OUA recognizes best and brightest at 2017-18 Honour Awards Banquet

Photo by Michael P. Hall
Photo by Michael P. Hall

OUA recognizes best and brightest at 2017-18 Honour Awards Banquet

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics is pleased to announce the 2017-18 OUA Honour Award winners, recognizing the very best in the conference on the field of play, on the sidelines, and behind the scenes.

The OUA handed out their year-end hardware on Wednesday night as part of the Honour Awards Banquet in Niagara Falls, Ont., and there was no shortage of talent to celebrate. 

After a sensational year in the pool and an eye-popping season on the hardcourt, Toronto Varsity Blues Kylie Masse (LaSalle, Ont.) and Laurentian Voyageurs Kadre Gray (Toronto, Ont.) took home the OUA’s Female and Male Athlete of the Year awards, respectively.

The former continued to collect the hardware on both the provincial and national level this season, en route to her fourth straight OUA and third consecutive U SPORTS Female Swimmer of the Year Award. The latter, meanwhile, stuffed the stat sheet night in and night out to sit in and around the top of the entire country in scoring, passing, and rebounding. The OUA and U SPORTS Player of the Year did all of this while helping his squad to a seven-win improvement from a year ago. To learn more about these standout athletes, click HERE.

While Gray solidified his stardom on the court, he was not the only basketball success story from the 2017-18 campaign, as the Carleton Ravens women’s basketball team – the OUA Female Team of the Year – also etched their names in the history books with their undefeated efforts. After a spotless regular season, the Ravens continued their dominance into the postseason, which they capped off with their second consecutive Critelli Cup. Riding their momentum onto the national stage, the Ravens turned their number one ranking into their first ever U SPORTS championship; claiming the Bronze Baby with a convincing win over the Saskatchewan Huskies.

And while the players such as OUA and U SPORTS Defensive Player of the Year Elizabeth Leblanc, not to mention a host of additional OUA All-Stars, jumped for joy in celebration of their national triumph, there was plenty for the coach to celebrate too. Thanks to his efforts in leading the nation’s stingiest defence – allowing just 45.9 points per game for the season – and an all-around dominant force, head coach Taffe Charles has been named the OUA Male Coach of the Year.

In his eleventh season with the program, the OUA and U SPORTS Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year was able to get the very best out of his talented crop of players, securing an average margin of victory of 26.5 points per game. Not only did he help the team find success on the biggest provincial and national stages, but he kept his team playing consistently and competitively all season long, helping them extend their regular season winning streak to 41 games and counting.

Despite the well-deserved celebration surrounding the Ravens, they weren’t the only team to shine bright from start to finish this season, and for their similarly dominant efforts, the Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team has also been named the OUA Female Team of the Year.

Led by captain Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.), who has also been selected as the OUA’s female nominee for the U SPORTS BLG Award, the Rams were simply unstoppable this season. The Rams completed the regular season unscathed before defending home court at the Quigley Cup Final Four to earn the provincial title.

The gifted squad didn’t stop there; however, as they next took their talents to the national level, where they were given the number four seed in championship play. After starting their quest for U SPORTS gold with a win over UBC Okanagan, the Rams then knocked off top-seeded Calgary in the semis and the Alberta Pandas in the finals to become the first to post an undefeated record at Ryerson since the 1958-59 season and will forever be the proud owners of the school’s first ever national title.

Four Rams players were named OUA All-Stars, including three First-Team nods, while head coach Dustin Reid was awarded the OUA and U SPORTS Coach of the Year award for his efforts in the team’s success. 

Continuing the theme of prolific teams across the OUA this season, the Male Team of the Year – the Western Mustangs football team - maintained the undefeated formula en route to a national championship of their own. The purple and white were simply unstoppable this season, galloping their way to leading marks on both sides of the ball each time they took to the field.

The purple ponies finished the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record, and were somehow still able to find a whole new gear come the postseason. Making their third consecutive trip to the provincial finale, Western was able to come out on top in their highly-touted rematch with Laurier, taking home  the 110th Yates Cup with a convincing 75-32 win in front of their home crowd.

The Mustangs continued their dominance on the national level, routing Acadia in the UTECK Bowl by a final score of 81-3. Going toe-to-toe with the Laval Rouge et Or in the 53rd Vanier Cup, the Mustangs were able to pen the story book ending they were hoping for, putting the feather in the cap of their postseason push wherein they outscored their opponents 261-64 over their four games.

