WATERLOO, Ont. (April 3, 2017) – Men’s football linebacker Nakas Onyeka and women’s swimmer Jasmine Raines were named the recipients of the 2016-17 President’s Award as the Wilfrid Laurier Department of Athletics and Recreation hosted their annual athletic banquet on Monday evening at the Wilfrid Laurier Athletic Complex.
The President’s Award, which was one of 11 major awards handed out at the banquet, is awarded annually to the most outstanding athletic performance from a male and female athlete over the past year.
Onyeka, a native of Brampton, Ont., was the heart of the football team’s defence this past season that led the country in sacks and defensive touchdowns, and was also in the Top 5 in points allowed, interceptions and fumbles recovered. The fourth year communication studies major finished the season first in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) in solo tackles with 51 while ranking fourth in total tackles (59.5) and sacks (5.5) en route to capturing the conference’s President’s Award as the Top Stand-Up Defensive Player. The U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian and OUA First Team All-Star went on to add 17 total tackles, a half sack and a knockdown in the playoffs and was instrumental in the Hawks come-from-behind victory in the 109th Yates Cup, forcing a key fumble late in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Raines, a first year native of Kitchener, Ont., burst onto the OUA and U SPORTS swim scene in 2016-17 as the health sciences major posted 14 Top 2 finishes at invitational events throughout the season in the lead up to the conference and national championships. At the OUA Championship in February, she won gold in the 200m Breaststroke in a new OUA record time and followed that up with a come-from-behind victory in the 100m Breaststroke to become the first Laurier swimmer in seven years to win multiple gold medals at the conference championship. She went on to post the best finish by a Laurier swimmer in six years at the U SPORTS Championship, placing sixth in the 200m Breaststroke. Her efforts this season were key in helping the women’s swim team crack the national rankings for the first time since 2006.
Earlier in the evening, Raines was also awarded the Rich Newbrough Female Rookie of the Year Award, sweeping the two major female athletic performance awards
Taking home the Rich Newbrough Award for the men was men’s basketball guard Tevaun Kokko of Markham, Ont.
Kokko had a spectacular first season with the purple and gold as he set a new single season rookie scoring record for the Hawks, pouring in 383 points to break the previous mark of 381, held by Kale Harrison. The first year arts major finished tied for fourth in conference scoring, averaging 19.4 points per game while leading the team in three point shooting percentage, assists and steals. For his efforts, he was named an OUA Second Team All-Star and was a member of the OUA All-Rookie Team.
The Luke Fusco Academic Athletic Achievement Award, which honours the male and female athlete who best combines academic and athletic achievement, was awarded for the second straight year to both Kwaku Boateng of Milton, Ont., from men’s football and Jacky Normandeau of Uxbridge, Ont., from women’s soccer and hockey.
Boateng, a fourth year business major, has a cumulative GPA of 10.13 after posting a 10.6 GPA in the fall. A defensive lineman for the purple and gold, Boateng had another outstanding season on the gridiron for the Hawks as he helped lead the team to a Yates Cup Championship. A U SPORTS Second Team All-Canadian and an OUA First Team All-Star, Boateng broke the Laurier career sacks record in 2016 as he recorded 6.5 sacks this year to go along with 22 total tackles, six knockdowns and four forced fumbles.
Taking home the female award was Normandeau, a fourth year biology major who posted a 12.0 GPA in the fall to raise her cumulative GPA to 11.57. A defender for both Laurier’s soccer and hockey teams, Normandeau played in 15 games for the soccer team this season, notching eight goals and adding one assist. She then moved onto the ice where she played in 23 games for the hockey team, picking up one goal and adding an assist.
The Glenn Carroll Team of the Year Award was presented to men’s football as they returned to the top of the OUA with an impressive year. The Golden Hawks posted a 7-1 record during the regular season in 2016 to finish second in the conference. The result earned Laurier their first home playoff game since 2010 where the Hawks defeated McMaster 21-19 in the semifinals to advance to their first Yates Cup since 2006. In the championship, Laurier fell behind through three quarters but rallied thanks to the largest fourth quarter comeback in Yates Cup history, erasing a 21-point deficit over the final eight minutes of the game to defeat the Western Mustangs 43-40 on a field goal as time expired.
The Fred Nichols Community Service Leadership Award, recognizing the male and female student-athlete or student-leader who gives back to the community through volunteer commitments and/or fundraising efforts, was handed out to Melissa Pare of LaSalle, Ont., and Vinny Merante of Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Pare, a third year forward on the women’s basketball team, served as vice president of the Lettermen club this past year and was involved in a number of their community service initiatives including the running and reading program, Kid’s Day and Holiday Hawk. She also volunteered with the women’s basketball team at McGregor Public School, teaching basketball to phys ed classes, served as a tutor for fellow varsity athletes as well as worked with physical therapists at Waterloo Sports Medicine. She capped off her year by helping to spread positive mental health messaging in the Athletic Complex on Bell Let’s Talk day.
