There were eight other nominees for the 2016 Township of Langley Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award. Top row left to right: Rebecca Chadney, Lauren Ens, Sierra Gustafson and James Hardy. Bottom row left to right: Sierra Gustafson, Jaylene Stam, Daniel Stead and Alix Way.

Candidates all boast stellar resumes

Meet the nominees for the 2016 Township of Langley Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award

  • Apr. 12, 2016 10:00 a.m.

While there was only one winner, there were plenty of candidates for the 2016 Township of Langley Pete Swensson Outstanding Community Youth Award.

Here are brief profiles of the other eight candidates for the annual award.

Rebecca Chadney

(Langley Christian)

Age: 17 Grade 12

Whether at school or in the community, Rebecca Chadney understands the importance of helping those around her.

“I don’t want to ignore the needs around me,” she explained. “I didn’t want to be apathetic and get caught up in my own problems. I wanted to reach out to others.”

And that is why for the past two years, Chadney has volunteered at Camp Qwanoes, a youth-oriented summer camp.

Athletically, Chadney plays numerous sports, but soccer is where she stands out, earning most valuable player honours on the Langley Christian team last season, as well on her club team with Langley FC.

Chadney also referees soccer and coaches a U5 team.

She also excels in the classroom, winning her school’s academic excellence award last year for the highest grade point average.

Chadney currently boasts a 92 per cent average.

Chadney is not sure which university she will attend after graduation, but wants to get into the sciences and pursue a field in the medical profession.


Lauren Ens (R.E. Mountain)

Age: 17 Grade 12

Lauren Ens was in Grade 6 when she found her calling.

“It was probably when I started in the kids care program at my church. I just realized I loved it,” she explained.

“I had a real heart and compassion for kids with disabilities and how they are treated so differently. I realized I want them to be treated equally and as (other) people are.”

“I can make an impact in these children’s lives.”

Ens will attend either the University of the Fraser Valley or Thompson Rivers University in the fall where she plans on studying psychology. After that, she will either get her PDP to become a teacher or her ABA so she can work with kids with special needs.

Ens has been an honour roll student all five years at Mountain and has maintained an ‘A’ average the past three years.

She also thrives athletically, playing volleyball, basketball and soccer at the school, as well as club soccer and on the water as a Dragon boater with the Fort Langley Canoe Club.


Sierra Gustafson

(Aldergrove Community)

Age: 17 Grade 12

When Sierra Gustafson began high school four years ago, she joined every club she could.

“I was really excited to get out there and participate,” she explained.

And she found her way with student leadership, now serving as student council president.

“I think it is a really powerful way for students to have their voice heard. I think it is really good practice for being out in the real world,” she said.

“I believe it teaches you self confidence, public speaking, goal setting, how to organize people into a group, and I think that is one of the most important things that student leadership sort of shows you, how to get people to work together even if they may not get along well.”

“And I also think it is really important for people to realize that they have a voice, sort of a stand in their education.”

She has won several outstanding student awards for her academics and a district leadership award in her Grade 11 year.

Athletically, Gustafson plays both club and school soccer, as well as on the Aldergrove rugby and volleyball teams, earning hardest worker and most inspirational awards along the way.

She plans on attending university after high school, perhaps to Simon Fraser University, and hopes to study social sciences with an eye on either a career in law or something in social work.


James Hardy (Langley Secondary)

Age: 17 Grade 12

Community is important to James Hardy and that was one of the reasons he chose Southwest Minnesota State as his post-secondary school.

“One of the reasons I chose (that school) was one of the requirements on the team is that they help out in the community,” he explained.

The university — where Hardy will attend on a baseball scholarship — requires its players to spend one day a week helping out on the ball diamond at a local school.

“It is a very community feel and I thought if I am going to be at a school for four years, I really want to do as much as I can,” he said.

While Hardy used to run cross-country and has played on the school’s basketball team, baseball remains his focus.

Hardy is part of the prestigious Langley Blaze program and he came to LSS two years ago to join the school’s new baseball academy.

The fact he is a pitcher on the ball diamond should come as little surprise as he enjoys the cerebral challenges of the position.

Hardy has maintained an ‘A’ average through high school with a 3.5 grade point average.

He won both the English 10 and Math 10 award two years ago when he attended Walnut Grove and was the top English 11 student last year at LSS.

And it is no surprise that Hardy wants to study English and history in university as he plans on returning to Langley to become a high school teacher when all is said and done.

Coaching will also be in his future and he is already involved in helping at the Little League level, as well as with the Blaze bantam prep (U14) team.

Hardy remembers what it was like when he was a young kid attending various different baseball clinics.

“People were excited to be there and teach and it made me excited to want to be there,” he said.

“I just thought if I could pass that feeling along, pass along some of my information, and help some kids love the game, I think that is better than sitting on my couch doing nothing.”


Jenna Richmond (D.W. Poppy)

Age: 17 Grade 12

Jenna Richmond is proud of winning the Redhawks hardest tackler award.

It’s not that she enjoys crunching her opponent on the rugby pitch, but rather a way of proving people wrong.

“For me, it is a confidence booster because a lot of people are always saying girls are weak,” she explained.

“Knowing you can take someone to the ground kind of fights that stereotype.”

But don’t think that Richmond is just out to hit and hurt people, though.

