Kamloops, BC—Another honor for Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball star Iullia Pakhomenko.
The fourth year outside hitter from Donetsk, Ukraine has been chosen as the Canada West Nominee for the prestigious BLG (Borden Ladner Gervais LLP) Awards.
This goes along with her Canada West and CIS first team and Player of the Year honors for the 2015-16 season.
“I am really honored to be nominated for this award,” Pakhomenko said after learning she was a finalist. “This is a big thing. To be considered with the top athletes in Canadian University who work so hard in their sport, in class and in the community is something special.”
The BLG Female Athlete of the Year will be awarded the Jim Thompson Trophy. Pakhomenko’s competition are: basketball player Paloma Anderson from Acadia University, hockey player Mélodie Daoust from McGill University and swimmer Kylie Masse from the University of Toronto .
On the men’s side, the finalists for the Doug Mitchell Trophy are hockey players Jordan Murray from the University of New Brunswick and Guillaume Asselin from the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, as well as volleyball player Stephen Maar from McMaster University and football player Andrew Buckley from the University of Calgary.
Daoust (2013) and Buckley (2015) are both repeat BLG Award nominees, while Pakhomenko and Asselin became the first-ever finalists from their respective institutions.
In terms of difference makers in CIS sports, one would be hard-pressed to find a better example in recent years than volleyball player Iuliia Pakhomenko.
The 5-foot-11 left side hitter left her native Ukraine in 2012 to enroll at Northwood University in Michigan (NCAA Div. II) before transferring to Thompson Rivers in the fall of 2014. At the time, she was joining a program that was coming off back-to-back winless seasons, going a combined 0-44 in league play over that period.
As envisioned by head coach Chad Grimm, his international newcomer had an immediate impact on the WolfPack. In year one of the Pakhomenko era, the team finished with a respectable 10-14 record in the ultra-competitive Canada West conference and missed the post-season by only two spots. The Pack continued its progression in 2015-16, reaching the .500 mark (12-12) to qualify for the playoffs.
Pakhomenko comes from an athletic family, her mother, Elena, being a former university handball player, while one of her cousins is currently playing professional soccer in Austria. Her good genes were in full display in her second season with Thompson Rivers as she led the country in kills per set (4.67), total kills (425), points per set (5.5), total points (496.5) and service aces (50). With an astounding 1,009 total attacks in 24 matches, she was the most active hitter in the nation in league play.
After being selected to the second all-Canadian team in her first campaign in Kamloops, the former member of the Ukrainian junior national squad was named CIS player of the year this season, and is now the first student-athlete from TRU to be nominated for the BLG Award. Not bad for a player who was sidelined for six months after suffering a torn ACL in her first season at Northwood.
“Taking up volleyball has been a life changing experience for me. It taught me that discipline and hard work pay off. Maybe more importantly, the sport has allowed me to leave my war-torn homeland for a better life in North America and to pursue my dreams of a business degree and soon a master’s,” says Pakhomenko, who recently got married and has taken the first steps towards becoming a Canadian citizen. “My teammates and coaches have also taken the place as parental units and family with mine being so far away.”
“Over the past two years, I have seen Iuliia grow from a quiet and closed person to a leader on our team. She has also grown from a struggling English language learner student four short years ago to a thriving MBA student,” says Grimm. “Iuliia has an unmatched ability for work, in the gym, on the court and in the classroom. Her abilities have helped transform our volleyball program.”
The awards will be handed out Monday May 2nd in Calgary.
Full list of 2015-16 BLG Award nominees
2016 Female BLG Award nominees (Jim Thompson Trophy):
AUS: Paloma Anderson, basketball, Acadia (Phoenix, Arizona)
RSEQ: Mélodie Daoust, hockey, McGill (Valleyfield, Que.)
OUA: Kylie Masse, swimming, Toronto (LaSalle, Ont.)
CWUAA: Iuliia Pakhomenko, volleyball, Thompson Rivers (Donetsk, Ukraine)
2016 Male BLG Award nominees (Doug Mitchell Trophy):
AUS: Jordan Murray, hockey, UNB (Riverview, N.B.)
RSEQ: Guillaume Asselin, hockey, UQTR (Quebec City, Que.)
OUA: Stephen Maar, volleyball, McMaster (Aurora, Ont.)
CWUAA: Andrew Buckley, football, Calgary (Calgary, Alta.)
Recent Canada West athletes of the year (BLG winners in italics)
2015: Male – Andrew Buckley, Calgary, Football / Female – Jessica King, TWU, Soccer
2014: Male – Derek Hulak, Hockey, Saskatchewan / Female – Lisa Barclay, UBC, Volleyball
2013: Male – Gagan Dosanjh, UBC, Soccer / Female – Shanice Marcelle, UBC, Volleyball
2012: Male – Ben Ball, TWU, Volleyball / Female – Robyn Pendleton, UBC, Field Hockey
2011: Male – Graham Vigrass, Calgary, Volleyball / Female – Shanice Marcelle, UBC, Volleyball
(with assistance from Canada West and CIS Sports Information)