CIS athlete of the year nominees announced today

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OTTAWA (CIS) – Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) announced Wednesday the eight finalists for the 23rd annual BLG Awards.

 

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

On Monday, May 4, the eight national nominees will be honoured at the Martha Cohen Theatre in Calgary. The female and male winners will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, while all finalists will return home with a commemorative gold ring and a watch from Timex, the official supplier of CIS.

This year’s event will mark the 20th presentation of the awards gala in Calgary. Over the years, the event has also held been held in Toronto (2009, 2013) and Vancouver (2011). The 2015 ceremony will air nationally later this May on Sportsnet.

Although the 2015 recipients will be determined by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board which has selected the winners for the past 22 years, the general public is encouraged to vote as part as an online-voting pilot project. Fans can vote through the following websites:

CIS: www.cis-sic.ca

BLG Awards: www.blg.com/blgawards

Sportsnet: www.sportsnet.ca/cis

“We are extremely excited to be hosting the 23rd BLG Awards in Calgary,” said Doug Mitchell, National Co-Chair of BLG. “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 represent the epitome of what it means to be a student-athlete, and this year’s nominees more than meet that standard,” said Thérèse Quigley, president of CIS. “Not only are these eight extraordinary athletes, each one is also a leader in the classroom and in the community.”

The 2015 nominees for the Jim Thompson Trophy presented to the female BLG Award recipient are rugby player Emma Taylor from St. Francis Xavier University, soccer player Jessica Kingfrom Trinity Western University, as well as basketball standouts Mariam Sylla from McGill University and Korissa Williams from the University of Windsor. 

Taylor, a fifth-year lock from Scotsburn, N.S., was named MVP of the CIS championship after she helped the X-Women capture the Monilex Trophy for the third time in her five campaigns with the team. During the regular season, the business administration student led Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference with 10 tries in six games en route to league MVP and first-team all-Canadian honours.

Sylla, a third-year centre from Conakry, Guinea, guided the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec(RSEQ) champion Martlets to the best result in program history at the CIS championship, a silver medal. In league action, the pharmacology junior averaged a double-double with 12.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game and was rewarded with the conference MVP trophy and a spot on the first all-Canadian team. 

Williams, a fifth-year guard from Windsor, Ont., was voted MVP of the CIS championship after she helped the Lancers tie the all-time record with their fifth straight Bronze Baby Trophy triumph and, along with teammate Jocelyn LaRocque, became the first players in history to win five CIS rings in women’s basketball. Prior to the Final 8 tournament, the business student had been named the CIS defensive player of the year and a first-team all-Canadian.

King, a fifth-year midfielder from Liverpool, England, guided the Spartans to the Canada West title and a silver medal at the CIS championship. In regular season action, the psychology student scored 12 goals in 11 contests, including a CIS-leading seven game-winners, on her way to national player of the year honours.

SEE COMPLETE PROFILES BELOW.

On the men’s side, the finalists for the Doug Mitchell Trophy are soccer player Justin Maheu from Cape Breton University, hockey player Cédric McNicoll from McGill University, cross country and track runner Ross Proudfoot from the University of Guelph and football player Andrew Buckley from the University of Calgary.

Maheu, a second-year striker from Ottawa, became the first male athlete from CBU – in any sport – to be named CIS player of the year after he scored 15 goals in only 11 league games, for a CIS-best average of 1.36 goals per outing. In the playoffs, the arts student helped the Capers reach the AUS championship final, where they suffered a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to UNB.

McNicoll, a second-year centre from Boucherville, Que., who was in his fifth year of CIS eligibility after playing three seasons at the professional level, helped the Redmen top the Ontario University Athletics East division standings and to a fourth-place finish in the conference playoffs. In league play, the management student tallied 34 points in 25 games en route to OUA East MVP and second-team all-Canadian status.

Proudfoot, a fifth-year runner from Sudbury, Ont., began his final university season last fall with a gold-medal performance at the CIS cross country championships, where he helped the Gryphon men claim the team banner for the fifth time. In the winter, the human kinetics master’s student was named male MVP of the CIS indoor track and field championships after he dominated his two events, the 1500 and 3000-metre races.

