The Clan Athletic Awards Banquet, held last Wednesday at the Hilton Metrotown, honoured SFU’s student athletes. Hosted by senior volleyball player Amanda Renkema and redshirt-junior offensive lineman Quin Courtney, the event was lighthearted and included playful jokes about the high turnover of coaches in recent years.
Even technical issues that caused an over-20 minute delay wasn’t enough to dampen the moods of those in attendance.
“I’m always amazed to see the student athletes’ accomplishments — both on the field and off the field,” said outgoing athletics director of advancement Steve Lewarne. “All too often we’re able to see what their accomplishments are in competition, but it isn’t until we get to an event like this that we are able to see what they do in the classroom and we do truly have some remarkable and amazing student athletes.”
Before athletes received their awards, members of the SFU Athletics staff were honored for their achievements. The Director’s Award, which acknowledges a special contributor over a multi-year period, went to Margaret Jones, SFU Athletics’ special projects coordinator who has worked at SFU since its inception.
In Jones’ honour, a new award was created, the Margaret Jones lifetime achievement award. Head physiotherapist and senior woman administrator Laurie Freebairn became the first recipient, having been SFU’s head physiotherapist since 1987. Freebairn is retiring in May.
The VW Kip Dougherty award for trainers and managers went to the SFU football training staff: Darren Correa, Steven McGee and Jeffery Yu. Director of football operations Mike Lionello received the Fred Dietrich award for enhancing the student athlete experience.
Softball’s Kelsie Hawkins received the first student athlete award, the Rick Jones Award for Courage. Hawkins, now a senior, left school in her freshman year to be with her mother, who had been diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer. Last year was supposed to be her senior season, but Hawkins suffered a back injury and was forced to sit out.
Brandon Watson, the men’s soccer goalkeeper, won the Bill DeVries award for academic and athletic performance. Watson currently has a 4.1 GPA in biomedical physiology and kinesiology.
The volleyball team was awarded the President’s Academic Team of the Year award for a collective GPA of 3.14, while the women’s cross-country team won the President’s Athletic Team of the Year award.
June Davies, Lorne Davies’ wife, presented the Lorne Davies Award, which awarded seniors for athletic performance, classroom performance, and community work. The men’s award went to Jovan Blagojevic, while the women’s went to cross-country and track athlete Lindsey Butterworth. A moment of silence was held for Lorne Davies, who passed away in February.
Middle distance runner Lorenzo Smith took home the Clan’s Department Scholar Athlete Award for his 4.21 GPA.
The Terry Fox Award for Inspiration was also swept by middle distance runners, being awarded to junior Cameron Proceviat and graduate student Jennifer Johnson. Johnson came back from injuries that plagued her undergraduate career to compete as a graduate student at SFU, where she received All-American honours. Proceviat claimed GNAC titles and is president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
The night closed with the Athlete of the Year awards, which were drawn from the individual most valuable player awards from each team.
On the men’s side, the award was narrowed down to five finalists: Blagojevic, football’s Jordan Herdman, track athlete Oliver Jorgensen, basketball player Sango Niang, and swimmer Adrian VanderHelm. The women’s award was narrowed to four: track’s Rebecca Bassett, Butterworth, basketball’s Erin Chambers, and wrestler Bailey Halvorson.
Ultimately, Blagojevic, who was not in attendance as he was playing a match with the Whitecaps FC 2, won the men’s award. Blagojevic was this season’s West Region and GNAC player of the year, and became the first Canadian university soccer player to be drafted in the MLS.
Butterworth and Chambers both took the female athlete of the year award. Butterworth won the 800-meter title at the NCAA indoor track and field national championship, while Chambers shattered GNAC scoring records for women’s basketball.