Courtesy of CIS

TORONTO – University of British Columbia swimmer Annamay Pierse and University of Alberta volleyball player Joel Schmuland have been named the 2008-09 Canadian Interuniversity Sport female and male athletes of the year and the 17th annual BLG Award winners.

The recipients of the 2009 BLG Awards were announced Monday night at the John Bassett Theatre, in the Toronto Metro Convention Centre.

It marked the first time the ceremony was held in Toronto, after 16 successful years in Calgary.

The awards show will premier on TSN on Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m.

All eight nominees received a commemorative gold ring, while Pierse and Schmuland were also presented with a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend a Canadian University graduate school. The winners were selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit Board established for the purpose of administering the BLG Awards and protecting the integrity of the selection process.

“Once again this year, we had eight outstanding nominees. They are all exceptional athletes and dedicated to their sport,” said Doug Mitchell, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Canadian Athletic Foundation. “We are extremely pleased to have such a great calibre of athletes for these awards.”

Pierse, coached by Josef Nagy, became the seventh recipient of the Jim Thompson Trophy, presented annually to the female BLG Award winner since 2002-03. She is only the second UBC athlete to receive a BLG Award after Olympic swimmer Brian Johns in 2002, and was the first swimmer honoured since Johns and Toronto’s Elizabeth Warden, who was the female recipient in 2002.

The Edmonton native has been the class of university swimming two years running capturing back-to-back CIS female-swimmer-of-the-year awards and leading the Thunderbird women to team gold in 2007-08 and silver in 2008-09. In her fifth and final season of CIS eligibility, the psychology student swept the three breaststroke events in meet-record time at both the Canada West and CIS championships including Canadian short-course records on 100 and 200 metres at the university nationals, where she also added a pair of silver medals in the 200-metre individual medley and the 4×100 medley relay.

After missing a short-course world record by only 0.84 seconds in the 200 breaststroke at the CIS championships, Pierse eclipsed the world mark at the Canadian Spring Nationals in Toronto on March 14 with a time of 2:17.50. She became the first Canadian swimmer to break a world record since Johns set an international standard in the 400 individual medley in 2003. In addition to her new record on 200 metres, Pierse’s short-course time of 1:04.67 in the 100 breast is also ranked first in the world this year.

A 2008 Olympian, Pierse reached two finals at the Beijing Games finishing sixth in the 200 breaststroke (long course) and seventh with the 4×100 Canadian medley relay team, while also placing 10th in the 100 breast. She holds Canadian records in both long and short-course versions of the 100 and 200 breast, is part of three relay teams that hold Canadian marks, was a three-time silver medalist at the 2007 Pan Am Games and claimed a pair of bronze medals at the 2007 Summer Universiade.

“Annamay’s continued success is a testament of her passion, commitment and dedication to her sport. She has proven to herself and the world that she is truly a world-class athlete,” said UBC head coach Derrick Schoof. “Her rise to stardom over the past two years is a product of her work ethic and her desire to win. This summer her main objective will be to win at the world championships and her long-term goal is to win Olympic gold.”

St. Francis Xavier rugby player Ghislaine Landry of Toronto, McGill hockey goaltender Charline Labonté of Boisbriand, Que., and Guelph cross country and track runner Lindsay Carson of Cambridge, Ont., were the other nominees for the 2009 Jim Thompson Trophy.

Schmuland became the first recipient of the Doug Mitchell Award, named in honour of the BLG Awards founder prior to this year’s ceremony, and is only the second winner from Alberta after fellow volleyball player Jenny Cartmell, who received the distinction in 1999-2000. It marked the fourth consecutive year that a volleyball athlete captured one of the two CIS athlete-of-the-year titles.

In his fifth and final year of CIS eligibility, the Calgary native was the most dominant player on an unstoppable U of A team that kept a 23-0 record and won 69 of 75 sets in the regular campaign and the post-season, including five straight-set wins in as many Canada West playoff and CIS championship duels. The six-foot-seven right side was named CIS player of the year, CIS tournament MVP and became the first Golden Bear in history to claim three Tantramar Trophies as national champion when top-ranked Alberta swept No.2-Laval in front of its home crowd in Edmonton. Schmuland finished his university career with three CIS gold medals and two silvers.

The physical education and recreation student was ranked among the Canada West and CIS leaders in most statistical categories in his senior season finishing third in the conference and fourth in the nation with an average of 4.79 points per set, placing sixth in Canada West and seventh in the country in kills (3.93 per set), third out West and 10th nationally in service aces (0.38 per set), and 10th in the conference with a .335 hitting percentage. He led the Bears in both kills and points in all five U of A post-season contests.

Schmuland, whose short-term objectives include playing for the senior national team and land a professional contract in Europe, will attend the Team Canada selection camp for the 2009 Summer Universiade in Belgrade, Serbia.

“Joel has developed in so many ways since joining us directly from high school five short years ago,” said Alberta head coach Terry Danyluk. “He may very well be the most consistent performer I have worked with in my time as a coach. He has been able to improve every year and sustain a very high performance level every year, even this season with all the added pressures of being a captain, a senior and playing at home while maintaining a No.1 ranking the entire season.”

Saint Mary’s hockey player Marc Rancourt of Gloucester, Ont., Laval football player Étienne Légaré of St-Raymond, Que., and York soccer player Francesco Bruno of Toronto were the other finalists for the 2009 Doug Mitchell Award.


2008-09: Annamay Pierse (UBC – swimming), Joel Schmuland (Alberta – volleyball)
2007-08: Laetitia Tchoualack (Montreal – volleyball), Rob Hennigar (UNB – hockey)
2006-07: Jessica Zelinka (Calgary – track & field), Josh Howatson (Trinity Western – volleyball)
2005-06: Marylène Laplante (Laval – volleyball), Osvaldo Jeanty (Carleton – basketball)
2004-05: Adrienne Power (Dalhousie – track & field), Jesse Lumsden (McMaster – football)
2003-04: Joanna Niemczewska (Calgary – volleyball), Adam Ens (Saskatchewan – volleyball)
2002-03: Kim St-Pierre (McGill – hockey), Ryan McKenzie (Windsor – cross country & track)
2001-02: Elizabeth Warden (Toronto – swimming), Brian Johns (UBC – swimming)
2000-01: Leighann Doan (Calgary – basketball), Kojo Aidoo (McMaster – football)
1999-00: Jenny Cartmell (Alberta – volleyball), Michael Potts (Western Ontario – soccer)
1998-99: Corinne Swirsky (Concordia – hockey), Alexandre Marchand (Sherbrooke – track)
1997-98: Foy Williams (Toronto – track & field), Titus Channer (McMaster – basketball)
1996-97: Terri-Lee Johannesson (Manitoba – basketball), Curtis Myden (Calgary – swimming)
1995-96: Justine Ellison (Toronto – basketball), Don Blair (Calgary – football)
1994-95: Linda Thyer (McGill – track & field), Bill Kubas (Wilfrid Laurier – football)
1993-94: Sandra Carroll (Winnipeg – basketball), Tim Tindale (Western Ontario – football)
1992-93: Diane Scott (Winnipeg – volleyball), Andy Cameron (Calgary – volleyball)