“I like it, but I don’t mean to hurt people,” she said with a laugh.

Richmond — also a member of the school’s volleyball, basketball, cross-country and track and field teams, as well as playing club volleyball — has received her school’s top female athlete award for four years running.

And she is very active in the community, serving as a Big Brothers Big Sisters in-school mentor and being part of both the Township Youth Advisory Council as well as attending the Township’s Heritage Advisory council meetings. She also volunteers at Langley Penny Pincher Thrift Store and as a volun-teen at Langley Memorial Hospital.

“The patient visits really spoke to me. Being able to talk to someone … some people really open up. Within 15 minutes you have their whole life story. It is kind of insane, a few minutes before you were strangers and now you know so much about them,” she explained.

“It is sad to think that sometimes they are in their hospital room and no one is there to talk to them and they have so much to say.”

An honour roll student during her time at Poppy — as well as having won several academic awards — Richmond plans to attend either the University of British Columbia or Simon Fraser University to study international relations.

“Being involved so much in the community and seeing the change you can make locally, it inspires you to push further and go internationally,” she said.


Jaylene Stam (Credo Christian)

Age: 17 Grade 12

Jaylene Stam came across her love of sports through her parents.

“My parents were athletic and it rubbed off on us,” she said.

Every year since Grade 3 she has participated in a week-long summer basketball camp run by her mother.

Stam also remembers staying up late during her elementary school years to watch her mom play in a recreational co-ed soccer league.

So it was little surprise when Stam gravitated towards sports.

Stam excels in soccer, volleyball and basketball and when constantly asked which is her favourite, she typically replies whichever is in season.

She won the Credo Christian top Grade 8 female athlete award and has won the overall female athlete of the year award three years running now.

Stam is also scheduled to play in an invitation-only basketball game on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre for the top Grade 12 basketball players from around the province.

Stam also stays busy as a member of the Township’s Youth Advisory Committee, working as an assistant coach with some of the Credo athletic teams, is active in her church youth group and a volunteer counsellor for one week each summer at a kids’ summer camp.

“I went to this camp as a kid so it was cool to go back and give as a counsellor and to give back as a coach and be what people were to me,” she said. “What I really enjoy is the opportunity to give back. So many people have done so much for me. I have had so many incredible coaches.”

After high school, Stam plans to attend Douglas College and hopes to complete the recreation therapy program. She is considering trying out for the school’s basketball team.


Daniel Stead (Walnut Grove)

Age: 18 Grade 12

Daniel Stead likes to help others.

After all, how many other Grade 12 students would go to bat for a kid they don’t know all that well who is five years younger than them?

But that is what happened earlier this year as he advocated for a Grade 8 student who was just cut from the Walnut Grove basketball team.

“I don’t like seeing people work really hard all off-season and dreaming of doing something and then being cut, just because they are short or something,” Stead explained. “I try my best to help them out.”

Stead serves as a GQ Ambassador at school, a program which has senior students mentor incoming Grade 8 students.

Helping others is common for Stead who also worked as a junior camp counsellor as well as a Kidzone leader through Langley Evangelical Free Church. He also regularly helps serve meals at Friends Langley Vineyard.

“They get to see what their potential is and we get to help them,” he said.

Stead grew up playing hockey and lacrosse, but switched his focus to volleyball and basketball once he hit high school.

He is hoping to continue playing basketball at the university level while studying science and biology to go into medicine.

Stead has maintained an 86 per cent average this year and has been an honour roll student since Grade 8.

Twice in the past four years, he has won the Walnut Grove athlete of the year award.

As for how he fits everything into his schedule, Stead said it is all about time management. That includes studying in the car on his way to games and using the weekend to get ready for the week ahead.


Alix Way (Langley Fundamental)

Age: 18 Grade 12

Name a sport and chances are Alix Way has played it.

Soccer, volleyball, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, dance, skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, hiking — those are all sports and recreational activities she has enjoyed participating in.

But soccer was her love.

“I was always involved in many different sports but what made me choose soccer was the competitive level. I am a very competitive person and I enjoy being challenged,” she explained.

Way has played soccer since she was six years old.

She was approached about continuing playing the sport at the university level, but chose to focus on her schooling instead. But that doesn’t mean she is giving up the game as she still plans on playing, just not at the highest level.

Instead, she will shift her focus to studying to become a sports physiotherapist. She plans to attend either the University of the Fraser Valley or Simon Fraser University.

“I knew I wanted to get in a field where I could help people. And I also really enjoy being active,” she explained.

“(And this lets me) continue working in an area where I have had a passion for my whole life.”

Helping others is important for Way.

“I get enjoyment out of being able to help someone and seeing progress with them, or a positive change in them,” she said.

Way plays a variety of high school sports, as well as Metro level soccer.

She also serves as a mentor and volunteer coach with Langley United, referees soccer matches, is a volunteer swim instructor and a life guard.

Way has won Langley Fundamental’s Principal’s Award three times in the past four years, won the Citizenship Award once and the Service Award twice. She has also been an ‘A’ honour roll student since Grade 8.

And while it may seem like she has no free time, Way likes it that way.

“I like getting involved. My schedule is always filled but I am very organized. I write everything in my planner and make sure I am on top of everything. And make sure I don’t get myself in a conflicting position where two things are conflicting,” she explained.


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