McPhee takes top prize

Photo courtesy of Glen McPhee Madison McPhee won Sport North's award for female athlete of the year at last month's annual banquet. McPhee was surprised, but says she was honoured to be recognized.

Photo courtesy of Glen McPhee
Madison McPhee won Sport North’s award for female athlete of the year at last month’s annual banquet. McPhee was surprised, but says she was honoured to be recognized.

No one could have been more surprised than Madison McPhee when she won Sport North’s female athlete of the year title, but then, that’s all part of her charm.

“It was pretty awesome… I was really surprised,” she said. “It was all really great… the banquet, the people, everything.”

McPhee emerged as a star at last year’s NWT Track and Field Championships, winning the Bantam girls 400-metre race and taking second place overall for the Bantam girls division. At 14, she is a break-out success and still going strong.

“I train hard,” she said when asked what she thought made her different from other athletes. “It’s been different without my coach. My dad took his place, and it’s been good, I’ve been getting a lot of practice.”

McPhee’s former coach, Joe Leblanc, was the driving force behind track and field in the territory, as well as coach for Team NWT. He had to move away last summer soon after Hay River’s annual track and field event. Still, McPhee attended two meets over the winter in Edmonton, coming home happy with her performance.

“We’re so proud of her,” said Glen McPhee, her father and now coach. “She just does her thing. The biggest thing about this award, and it’s one of Maddy’s best qualities, is that she was so humbled by it. She doesn’t expect that sort of thing.”

Glen said Sport North had done a great job at this year’s banquet celebrating athletes from across the territory. He appreciated the effort that goes into putting on a good event for the young people.

Next on the schedule though is this year’s NWT Track and Field Championships here in Hay River. Madison will once again be competing, and said she is most looking forward to the 100-metre race.

“I’m nervous for the track meet, but it’s always fun,” she said. “It will be good to meet with everyone again.”

As for what’s next, Madison said she has no plans. Her father said he supports whatever choice she makes.

“I do see her continuing in sport in some way, but I’m not sure if that will be 100 per cent her focus,” he said, adding that the pressure increases as teens get older and compete at higher and higher levels. “As long as she’s having fun, we’re happy.”

-Sarah Ladik