Buckley, a fourth-year quarterback from Calgary who amassed 18 touchdown passes and 10 rushing majors in eight league games, became the first player in history to receive both the Hec Crighton Trophy as CIS player of the year and the Russ Jackson Award, honouring success on the football field, in the classroom and in the community. The kinesiology student helped the Dinos reach the Canada West final, where they were upset by Manitoba.

SEE COMPLETE PROFILES BELOW.

2015 Female BLG Award Nominees (Jim Thompson Trophy):

AUS: Emma Taylor, rugby, StFX (Scotsburn, N.S.)

RSEQ: Mariam Sylla, basketball, McGill (Conakry, Guinea)

OUA: Korissa Williams, basketball, Windsor (Windsor, Ont.)

CWUAA: Jessica King, soccer, Trinity Western (Liverpool, England)

 

2015 Male BLG Award Nominees (Doug Mitchell Trophy):

AUS: Justin Maheu, soccer, Cape Breton (Ottawa, Ont.)

RSEQ: Cédric McNicoll, hockey, McGill (Boucherville, Que.)

OUA: Ross Proudfoot, cross country / track & field, Guelph (Sudbury, Ont.)

CWUAA: Andrew Buckley, football, Calgary (Calgary, Alta.)

Past BLG Award Winners:

2013-14: Justine Colley – Saint Mary’s (basketball) / Philip Scrubb – Carleton (basketball)

2012-13: Shanice Marcelle – UBC (volleyball) / Kyle Quinlan – McMaster (football)

2011-12: Ann-Sophie Bettez – McGill (hockey) / Marc-André Dorion – McGill (hockey)

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 & T&F)
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 (soccer)
1998-99: Corinne Swirsky – Concordia (hockey) / Alexandre Marchand – Sherbrooke (T&F)
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 (football)
1992-93: Diane Scott – Winnipeg (volleyball) / Andy Cameron – Calgary (volleyball)

2014-2015 FEMALE BLG AWARD NOMINEES (Jim Thompson Trophy)

 

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

Emma Taylor

St. Francis Xavier University

Sport: Rugby

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic program: Business Administration

Hometown: Scotsburn, N.S.

Emma Taylor is the latest superstar from the women’s rugby powerhouse at StFX University to be nominated for a BLG Award, following in the footsteps of Tyson Beukeboom (2012) and Ghislaine Landry (2009).

In her fifth season with the X-Women, Taylor led the reigning 17-time AUS champions to their fourth CIS title. In doing so she became the only athlete in school history to win three national crowns (2014, 2012, 2010), to go with a silver medal (2011).

The 6-foot-1 lock from Scotsburn, N.S. was named MVP of the 2014 CIS championship after leading all players with seven tries in three games. With a flair for the dramatic, Taylor scored the game-winning try in the final minute of play in the CIS semi-final to advance the X-Women to the championship game, where they handled McMaster 43-34. The previous week, in the AUS conference final, she had scored two tries, including the game-tying score, to lead X to a come-from-behind overtime victory over archrival Acadia.

The 22-year-old business administration major led the Atlantic conference during the 2014 regular season with 10 tries in six games and was second in points scored (60), en route to receiving league MVP accolades. Taylor, who would also be named the AUS playoff MVP and a first-team All-Canadian, experienced the rare occurrence of being voted CIS athlete of the week on back-to-back occasions last fall.

She wraps her stellar StFX rugby career as a two-time All-Canadian and CIS tournament all-star, three-time AUS all-star, five-time AUS champion and three-time CIS champion.   

A multi-sport athlete growing up in a small town 45 minutes down the road from StFX, Taylor was raised in an athletic family of three. In her final university season, she decided to play varsity basketball at the conclusion of the rugby campaign and averaged seven minutes per game on the court.

With a number of Canadian rugby national team training camps under her belt, she awaits the next phase of her playing career, aspiring to play alongside several former StFX teammates currently involved with the national program, including 2014 International Rugby Board player of the year Magali Harvey.

