inspirational — Sam Simard
MVP — John Stuart
Male Athlete of the Year — Sam Jobson
Top Male — Jake Bernier-Palmer
Special Teams Player of the Year — Trey Peacock
Defensive Rookie of the Year — Jamison Strilchuk/Ryan Goeson
MVP — Josh Groome
Offensive Lineman of the Year — Lucas Kamphuis
Offensive Rookie of the Year — Michael Eagle Bear
Offensive Player of the Year — Eton Nelson
MVP — Nicholi Noseworthy
Most Improved — Hayden Curtis
Leadership — Logan Kleppe
MVP — Ezra Law
Most Improved — Ryan Goeson
Most Inspirational — Sean Sellers