CIS women’s basketball: Lakehead’s Williams named player of the year


Lakehead’s Jylisa Williams / Photo credit Martin Bazyl

Mar 11, 2015

QUEBEC CITY (CIS) – Jylisa Williams, a fifth-year guard from Lakehead University, was named the CIS player of the year in women’s basketball, Wednesday night.

Williams, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, became the first Lakehead standout to claim the Nan Copp Award and only the third player from the Thunderwolves program to capture a major national award in women’s basketball. She joins Lindsay Druery, who merited the Sylvia Sweeney Award in 2012, and Angela Hrkac, who received the Tracy MacLeod Award in 1999.

Other CIS award recipients announced during the All-Canadian Banquet held at Hilton Quebec were Windsor point guard Korissa Williams, who was named the defensive player of the year; Guelph guard Bridget Atkinson, who captured the Kathy Shields Award as the top rookie; Windsor’s Chantal Vallée, who earned her second straight Peter Ennis Award as TIMEX coach of the year; Lethbridge forward Kimberley Veldman, who merited the Sylvia Sweeney Award which recognizes excellence in basketball, academics and community service; as well as Ottawa guard Kellie Ring, who was presented with the Tracy MacLeod Award for her determination and perseverance.

The ArcelorMittal Dofasco CIS championship gets underway Thursday on the campus of Laval University and culminates Sunday at 1 p.m. with the national final, live on Sportsnet 360. Saturday’s semifinals are live on Sportsnet ONE (noon & 2:30 p.m.) and all 11 games from the eight-team tournament will also be webcast on

NAN COPP AWARD (player of the year): Jylisa Williams, Lakehead

Williams took CIS by storm in her final two years of eligibility with Lakehead, after starting her post-secondary career at Georgia State in the NCAA, where she played for two seasons, and at Olds College in Alberta, where she was voted the CCAA player of the year in her lone campaign in 2012-13.

Named a first-team OUA West all-star in her Thunderwolves debut a year ago after she averaged 20.2 points per game, the 5-foot-8 guard exploded this season with a remarkable 28.8 points per contest, the highest average across the country since three-time CIS MVP Sandra Carroll of Winnipeg scored 30.3 per game in 1994-95. Williams broke the single-game school record multiple times over the past two years and set a new OUA standard on Feb. 6 against Toronto when she poured in 50 points in an 86-69 win.

The sociology student also set a single-season OUA mark this year with 548 points in 19 league games. She finished first in the nation in points (548), field goals made (198), free throws made (150) and steals (76), and ranked fifth in defensive rebounds (135), seventh in rebounds (177) and rebounds per game (9.3), as well as ninth in field goal percentage (54.1). Her performances helped the T-Wolves take second place in the OUA Central standings with a 14-5 mark.

“I’ve never coached an athlete like Jylisa,” said head coach Jon Kreiner. “She’s a once in a lifetime type of player, who is not only amazing on her own, but involves her teammates and elevates their game to higher levels.”

The other finalists were Dalhousie guard Courtney Thompson, McGill forward Mariam Sylla and UBC guard Kris Young.

DEFENSIVE MVP: Korissa Williams, Windsor

Williams, a local product from Windsor, Ont., keeps the defensive MVP trophy in the Lancers family for the fourth straight year as former teammate Miah Marie Langlois had been awarded the honour each of the past three campaigns.

Williams had an outstanding fifth and final season as she helped lead the Blue and Gold to their seventh straight OUA West division title thanks to a CIS-best 19-1 record and the No. 1 spot in each of the 13 national weekly polls. The anchor of the nation’s fourth-ranked defence (53.2 points per game), the 5-foot-9 business student was second in the country in steals (64) and tied for the team lead in rebounding (7.0 per game) while being responsible for defending the opponents’ top guard. In addition to her defensive talents, she averaged a team-best 19.3 points per contest – good for third in CIS – and also led the Lancers in assists per game (4.7) en route to her first selection as a first-team all-Canadian.

Williams, who represented Canada at the 2011 world under-19 championship, has helped Windsor claim the CIS title in each of her first four seasons with the team, including in 2013 when she was named MVP of the national championship.

“I am so proud of Korissa following into her “big sister” Miah’s footsteps,” said head coach Chantal Vallée. “There’s no doubt that Korissa has helped our team at both ends of the floor and to see her earn a CIS major award for her defensive work is outstanding.”

