At the 60th edition of the Ottawa Sports Awards, honouring the best amateur athletes and coaches from the City of Ottawa, there was a strong contingent representing the garnet and grey of the University of Ottawa. The awards have recognized some of Canada’s greatest athletes over the years, including Olympians and World Champions. Seven uOttawa athletes were named the city’s best in their respective sport, while three of the University’s teams were acknowledged for their outstanding performances.
The three Gee-Gee teams honoured on Wednesday night each accomplished something historic in 2012. The men’s track relay team won the University’s first-ever CIS relay gold medals, and they did it twice. The foursome of Segun Makinde, Michael Robertson, Devin Biocchi and Tolu Makinde bested the field in both the 4x400m and the 4x200m, setting a CIS record in the sprint relay. It is only the second CIS record set by Gee-Gees track and field athletes.
The 2011-2012 women’s basketball team’s historic feat was capturing the bronze medal at the CIS championships. After winning the University’s second OUA banner, the team earned the Gee-Gees’ highest-ever finish at the nationals. The team also featured uOttawa’s first winner of the Nan Copp Trophy for CIS women’s basketball Player of the Year, Hannah Sunley-Paisley, and the OUA’s all-time leader in career rebounds, Bess Lennox.
Most recently the 2012 women’s soccer team captured the program’s seventh OUA championship, making uOttawa the winningest program in OUA women’s soccer history. The squad was ranked first in Canada for much of the season and broke records for shutouts and fewest goals allowed.
The captain and defensive leader of the team, Gillian Baggott received the honour of Ottawa’s top soccer player for 2012. After leading the Gee-Gees through an unbeaten regular season which saw the team give up only one goal against in sixteen games, the fifth-year defender was named the CIS Player of the Year. Baggott also helped the Ottawa Fury capture their first ever W-League championship in August, and is now on the radar of national team scouts.
Another Gee-Gee individual honouree is the current OUA women’s volleyball leader in points per set, Karina Krueger Schwanke. Schwanke receives the nod as Ottawa’s top volleyball athlete due to her contributions to last season’s OUA silver medal-winning squad, which included being named an OUA all-star. She has continued her remarkable play into this season; the powerful attacker is one of the nation’s top players and her play has helped the Gee-Gees to be ranked all season in the CIS Top Ten.
uOttawa’s competitive club teams were also well-represented at the ceremony. Andrew D’Souza was named the male badminton athlete of the year after he captured the gold medal in singles at the under-19 Pan-American championships as well as a bronze in mixed doubles at the same event. D’Souza is in his first year of studies at uOttawa and has been leading the club team’s performances this season.
A veteran member of the Gee-Gees fencing team, John Wright won his first Ottawa Sport Award as the city’s top fencer in 2012. In addition to helping the uOttawa team win the 2012 OUA championship for men’s épée, Wright competed for Canada at the Argentina World Cup and won silver, as well as defeating the reigning world champion at an event in Stockholm.
Grace Lonergan was recognized for the third time as city’s softball standout. The Gee-Gees catcher led the club team in RBIs and runs through 29 games last season on the way to the Ontario silver medal. She also competed at the Canadian National Championships where she was named the best catcher in the nation.
Gee-Gees women’s hockey captain and Red Bull Crashed Ice World Champion Fannie Desforges (Fournier, Ont.) was recognized for her outstanding play in the Canadian Ball Hockey Association. She was named the 2012 MVP at the national championships and is a member of the women’s national team.
Finally, kayak sprinter Rhys Hill was named the top athlete in the category canoe/kayak sprint. Hill is a uOttawa commerce student who competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2012 he earned multiple top five finishes on the World Cup circuit.
uOttawa students captured top honours as Ottawa’s Athlete of the Year at the 2011 (Kate Goodfellow, rowing) and 2010 (Brad Sinopoli, football) awards ceremonies.