There was a hint of irony in that in a season in which the new University of Victoria CARSA gym facility opened, the best Vikes performances were turned in by athletes who play on field and turf in the great outdoors.
“It was an exciting year and a unique year,” said Clint Hamilton, UVic’s director of athletics.
Soccer player Cam Hundal from Terrace, selected both CIS and Canada West MVP, was named Vikes male athlete of the year during the annual UVic sports awards ceremony Wednesday night at the Victoria Conference Centre.
Fellow-graduating fifth-year soccer player Emma Greig of Tofino, the Canada West MVP, was named the top Vikes female athlete.
National team field-hockey player Kathleen Leahy, on the projection list for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was the recipient of the President’s Trophy awarded to the UVic athlete best combining athletic and academic achievement. The fourth-year star from Oak Bay led UVic to the CIS national championship game this season while maintaining a high standard in the classroom.
Awards ceremonies are always nights for reflection.
“Cam Hundal was one of the top four or five players I’ve coached in my 28 years on the UVic bench,” said Vikes head soccer coach Bruce Wilson, about UVic’s top male athlete of the season across all sports.
Wilson has played at the highest pro level in North America and captained Canada in the World Cup. So it means something when he explained the significance of Hundal’s CIS MVP award this season: “The CIS is a high-quality level in which you spend seven months of the year in a pro-like atmosphere. It’s a good breeding ground, for right up to the pros.”
While Hundal and Greig are finishing their Vikes careers, Gabrielle Senft and Patrick Keane are just beginning theirs by being named the Vikes female and male athletes of the year, respectively.
Senft, the swift and talented freshman fine-arts major from Regina, led UVic to its first Canada West title in women’s rugby and was named both CIS and Canada West rookie of the year. UVic has produced numerous Olympians in rowing and Victoria-native Keane, gold medallist at the Western Canadian and Canadian championships, will bear watching as an heir to that legacy.
The Chancellor’s Award for leadership went to Alexandra Clancy, who coxed the Vikes men’s rowing eight to the silver medal at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. Fourth-year Shannon Fitzpatrick, from the Canada West-champion women’s rugby team, won the Provost Award for the Vikes varsity athlete achieving the highest grade-point average. Fitzpatrick’s was a near-perfect 8.9 on UVic’s nine-point scale.
The Times Colonist Publisher’s Award, which honours community contributions to the Vikes program, went to chiropractor and UVic alumnus Simon Pearson for volunteering his services over 14 years to a weekly Vikes varsity clinic.
Meanwhile, the awards ceremony also features the annual induction of the yearly class into the UVic Sports Hall of Fame. The 2016 class enshrined on Wednesday night featured multi-medallist Paralympians Stephanie Dixon, who competed against able-bodied swimmers in CIS meets and was UVic female athlete of the year in 2004 and 2005, and Lauren Woolstencroft from skiing, who carried the flag for host Canada in the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympics.
Also enshrined were a 11 female rowers who represented an era in which UVic dominated the waters of the world. Lisa Roy, Janice Mason, Lisa Robertson, Joanell Storm, Andrea Schreiner Stapff, Katie Burke, Shelley Donald, Carolyn Trono and silver-medallist Marilyn Campbell were all Olympians.
This remarkable assemblage of talent, which also included Lorna Schultz Nicholson and Carla Pace, came together at UVic under Al Morrow during the 1981 and 1982 seasons to win eight national championships, including the Royal Henley, and the San Diego Crew Classic against the best NCAA crews.