CALGARY (ISN) – Canadian Interuniversity Sport and national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) announced Wednesday the eight finalists for the 20th Annual BLG Awards and they include Victoria native and UBC field hockey player Robyn Pendleton.

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The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with CIS.

On Monday, April 30, the eight national nominees will be honoured, with one female and one male winner receiving a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship in front of more than 1,000 guests at the EPCOR Centre’s Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary.

The awards show will premiere on TSN on Saturday, May 26, at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

“We are extremely excited to be hosting the 20th Anniversary of the BLG Awards in Calgary,” said Doug Mitchell, National Co-Chair of BLG, which sponsors the Awards. “We continue to be amazed by the talents and accomplishments of these outstanding athletes. Each year, as we follow the past winners and hear about their accomplishments or what they are involved in, we realize how important their university sports background has been to them. We congratulate the universities who have provided the great education and athletic programs for these students to succeed in their careers.”

“The BLG Awards is the event we look most forward to all year long,” said Marg McGregor, chief executive officer of CIS. “With over 10,000 student-athletes competing in CIS, the BLG Awards highlight eight exceptional individuals and we are extremely proud of their accomplishments and unrelenting pursuit of excellence.”

The 2012 nominees for the Jim Thompson Trophy presented to the female BLG Award recipient are Tyson Beukeboom of Uxbridge, Ont., a rugby player from St. Francis Xavier University; Ann-Sophie Bettez of Sept-Iles, Que., a hockey player from McGill University; Jacey Murphy of Alliston, Ont., a rugby player from the University of Guelph; and Robyn Pendleton of Victoria, a field hockey player from the University of British Columbia.

The finalists for the Doug Mitchell Trophy presented to the CIS male athlete of the year are Andrew Clark of Brandon, Man., a hockey player from Acadia University; Marc-André Dorion of St. Hubert, Que., a hockey player from McGill University; Kyle Quinlan of South Woodslee, Ont., a football player from McMaster University; and Ben Ball of Abbottsford, B.C., a volleyball player from Trinity Western University.

Detailed profiles are included below.

The BLG Awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and leadership. Each of the 52 CIS schools selects one female and one male athlete of the year. From these nominees, one female and one male athlete are chosen within each of the four regional associations: Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA). To be eligible, a student-athlete must have competed in a CIS sport for a minimum of two years and cannot be a previous recipient of a BLG Award.

All nominees receive a commemorative gold ring and winners are presented with a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend a Canadian university graduate school. Winners are 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. The CAF Board of Trustees consists of 21 members from five Canadian cities representing major corporations from across the country who are committed to ensuring that Canadian university athletes receive the recognition they deserve.

Past BLG Award Winners:

  • 2010-11: Jessica Clemençon (Windsor – basketball) / Tyson Hinz (Carleton – basketball)
  • 2009-10: Liz Cordonier (UBC – volleyball) / Erik Glavic (Calgary – football)
  • 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)

2011-2012 FEMALE BLG AWARD NOMINEES (Jim Thompson Trophy)

Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA)

Robyn Pendleton

University of British Columbia

Sport: Field Hockey

Year of eligibility: 4

Academic program: Kinesiology

Hometown: Victoria, B.C.

Another year, another female BLG Award finalist for the UBC Thunderbirds.

Remarkably, Robyn Pendleton is the fourth T-Bird in as many years to be nominated for the Jim Thompson Trophy, presented to the women’s BLG Award winner. The all-star field hockey player follows in the footsteps of swimmer Annamay Pierse (2009 recipient) and volleyball players Liz Cordonier (2010 recipient) and Shanice Marcelle (2011).

It would have been hard for the Canada West selection committee to ignore Pendleton’s exploits during the last CIS season, when she returned to the UBC lineup after taking a one-year break from the university circuit to represent Canada at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.

Because of several injuries to teammates, the kinesiology student was called on to play defence, midfield and forward during the regular schedule but still managed to score a team-leading six goals in 12 games – good for second place in the conference scoring race – helping UBC claim its ninth straight Canada West title. The Thunderbirds’ co-captain then netted a team-high four goals in five contests at the CIS championship – including two game-winners – to lead her troops to a record 13th McCrae Cup national title.

