Amy Canavan leaves today for the Special Olympics Alaska Winter Games in Anchorage with a new title: Kodiak’s Special Olympics Athlete of the Year.
Canavan was given the award, now in its seventh year, during Kodiak’s local games several weeks ago.
It’s safe to say the 27-year-old was not expecting such an honor.
“I had the biggest eyeballs that were popping out of my head,” said Canavan on how she reacted when her name was announced as this year’s top athlete.
“It was actually pretty cool that I got the football,” she said. “It was awesome. I was pretty shocked.”
Canavan gets to keep the trophy — a football — for a year, before passing it on to the next winner. She joins past winners Christopher Kavanaugh, Arne Tveit, Aaron Dolph, Julia Wiley, Derrick Blondin and Kathy Moody.
The football is on display in her bedroom, where she can look at it every day.
“I found the space for it,” she said.
The award is an overdue honor for Special Olympics veteran, one of three athletes left from Kodiak’s floor hockey team, which won gold at the 2001 Winter World Games in Anchorage.
“I was very proud that she was selected this year,” her father and Special Olympics area director Dan Canavan said. “She has worked hard throughout the years that she has been participating.”
Amy, a 2006 Kodiak High School graduate, started competing in 1998 in bowling. Since then she has done almost every sport Special Olympics offers.
She is on Kodiak’s floor hockey team, which is participating in this weekend’s winter games at East Anchorage High School.
“I like that you can compete against different people, that you have fun and that you are a part of a team that you are proud,” Amy said. “You are supporting your whole community.”
Dan, who abstained from voting for the award, said his daughter was deserving of the recognition.
“When she is out participating she really gives it her all and is very positive,” Dan said. “I think one of the things that helped make that selection fairly easy is that her positive attitude translates to other athletes.”
Chris Provost has been coaching Amy in floor hockey for more than a decade.
“As soon as she gets on the court, whatever sport it is, she just tends to get focused in that game situation,” Provost said. “During a game, when she is on the court, she is intense and when every thing is over, there is other things that she is interested in besides sports, which is good.”
One of Amy’s favorite moments was being on Kodiak’s world championship floor hockey team.
“It was pretty amazing,” she said. “We got to see people from all around the world. We got to see famous people there. I really enjoyed it.”
Despite her success in floor hockey, she said her favorite sport is powerlifting.
“It is really mellow,” she said.
Powerlifting coach Lindsay Knight was on the committee that voted for the athlete of the year.
“She is an all-around good kid, not only as an athlete, but as a person,” Knight said. “She is willing to help out, not only with her lifting, but with others. She is a good kid, everybody likes her.”
Amy, who works at McDonald’s, said Special Olympics has taught her a lot through the years.
“Sportsmanship, believing in yourself and doing the best you can,” she said.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@