“There’s a reason why you win three national championships, and it’s a commitment to excellence,” says StFX head coach Mike Cavanagh. “Everything Emma did on and off the field exemplified that commitment, and the will to win and achieve excellence. Her leadership and work ethic inspires her teammates to perform to their utmost abilities. There is no quit in Emma, her work – with or without the ball – has made her a dominant force on the field.”

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Mariam Sylla

McGill University

Sport: Basketball

Year of eligibility: 3

Academic program: Pharmacology

Hometown: Conakry, Guinea

Mariam Sylla, a pharmacology junior at McGill University, has been nothing short of phenomenal over her first three seasons with the basketball Martlets.

After being voted CIS rookie of the year in 2012-13, the 6-foot-1 centre was named player of the year in the RSEQ conference in each of her sophomore and junior campaigns, meriting first-team All-Canadian honours both times. A 22-year-old native of Conakry, the capital city of Guinea, she has led McGill to three-consecutive RSEQ titles and three straight CIS championship appearances, where they finished fifth twice before achieving a school-best second-place standing this past season.

In 2014-15, Sylla posted a league-leading six “double-doubles” in 16 games, to finish fifth among RSEQ scoring leaders with 12.4 points per contest. She also led the conference with 10.8 rebounds per game, which ranked fourth in the nation. She was third in field-goal shooting (.430), fourth in free-throw percentage (.768) and fourth in blocked shots (12).

 
At McGill’s athletic banquet last year, she merited the Uldis Auders Memorial Trophy as most outstanding sophomore student-athlete. This season, she won the school’s Gladys Bean Award as female athlete of the year.

In 2014, Sylla was among the CIS Top Eight Academic All-Canadians and received her commendation from Governor-General David Johnston last fall. With a cumulative grade-point average of 3.63 out of 4.0 in the faculty of science, she is on target to merit CIS Academic All-Canadian honours for the third straight year.

A co-captain of the Martlets, she was recently named by the RSEQ to serve as an ambassador for “Lait’s Go Sport”, a bursary program which promotes a milk protein shake as an ideal product for athletes.

Sylla has also helped coordinate the team’s annual wheelchair basketball game with the Montreal Action Centre as part of the “Chaire Aware” campaign to promote awareness about physical disabilities. She has participated for the third straight year in the Varsity Council’s annual Christmas food drive and also helped coordinate the team’s annual visit the Montreal Children’s Hospital, to hand out Halloween treats to the young patients, who are unable to leave the hospital.

 
“Mariam brings great raw athleticism and toughness to our team,” says McGill head coach Ryan Thorne. “She is a great competitor who will sacrifice her body for the ball, which makes her a force on the boards. Her ability to knock down the 15-footer, makes her a threat both inside and out, which I believe has contributed largely to our team’s success over the past three seasons.”

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Korissa Williams

University of Windsor

Sport: Basketball

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic program: Business

Hometown: Windsor, Ont.

Every student-athlete wants to leave it all on the court in their final CIS season and University of Windsor basketball standout Korissa Williams can say “mission accomplished”.

A 23-year old native of Windsor, Williams was a dominating force during the regular season as she ranked in the top five nationally in points (19.3), assists (4.7) and steals (3.6) per game while leading the Lancers to a CIS-best 19-1 record. After being named an OUA all-star for the third straight year, the 5-foot-9 guard registered an 18-point, 10-assist double-double in the conference final to help Windsor claim the OUA banner.

At the national level, she was honoured as a first-team All-Canadian and as the CIS defensive player of the year prior to the Final 8 championship. In Quebec City, Williams turned it up a notch and was virtually unstoppable as she garnered CIS tournament MVP honours for the second time in her career en route to guiding the Lancers to their record-tying fifth straight national title. Over three contests, she was named Windsor game MVP twice and averaged 23.7 points, 12 rebounds and 6.3 assists per outing.

 

With the triumph, Williams, along with teammate Jocelyn LaRocque, became the first players in CIS women’s basketball history to win five national championship rings.

Over the years, Williams has also showcased her remarkable talent on the international stage.