For her efforts, Pendleton was named both CIS player of the year and MVP of the national championship. Those honours added to the impressive awards collection of the Victoria native, who started her university career at UVic in 2006, before transferring to UBC and suiting up for the T-Birds in 2008 and 2009. In four seasons, she has now claimed four CIS medals, including a pair of McCrae Cup titles, two CIS tournament-MVP awards and as many all-Canadian nods.

In addition to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Pendleton has competed for Canada at numerous international events over the years, including the 2005 Junior World Cup in Chile, a Chile-Argentina Tour with the senior national team in 2009, as well as the Senior World Cup qualifying tournament in San Diego in 2010. The 23-year-old is currently playing in her first professional season with Cercle Athlétique de Montrouge, France’s national champions in 2010.

“Robyn is highly determined and self motivated to be the best she can be. That is who she is,” says Hash Kanjee, who recently stepped down from his post as UBC head coach. “As her coach, I could always count on her to do the very best that she could in every game, for herself and for her teammates.”

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

Tyson Beukeboom

St. Francis Xavier University

Sport: Rugby

Year of eligibility: 3

Academic program: Human Kinetics

Hometown: Uxbridge, Ont.

Tyson Beukeboom could have made it in any sport. Growing up, she excelled at basketball, volleyball, hockey and track and field. In high school, she picked up rugby, cross-country running and mountain biking. In her first season at StFX, in 2009-10, she suited up for the hockey and rugby teams, helping both reach the CIS championship.

It was in her second year in Antigonish, N.S., that Beukeboom chose to dedicate herself full-time to rugby. Something tells us it’s a decision she won’t regret.

Born in Edmonton, she moved to New York before her first birthday, then to Ontario at age 10. Playing rugby for the past seven years, Beukeboom quickly established herself as one of Canada’s top young talent in the sport. A former member of the under-17 and U19 Ontario provincial teams, she competed at the 2009 Nations Cup in England with the U20 Canadian squad. A team MVP in high school, she made a smooth transition to the university game and was voted Atlantic conference MVP and a CIS all-Canadian at the number 8 position each of the past two seasons. In three campaigns at StFX, the 21-year-old has led the X-Women to three AUS banners, a trio of CIS final appearances and a national title in 2010.

“From the first day Tyson walked onto our campus, she has been the complete package,” StFX head coach Mike Cavanagh says about the human kinetics student, who led the AUS with 11 tries in six league games last fall, had three scores in an 82-5 non-conference rout of defending NCAA champion Army, and was named a CIS championship all-star. “Her knowledge and understanding of the game has made her an instant leader and go-to player.”

Who knows where Beukeboom got her athletic skills. It could be from her mother Sherri, a former high-performance track sprinter, or from her father Jeff, a four-time Stanley Cup winner in 14 NHL seasons. Her younger brother Brock, 20, was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2010 NHL Draft, while 14-year-old sibling Reid is a competitive swimmer. Her cousin Brett plays rugby at UVic and is shortlisted for the men’s national team.

“Sports have really made me who I am. Being an athlete has instilled in me the traits of determination and ambition. My goal is to make the Canadian senior 15 and 7’s teams and I’m prepared to work hard to achieve it,” says Beukeboom, who was invited to the senior national 7’s squad ID camp in 2011.

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Ann-Sophie Bettez

McGill University

Sport: Hockey

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic program: Public Relations Diploma

Hometown: Sept-Iles, Que.

When he recruited Ann-Sophie Bettez out of Dawson College back in 2007, McGill head coach Peter Smith knew he was adding a special player to his roster for the next five seasons. But did he really know she was THAT good?

Bettez, a 5-foot-4 forward from Sept-Iles, Que., wrapped up her record-setting university career this winter with the highest individual honour in CIS women’s hockey, the Brodrick Trophy presented to the most outstanding player in the country. It was the latest of countless individual and team awards that the two-time conference MVP and scoring leader has received during her five campaigns with the Martlets, including CIS rookie of the year, five selections as a first-team Quebec all-star, five nods as a CIS all-Canadian (three on the first squad), five RSEQ championships and as many appearances at the CIS tournament, including three national titles, one silver and one bronze.

