YEAR IN REVIEW: Some standout Surrey athletes and teams in 2015

Golfer, basketball team and hockey star among memorable stories

Surrey goalie Andrew Hammond in action with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators earlier this year.


Surrey’s Adam Svensson started his professional golf career with a bang last spring, when the Earl Marriott Secondary grad won two straight tournaments on the Tour, taking top spot in the Killearn CC Classic and also the Lake County Classic. The victories came after a stellar 2014, in which Svensson led his alma mater, Miami’s Barry University, to its second consecutive NCAA Division II championship. “Obviously, my main goal is to be on the PGA Tour, but my short-term goal is to be on the by next year,” Svensson told the Now in April. Accordingly, on a course in Florida on Dec. 13, he won the Tour qualifying tourney by seven shots, earning himself $25,000 US and also fully exempt status on the Tour for the 2016 season – another step for Svensson toward the PGA Tour.


Led by players including all-star guard Armaan Khangura, who played the entire season with a broken bone in his hand, the Fleetwood Park Dragons senior boys team earned the Triple-A high school basketball crown in March. They did it with a 73-65 win over top-ranked Sir Charles Tupper Tigers in the championship game at Langley Events Centre. It was the first time a Surrey public school won a senior boys’ provincial basketball title at any tier since the 1981 North Surrey Spartans. Memorably, in the celebration that followed, game MVP Emeka Okuma dropped his trophy, decapitating the golden basketball from its base.


Last spring, Surrey’s Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond sizzled in net for the Ottawa Senators as the team clawed its way to a NHL playoff birth. The goaltender became a cult hero in the nation’s capital, earning himself First Star of the Week status and causing fans to throw McDonald’s hamburgers to the ice in his honour. Hammond, 27, grew up playing for teams with Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association and, at one point in his junior-hockey days, almost gave up playing the game he loves. Hammond’s current season with the Senators has, for the most part, seen him relegated to a backup role behind starter Craig Anderson.


In June, a powerhouse Fraser Heights Firehawks high school badminton team brought gold home from a championship tournament in Kamloops. The 16-member coed squad earned a provincial  title for the second straight year, and the team’s win-loss record tied an all-time tournament record set in 1999 by H.J. Cambie. “This could be the greatest single team performance in provincial badminton history,” proud coach David Dryen told the Now. “This week capped off what I would label the ‘perfect season,’ going undefeated in league play, team tournaments, zone playoffs, and now the provincials,” he added. “And with the majority of players graduating this year, it was an emotional win for everyone. This year and this team will never be forgotten.”


Christabel Nettey’s track and field season got off to a good start in March, when the Surrey long jumper earned gold with a 6.99-metre jump at Stockholm’s XL Galan track and field meet. She broke her own Canadian indoor long jump record, and also set the bar for the longest jump in the 25-year history of XL Galan’s women’s competition. As the summer faded, Nettey finished fourth in her event at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing.


One day last May, it was hard to tell if the scene at Christian Covington’s Sullivan Heights-area home was a draft party or a block party. The defensive tackle, son of CFL Hall of Famer Grover Covington, waited for his name to be called by NFL league commissioner Roger Goodell 3,500 kilometres away in Chicago. Eventually, the six-foot-three, 290-pounder was picked 216th overall by the Houston Texans. “I’m excited about this journey ahead and I just can’t wait to be playing on such a stout defensive line,” enthused Christian, the first underclassman from B.C. to be drafted in NFL history and the only Canadian to be picked in this year’s draft. As a rookie wearing #95 with the Texans this season, he’s recorded seven tackles and one sack in his 14 games played.



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