After representing Canada at the world under-19 championship in 2011, she was selected to play at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Russia, and might very well wear the red and white colours again this summer when the FISU world university games are staged in Gwangju, South Korea. Williams has been a member of the Canadian national program for the past four seasons and last year was named captain of the senior B national team at the 36th William Jones International Basketball Tournament in Taipei, Taiwan, where Canada went 5-0.

“This year, Korissa took her game to a whole new level. She combined her tremendous athleticism with a desire to be the best at both ends of the floor,” says Windsor head coach and two-time CIS coach of the year, Chantal Vallée. “One of her amazing abilities is that she can dominate a game in a variety of ways, including with her defensive play, rebounding or passing ability.

“Off the court, she’s an amazing person. Her fun and outgoing personality has endeared her to her teammates, coaches and our fans both on campus and in the community. I feel truly blessed to have been able to coach her for the past five years.”

Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA)

 

Jessica King

Trinity Western University

Sport: Soccer

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic program: Psychology

Hometown: Liverpool, England

It was vintage Jessica King – a quick run, a deft move, a powerful shot and the game-winning goal.

For the eighth time in 2014, the fifth-year midfielder had sent the Trinity Western women’s soccer team to victory. This time, on November 1st, King’s boot earned the Spartans a 2-1 win over Fraser Valley and the Canada West championship – their sixth since joining CIS in 2001.

All year, the product of Liverpool, England had been the definition of “clutch scorer.” During the 2014 regular schedule, 31 CIS teams collected six or fewer victories. Meanwhile, King had a CIS-leading seven game-winning goals herself in league play. And in the conference championship, King once again sent TWU to victory.

Overall, King tallied a career-high 12 goals last fall and led the Spartans to an 11-1-1 regular season, their second Canada West title in three years and, ultimately, a CIS silver medal.

Individually, she was named the Canada West MVP and became the first player in the illustrious history of the Spartans women’s soccer program to be voted CIS player of the year.

For King, her success in 2014 was a culmination of a five-year adventure that transformed her from a young on-field talent into a well-rounded offensive dynamo, from a quiet individual trying to fit into a different culture to a leader on and off the pitch, and from a student who initially struggled in the classroom to a diligent worker who earned great success passing tests and writing papers.

Yet, for all of her efforts of accomplishments at TWU, her quiet deeds far away from the spotlight may have made a bigger impact. When she wasn’t scoring goals or passing tests, she helped mentor at-risk youth in the Langley, B.C. area and during her varsity career did mission work in California, South Africa and Swaziland.   

Five years after arriving, King will leave TWU entirely transformed in every aspect of her life, from her studies, to her leadership abilities, to her work in the community to, quite obviously, her on-field brilliance, including helping the Spartans claim back-to-back national championships in 2012 and 2013.

Furthermore, shortly after proving to be the best university women’s soccer player in Canada, King returned home to pursue a career as she joined Everton Ladies FC, which competes in the FA WSL2.

“To see Jess grow and develop from being relatively quiet and reserved into an influential leader and teammate on and off the field has been special,” says TWU head coach Graham Roxburgh. “Jessica has left an indelible mark on our program and all involved.”

2014-2015 MALE BLG AWARD NOMINEES (Doug Mitchell Trophy)

 

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

Justin Maheu

Cape Breton University

Sport: Soccer

Year of eligibility:  2

Academic Program:  Arts (Community Studies)

Hometown: Ottawa, Ont.

It’s been an incredible sophomore season for Cape Breton University soccer striker Justin Maheu.

Coming off a quiet rookie campaign that saw him find the back of the net twice in nine contests, Maheu exploded into the national spotlight during the fall of 2014, scoring 15 times in just 11 league games to help lead the Capers to an 8-4-1 record and a second-place finish in the Atlantic conference standings. His average of 1.36 goals per outing in league play was the best in the country.

The native of Ottawa was a difference maker for the Capers en route to being named AUS most valuable player and a first-team conference all-star. The awards would continue for Maheu at the national level as he became the first male athlete in CBU history – in any sport – to be voted CIS player of the year.

