CALGARY (CIS) – Korissa Williams, a basketball player from the University of Windsor, and Ross Proudfoot, a cross country and track star from the University of Guelph, are the BLG Award winners as Canadian Interuniversity Sport female and male athletes of the year for the 2014-15 season.
The recipients of the 23rd annual BLG Awards were announced Monday night at the Martha Cohen Theatre in Calgary. The awards show will air nationally later in May on Sportsnet.
All eight nominees – one female and one male from each of the four CIS regional associations – received a commemorative gold ring and a watch from Timex, the official supplier of CIS. Williams and Proudfoot were also presented with a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend a Canadian University graduate school.
The winners were once again 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. For the first time, the general public was also encouraged to vote as part as an online pilot project and over 10,000 votes were casted over a 12-day period.
“On behalf of BLG and the Canadian Athletic Foundation trustees, I would like to congratulate Korissa Williams and Ross Proudfoot, the winners of the 23rd annual BLG Awards,” said Doug Mitchell, National Co-Chair of BLG. “The eight student-athletes who were nominated are all outstanding in their sport. I congratulate all the nominees for their great accomplishments.”
“Congratulations to all nominees being recognized at this year’s BLG Awards. The BLG Awards are amongst the most prestigious awards an athlete can attain. To be one of eight amongst 11,500 student-athletes across Canada is an extraordinary honour,” said Thérèse Quigley, president of CIS. “On behalf of the CIS, I also wish to extend our sincere appreciation to our long-standing partners at BLG for their ongoing support and belief in university sport in Canada.”
Williams, a Windsor, Ont. native who was in her fifth and final year of CIS eligibility, merited the Jim Thompson Trophy presented annually to the female winner. She became the third BLG Award recipient from the Lancers program, following in the footsteps of former basketball teammate Jessica Clemençon (2011), as well as cross country and track standout Ryan McKenzie (2003).
Proudfoot, who hails from Sudbury, Ont., and was also in his final year of CIS eligibility, became the first-ever winner from the Gryphons program. He will return home with the Doug Mitchell Trophy.
The double win by OUA nominees marks the third sweep for the regional association in the 23-year existence of the awards. Carleton basketball player Tyson Hinz accompanied Clemençon in the winners’ circle in 2011, while track star Foy Williams of Toronto and basketball player Titus Channer of McMaster were honoured in 1998.
The other female finalists for this season were Emma Taylor of Scotsburn, N.S., a rugby player from St. Francis Xavier University; Mariam Sylla of Conakry, Guinea, a basketball player from McGill University; and Jessica King of Liverpool, England, a soccer player from Trinity Western University.
The other male nominees were Justin Maheu of Ottawa, a soccer player from Cape Breton University; Cédric McNicoll of Boucherville, Que., a hockey player from McGill University; and Andrew Buckley of Calgary, a football player from the University of Calgary.
Every student-athlete wants to leave it all on the court in their final CIS season and Korissa Williams can say “mission accomplished”.
The 23-year-old 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.”
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 ended 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, he 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.”
ALL-TIME BLG AWARD WINNERS:
2014-15: Korissa Williams (Windsor – basketball) / Ross Proudfoot (Guelph – c-country & track)
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 & 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 – 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 – football)
1992-93: Diane Scott (Winnipeg – volleyball) / Andy Cameron (Calgary – volleyball)