STEPHENVILLE Shelena Benoit spent four years of high school playing any sport she could get her hands on for selfish reasons.
The 17-year-old Stephenville native will graduate from Stephenville High in June knowing her efforts were recognized and appreciated. The multi-sport athlete, who plans on pursuing a career as a correctional officer when she goes to Holland College in Prince Edward Island in September, will be presented with the School Sport Newfoundland and Labrador female student-athlete of the year award at the SSNL awards banquet tonight at the Capital Hotel in St. John’s.
Benoit has represented her school at provincial high school championships in track and field, volleyball, soccer, basketball and softball during the past school year. She remembers entering Grade 9 at Stephenville High with every intention of being active because one day she wanted to be honoured with such distinction.
“I just wanted to play as many sports as I could to see if I could win it,” Benoit said.
Her resume for the past year included winning the gold medal in javelin at provincials on home turf while helping her school win the top team award. She also helped her school reach the semifinal round at the 3A level in basketball, softball and soccer, where she was the team’s keeper.
She admits to being surprised with the news after Stephenville High physical education teacher Randy Alexander informed of it while she was playing volleyball with the Corner Brook Titans 18U female volleyball team that shocked the nation by winning a silver medal in Division 2 Tier 1 against some of the best teams in Canada a few weeks ago.
For this easy-going athlete, it was all about her passion for sports and the benefits she derived from participation. But, she was quick to point out there are many life lessons learned from sport whether you win or lose and this past year taught her something she plans on keeping in the back of her mind for the rest of the journey as she embarks on life in the real world.
“Blood, sweat and tears definitely pay off,” she said.
Being immersed in sports has defined who she is as a person because it’s been such a big part of her life for the past four years and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I just love playing sports,” she said. “It keeps me busy and I like meeting new people and travelling to places that I wouldn’t have gotten to go.”
Benoit is looking forward to her moment in the spotlight with her parents — Joanna Hynes-McConnell and stepdad William McConnell — making the trek across the province.
She may have been the one who put in all the hard work and was committed to the countless hours of training, but she’s quick to point out the award will be shared with a bunch of people who made a difference in her life as she tackled each sport with vigour.
“I want to say thank you to all my coaches for all the hard work and dedication they have for putting into sports and getting us to where we should be ... the best we can be,” she said.
When the red carpet is rolled out tonight, another athlete from this neck of the woods will also be honoured for a stellar season on the field of play.
Tony Lavallee of Canon Richards High in Flower’s Cove will be presented with the SSNL male student-athlete of the year at tonight’s banquet.