Maheu, whose older brother Samuel was an all-rookie, all-conference and offensive MVP during his years with St. Bonaventure in the NCAA Atlantic 10 Conference, left his family home at the age of 15 to join the only professional youth academy in Canada, Toronto FC. He went on to represent the country at the CONCACAF U-17 World Cup qualifications in Mexico and, while he received several full scholarship offers from NCAA Division 1 universities, he opted to sign a two-year contract with Fortuna Dusseldorf II in Germany. During that time, he was called up again at the international level, this time to compete at the CONCACAF U-20 World Cup qualifications in Guatemala. 

With a parallel desire to continue his education and play competitive soccer, Maheu decided to return to Canada in 2013 and joined the Capers. Currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts Community Studies program, he was recognized as the Capers MVP and CBU male athlete of the year during the school’s 2015 awards gala. The 23-year-old has also found his focus in the classroom since arriving on the Sydney campus, earning CIS Academic All-Canadian status as a freshman and being on his way to merit the honour again this year. 

“Justin is a pleasure to work with on the training ground,” says Cape Breton head coach Dean Morley. “He is a competitive athlete and the drive, passion and determination that he has demonstrated during game time can be found Monday to Friday during practice. The work he has put in during the off-season and his desire to continually want to improve make him a great man to work with.”

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Cédric McNicoll

McGill University

Sport: Hockey

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic program: Management (Accounting)

Hometown: Boucherville, Que.

Cédric McNicoll, a 25-year-old management junior at McGill University, made his debut with the Redmen a year ago after three seasons at the professional level in the AHL and the ECHL, which followed a stellar junior career in the QMJHL.

A 5-foot-10, 186-pound centre who hails from Boucherville, Que., he excelled in his first season with the Redmen in 2013-14, earning OUA East all-star honours and finishing second on the team in scoring with 35 points in only 23 league contests. He then claimed the OUA playoff scoring title with 16 points in eight games and guided the Redmen to an appearance in the CIS championship, where they lost in double overtime to eventual champion Alberta during the semifinals.

He was the 2014 recipient of the Guy Lafleur Award of Excellence as the Quebec university player who best combines hockey excellence with academic success and citizenship.

 

This season, he won the prestigious Stuart Forbes Trophy as McGill’s male athlete of the year and merited CIS All-Canadian second-team status after being voted MVP of the OUA East. McNicoll, who also received the Bobby Bell Trophy as Team MVP, finished tied for fourth in the OUA scoring race with 34 points in 25 games. He either scored or assisted on 33.3 per cent of the team’s 102 regular-season goals, and then tied for the OUA playoff scoring title with 12 points in eight games.

 
Academically, he is majoring in accounting and achieved a grade-point average of 3.75 (out of 4.0) as a sophomore, making the Principal’s Student-athlete Honour Roll. Last fall, he was among the CIS Top Eight Academic All-Canadians honoured by Governor General David Johnston. 

In the community, he has volunteered for numerous school and hospital visits during his time in the QMJHL, the ECHL and AHL.

“Cédric was a key contributor to our success over the past two seasons,” says Kelly Nobes, head coach of the Redmen. “He is dynamic offensively with exceptional vision and play-making ability and a real quick release. He is also very solid without the puck and plays well in all three zones. He is very effective on faceoffs and is used in all situations. Cédric has been a great leader for our team as he is very serious and conscientious with regards to his approach to games and practices. His work habits are outstanding. Not only is he an elite player in the CIS, he is also an elite student as evidenced by his GPA in the demanding academic program.”

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Ross Proudfoot

University of Guelph

Sport: Cross Country & Track

Year of eligibility: 5

Academic Program: Human Kinetics (Master’s – Human Health & Nutritional Sciences)

Hometown: Sudbury, Ont.

In an era when the depth of talent was at an all-time high in his respective sports, Ross Proudfoot emerged as the best-of-the-best. He ends his extraordinary varsity career as a nine-time All-Canadian in cross-country running and track and field, a six-time national champion and with 19 CIS medals to his name (10 team and 9 individual).

Last November, despite windy, hail-like conditions in St. John’s, Nfld., Proudfoot captured individual gold at the CIS cross country championships while leading the Gryphon men to their remarkable ninth straight team title. In the process, he was named a first-team All-Canadian in the sport for a fifth consecutive season, becoming just the third athlete in CIS history to accomplish the feat, and the first to combine that achievement with five team banners.

