The head coach of Aboriginal Team BC since 2004 and the head coach of the Duncan Stingrays since 2007, Leanne Sirup is being honoured for her many contributions to the sport of swimming with the Aboriginal Sport Circle’s National Indigenous Coaching Award for 2021.
Presented to one male and one female coach each year, the National Indigenous Coaching Awards represent the ASC’s philosophy that sport fosters the development of the whole individual. Candidates for the award are expected to have demonstrated a personal commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and fair play, while acting as positive role models.
In its announcement, the ASC noted that Sirup has coached at the Canada Games and North American Indigenous Games, and has assisted in developing the Indigenous Community Leadership Program in B.C. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has continued to connect with her athletes through Zoom and regular check-ins.
Sirup, who is of Inuit descent and grew up in Lake Cowichan, was nominated by Swim BC for the award.
“This award is an absolute honor to receive,” Sirup commented. “I strive daily to work with the whole athlete, taking a holistic approach. It is my hope that this example will encourage others to continue doing what they are doing in developing their athletes into being not just athletes but good all round individuals — creating leaders for our future. While none of us get into coaching for the accolades, it is always appreciated to be recognized for the time and effort we happily sacrifice daily.”
The award will be presented to Sirup this Thursday in a virtual ceremony at the Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Conference.
This is not the first time Sirup has been recognized by the ASC. In 2006, she was among the national winners of the Tom Longboat Award, which goes to one male and one female sports figure.
Prior to her coaching career, Sirup was one of Canada’s top young swimmers in the 1980s and ’90s. She won five gold medals at the 1997 North American Indigenous Games, then later became the first person to swim the entire 34-kilometre length of Lake Cowichan.