Taking a look at the top moments of the year in sports
Sports Editor Pranav Desai looks at the best moments from Laurier athletics in 2017-18
It was a great end to the year for Laurier athletics as the Wilfrid Laurier University women’s curling team took home their tenth OUA championship to cap off a great year. Beating some tough teams on their title run, the Hawks proved that their championship victory was no fluke. Although the Hawks couldn’t follow up the OUA title with their fifth national championship, their impressive showing is still something to build on and with a young core, this team is only going to get better in the future.
The 2017-18 academic year was another one where Laurier alumni continued to soar. Former Laurier curlers John Morris and Brent Laing lived their Olympic dream and represented Canada at the highest level in Pyeongchang. Jessica Platt made history by coming out as the first transgender player in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Nakas Onyeka and Kwaku Boateng continued to grow and improve as football players in the CFL. While Boateng racked up four sacks and 21 tackles in his first year, Onyeka was a part of the Grey Cup winning Toronto Argonauts. These were just a few amongst the many former Hawks who continued to make Laurier proud even after graduation.
Kurleigh Gittens Jr.
Another great year for the Laurier football team came to an end at the hands of their rival, the Western Mustangs, in this year’s Yates Cup matchup. The Hawks simply couldn’t hold up against the power run offense of the Mustangs and although the loss was disappointing, there were numerous bright spots for the Hawks this year, none brighter than Kurleigh Gittens Jr. He won the OUA MVP award, becoming only the fifth Laurier player ever to do so. The third-year receiver put up some monster numbers and his seemingly telepathic connection with quarterback Michael Knevel was on full display throughout the year.
Nicole Morrison broke records and made history on her way out. In her final year with the Hawks, Morrison took hold of the top spot as Laurier’s all-time leading scorer. Morrison was the unquestionable leader of the women’s basketball team and she was the perfect role model for the rest of the players. Although Morrison led the Hawks to the playoffs, they fell short in the first round against Lakehead. However, it’s important to realize that Morrison not only had an outstanding year with the Hawks, she had an outstanding Laurier career.
It was a special year for the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s rugby team. The Hawks recorded their first playoff victory in modern team history. Even after a year of multiple key players getting injured, the Hawks found a different way to overcome every challenge they faced. Head coach Ian McLeod instilled a never say die attitude in this team and it showed every time they took the field. The Hawks ran into the Queen’s Gaels in the playoffs, who were undeniably the best team in the OUA this year. Although the Hawks lost, they fought hard like they did all year. It’ll be interesting to see how far this team can go next year.
Perhaps the most impressive individual performance for Laurier this year came from swimmer Jasmine Raines. In her second year on the team, Raines repeated as the 200-metre breaststroke champion at the OUA championships, while also winning silver in 100-metre breaststroke competition. Raines then followed up an incredible provincial campaign with a bronze medal at the U-Sports Championships. She became the first swimmer in 13 years to win a medal at the nationals for Laurier.