A pair of University of Saskatchewan athletes, and a long-time event organizer and volunteer will be recognized for their accomplishments when the Kinsmen Club of Prince Albert hosts their 14th annual Sportsman Dinner on Jan. 20.
Huskies football player Tazmin Smith-Windsor and basketball player Gage Grassick will be recognized as the Prince Albert male and female athletes of the year, while Bruce Vance will receive the Sportsman of the Year Award.
“We couldn’t be happier with the selections,” Sportsman Dinner event chair Jared Devers said. “We’re proud of everyone who got nominated, and obviously extra proud of Bruce, Tazmin, and Gage.”
Grassick is a third-year guard with the University of Saskatchewan women’s basketball team. Her first season with the squad was paused due to COVID, but since then she’s racked up individual and team honours.
The Carlton alumnus is a two-time USports Academic All Canadian. In 2021-22, she was part of the Huskies team that won the Canada West Championship and the USports National Championship Consolation Final, where she was named Player of the Game in the team’s 80-48 victory over UPEI.
She received Canada West Third Team All-Star honours in her second season, and is currently one of the key players on an undefeated Huskies squad currently ranked No. 1 in Canada West and No. 2 in the country.
“In big games she steps up,” Devers said. “They’re ranked number one in Canada West right now. It makes it pretty easy when we’ve got a local girl leading the charge on a university team.”
Smith-Windsor recently completed his first season as a DB with the Huskies football team after graduating from Carlton Comprehensive Public High School in the spring. Before joining the Huskies, he was named Senior Bowl Defensive MVP, as well as Defensive MVP for the Gold Medal Game while representing Saskatchewan at the U18 Football Canada Cup.
Devers said Smith-Windsor not only excelled on the field, he was a great role model off it.
“Great athlete, but we also look at other things like academics,” Devers said. “If you’re able to pair up those academics along with the athletics, it definitely helps you out. We think he’s an incredible candidate for Male Athlete of the Year, and we’re proud of him.”
The Sportsman of the Year award is the latest in a string of honours for Bruce Vance. A longtime fixture on the Prince Albert sports scene, Vance was indicted into the Prince Albert Raiders Wall of Honour in October. The Prince Albert Northern Bears also created a special jersey to honour his time as their team manager.
Vance was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, but has remained active in the sports community. He also became well known for writing a blog about his treatment, with his most recent entry coming on Nov. 19.
Even with his diagnosis, Vance spent the past year helping Prince Albert’s World Softball Championship organizing committee prepare for tournaments in 2024 and 2025.
“Anybody who gets diagnosed with cancer, it’s tough on you, but he’s not only striving, he’s helping push things on to help bring in more (events),” Devers said. “Even when things are looking rough, the cards are looking rough, he’s still pulling himself up and … inspiring us all to be better.”
Kinsmen secure NHL Hall of Famer Chelios as guest speaker
Norris Trophy winner, NHL Hall of Famer, and Stanley Cup champion Chris Chelios will be the guest speaker at Sportsman Dinner.
Chelios spent 26 seasons in the NHL, suiting up for the Montreal Canadians, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, and Atlanta Thrashers. The 11-time all-star won Stanley Cups with Montreal in 1986, and with Detroit in 2002 and 2008.
“With the Blackhawks retiring his jersey a month after our event, there’s a lot of hype coming up on him,” Devers said. “Also, getting a Blackhawk in with Connor Bedard getting drafted first overall makes a lot of sense. (There’s) a lot hype with Chicago.
“I think it’s going to be a good fit. I think it’s going to be very exciting. (He) played a long time (with) three original six teams, so I think he’s going to be a good guy to have. We’re excited to have him.”
All funds raised at this year’s dinner will go towards the Prince Albert Minor Baseball “Grand Slam” rebuild project. The 2023 dinner raised $40,000 for the rebuild, and Devers said they’re aiming for a similar number again in 2024.
“We want to keep that going because, again, we’re only just finishing phase one,” he said. “We’ve got phase two and phase three coming, so we’ve got more money to raise. We’re just looking to keep it going, raise some good money at this event, and give it back to the community to make Prince Albert better.”
For tickets for the 14th annual Kinsmen Sportsman Dinner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 306-960-2528. Individual tickets cost $175. A full table of eight costs $1,200.
Doors open at 5 p.m. on Jan. 20, with a prime rib dinner at 6 p.m., and the program at 7:15 p.m.