When the sports community at Mobile Central High handed out its recognition awards June 4, one special moment was reserved for the person who has been a key motivator and booster of athletic achievement at the school for the past 28 years.
For teacher and athletic director Shawn Doyle, the call to the podium and the accolades marked the second occasion in two weeks that his efforts were recognized: In late May, the School Sports Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SSNL) honoured Doyle with a coaching service award at its annual general meeting.
The Master of Ceremonies for the Monarchs’ awards presentation, Dana O’Driscoll, gently kidded Doyle before calling him to the podium where he was received by students, parents, coaches and teachers in the gymnasium with a prolonged and enthusiastic standing ovation.
“We honour him every day and genuflect daily,” O’Driscoll joked. “But our province has recognized his achievements as well… We tend to think of Mr. Doyle as ours, but he is also the regional representative for the SSNL and has served on their committee for a number of years.”
When called to the podium, Doyle was true to form and used the occasion to highlight the achievements of the students rather than himself. He started by thanking all the students for showing such good conduct during what was a long evening of presentations.
“I just want to talk about the significance of Awards Night,” Doyle said. “If your child didn’t get an award tonight, or if they did, the whole concept and spirit of Awards Night is about determination of the athlete and trying to do well. And if you did well, people should recognize that you did well and through that recognition, others will be thrust forward to try to do well in the following year. That individual effort and reward builds toward teams and teams win banners.”
Doyle said this past school year saw a number of Mobile teams win provincial championships, including the AAA Girls soccer team, the AAA Boys basketball team, the Under 17 Boys A basketball team, the tier two AAAA senior girls’ basketball team and the cheerleading squad, which won the Charity Classic at the Bay Bulls Lifestyle Centre, the provincial championship at Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay and the national championship at Niagara Falls, Ontario. The Mobile boys also won the David Emberley Memorial Basketball Tournament, which they host every year. The variety of achievement in a spectrum of different sports by a wide gamut of student athletes was nice to see, he noted.
“The volunteers here at the school are awesome,” Doyle added. “Wherever I go for a provincial meeting, I always brag about Mobile and I tell everybody who wants to have a game, pick it and come up. I don’t care if it’s 4A, 3A or 2A, we’ll find someone to play you and we’ll give you a game.”
Doyle said the other thing he boasts about when talking with school athletic officials is that at Mobile he sometimes has to turn down people who want to work with teams, because there are so many good people available and willing to help. “That’s a compliment to the program,” said Doyle. “It makes me feel bad sometimes, because you should never have to turn away help, but there are so many people who want to be involved. If you look around here today, there are 50 or 60 people involved (as coaches, managers and trainers) in the program.”
Doyle singled out the cheerleaders for a particularly great season. The team won the Charity Classic Tournament, which it hosted at the Bay Bulls Lifestyle Centre, the provincial championships at Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay and the national championships held in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
He pointed out that for the first time since he’s been at the school, this past year saw Mobile field boys and girls basketball teams in the 4A division. “If you look at our school population, it’s 119 students from Grades 10 to 12,” Doyle said. “Next year, we will be going into games against schools with 800 and 900 students.”
The ability of a school the size of Mobile’s to do that is a “total compliment” to the communities in this area from which the student population is drawn, Doyle said. “You’re doing a great job.”
Before closing, Doyle also paid tribute to the relationship between Mobile Central High and Baltimore School in Ferryland. Earlier in the evening, representatives of Baltimore made a special presentation to the school recognizing their sportsmanship at the Paddy Kane Memorial Basketball Tournament.