The other nominees were guards Kennisha Shanice-Luberisse of Saint Mary’s, Quételine Célestin of UQAM and Stephanie Kleysen of Winnipeg.

KATHY SHIELDS AWARD (rookie of the year): Bridget Atkinson, Guelph

A Welland, Ont., native, Atkinson is the first Guelph player to merit the Kathy Shields Award.

The traditional pass-first point guard finished third in the OUA and sixth in the country in assists in her Gryphons debut (4.6 per game), while also contributing 10.9 points per contest, good for second on the team.

While her offensive contributions were impressive, it is what Atkinson brings at the defensive end that sets her apart from her competitors. A tenacious on-the-ball defender, the sociology student was asked numerous times throughout the season to match up against some of the top veteran scorers in her conference and more than held her own. Having recorded 32 steals, seven blocked shots and 5.3 rebounds per game, she was able to quickly adapt to life at the CIS level as a first-year starter.

“Bridget has had a tremendous impact on our program as a freshman. Her passion for the game combined with her coachability make her extremely valuable,” said head coach Christin Dickenson. “She is a very strong leader, but does so with a great deal of humility. It is a great honour for her to be recognized by the country alongside the other outstanding nominees.”

Saint Mary’s guard Kennisha Shanice-Luberisse, Laval wing Jane Gagné and Victoria guard Amira Giannattasio were also in the running.

PETER ENNIS AWARD (TIMEX coach of the year): Chantal Vallée, Windsor

Vallée became the first back-to-back winner of the Peter Ennis Award since Laval’s Linda Marquis was honoured in both 2000 and 2001. A five-time recipient of the OUA West award, she had also been nominated for the national trophy in 2009.

In her 10th campaign at the helm, Vallée guided her troops to a CIS-best 19-1 regular season record and their seventh consecutive OUA West title. The Lancers led all 13 national weekly polls this year, ranked first in the country in points scored per game (80.5), field goal percentage (48.4) and three-point FG percentage (37.0%), were second in rebound margin per contest (+12.0) and finished fourth in overall defence (53.4 ppg).

This week in Quebec City, the top-seeded Lancers hope to become the second program in CIS history to win five straight Bronze Baby Trophies as national champions, equalling the feat accomplished by Laurentian from 1975 to 1979.

“The University of Windsor congratulates Coach Vallée on her second consecutive selection as the CIS coach of the year,” said athletic director Mike Havey. “Chantal’s record of accomplishment and incredible team achievement are certainly worthy of this recognition. Her program has been a source of great pride and inspiration for our University.”

The other finalists were Dalhousie’s Anna Stammberger, McGill’s Ryan Thorne and Thompson Rivers’ Scott Reeves.

SYLVIA SWEENEY AWARD: Kimberley Veldman, Lethbridge

Veldman is only the second member of the Lethbridge program to win a CIS major award in women’s basketball joining former head coach Louisa Zerbe, who received the Peter Ennis Award in 1985. The fifth-year forward has been a leader on and off the floor for the Pronghorns and will go down as one of the best players and student-athletes to ever come through the program.

On the floor, Veldman was the conference’s second leading scorer this season, averaging 18.6 points per game. She leaves the Pronghorns as the school’s all-time leading rebounder and second leading scorer with 805 boards and 1391 points over the course of her five campaigns with the team.

While excelling on the court, she also shone in the classroom, earning her Nursing degree in four years, while being named an Academic All-Canadian every year. She will be well on her way to a fifth AAC award while beginning her Masters in Nursing.

Veldman has been heavily involved in community service within the Jr Horns basketball program as a coach for a club team, at skills clinics and summer camps; with the Reading Buddies program, volunteering one day a week in an elementary classroom and twice a week to lead their co-ed basketball intramural program; with the Special Olympics last spring, when she volunteered for a four-week program where she taught the participants basketball skills and drills; as well as with her church, as she has also been heavily involved with the Trinity Reform Church youth group.

“As a humble and even-keel player, Kim has had to work hard to develop her leadership skills,” said head coach Erin McAleenan. “Over the last three years of working with her, she has grown immensely not only as a player, but as a person. She has become a confident leader both on and off the floor, and she inspires her teammates on a daily basis. Kim has changed the culture of our program and has had a tremendous impact on the players, coaches, and community.”

Acadia guard Aprille Deus, Laval wing Raphaëlle Côté and Wilfrid Laurier guard Lee Anna Osei were also nominated.

