It’s a barroom debate that often rages on during post-game conversations at the Monkey Tree, Black Knight or Coyotes; who is the Bo Jackson of Yellowknife? Who is the best that this town has to offer when it comes to athletic exploits? This is a list that friends and I have discussed ad nauseam over a few late-night beverages throughout the years, and we can never seem to come to an agreement on who is the top dog. Therefore, I’ve decided to put a little research into the matter and settle the debate once and for all (or for the year 2014 at least) on who is “The Best of the Best.”
Before we get into the athletes that make up Yellowknife’s elite we need to set out a few ground rules:
We’re talking YK rec athletes. Sorry Michael Gilday, Molly Milligan and Devin Hinchey, I know you’re competing at world class levels in your respective sports but you are just a tad too good for this conversation. Also, this rule eliminates any of the athletes attending school down south and playing for their varsity teams.
Rule #2 With my sincerest apologies to all the female athletes in town, I’m limiting this list to males for this go around. I know there are some spectacularly athletic ladies in this town (heck, I’ve seen it firsthand when players like Alyssa Bird and Mel Kornacki school me on the football field on Friday nights), but I’m just not familiar enough with who are the elite in the female sporting circles to include them on the list.
Rule #3 This is perhaps the most important rule. Both quality and quantity count in this discussion. This means that a couple of groups of people aren’t making the list. Athletes like Mirsad Mujcin and Bruce Waugh may dominate the one or two sports they play, but they just don’t have a broad enough resume to make the list. On the flip side of this, an “athlete” like Damien Healy plays pretty much every sport this town has to offer: basketball, football, fastball, slo-pitch, hockey, golf, squash, soccer, broomball, but his quality of play leaves a lot to be desired in every single one of them. That’s not going to cut it.
Now that we’ve got our basic rules laid out, let’s dive right in.
Here are a couple of guys that definitely would have been battling for the top spot on this list a decade ago, but unfortunately for them, it’s 2014 and they are on the downside of their athletic careers and have slipped a little in the rankings.
Mike “The Wiz” Mathison – Mike has long been one of the very best basketball, volleyball, badminton and slo-pitch players in town. Unfortunately, age and parenthood have slowed him down a little and while he remains above average in all the sports, he’s no longer the dominant force he once was.
Ryan Strain – The former WHL star is another victim of father time. Rhino is still among the elite on the ice and on the fastball field, but his skills and participation in other sports have dwindled as he’s entered his 40s. If you ask him, he’s still the man to beat, but those of us who play the games know better.
And now for the real winners…
Bryan Laserich – Despite his nearly incomprehensible accent and lingo, this Aussie import is an absolute beast in every sport he plays. On the basketball court it’s nearly impossible to stop him when he lowers his head and drives the lane, and on the volleyball court his power is devastating, but where he really shines is on the football field and rugby pitch. Despite his overpowering appearance, Bryan has an uncanny nimbleness in his game. While he is more than capable of bowling people over, he often chooses instead to embarrass them with a quick little “How’s she going” move that causes them to trip over their own feet and end up watching him from the ground as he saunters into the end zone. He’s amongst the elite at the games he plays and if he adds a couple more sports to his repertoire, he could soon challenge for the top spot.
Kyle Kugler – Simply put, Kyle excels at any sport he chooses to play. He was a member of Yellowknife’s victorious Northern Hockey Challenge team last year which clearly places him among the best of all northerners on the ice. He played an integral part in the Slades Expos’ return to championship form in the YK Fastball League last summer by injecting some new life into the squad of aging has-beens. Over on the football field, his speed and sure hands have left many defenders in his wake, begging for help. Excellent in any sporting arena, Kugler is one of the best in town… but he’s not quite #1. That honour belongs to…
Joey Borkovic – The best of the best, Mr. Borko is without athletic equal in YK sports. He’s got the quantity covered, as he plays hockey, football, fastball, slo-pitch, volleyball, soccer, golf and probably a couple of others that I’m missing. And he’s got the quality covered as well as he is at or near the top in every one of those sports (except when he moves away from wide receiver and tries to play quarterback, then it gets ugly). Joey is one of the fastest players in every sport, he’s got an absolute rocket for an arm, and he’s got some of the best hand-eye coordination around. It doesn’t matter which playing field you choose, the odds are overwhelming that Joey’s better than you. By far.
There you have it, the best of the best. If you play any sport in this town, you’ve undoubtedly been embarrassed by one or more of these guys on a few occasions. In fact, if you gave me these three all-stars and a couple of scrubs off the street I’m pretty sure we’d win in every sport this town has to offer. And now that that’s settled we can move on to more important debates, like who is the YKFL’s top QB?