Prior to her arrival on the Montreal downtown campus, the Martlets had never claimed the CIS banner.

“She is a coach’s dream — keeps it simple, plays an uncomplicated style of game and brings a great combination of skill and grit. She is the hardest worker on a team full of hard workers and I hold her work ethic up as the standard for the young players on our team to strive for,” says Smith, who served seven years with the national women’s program and was an assistant coach on the squad that won Olympic gold in 2010. “Her growth and development as a player, student and person has been incredible.”

In her fifth and final CIS season, Bettez, who graduated last year with a bachelor of commerce degree and is currently working towards a public relations diploma, finished second in RSEQ scoring with 37 points in 20 league games before adding 13 points in eight playoff contests. She is McGill’s all-time leader in goals (85), assists (87) and points (172) in 91 regular season matches and also owns the team’s overall records in all three categories with 148-175-323 in 196 career games.

The 24-year-old has also enjoyed success on the international stage over the years. Back in 2009, she helped the Canadian under-22 squad capture gold at the MLP Nations Cup in Germany and then guided the national senior team to a silver-medal finish at the IIHF world championship in Finland. In 2011, she once again triumphed with the Maple Leaf jersey on her back, this time claiming gold with a group of CIS all-stars at the Winter Universiade in Turkey.

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Jacey Murphy

University of Guelph

Sport: Rugby

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic program: Science (Organic Agriculture)

Hometown: Alliston, Ont.

To say that Jacey Murphy and the Guelph Gryphons dominated the 2011 CIS women’s rugby season would be a major understatement.

In her fifth and final university campaign, the 22-year-old number 8 player led the Ontario conference with 12 tries in five league games as the Gryphons outscored their opponents by a mind-boggling 453-8 margin. Guelph resumed its domination in the post-season, defeating six rivals by a combined 261-34 en route to its fourth consecutive OUA championship banner and the second CIS title in program history. The national champs were the highest-scoring and best defensive team in the country during their undefeated journey.

Murphy, a native of Alliston, Ont., saw her exceptional all-around play recognized by CIS coaches, who voted her as the most outstanding player in the country for the second straight year. She also earned all-Canadian status and was named a CIS championship all-star, receiving both honours for the third time. The science student helped the Gryphons reach the CIS podium in each of her five seasons with the team, including four bronze medals and last fall’s Monilex Trophy triumph.

“Jacey is an exceptional athlete. She is nothing less than a specimen of athleticism,” says Guelph head coach Colette McAuley. “She has been an offensive threat ever since she joined the Gryphons in 2007. Now, she is developing her leadership abilities and makes everyone around her better.”

Murphy has always made the most of those abilities. She has competed on the national and international rugby stage since the age of 16, often travelling overseas to play against the junior English and Welsh teams. Her most recent accomplishment is a selection to the national 7’s trial camp in preparation for the 2016 Olympic competition.

“Athletics have always been a large part of my life and have helped me to become a more well-rounded individual,” says Murphy, a four-time OUA all-star whose father played football with the Gryphons and whose two older sisters suited up for Guelph’s lacrosse team. “Sports have taught me about leadership and how to work as a team. It has helped me become a goal oriented person and to strive to achieve these goals.”

In addition to rugby, the multi-talented Murphy also played basketball, volleyball, hockey and ball hockey all through high school.

2011-2012 MALE BLG AWARD NOMINEES (Doug Mitchell Trophy)

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

Andrew Clark

Acadia University

Sport: Hockey

Year of eligibility: 3

Academic program: Kinesiology

Hometown: Brandon, Man.

Andrew Clark has enjoyed success at every level of hockey he has played and the Acadia Axemen are more than happy to be the latest team to benefit from his exceptional skills.

After winning the national midget championship with his hometown Brandon Wheat Kings back in 2004, the crafty centreman played four WHL seasons with the major junior Wheat Kings, tallying 40 goals and 78 points in 72 games in his final campaign in 2008-09. He was selected to the WHL roster for the 2006 Canada-Russia Challenge and later earned tryouts with a pair of NHL teams, St. Louis in 2006 (rookie camp) and Columbus in 2009 (main camp).