Four months later, in March, the Sudbury native was named the most outstanding male athlete at the CIS track and field championships in Windsor, where he prevailed in his two events (1500m, 3000m), came one hundredth of a second short of matching an 18-year-old meet record in the 3000-metre race and guided Guelph to second place in the men’s team standings.

Aside from going undefeated against CIS competition on the track in 2014-2015, Proudfoot also impressed at several of the most prestigious events south of the border this winter, including a third-place finish in the elite men’s one-mile run at the New Balance Games in New York City and second place at Notre Dame’s famed Meyo Invitational, where he narrowly missed out on breaking the four-minute mile (4:00.68). Then on Valentine’s Day in Geneva, Ohio, he became the fastest ever CIS runner over 3000 metres with his time of 7:53.02 to win the Spire NCAA Division 1 Invitational.

Not to be lost in all of this is the fact Proudfoot has achieved these results while also pursuing his Master’s in Human Kinetics. The 22-year-old, who reached the 1500m final at the 2013 World University Games in Russia, is now working towards qualifying for this summer’s Pan Am Games in Toronto, as well as the 2015 IAAF world championships and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

“Ross competes with a sense of teamship that elevates the performance of his teammates to new levels,” says Guelph head coach Dave Scott-Thomas. “I’ve been fortunate to work with some of Canada’s best endurance athletes, including those on the Olympic stage, and there is no doubt in my mind that Ross breathes in that same air. It’s a gift to be able to work with him.”

Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA)

Andrew Buckley

University of Calgary

Sport: Football

Year of eligibility: 4

Academic program: Kinesiology

Hometown: Calgary, Alta.

Andrew Buckley personifies the cerebral quarterback, with a healthy dose of upstanding citizenship thrown in.

The Calgary native is a three-time Academic All-Canadian and a two-time winner of the Russ Jackson Award, honouring success on the field, in the classroom and in the community. To his second Russ Jackson recognition in 2014, he added the Hec Crighton Trophy as the most outstanding football player in the nation.

The historic double – no other player has won both the Crighton and Jackson awards, never mind in the same year – propelled the thoughtful 21-year-old pivot to the pages of Sports Illustrated and recognition as the top male athlete in the City of Calgary in 2014.

After two years as a capable backup, Buckley got the call in the first game of the 2013 season when reigning Canada West conference MVP Eric Dzwilewski was injured and took over, leading the second-youngest squad in the nation to the program’s first-ever 8-0 record and all the way to a Vanier Cup appearance. That didn’t guarantee his starting job in 2014, though, and Buckley and Dzwilewski battled through camp for the signal-caller position.

After winning the starting gig, the 6-foot-1, 201-pound graduate of Rundle College guided the Dinos to school records in points, touchdowns and total offence, leading the nation in all three categories. Calgary became the first team in conference history to break 5,000 yards in total offence, with Buckley tossing for 2,175 yards and 18 touchdowns on 64.3 per cent passing. He also led CIS in rushing yards among quarterbacks with 510, adding 10 TDs along the ground.

In his spare time – when he isn’t training, maintaining his Dean’s List GPA with the hopes of entering medical school or participating in groundbreaking research – Buckley spends time each week with Alzheimer’s patients, socializing with them to keep them stimulated and active while providing respite for their full-time caregivers. And every Thursday, he and a high school friend walk through downtown Calgary to hand out sandwiches to the homeless and needy, trading a Sandwich for a Story. With the mantra ‘empathy through familiarity’, the initiative has spread to other campuses across the country.

“Andrew leads by example,” says Dinos head coach Wayne Harris. “His positive and enthusiastic approach to every challenge he faces brings a calming effect to his teammates. His will to prepare and desire to succeed are solidly grounded in his outstanding work ethic. Andrew truly understands the importance of service to others, volunteering in the community, and being a humble teammate who shares his success with his team. We are proud of all he has accomplished.”

About the BLG Awards

The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). The Awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and leadership. Each of the 56 CIS schools nominates 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 a watch from Timex – the official supplier of CIS – 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 (CAF), 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 19 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.

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