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By HARVEY ROSEN One of the highlights of the Annual Y Sports Dinner is the presentation of the Idy and Max Nusgart Memorial Award, which is presented to the person chosen as the “Jewish Athlete of the Year.”

For the record, the first winner ever of the prestigious award dates back to 1986 when it was given to Gordon Orlikow, an outstanding decathlete, at the Jewish Community Centre’s 14th annual YMHA dinner held back then at the International Inn.
The headline speaker on that second day of June was none other than Mike Ditka, head coach of the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, who was joined at the head table by one of the top sportscasters of his day, Bob Costas.
Twenty-nine years later, the aforementioned award is still an integral part of the fund-raising dinner and the quality of its nominees remains as strong and noteworthy as ever.
This year, aside from myself, those who helped to determine the winner were: Mitch Peacock of CBC; Ashley Prest of the Winnipeg Free Press; Shawn Churchill and Kevin Olszewski of CTV; and Kirk Penton of the Winnipeg Sun.
Peruse, if you will, this sensational six of fine young Jewish athletes, each of whom shone in his/her individual sports:

SERENA BUCHWALD: This young diver with the Revolution Club is but 15 years of age and is coached by Dallas Ludwick. Serena is in Grade 9 at Balmoral Hall. In the past two years Serena has won provincial championships in the one and three metres and tower competitions. Last year she  was our province’s lone rep at her first ever 2014 Junior Elite National Championships in Victoria, where she narrowly missed making the top 12 finalists on platform against the country’s best 30 divers in her 14-18 age group. In 2013, Buchwald was named the Rookie of the Year and won gold medals at the Manitoba Provincials in the one and three meters and platform finals for girls 12-13,  also another gold medal in the platform final at the 2013 Atlantic Championship. At the 2014 Western Championships, Serena won the bronze medal in the Women’s Open Platform and another bronze in the girls 14-15, 3 metre final. Buchwald also won a silver medal at last year’s Polar Bear Classic in the Women’s open platform final. She is currently a member of the 2015 Provincial Team.
MANDY GREENBERG:  A 24 year-old fastball pitcher with the Smitty’s Terminators team. She attended Minot State for four years and led the team to their first ever NCAA Division Two National Tournament. In 2013 at Minot, her Beavers’ team enjoyed a 25-5 record and Mandy was instrumental in their qualifying for their first ever National Tournament appearance. Greenberg set multiple Minot State records including a 1.12 ERA, 168.2 innings pitched and 258 strikeouts. Her overall career record was 73 wins and 28 losses with a 1.77 ERA and 867 strikeouts. Mandy also recorded a career-best 17 strikeouts in a 5-1 win against Upper Iowa University. She was Northern Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year, made the All-Conference Team and was also named to the All-Region Team. Besides receiving honorable mention on the All-American Team, Mandy also represented Canada at the last Maccabiah Games in Israel, but appeared in only two games, due to a fractured forearm.

EMMA LEIPSIC: This 16-year-old is a member of the Panthers’ Gymnastic club and has been active in her sport for over 14 years. At the 2014 Manitoba Open competition she placed first all-round, won gold medals in the vault, bars, beam, and was fourth in the floor exercises. Emma went on to win gold in both the bars and vault at the 2014 Western Canadian championship. At the 2014 Canadian Nationals Emma was third in both the vault and bars. Come 2015 Emma was first again in the vault and bars and captured a bronze medal on the beam at the Hawaiian Twisters’ meet. At the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C. Leipsic was the only Manitoba gymnast to compete in all three days of competition and finished fifth on bars competing against some very talented national team members. At this year’s Women’s Manitoba Open Leipsic was first in beam, second in vault and uneven bars, and fourth in floor exercises,  finishing first overall with an all-round score of 52.80. Although Emma still needs to complete her Grade 12 studies this year, she has accepted a full athletic scholarship from the University of Chicago and will compete with their gymnastics team beginning in the fall of 2016.

JEREMY LEIPSIC: Now 18, he spent the past season as a member of the Winnipeg Wild in the Manitoba Midget AAA hockey league. Yes, he’s the younger brother of Brendan, who is now in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ chain. In 44 games this past season, Jeremy scored 20 goals and added 64 assists to win the league’s scoring title. Leipsic finished his season with an impressive plus/minus rating of plus-54 and, to nobody’s surprise, at season’s end he was named to the league’s first all-star team.

SAUL SHROM: A tennis player of some renown, he is now in his first season at the pro level. Previously, Saul had captured six Manitoba tennis titles. He was the top ranked singles and doubles player in the province in 2012-13. The past four years, while attending the University of Colorado (Pueblo Campus), Shrom made the All-American Athletics first team and was the university’s Male Scholar Athlete. Saul also won the Tennis Summit Award for the highest GPA with a 3.98 out of 4.00. He played the number one singles and doubles position and led the university team in wins three out of four years. He was also  team captain in his final two years. Saul was ranked 14th in the Intercollegiate Association’s South Central Region in 2014 and beat many nationally ranked singles and doubles opponents.

MICAH SOMMER: For the past two seasons, Micah played both slotback and wide receiver with the St. Paul Crusaders. In 2013 he captained the AA team to the Free Press Bowl Championship and was selected to the Vidruk Division first all-star team. This past season Sommer played for the AAA squad and was again the team leader en route to an undefeated regular season and the team’s third consecutive appearance in the Anavets Bowl title game. His regular season included 17 receptions for 294 yards and seven touchdowns.  Micah was named the Crusaders Spirit Award recipient.
The writer, a Jewish Winnipegger, is a former school teacher, and covers football and hockey for Canadian Press and Broadcast News.
Keep in touch with Sporting Touch. Send news about Jewish sports to Harvey Rosen, 360 Scotia Street, Winnipeg, Man., R2V 1W7, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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