Laurier recognizes athletic achievement at annual Athletics Banquet

Photo by Emi Zibaei
Nakas Onyeka of men’s football and Jasmine Raines, first-year swimmer, were the recipients of this year’s President’s Award at the 2017 Athletic Banquet.

The 2017 Laurier Athletics Banquet took place Monday evening where a number of Laurier players and teams were recognized for their outstanding performances this past year.

The highlight of the evening comes after dinner when the major awards are handed out.

The first major award winner was Kha Vo, who took home the the Earl C. Shelley Unsung Hero Award.Vo is a student photographer who has covered more than 200 games for Laurier Athletics.

The Tuffy Knight Award recognizes the outstanding effort of a person no longer affiliated with the university. This award was given to former “Cordie” Dan Polischuk. Polischuk has done play-by-play coverage for a variety of sports including men’s football.

The Chuck Classen Award — awarded to the volunteer coach of the year — was given to George Moore, an assistant coach for the men’s baseball team. Moore has been with the team for six years; his efforts helped the team secure a first place spot this past season, where they earned a record of 15-3.

Melissa Pare took home two awards, including The Dean E. Brandon Award, awarded to the female contributing most to athletics, and The Fred Nichols Community Service Leadership Award. Pare won these awards based on her outstanding commitment to community service on and off campus, as well as her commitment to Laurier athletics.

The male side of the The Fred Nichols Community Service Leadership Award was given to hockey goaltender Vinny Merante. Merante was involved in the community in a variety of ways, including hospital visits,  acting as an athletic ambassador and ambassador for Laurier and supporting the Bell Let’s talk campaign.

The Bill Hagstrom Trophy, awarded to the male contributing the most to athletics, was given to Student Publication’s own Jack Moore. Moore played on the football team, was a manager for Radio Laurier and also wrote  for Laurier athletics. For Radio Laurier, Moore called close to 40 games while overseeing a group of volunteers and hosting his own radio show.

The Marty Wamsley Student Trainer of the Year Award was awarded to Kaitlyn Kelly. Kelly has been a trainer for the men’s baseball team for four seasons.

The Luke Fusco Academic Athletic Achievement Award is awarded to one female and one male athlete who have shown outstanding ability in both academics and athletics. On the female side, the award went to multi-sport athlete Jacky Normandeau. Normandeau plays on the hockey and soccer teams while posting an overall GPA of 11.57. On the men’s side, defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng took home the award; the business student has an overall GPA of 10.13.

Jasmine Raines and Tevaun Kokko took home this year’s Rich Newbrough Rookie of the Year Awards. Raines, a first-year swimmer, made 14 top two finishes throughout the season and won two gold medals at the OUA championships. Men’s basketball star, Tevaun Kokko, also burst on to the athletics scene, breaking  Laurier’s rookie scoring record with an impressive 383 regular season points.  Kokko averaged 19.4 points per game and was named to the OUA all rookie team and an OUA second team all-star.

The final two awards were the prestigious President’s Awards. The President’s Award is presented to one male and one female for their outstanding athletic performance this year.

On the men’s side, linebacker Nakas Onyeka took home the award. Onyeka played a major role in the Hawks success this season on the football field. Onyeka finished the season first in single tackles in the OUA with 51, also ranking top 5  in total tackles and sacks. Onyeka was additionally  recognized as a U-sports First Team All-Canadian and an OUA First Team All-Star.

Female Rookie of the Year, Raines, also received the President’s Award for her outstanding efforts displayed throughout the regular season and the OUA’s and the national competition. It was because of her outstanding season that the Hawks made it to the top 10 national rankings for the first time since 2006.

It what was an exciting night to cap off a special season for Laurier athletics — this only raises the bar for next year.

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