Clark’s success continued once he joined the Axemen in the fall of 2009. After averaging over a point a game in each of his first two university seasons, including a team-high 32 points as a sophomore, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward amassed 39 points in 28 conference contests this year to claim the AUS scoring title and, more importantly, the prestigious Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy presented to the most outstanding player in CIS men’s hockey.

In three university seasons, the kinesiology student has racked up an impressive 99 points in 83 league games.

Acadia head coach Darren Burns has seen his share of talented hockey players over the years. For him, two statistics stood out from his captain’s award-winning season.

“To be in on 42 percent of our goals is a truly remarkable statistic. As well, he won the AUS scoring race and we did not have another forward in the top 20 in league scoring, which is astounding in itself,” says Burns, whose team ranked fifth – out of eight – in conference scoring with 95 goals in 28 matches. “Andrew is a tremendous player and leader for Acadia Hockey and Acadia Athletics, and a mentor for many youth in our community.”

Clark didn’t pick bad role models to develop his leadership qualities.

“Growing up as a typical Canadian hockey kid, there is no doubt that Steve Yzerman was my favourite player and my source of inspiration, along with my father,” Clark says. “Graduating from Acadia next year with a bachelor of kinesiology degree, I will be looking to follow up on my life-long dream of playing professional hockey. And if hockey doesn’t work out, I hope to become an elementary school teacher and hockey coach.”

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Marc-André Dorion

McGill University

Sport: Hockey

Year of eligibility: 4

Academic program: Physical & Health Education

Hometown: St. Hubert, Que.

The McGill’s men’s hockey team has apparently become a farm club for the BLG Awards. Or at least it appears that way, as defenceman Marc-André Dorion’s nomination in 2012 marks the third straight year a member of the Redmen is in the running for CIS’ highest individual honour, following forwards Francis Verreault-Paul (2010) and Alexandre Picard-Hooper (2011).

We will probably never know if the BLG Awards had anything to do with it, but the talented trio was at the forefront of one of the greatest accomplishments in the storied history of athletics at McGill, in late March at Fredericton. As the CIS University Cup championship was celebrating its 50th anniversary, it seemed only fitting that the Redmen, the oldest hockey team in the world, captured their first-ever national title, in their 136th season, thanks to a thrilling 4-3 overtime win against Western. Following the final, Dorion, Picard-Hooper and Verreault-Paul were all named tournament all-stars, with the latter earning MVP honours.

Hoisting the University Cup was the crowning moment of Dorion’s remarkable university career. Prior to the national tourney, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound rearguard was voted MVP of the OUA East division, CIS defenceman of year for the second time in three seasons and a first-team all-Canadian for the third straight campaign. Over his four years, the alternate captain and physical education major guided McGill to three conference titles, four trips to the CIS championship and two appearances in the University Cup final. He will graduate as the highest-scoring blueliner in school history with a 38-154-192 record in 174 games overall.

In 2011-12, Dorion topped all CIS defencemen with 39 points in 28 league games, a tally that was good enough for seventh place in the CIS scoring race. He became the first rearguard in history to lead the Redmen in scoring. Perhaps his most impressive statistic however was that he was assessed only four penalty minutes in 38 regular and post-season matches, a remarkable accomplishment for a defenceman.

Of course, Dorion’s success with the Redmen came as no surprise to hockey observers. After all, the veteran of five QMJHL seasons has received NHL tryouts with Dallas, Phoenix and Toronto over the years. He recently signed a two-year contract to play for EHC Linz, the reigning champions of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, the top league in Austria.

“Marc-André is an elite CIS defenceman who excels at both ends of the ice. He’s also an outstanding student and a well-respected leader within our team,” says McGill bench boss Kelly Nobes about his team MVP, who was honoured by CIS last fall as one of the Top 8 Academic All-Canadians in the country.

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Kyle Quinlan

McMaster University

Sport: Football

Year of eligibility: 4

Academic program: Economics

Hometown: South Woodslee, Ont.

It has been said that big players must come up big in big games. It’s safe to say McMaster quarterback Kyle Quinlan got the memo last November.

