Voyageur pride screams of blue and gold
by Randy Pascal
The voting numbers are not released, but one would have to assume that when it came to selecting the Laurentian Voyageur "Athletes of the Year",
one was a slam-dunk (pardon the pun), while the other was anything but.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, L.U. basketball sensation Kadre Gray copped top honours on the men's side, capping off a season where he was
named botu the OUA and U Sports Men's Basketball Player of the Year.
He finished second in the country in scoring (24.4 ppg), first in assists (141), a seventh in the OUA in rebounds, averaging eight per game. Gray became
only the second player in the 40 year history of Laurentian men's basketball to be selected as the top player in all of Canada.
The women's race may well have been much more wide open, by there was simply no denying the incredible impact of soccer goaltender Caitlin McNamara,
helping to lead her team to a fourth place finish and recording a playoff win for the second time in as many years.
The native of Ottawa was named to the first all-star team, posting a save percentage of .897 (2nd in OUA), registering 87 saves (3rd in OUA), all while
racking up seven wins and eight shutouts as the last line of defense for the Voyageurs.
The Male and Female Rookie of the Year laurels were doled out to rower Charles Alexander and hockey goaltender Shanna Dolighan.
With relatively little fanfare, Alexander burst on to the OUA rowing scene at the OUA Championships in Welland.
After qualifying for the Men’s Single final in fourth place, Alexander turned in another strong race in the finals, edging the Ottawa boat by half of a
second to secure the bronze medal. He completed his strong freshman year with a top-10 finish at the Canadian University Rowing Championships.
Despite not earning her first start of the year until December 1st, Dolighan played a key role in a second half run that nearly returned the Laurentian
women's hockey team to post-season play for a third straight year.
Kicking off her OUA career with six consecutive wins between the pipes, Dolighan finished her rookie campaign with a goals against average of 1.97 and
a save percentage of .920.
Laurentian women's soccer alumnus Cassidy (Dediana) Throssell was presented with the Special Voyageur Award, a tribute conferred to someone
outside of the immediate Voyageurs family, who has made an outstanding contribution to Laurentian Voyageur Athletics.
An on-field member of the inaugural women’s soccer team in 2000, Throssell joined coach head coach Rob Gallo on the sidelines in 2005, and has
been an integral part of the program ever since.
A troika of graduating L.U. athletes received the prestigious Voyageur Award, presented to student-athletes who have made an outstanding
contribution to both their sport, and Voyageur Athletics, throughout their university career.
The careers of Allison Pilon (women's soccer), Ellery Veerman (women's hockey) and Nelson Yengue (men's basketball) were celebrated,
each one highlighted for the own unique impact on the blue and gold.
A two-time all-star and four time Academic All-Canadian, Pilon was also the winner of the OUA Commuity Service Award in 2016. A walk-on
player who transitioned right through to being named as team captain, Veerman proved to be a true inspiration to her teammates.
After tearing her ACL five games into the 2016-17 season, Veerman pushed through the pain and finished out the campaign before having reconstructive
surgery last spring. Facing a typical a 12 month recovery period, Veerman worked diligently in the gym and would be back on the ice for game action on
November 30th, just seven months post-surgery.
A native of Cameroon, Yengue first arrived on the Laurentian sports scene in 2011. Following his third season, Yengue was a victim of
identity theft and, as a result, lost his ability to study in Canada.
After two long years, Yengue’s perseverance paid off and he was able to return to Sudbury to finish his degree and get back on the court. A testament to
his hard work, Yengue was named an all-star in his fifth and final year of eligibility this season.
Team awards were also handed out at the banquet, with individual recipients, as follows, from the various teams:
MVP – Dale Valade
Pride & Tradition Award – Vincent Giroux
MVP – Gracen Lacko
Men’s Nordic Skiing
MVP – Matteo Reich
Pride & Tradition – Colton Labine
Women’s Nordic Skiing
MVP – Laura Williams
Pride & Tradition – Lydia Harris
Women’s Cross Country Running
MVP – Jenny Bottomley
Pride & Tradition – Heidi Tuszkiewicz
Men’s Cross Country Running
MVP – Paul Sagriff
Pride & Tradition – Caleb Beland
Women’s Indoor Track
MVP – Megan Crocker
Pride & Tradition – Nicole Rich
Men’s Indoor Track
MVP – Skyler Savage-Perreault
Pride & Tradition – Liam Pedersen
MVP – Caitlin McNamara
Pride & Tradition – Kristy Walton
MVP – Connor Vande Weghe
Pride & Tradition – Nico Correa
MVP – Sam Postma
Pride & Tradition – Jake Kelly
MVP – Matthew Schouten
Pride & Tradition – James Sutherland
MVP – Riley Konrad
Pride & Tradition – Allison Bennett
MVP – Kadre Gray
Pride & Tradition – JD West
MVP – Emily Tinnes
Pride & Tradition – Andrea Zulich
MVP – Hayley Chase
Pride & Tradition – Daphne Gill
MVP – Charles Alexander
Pride & Tradition – Adam Arthurs
MVP – Krysta Burns
Pride & Tradition – Laura Masters
MVP – Tanner Horgan
Pride & Tradition – Derek Leung
MVP – Brent Pedersen
Ma Culley Award – Tyler Shaw
MVP – Samantha Morell
Pride & Tradition – Nicole Vigilanti