CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Being named Football P.E.I.'s female athlete of the year on Sunday had extra meaning for Danielle MacDonald.
The Cornwall Timberwolves linebacker and running back was the first recipient of the new award.
For MacDonald, the achievement was about more than just her.
“It means a lot to recognize that females are a part of football, that stigma that girls don't play."
MacDonald was the defensive player of the game in the 2017 Potato Bowl, which the Timberwolves lost 60-8 to the Summerside Clippers.
Carson Lund of Stratford was recognized as the first winner of the junior official of the year award.
Lund used to play flag football and decided to stay involved in the sport.
“I really enjoy it. It's a learning experience. I was too old for flag and I wanted something to do to make a little bit of cash.”
Football P.E.I. executive director Glen Flood said it's important to attract officials at a young age.
“We're trying to encourage and get more younger folks out to referee, as our sport has grown in numbers.”
Clippers receiver Parker Cameron was named the senior male athlete of the year. He reached double digits in touchdowns and caught a 20-yard major in the Potato Bowl win.
Summerside head coach John Turner said Cameron, who has been in the program since Grade 8, has the drive to succeed.
“He's a great kid,” he said. “He works hard all the time in practice, gets angry when he drops passes and carries that over to the game. He's a great leader, a quiet leader but he leads by example. He had a dominant year.”
Cornwall's Tyler Newson was named junior player of the year. He plays quarterback, safety and handles kicking duties.
“It's a big deal to me. I've been waiting a while for something like this to come. I worked hard for it.”
Newsom led the bantam Timberwolves to a 48-20 victory over Summerside in the Ed Hilton Bowl, with three touchdowns and five converts.
“It was a really good year for Cornwall to bring them back to the championship.”
Timberwolves coach Mark Green won the coach of the year award. Green also coaches atom and flag football teams, as well as East Wiltshire and the first-year Team P.E.I.
Green said he appreciated being recognized for his hard work.
“I'm not much for awards. I did it for the kids."
Darren Murray was named the administrator of the year. He is the governing body's vice-president and coaches flag football.
Flood called it a well-deserved honour.
Football P.E.I. president Shaun Matheson said it was a year of growth, particularly at the younger levels.
"There's so much potential going forward. Flag is growing leaps and bounds and tackle, at the younger ages, is starting to grow a little more."
Matheson is happy to see the P.E.I. Tackle Football League continuing to flourish.
"It's good to see it's still going after 20-some years on the Island."
Steve Letner is running the provincial program, which starts this month. Last year was the first season for Team P.E.I., and this year there will be under-18 and under-16 teams.
Charlottetown is hosting this year's Atlantic Bowl in July at UPEI, which will feature six-man teams from all four Atlantic provinces.
By Josh Lewis
Special to The Guardian