On July 1, 2008, the Vermilion Soccer Association suffered a tragic loss when Derek Bucharski, a beloved and passionate soccer player, lost his life in a devastating accident. Derek had been an integral part of the association for nine years, playing on the youth indoor and outdoor teams, as well as the Men’s team. Renowned for his skill and love for the sport, Derek also dedicated his time as a referee and volunteered within the soccer community. To commemorate his unwavering dedication and team spirit, Derek’s family established the “Derek Bucharski Memorial Award for Dedication and Team Spirit.”
The prestigious award, presented annually, honours four individuals, one from each of the U13, U15, U17, and U19 squads, and is chosen each year by their coach’s. To be selected for this honour, recipients must demonstrate exceptional dedication, positive attitude, a love for the sport, and regular practice attendance. This year, the 2023 recipients were recognized for their outstanding commitment, positivity, and team spirit during the season-end wrap-up ceremony held on June 26 at the Vermilion Soccer Field in the Provincial Park.
Mary Bucharski, Derek’s mother, graciously and emotionally opened the award ceremony by extending a warm welcome to all attendees and expressing her gratitude for their presence. She also acknowledged the Vermilion Soccer Association executives, coaches, volunteers, parents, and children, recognizing their instrumental role in making the award possible. Mary’s heartfelt words captured the essence of the event: “We want to thank all the kids for coming out; we are very happy to see all the kids out from little kids all the way up to big guys.”
Coach Stephen Dykstra, who had played alongside Derek from U-13 to the Vermilion Men’s League, had the honour of presenting the U13 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award. In a poignant tribute to his late friend, Dykstra highlighted Derek’s unwavering passion, intensity, and ability to bring out the best in others on the field. Reflecting on the season, Dykstra selected Sawyer Cochrane as the deserving recipient for his positive attitude, dedication, and 100 per cent effort on the pitch. With pride, Dykstra presented the award to Sawyer, emphasizing his exceptional commitment and joy for the game.
Accompanied by her heartfelt reading of Coach Katy Delves’ statement, Derek’s sister Tanya Lee presented the U15 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award to Grady Ganton. The statement from his coach recognized Grady as an embodiment of leadership, possessing self-confidence while remaining humble and supportive of others on the field.
Jada Sanford received the U17 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award from Derek’s brother, Patrick Bucharski. Reading the reasons put forth by Coach Allan Drinkwater, Patrick lauded Jada’s unparalleled commitment, passion, and drive throughout the season. Jada’s willingness to step up whenever needed and her positive reinforcement both on and off the pitch left an indelible impression on her coach and teammates.
Derek’s brother Brad Bucharski had the privilege of presenting the U19 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award to Lauren Sayers. In Coach Jenna’s comments, Brad discovered that Lauren’s outstanding contributions to the team, unwavering positivity, and love for the game were awe-inspiring. Furthermore, her exceptional sense of fair play and embodiment of true sportsmanship made her a role model for her teammates.
Each recipient was honoured with a trophy and a soccer ball, symbolizing their achievements and the legacy of Derek Bucharski. The awards serve as a testament to Derek’s enduring spirit and the impact he made on the Vermilion Soccer Association. Through this annual ceremony, his memory lives on, inspiring young soccer players to embrace dedication, positivity, and team spirit.