Meanwhile Merante, a fourth year goalie with the men’s hockey team, also had a big impact around the Kitchener-Waterloo community this year. He volunteered as an athlete ambassador for the School Day football game, helped support Bell Let’s Talk day and volunteered for both of Laurier’s open houses. This winter, he took a delegation of Chinese students, who were preparing to be volunteers for the 2022 Winter Olympics, on a tour of the men’s hockey dressing room while teaching them about the sport of hockey. He also found time to participate in hospital visits with the Lettermen club.
Laurier Athletics and Recreation also recognized six individuals for their contributions to the department and varsity teams over the past year.
The Marty Wamsley Student Trainer of the Year Award was awarded to Kaitlyn Kelly from the men’s baseball team. A trainer with the team for the past four seasons, she has excelled in her position and played an integral part in developing and overseeing the team’s off-season conditioning program.
The Earl C. Shelley Unsung Hero Award was handed out to Kha Vo who has served as a photographer for the department over the past three years. Covering over 200 varsity events, most of them in a volunteer capacity, his work has provided the communications office with a steady supply of high-quality content which has enabled the operations of the department’s website and social media channels.
The Tuffy Knight Award, which recognizes a person not affiliated with the university, for their untiring efforts over an extended period of time, was given to Dan Polischuk. For the last number of years, Polischuk has served as the play-by-play voice for all Laurier Football home games, as well as many other varsity basketball, hockey and soccer events on OUA.tv and Radio Laurier. On top of that, he finds time to assist the football team in the management of both their website and social media accounts.
The Chuck Classen Award, previously awarded to the top Team Manager, was changed this year to honour the Volunteer Coach of the Year. Taking home the inaugural award was men’s baseball assistant coach George Moore. Moore has served the past six years as a pitching coach for Laurier and this year managed a staff of 17 athletes that posted the lowest team ERA in the OUA.
The Dean E. Brandon Award, awarded to the female contributing most to Athletics, went to Melissa Pare. In her role as vice president with the Lettermen Club, Pare helped champion many of their programs throughout the year. She was also heavily involved in raising awareness surrounding mental health through the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative while also creating the Injury Talk program to help student-athletes deal with long-term injuries.
The Bill Haggstrom Trophy, awarded to the male contributing most to Athletics, was given to Jack Moore. A member of the men’s football team, Moore served as the Sports Manager at Radio Laurier this year, overseeing all volunteer commentators on Golden Hawk webcasts of football, basketball, hockey and soccer while also calling close to 40 games himself. He also worked as a staff writer in the department, covering rugby and women’s hockey online and on social media throughout the year.
Also honoured on Monday night were each team’s Most Valuable Players and Rookie’s of the Year.
Most Valuable Players
Baseball – Jonathan Brouse
Men’s Basketball – Tevaun Kokko
Women’s Basketball – Kaitlyn Schenck
Cheerleading – Taylor Learmont
Men’s Cross Country – Joe Sheridan
Women’s Cross Country – Bettina Boucher
Men’s Curling – Matthew Hall
Women’s Curling – Chelsea Brandwood
Football – Nakas Onyeka
Men’s Golf – Austin Ryan
Women’s Golf – Skylar Turkiewicz
Men’s Hockey – Colin Furlong
Women’s Hockey – Emily Woodhouse
Women’s Lacrosse – Torie Beemer
Men’s Middle Distance – Joe Sheridan
Women’s Middle Distance – Bettina Boucher
Men’s Rugby – Andrew Quattrin
Women’s Rugby – Chloe Graves
Men’s Soccer – Niklas Bauer
Women’s Soccer – Katie Bishop
Men’s Swimming – Tyson MacDonald
Women’s Swimming – Jasmine Raines
Rookie’s of the Year
Baseball – Kyle Symington
Men’s Basketball – Shamar Burrows
Women’s Basketball – Rachel Woodburn
Cheerleading – Emma Heaps
Men’s Cross Country – Dan Hilbers
Women’s Cross Country – Elizabeth Laurie
Men’s Curling – Oliver Campbell
Women’s Curling – Susanna Wright
Football – Christian Hutter-Coppin
Men’s Golf – Jaron Brown
Men’s Hockey – Brandon Robinson
Women’s Hockey – Emily Woodhouse
Women’s Lacrosse – Rose Williams
Men’s Middle Distance – Zachary Savlov
Women’s Middle Distance – Sydney Pattison
Men’s Rugby – Matt Fish
Women’s Rugby – Elizabeth Isbister
Men’s Soccer – Rocco Strazzella
Women’s Soccer – Ellie Reid
Men’s Swimming – Jacob Eby
Women’s Swimming – Jasmine Raines