Once a year, we gather to recognize those who have truly made their mark on the city’s sports scene: from the home-run hitters and KO punchers to those who lift up their mates when all seems lost. They’re our friends, our family and, occasionally, our blood-thirsty rivals.
After the last couple of years' fundraising heroics, we will be also recognizing the sports team that raises the most money for charity over the course of the awards. Oh, and there will be a raffle fundraiser on the night, with all money raised going to the Baobei Foundation
And now, without further ado, here are the nominations for Coach of the Year:
Bobby Fang - Coco (Softball)
Bobby Fang has led Coco on the most successful B Division run in Shanghai Softball history. In the Spring, Coco three-peated to become the first ever three-time CJ Cup champions, and in the Fall once again made it all the way to the finals. He is integral to the league as he serves as the B-Division liaison and is a vital voice for many of our league’s decisions. Bobby also has an unbridled love for the game. No one seems to enjoy softball Sunday’s more than Bobby Baseball.
Igor Valentic - FitFam
The Flame of FitFam, Igor’s consistency drives hundreds of FitFam members out of bed and grinding at 6am in the morning 6 days a week. He voluntarily delivers high-quality, time-efficient, and challenging workouts, assists FitFam members to continuously be active and better themselves, and pushes them to be accountable for their own health and wellbeing. His dedication and hard work has fueled many FitFam journeys from getting back into shape, complete triathlons, Spartan Races and Marathons.
Josh Stone - Dolphins (Rugby)
Before he went on a boxing hiatus, Josh Stone was snapping the dolphins into shape and had the lads playing some superb rugby. His structure and delivery made regular Dolphins training sessions happen as successfully on the field as they did in the bars. Leading from the front, his chip kick directly to an opposition player showed the rest of the team exactly what forwards should not be doing. Silver wear in Xiamen, Shanghai 10’s and Sino 15’s back up his credentials for coach of the Year!
Kevin Parker - Shanghai Hockey Club
Kevin, a gnarly old-school hockey guru living on the fringe of this insulated, contemporary society, coached the SHC’s all-star squad for the Team World game. This cagey bastard (who not only volunteers his time to coaching the Thunderbirds youth hockey program, but also volunteers as a board member for Active Kidz Shanghai) came in on his own dime and time to show our ragtag group what it meant to play hockey. And boy howdy, did his style work wonders. After establishing a system and setting up lines that worked, Kev’s leadership pushed the team to a huge win in front of thousands of fans.
Mark Simon - Shanghai Hockey Club
There’s not much left that can be said for a guy who’s been a cornerstone of the Chinese community for so many years. After bouncing back and forth between Beijing and Shanghai – not to mention the myriad of small cities where he’s been building a following for youth hockey – Mark’s work with the established leagues, both professional and amateur is nothing to sneeze at. He has continued to push hockey into the hearts and minds of people in a place where many didn’t think possible, and that alone is a commendable task. His work with children, youths and adults alike has been vital for the growth of the game here in China.
Tim Cunningham - Pink Dragons (Rugby)
Tim has been key in driving the Pink Dragons of the SRFC in their development for the past two years. His commitment, knowledge and passion have been fantastic not only for the women’s team but the whole club both on and off the pitch. With his support and intensive training sessions he has managed to help to grow the team from just a few regular players as seen in previous years, to 20+ women at games and training each week. Tim’s approach to the game has ensured that more experienced players feel challenged and able to improve consistently whilst newcomers are welcomed and given the guidance needed to improve at their own pace.
Saulo Melo - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Warzone)
Coming to China in 2014 in search of a paddle board supplier, he fell in love with Shanghai and in December 2016 opened a small gym called Warzone. Originally a space to train BJJ, what began with 12 passionate friends is now currently 110 passionate members of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Warzone also trains winning athletes, offers seminars, has a Little Warrior Program for youth education and supports orphans with special needs from Shanghai Baby’s home. As a result, Saulo has partnered with Absolute MMA to open a larger space featuring the best of MMA in January 2018.
Stefanie Candela - Warzone, Golden Gloves
Putting in work with boxers at both Warzone and Golden Gloves, Stefanie is very professional and gets people to perform 100 percent. She is one the few that can make you feel part of the team, even if it’s your first day in the class. You will leave her class sweaty and with a big smile.
Maurad Tcherouka - BodyBlackSmith
A coach at BodyBlackSmith, Maurad is professional, fun, tough and dedicated. He’s like the Golden Ramsey in the Gym - because he yells a lot in the class!
How to Vote
Voting for the People's Choice Awards begins January 11 via WeChat. Follow us at Thats_Shanghai or by scanning our QR Code and message our account 'sports awards'.