With 17 OUA All-Star nods on the year – leading the conference – while also seeing Nicolas Vanin capture the U SPORTS Russ Jackson Award, the Western Mustangs football team once again showed their championship-caliber skill from top to bottom.

When it comes to a championship-caliber presence, meanwhile, Guelph Gryphons women’s rugby coach Colette McAuley is well-versed, with her latest accomplishments earning her the OUA Female Coach of the Year award for the 2017-18 season.

Even after losing some outstanding players this year, the Gryphons continued to thrive under McAuley’s leadership in 2017, finishing the season with a perfect 6-0 record. After opening their season with a 38-31 home victory over the Queen’s Gaels – their smallest margin of victory all season long – the Gryphons went on to establish their dominance the rest of the way to the tune of a +236 point differential in six games. By bookending their season with another victory over the Gaels, this time by a 43-17 mark, the Gryphons secured their 8th OUA title under McAuley to help further cement her legacy with the team.

From a coach who continues to lead her team to the pinnacle to one who is wrapping up a career filled with consistent top-tier results, this year’s winner of the John McManus Award – given to a coach who exemplifies the highest ideals of sportsmanship and service while engaged in coaching in a university sport – is Brenda Willis.

For 30 years, Willis has been dedicated to making the Queen’s Gaels men’s volleyball program a perennial powerhouse, helping to shape the program, and the game, in Kingston and beyond. She did well to achieve these lofty standards, leading Queen’s to the playoffs in 30 of her 31 seasons as head coach, and will retire with a career record of 366-196.

The Gaels captured six OUA titles under Willis’ leadership and the decorated coach has been recognized as the OUA Coach of the Year in four different decades, in addition to winning the OUA Female Coach of the Year in 2009-10. In 2007, she was awarded the Rolf Lund Jule Nisse Award, and in 2014, the long-time bench boss was inducted into the Kingston Sports Hall of Fame.

Keeping with the Tricolour, another long-standing staff member is being recognized for her efforts in helping to shape university sport. Janean Sergeant has worked for the Queen’s Gaels for 38 years, but her contributions don’t stop with the Kingston school, making her a deserving recipient of the J.P. Loosemore Award.

Given to an individual who exemplifies the best in university sport in terms of ethics, integrity, and honesty, Sergeant represents all of this and more. She has served as OWIAA President, on the CIAU Board of Directors, and with many additional committees. If that’s not enough, Sergeant also chaired the CIS (now U SPORTS) Eligibility Committee and served on the OUA Sport Tech Committee as the High Performance Lead. Capping off her many roles, she also served as the Sport Technical Manager at the 2011 Summer FISU Games in Shenzen, China, truly showcasing that her passion for university sport went well beyond the Kingston community.

Just as Sergeant has been a tremendous figure in university sport, there has also been a key media presence in the university sport landscape, and for his efforts covering sport at all levels, this year’s OUA Media Award of Distinction goes to David Grossman.

Grossman began his writing career in 1968 with an article in the Toronto Telegram, writing about former Waterloo Lutheran football player Dave Knecthel. Since that first piece, Grossman has been involved with more than 40,000 stories, has created and hosted Canada’s first one-hour news magazine show on the radio, and later created Laurier HawkTalk on 570 News in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Grossman has made massive contributions to university and amateur sport in Ontario over the course of his career and has created a lasting legacy on sport in the province.

The full list of 2017-18 OUA Honour Award winners is below:

Male Athlete of the Year – Kadre Gray, Laurentian
Female Athlete of the Year – Kylie Masse, Toronto
Male Team of the Year – Football, Western
Female Team of the Year – Basketball, Carleton; Volleyball, Ryerson
Male Coach of the Year – Taffe Charles, Carleton Women’s Basketball
Female Coach of the Year – Colette McAuley, Guelph Women’s Rugby
John McManus Award – Brenda Willis, Queen’s Men’s Volleyball
J.P. Loosemore Award – Janean Sergeant, Queen’s
Media Member of Distinction – David Grossman

OUA By The Numbers
September 13, 2017 OUA By The Numbers
OUA By The Numbers
September 6, 2017 OUA By The Numbers