BURLINGTON, Ont. –Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is proud to announce that Laurentian Voyageurs basketball star Kadre Gray (Toronto, Ont.), and Toronto Varsity Blues swimming sensation Kylie Masse (LaSalle, Ont.), have been recognized as the conference’s Female and Male Athletes of the Year for the 2017-18 season.
The world has become accustomed to seeing Masse put up eye-popping results, but even she was able to top her lofty standards to kick off the 2017-18 season. The Team Canada Olympian captured the 100m backstroke in a world-record time at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, becoming Canada's first female swimmer to win a world title. Beyond that, Masse also helped Canada to a bronze-medal finish in the 4x100 mixed medley relay.
Beyond her international success, Masse continued to exhibit her prowess in the pools during another triumphant OUA season. At the 2017-18 OUA Swimming Championships in February, the Varsity Blues veteran won four individual gold medals and a pair of relay gold to bring her impressive total to six, capturing the 50m and 100m backstroke, the 50m freestyle, and the 100m butterfly, to go along with the 200m freestyle and 200m medley relays. If those medal-winning efforts weren’t enough, Masse also broke five OUA records in the process, helping to lead Toronto to a fifth consecutive provincial banner.
After her record-setting efforts, Masse was deservedly named the OUA Female Swimmer of the Year for the fourth consecutive season, and captured U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Month honours for February – one of two such honours for the LaSalle, Ont. native on the year. Her national recognition didn’t stop there; however, as Masse would once again carve out her spot on the U SPORTS stage as well.
At the national championships, despite an impressive level of competition, the First-Team All-Canadian managed to wow the crowd once again in her home pool, sweeping the backstroke events, while also taking home the 100m butterfly crown; all accomplished in U SPORTS record times. She then helped Toronto's 200m freestyle and 200m medley relays to gold and silver-medal finishes, respectively.
In addition to her individual success, the fourth-year swimmer represented the Varsity Blues group in fine form en route to a to a team silver-medal finish at the U SPORTS Championship. And backed by her four gold medals, Masse left no doubt about her status in the sport, being named the U SPORTS Female Swimmer of the Year for the third straight season.
All in all, Masse’s championship-pedigree not only earned her the OUA’s Female Athlete of the Year award, but also helped to cement her place as one of the most elite athletes that the OUA has ever witnessed.
From the pool to the hardcourt, meanwhile, another OUA superstar continues to flourish, having already earned a dynamic collection of hardware in just his second campaign in the conference. Despite being on the university athletics scene for just a pair of seasons, however, sophomore sensation Kadre Gray has quickly risen the ranks to stake claim to the 2017-18 OUA Male Athlete of the Year award.
After a debut season to remember – one that say Gray capture Rookie of the Year honours at both the provincial and national levels – the Voyageurs guard was able to find another gear to lead his Laurentian squad this season. Gray led the OUA in scoring, pouring in 24.4 points per game, which also put him second across Canada. Despite his impressive ability to put the ball in the hoop, he also proved to be an incredibly unselfish player, putting his passing prowess on display to the tune of 141 assists on the year (leading OUA and U SPORTS). Rounding out his all-around numbers was a gritty effort on the boards, grabbing eight rebounds per game to also rank in the OUA’s top ten. These totals contributed to a trip of triple-double efforts on the year; an electric feat that is rarely seen even once in the OUA, let alone three times by a single player.
Beyond his personal success, Gray was also a catalyst for Laurentian’s most successful team in years, as the Voyageurs climbed to as high as 5th in the U SPORTS rankings. After helping add three games to the win column in his rookie campaign, Gray took it a step further by spearheading a seven-game improvement and a 16-7 overall record for the Voyageurs, despite missing the final stretch of the season with an injury.
“Kadre's work ethic is second to none,” said Laurentian head coach Shawn Swords. “This offseason, his mindset was to improve in every aspect of the game and encourage the rest of the team to do this as well. The results were amazing to witness. The maturity at which he plays the game is well beyond his years. As dedicated as he is to his team and improving on the court, he is equally dedicated off the court. The community in Sudbury has very much taken to his work ethic and his thoughtfulness. We are proud of his accomplishment and glad to see all the work he has put in get recognized.”
Some of the shining ways that the OUA First-Team All-Star was recognized this season included a nod as the OUA Player of the Year and the U SPORTS Player of the Year; becoming the first Voyageur to receive the honour in 40 years. Gray was also named a U SPORTS First-Team All-Canadian to further secure his spot among the best basketball players the province – and country – has to offer.
For his efforts across the board in athletics, sportsmanship, and leadership, meanwhile, Gray will now represent the OUA as the male nominee for the U SPORTS BLG Award. On the women’s side, as a result of Kylie Masse having previously won the U SPORTS BLG Award in 2015-16, the OUA’s female nominee is Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) from the Ryerson Rams. To learn more about the OUA’s nominees for the 2017-18 BLG Awards, click HERE.