Following a suspension-shortened regular season, the fourth-year pivot from South Woodslee, Ont., went on one of the greatest playoff runs in recent memory to lead the Marauders to their first-ever CIS football national championship. Over four post-season contests, Quinlan averaged 335 yards passing and another 92.5 on the ground, threw for 11 touchdown passes and guided his troops to four straight 40-plus-point performances as McMaster defeated Queen’s 40-13 (OUA semifinal), Western 41-19 (Yates Cup), Acadia 45-21 (Uteck Bowl) and Laval 41-38 in overtime (Vanier Cup). The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior earned game-MVP honours following each of the last three duels of the campaign.

Of course, the Cinderella story wouldn’t have been totally complete had Quinlan not kept his best for last. On Nov. 25 at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium, in what is widely regarded as one of the greatest CIS football games ever played, the economics student racked up 482 yards and two majors on 36-of-55 passing while also rushing for a team-high 106 yards as McMaster handed the powerful Rouge et Or their first loss in seven lifetime appearances in the Vanier Cup final. The Marauders tied the single-game record with 41 first downs, while their 675 yards of total offence and 25 first downs through the air rank second in Vanier Cup history.

As dominant as Quinlan was in the playoffs, it would be inaccurate to say his remarkable performances came out of nowhere. After all, despite being limited to five outings in conference play, he was named to the second all-Canadian team after he averaged a CIS-best 342 passing yards per game.

While he still has one year of CIS eligibility remaining, there is little doubt the talented QB is on the radar screen of a number of professional teams heading into the 2012 CFL Draft. He has participated in the last two CFL Evaluation Camps and was invited to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ training camp last summer.

“No athlete that I have watched over the years has developed more physically, mentally, socially and emotionally in such a short period of time than Kyle Quinlan during the 2011 football season,” says McMaster head coach Stefan Ptaszek. “In my humble opinion, it was one of the best seasons any player has had in the history of our football program.”

Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA)

Ben Ball

Trinity Western University

Sport: Volleyball

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic program: General Studies (Communications & Human Kinetics)

Hometown: Abbotsford, B.C.

“I’m just a relaxed, laid back individual who loves having fun on the volleyball court,” Ben Ball says. “Put it this way, if there is ever a book written about me, they should call it Having a Ball.”

And a ball it was this season for the Trinity Western men’s volleyball team. Coming off their second CIS national title in program history, the Spartans entered the 2011-12 campaign as favourites to repeat as CIS champions. Not only did they live up to expectations, they put together one of the most dominating seasons in recent memory.

Led by their all-star setter, the Spartans were ranked No. 1 in each of the 14 national polls published during the campaign, finished the regular schedule atop the Canada West standings for the first time in history, defeated second-ranked Manitoba to claim the conference banner, and beat No. 3-seeded Laval in the CIS title match to repeat as Tantramar Trophy champs. Overall, TWU went 34-2 against CIS competition, a team record.

Ball, who hails from Abbotsford, B.C., was as dominant individually as the Spartans were collectively. In his fifth and final university season, the 6-foot-4 senior was named CIS player of the year and MVP of the national championship. The veteran setter averaged a conference-record and CIS season-best 11.54 assists per set in ’11-12 to finish his brilliant career with 2,742 assists, a Trinity Western all-time mark and the second-highest total in Canada West annals.

Making his accomplishments even more impressive is the fact Ball was so ill during the CIS tournament in Kingston that he was unable to practice and only left his hotel room to take part in his team’s three games.

“Ben may not be your classic setter. Instead, he is much more than that,” says TWU head coach Ben Josephson. “There are lots of setters in our country who possess great athleticism and technique but Ben’s character make up sets him apart and puts him in the category of those really special setters who come along once in a coach’s career.”

Ball, who will graduate with a major in general studies and minors in human kinetics and communications, also got a taste of international competition with his teammates last fall as the Spartans represented Canada and NORCECA at the FIVB club world championship in Qatar. The CIS champs kept a 1-2 record at the prestigious tournament, including a win over the champions of the Iranian professional league, Paykan Tehran.