Gwen Bestland of Sanford Collegiate was named the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association's Female Athlete of the Year Wednesday afternoon in Winnipeg.

"I didn't know I was coming here today," said Bestland shortly after the conclusion of the MHSAA's news conference announcing the Athletes of the Year at Sport Manitoba. "That is crazy to me and there are so many athletes out there that I am so glad to have participated with. It means a lot to me."

Bestland participated in cross country, soccer, hockey, baseball, badminton, fast pitch, and track & field. She was a tournament all-star for basketball, captain of the Sabres hockey team, a graduating all-star in the Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League as well as League champions. Bestland was the varsity girls A-AAA Provincial Cross Country Champion and the Zone 4 Badminton Aggregate Champion.

"The past four years I have dedicated myself to high school sports," noted Bestland. "I haven’t done a lot of sports outside of school just so I could really give back to my school. There was such good opportunity because we had great sports programs. It’s really nice to know that even though we are a small school, the sports programs are still right up there with the best of them."

Bestland is also a member of the Sabres boxing club, coach of the mini-Sabres basketball program, and scorekeeper for basketball games and tournaments. She helped organize and host the AAA JV Girls Provincial Basketball Championships as well as the Zone badminton finals. She is a volunteer at the Kabby Cup A memorial hockey tournament in Sanford and a volunteer at the Sanford Curling Bonspiel.

The Sanford Collegiate graduate saw first-hand how the coronavirus shutdown high school sports in the middle of March in 2020 during her grade 10 year and then all sports were cancelled during her entire grade 11 year.

"Those years were really disappointing just because sports was such a huge part of my life and I couldn’t do that anymore. This grade 12 year we really got back into everything and it made me so happy. I was so grateful just to be back on a team, any team really."

Bestland, who will be attending the University of Alberta in Edmonton and is enrolled in the undergraduate nursing program, was named Sanford Collegiate’s varsity girls Athlete of the Year, a bronze medal Scholar Athlete Award winner, and a Spirit of a Sabre award winner. 

She did all of this while maintaining a 95% academic average.

"So much effort," answered Bestland when asked how she she was able to compete in so many sports and maintain her stellar academic average. "So much help from my coaches, parents and my gym teacher Ms. Sinnock, she’s always been there for me. Everyone is just really understanding. You just have to make sure you’re a clear communicator with everyone and that is basically the biggest part of doing all these sports at the same time."

Kindal DeGraeve and Alex Kubinec of Treherne Collegiate are the A category Athletes of the Year; Serenity Poirier of Lac du Bonnet and Russell Outhwaite of Killarney are the AA winners; Sam Ludwig of Westgate is the AAA and overall Male Athlete of the Year and the AAAA winners are Ayva Khan and Udhay Chatha of Vincent Massey Collegiate in Winnipeg.