TRACY MacLEOD AWARD: Kellie Ring, Ottawa

In the winter of 2013, Ring tore her ACL and after undergoing surgery a few months later, returned to practice in September only to re-tear the ACL. Despite trying to return at Christmas, she required another surgery in February 2014.

“The two ACLs are obviously a long time for recovery, but she has gone through numerous other things that a lot of players would not have played though,” said Gee-Gees head coach Andy Sparks, listing off two concussions, two high ankle sprains, a broken toe, and a broken arm as part of the trials Ring has endured over the past three seasons.

Ring, who competed with Canada’s national under-16, under-17 and under-18 teams before travelling to Belgium with the national development team in 2012, was named a CIS all-rookie team member that same year. Sparks says her upbringing as an elite athlete has been instrumental in her recovery. “Her personality has been developed as a tough person – she had to believe in herself that she can do things. She has a drive to get back to that level. She hasn’t changed her aspirations for her basketball future, she has just gone about the business of getting back to the best that she can be.”

Ring got back on the court last November and played in all 19 of Ottawa’s regular season games, averaging 7.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and saw her minutes increase as the campaign went along.

Dalhousie guard Kristy Moore, Laval wing Catherine Bélanger-Paquet and Alberta guard Megan Wickstrom were also in the running.


The all-Canadian teams were also announced on Wednesday.

Joining major award winners Jylissa Williams and Korissa Williams on the first squad were conference MVPs Kris Young of UBC (18.0 ppg), Mariam Sylla of McGill (12.4 ppg / 10.9 rpg) and Courtney Thompson of Dalhousie (23.9 ppg).

Young received all-Canadian recognition for the third straight year, including a previous first-team nod in 2013, while Sylla returns to the top unit for the second consecutive season and was also named the CIS rookie of the year in 2013.

The second CIS dream team for this season is comprised of Alberta forward Saskia Van Ginhoven (16.7 ppg), Wilfrid Laurier forward Whitney Ellenor (15.9 ppg / 8.9 rpg), UQAM guard Quételine Célestin (14.4 ppg), Saskatchewan forward Dalyce Emmerson (13.3 ppg / 8.8 rpg) and Fraser Valley forward Sarah Wierks (19.2 ppg / 15.4 rpg).

Emmerson was a first-team member a year ago and was voted to the all-rookie squad in 2012, while Wierks had earned all-rookie status in 2011.

Joining Bridget Atkinson on the 2014-15 all-freshman team were Victoria guard Amira Giannattasio (12.0 ppg), Saint Mary’s guard Kennisha Shanice-Luberisse (12.2 ppg), Thompson Rivers guard Michelle Bos (11.5 ppg / 11.3 rpg) and Laval wing Jane Gagné (10.3 ppg).


Nan Copp Award (player of the year): Jylisa Williams, Lakehead
Defensive player of the year: Korissa Williams, Windsor
Kathy Shields Award (rookie of the year): Bridget Atkinson, Guelph
Peter Ennis Award (TIMEX coach of the year): Chantal Vallée, Windsor
Sylvia Sweeney Award (basketball, academics & community service): Kimberley Veldman, Lethbridge
Tracy MacLeod Award: Kellie Ring, Ottawa

First Team

Pos. – Athlete – University – Year – Hometown – Academic Program

G Jylisa Williams Lakehead 5 Atlanta, Georgia Sociology
G Kris Young UBC 5 North Vancouver, B.C. Arts
F Mariam Sylla McGill 3 Conakry, Guinea Pharmacology
G Courtney Thompson Dalhousie 5 Saint John, N.B. Commerce
G Korissa Williams Windsor 5 Windsor, Ont. Business

Second Team

F Saskia Van Ginhoven Alberta 4 Edmonton, Alta. Phys. Ed. & Recreation
F Whitney Ellenor Wilfrid Laurier 5 Pickering, Ont. History
G Quételine Célestin UQAM 3 Cayenne, France Administration
F Dalyce Emmerson Saskatchewan 4 Prince Albert, Sask. Kinesiology
F Sarah Wierks Fraser Valley 5 Chilliwack, B.C. Kinesiology

All-Rookie Team

G Bridget Atkinson Guelph 1 Welland, Ont. Sociology
G Amira Giannattasio Victoria 1 Hamilton, Ont. Social Sciences
G Kennisha Shanice-Luberisse Saint Mary’s 1 Montreal, Que. Commerce
G Michelle Bos TRU 1 Surrey, B.C. Science
W Jane Gagné Laval 1 Chicoutimi, Que. Chemistry

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