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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

2024 Derek Bucharski Memorial Awards Honour Dedicated Soccer Players


Back row from left, Megan Bucharski, Tanya Lee, Hannah McCagherty, Raiden Bucharski, Brad Bucharski, Patrick Bucharski, Joe Bucharski, and Mary Bucharski. Front row from left, Rylee Bucharski, U-13 Janelle Rosher, U-15 Kaedence Eriksen, U-17 Damian Shomachuk, U-19 Haya Salame, and Riya McCagherty. Photos Lorna Hamilton

Sixteen years ago, 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 coaches. To be selected for this honour, recipients must demonstrate exceptional dedication, a positive attitude, a love for the sport, and regular practice attendance. This year, the 2024 recipients were recognized for their outstanding commitment, positivity, and team spirit during the season-end wrap-up ceremony held on June 25 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.”

Mary Bucharski had the honour of presenting the U13 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award to Janelle Rosher and read coach Shannon’s reason for choosing Rosher. “This remarkable U13 player demonstrates many of the same qualities Derek did! She embodies the true spirit of teamwork, positivity, hard work, and sportsmanship on and off the soccer pitch… she brings energy and enthusiasm to every practice and game.”


Janelle Rosher.

Derek’s sister Tanya Lee presented the U15 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award to Kaedence Eriksen, reading what coach Katy had to say about Eriksen. “Her influence on the team has been positive no matter the differences, and her support of her teammates can be heard from the bench. She has earned the respect of other players around her and they listen when she gives direction and advice. She continues to grow into a leader on the field and her confidence and voice are being used to inspire others.”


Kaedence Eriksen.

Damian Shomachuk received the U17 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award from Derek’s brother, Patrick Bucharski, who read from coach Gordon’s notes: “This year’s recipient really embraced the sport and the positives he draws from it… This year he distinguished himself with a clear enjoyment of the cerebral aspects of the game… He was always at practice and often found working on his game with solo drills. He was asked to play different positions on a high-performing team facing some of the province’s best players. His performances repeatedly surpassed expectations. Our only regret is that the season isn’t longer to provide more opportunities for this player to explore and show his capacity.”



Damian Shomachuk.

Derek’s brother Brad Bucharski had the privilege of presenting the U19 Derek Bucharski Memorial Award to Haya Salame. Brad read from coach Paige’s comments: “This girl hasn’t missed a beat this whole season. She is at every practice, game, and tournament… She is a solid player, gives every game her all, and we have never heard a negative comment from her! Her dedication to our team is everything every coach can only dream of! From high-fives to hugs, uplifting words, this girl has it all. She is always smiling, cracking jokes, and making us laugh… Being a part of our soccer club from when she was little to now, I can’t imagine anyone more fitting for this award!”


Haya Salame.

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.


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