Mitch Armstrong: 2022 St. Catharines Athlete of the Year
When St. Catharines Falcons general manager Frank Girhiny wanted to announce to the team the good news that forward Mitch Armstrong had been named the 2022 St. Catharines Athlete of the Year and coach Tyler Bielby 2022 Sportsman of the Year, Armstrong didn’t want any part of it.
It’s not that Armstrong didn’t appreciate the award — on the contrary, he was thrilled to be selected — it’s just that the 19-year-old St. Catharines native didn’t want to create any distractions as the Falcons were about to embark on the playoffs and looking to repeat as Sutherland Cup champions.
So when asked if he had received official conformation from the city, Armstrong told a little white lie.
“Frank wanted to tell the boys and Army said he hadn’t got the e-mail yet so he didn’t want to talk about it because he hadn’t formally be notified,” Bielby said. “He told me later that night he had got the e-mail but said he didn’t want any focus to be on me.
“In that moment, I knew you guys (selection committee) got that pick right.”
Looking back, Armstrong feels it was the right call to hold off on the announcement.
“I wanted to wait because the Sutherland Cup is a huge thing and we had a huge playoff series coming up so we were getting dialled (in),” he said. “It was a week before our first game so I just wanted everything to be about the team.
“The award is always going to be there but we’re right here in the moment and I think it should be about that.”
Armstrong was selected after an outstanding year of athletic accomplishments in 2022 that saw him play a vital role on the ice as the Falcons captured their second Ontario junior B championship, as well as win a gold medal as a member of Team Canada at the 2022 IIJL World Junior Lacrosse Championships in Winnipeg. Armstrong also suited up for the St. Catharines Athletics junior A squad and for Brock’s field lacrosse team.
Armstrong was taken aback when told by Bielby he had won.
“Coach called and told me congratulations. I didn’t even know what I did because I was just getting home from practice,” Armstrong said. “I was really surprised and I told my parents and they were super happy for me.”
Bielby is a huge fan of Armstrong.
“It’s tough to put into words. Every once in a while there are a few players that represent exactly who and what you want to be and Mitch is that guy for this organization for the last couple of years,” Bielby said. “The way he works, the way he treats his teammates, everything about him is upper class.
“I don’t know every athlete in the city of course, but I know Mitch and what you want them to represent when you’re picking awards like that. It wasn’t just that he won, but how he won and how he treats the community. He’s a humble kid who puts team first.”
A’s general manager Jeff Chcoski is a friend of the Armstrong family and said a strong home life has paid huge dividends.
“For him to win this award, it really has to go back to his family,” Chcoski said. “He has a great group of people in his home and you definitely see that in him.
“When he looks back at this award a few years down the road, he will really understand the meaning of it and how big this award is to the City of St. Catharines.”
Armstrong had a long list of positive influences.
“So many people to thank, from my parents (Dan and Cat) to my teammates, to my coaches. I obviously wouldn’t be anywhere or half the person I am today without them,” he said. “They are definitely my village. My friends have pushed me to become better and my trainers.”
He is also thankful to be a member of two top quality junior programs.
“I can’t say enough about both organizations,” Armstrong said. “They have both been super helpful to get where I am. They really supported me along the way. I’m so grateful they have accepted me and brought me on to their teams.
“From the coaches, to the players, to the general managers and management, to the equipment staff, the guys are A class character and the way they treat the players. I’m so grateful.”
Armstrong, a first-year kinesiology major at Brock, isn’t quite sure what athletic path he would like to pursue going forward.
“One of my biggest goals is education and graduating Brock and hopefully pursuing something with lacrosse or hockey. I’m leaning a little more to the lacrosse route but either would be nice. I want to keep playing both as along I can,” he said.
Armstrong and Bielby will receive their awards at St. Catharines City Council at a date yet to be determined.
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