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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The 2014-15 varsity season was a successful one on many levels for the University of Victoria Vikes. Successes this year increased the Victoria program’s national championship total to 74, while Canada West conference titles increased to 106 and the Vikes now boast a total of 299 individual medals at CIS championships and 398 all-time CIS All-Canadians. That level of achievement is due to the high caliber of student-athletes this season and Vikes Athletics are pleased to recognize them as nominees for this year’s Celebration of Champions Athletic Awards banquet, hosted Apr. 1 at the Victoria Conference Center.

The most prestigious award at the event, the President’s Cup, which honours a senior athlete best combining scholastic achievement and athletic ability, includes three nominees for 2014-15. Graduating players Jessica Renfrew, of women’s basketball, and Carlita Branion-Calles, of women’s soccer, are in the running, as well as fourth-year Business major and men’s basketball player Reiner Theil. All three were pivotal to their team’s success in their field of competition, while showing exceptional aptitude in the class room.

This year’s Athlete of the Year nominees are an outstanding group of individuals. The men’s nominees include Canada West MVP’s Chris McLaughlin, in men’s basketball, and Thomas Riva, in men’s track, as well as four-time defending gold medalist in the lightweight double, rower Alex Walker. The women’s nominees include track specialist and four-time defending CIS 600-m gold medalist Rachel Francois, women’s basketball point guard Cassandra Goodis, who broke the Canada West All-Time record in assists, Rowing Canada Female Sculler of the Year Deborah Snelland fifth-year women’s soccer stand out Jaclyn Sawicki.

The Robert T. Wallace Shield recognizes the most outstanding first-year student-athlete. The women’s nominees include two Canada West Rookies of the Year in Amira Giannattasio, for women’s basketball, and Chloe Hegland, in women’s cross-country. Also in the mix is women’s golferBrianna Carrels who has been the team’s most consistent top scorer. The men’s nominees include soccer striker Michael Baart, field hockey penalty corner specialist Amardeep Sidhu, as well as men’s golfer Lawren Rowe.

The Chancellor’s Award honours leadership and contribution to their team and this year the nominees include rowing’s Anna Braunizer, women’s soccer’s Branion-Calles, as well as Kendra Pomfret of cross-country and track.

This year’s Provost Award for the top returning student-athlete with the highest academic average in the 2013-14 season was previously given out at the Vikes Honour Roll Luncheon in November, where the Vikes acknowledged 69 Vikes Honour Roll Recipients. This year’s Provost Award was given out to Shannon Fitzpatrick, of women’s rugby, after achieving an impressive 8.78 GPA in Kinesiology.

The Times Colonist Publisher’s Award for Community Contributions is presented to individual(s) in the community who has (ve) made an outstanding voluntary contribution to a varsity program. This year Vikes Athletics will be acknowledging the dedication of Pacific Coast Swimming, who readily volunteer to help the Vikes host CIS and Canada West swimming championships at Saanich Commonwealth Place. From staffing timing volunteers, to ensuring scoring and officials are set up, the team at Pacific Coast Swimming has been an outstanding group of volunteers who have bettered the Vikes’ swimming program and the department’s ability to continue to host highly-executed championships.

For a list of previous Vikes athletics award winners, please click here.

This year’s Celebration of Champions event will be hosted alongside the annual UVic Sports Hall of Fame induction, which will feature the induction of women’s field hockey player Milena Gaiga, women’s swimmer Christin Petelski and men’s basketball player Phil Ohl. For more on the UVic Sports Hall of Fame inductees and previous inductees, please click here.

Tickets are available to the public at a cost of $85 (plus GST). Visit to purchase or for more information.

Nominees listed below are in alphabetical order.

President’s Cup Nominees
Carlita Branion-Calles, Women’s Soccer
Jessica Renfrew, Women’s Basketball
Reiner Theil, Men’s Basketball

Athlete of the Year – Female Nominees
Rachel Francois, Track
Cassandra Goodis, Basketball
Jaclyn Sawicki, Soccer
Deborah Snell, Rowing

Athlete of the Year – Male Nominees
Chris McLaughlin, Basketball
Thomas Riva, Track
Alex Walker, Rowing

Robert T. Wallace Shield Rookie of the Year – Female Nominees
Brianna Carrels, Golf
Amira Giannattasio, Basketball
Chloe Hegland, Cross-country

Robert T. Wallace Shield Rookie of the Year – Male Nominees
Michael Baart, Soccer
Lawren Rowe, Golf
Amardeep Sidhu, Field Hockey

Chancellor’s Award
Carlita Branion-Calles, Soccer
Anna Braunizer, Rowing
Kendra Pomfret, Cross-Country and Track

Provost Award for Excellence
2013-14 Winner: Shannon Fitzpatrick, Women’s Rugby

Times Colonist Publisher’s Award for Community Contributions
2014-15 Winner: Pacific Coast Swimming