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Gee-Gees winter season recap

Tuesday March 29, 2011

Hard to believe another varsity season has runs its’ course, and another school year is coming to its’ foremost conclusion. As Sports Services did with fall sports, we wanted to take the opportunity to look back on what was an equally memorable winter semester for the uOttawa Gee-Gees.

A Cinderella season: men’s basketball

Back in the fall, we pinned the uOttawa Gee-Gees men’s basketball team with the unduly title of “biggest underachievers”. Well it seems as though they might have taken that one to heart, because the Gee-Gees were able to turn the corner pretty fast after that disastrous 2-6 start.

Fast-forward to the month of March, and the garnet and grey now find themselves in the OUA Final Four and one game away from qualifying for CIS nationals. To get there, the Gee-Gees went 9-5 to finish the regular season, and handily knocked out the No. 2 Toronto Varsity Blues at home to reach the Final Four. Unfortunately for the Gee-Gees, the Cinderella story would come to a heartbreaking end in the final seconds of their OUA semi-final game versus Lakehead.

Nevertheless, the Gee-Gees had much to be proud of at season’s end. Not only did they persevere after many had already given up on them, but they also showcased a bright future for Gee-Gees basketball.

The great play of Warren Ward, London, Ont., down the stretch was to be expected as he regained his form by season’s end, but it was the rookies who were really able to turn some heads this season. First-year players Johnny Berhanemeskel, Ottawa, Ont., Chris Anderson, Ottawa, Ont., and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue, Gatineau, Qué., are a testament to a new era in Gee-Gees basketball. Look for head coach James Derouin to bring in some strong recruits to compliment this young and dynamic Gee-Gees squad.

Not ready just yet: women’s basketball

Heading into this season, head coach Andy Sparks knew his team would be challenged based on youth and inexperience. While this young women’s basketball team showed moments of brilliance, Sparks’ assessment was fair enough to see his team finish sixth in the OUA.

Still, there were a couple of individual successes that, similar to the men’s team, prompted a promising future for this young core of players. Aside from Hannah Sunley-Paisley, Toronto, Ont., winning her second consecutive OUA East player of the year award, rookie guard Kim Cupid, Toronto, Ont., was also named to the OUA East all-rookie team, Jenna Gilbert, Ottawa, Ont., received a second team all-star selection (even after having missed the first six games of the season), and first-year guard Sarah Nolette, Edmonton, Alb., received the OUA East’s Tracy McLeod Award for dedication and perseverance.

It will be very exciting to see this team take to the court next season as this young roster will see little in the way of changes and graduating players. Add to that top recruit Kellie Ring coming into the fold next season, and you have a more experienced team hungry to achieve its fullest potential.

A powerhouse in the making: women’s volleyball

Ask any women’s volleyball team in the OUA their least favourite place to come play, and chances are it would be here, at Montpetit Hall. Do we bite? Hardly. Do we make some noise? Admittedly. Do we dominate? Most definitely. The Gee-Gees went undefeated the entire season at home with a perfect 9-0 record, and finished second in the OUA East, just two points out of first place.

While this team was young and inexperienced, head coach Lionel Woods often credited their willingness to compete for being able to take their game to the next level.

Three members of the team would go on to earn OUA honours, including OUA first-team all-star Tess Edwards, Kanata, Ont., OUA Libero of the Year Claudia Séguin, St-Pascal-Baylon, Ont., and OUA second-team all-star and all-rookie team Myriam English, Ottawa, Ont. Edwards and English would also go on to earn all-Canadian honours, with Edwards being named to the second team all-Canadian and English to the all-rookie team.

So with a young dynamic team, the Gee-Gees have a lot to look forward to in the coming years. Unfortunately they must also say farewell to Edwards, who closes out an incredible five-year career this season. Nevertheless, this team will be able to move on with a pocket full of lessons learned this season in hopes of turning this year’s OUA bronze into gold next season.

One to remember: swimming

Witnessing Matt Hawes and Adam Best standing on the podium together at this year’s CIS Swimming Championships in Calgary, Alb., is perhaps one of the highlights of the season. History was made when Hawes and Best, both of Ottawa, Ont., finished one and two respectively in the men’s 200m backstroke final. Hawes becomes the first uOttawa swimmer to ever win a CIS swimming championship gold medal.

In only his second full season with the Gee-Gees, head coach Derrick Schoof has managed to turn the garnet and grey into a legitimate swimming school. While placing fourth overall in both men’s and women’s at this year’s OUA championships, the men are ranked No. 7 in the country, whereas, the women remain unranked, but continue to build towards the future.

And with the arrival of another swimming superstar, Ashton Baumann, the Gee-Gees will surely continue to make waves for years to come.

Rebuilt, retooled, refocused: men’s hockey

After finishing last season in the basement of the OUA, head coach Dave Leger knew he needed to change the culture of this team. He began an aggressive recruiting campaign that brought him coast to coast. Sure enough it paid dividends this year, with the addition of several promising rookies like Luc Olivier Blain, Longueuil, Qué., Kyle Ireland, Rosetown, Sask., and Dominic Jalbert, Gatineau, Qué..

Blainwas selected as the OUA East rookie of the year, as well as named to the East second team all-star, the East all-rookie team and the CIS all-rookie team. Blain led the garnet and grey with 52 points (16 G, 36 A) in 28 games, and finished second overall among CIS scoring leaders. Ireland was selected to the East all-rookie team after finishing the season right behind Blain in CIS scoring with 46 points (19 G, 27 A) in 28 games.

The Gee-Gees were also fortunate to have two of their players represent Canada at the World University Games in Erzurum, Turkey, with first-year defensemen and OUA first all-star and all-rookie teams member Dominic Jalbert (7G, 19A) and third-year team captain and OUA second team all-star Matt Methot (15G, 23A) capturing a bronze medal for the red and white.

Expect this new young core of players to be a magnet for the program, and serve it well into next season.

On track: track & field

The 2010-11 Track & Field season was testament to a resurgence of the program since it was reintroduced two years ago. The team sent a total of 15 athletes to this year’s CIS track & field championships in Sherbrooke, Qué.

Leading the way is first-year sprinter and hurdler Ashlea Maddex, St-Pascal-Baylon, Ont., who was named the OUA track and field rookie of the year and finished the season with two CIS bronze medals in the 60m hurdles and 4x400m relay, and an OUA silver medal in the 60m hurdles.

As for fourth-year long jumper Christopher Greenway, Brossard, Qué., he successfully defended his CIS long jumping title at this year’s championships. He kept his best jump of the season for last, as he captured the gold medal on his final jump with a season best 7.64m.

With four CIS medals and five OUA medals, this young Gee-Gees team will only continue to excel under the tutelage of head coach Andy McInnnis.

Growing pains: women’s hockey

Although the Gee-Gees women’s hockey team failed to make the playoffs this season, it would be short sighted to evaluate their entire season solely based on that omission. It was definitely a learning curve for first-year head coach Yanick Evola who took over just last May.

Evola managed to have his team compete in arguably the strongest conference in CIS women’s hockey. Facing off against the 2011 CIS Champions, the McGill Martlets, five times this season was no easy task. Yet, they never made excuses and always utilized the opportunity to elevate their game and compete with the best.

And to prove that this season was not a loss, second-year forward Fannie Desforges,Fournier, Ont., was selected as an RSEQ first team all-star. She led the Gee-Gees with 17 points in 20 games (9G, 8A). Desforges also used her speed and skill to qualify for this year’s Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship in Québec City, Qué., where she crashed her way to an impressive fifth-place finish overall.