24th Annual BLG Awards Toronto’s Masse, Calgary’s Buckley named CIS athletes of the year
CALGARY (CIS) – Kylie Masse, a swimmer from the University of Toronto, and Andrew Buckley, a football player from the University of Calgary, are the BLG Award winners as Canadian Interuniversity Sport female and male athletes of the year for the 2015-16 season.
The recipients of the 24th 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 from Jostens and a watch from Timex, the official suppliers of CIS. Masse and Buckley 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 second straight year, the general public was also invited to vote online (votes that didn’t count towards the official result) and a remarkable 112,499 votes were casted over a two-week period.
“On behalf of BLG and the Canadian Athletic Foundation trustees, I would like to congratulate Kylie Masse and Andrew Buckley, the winners of the 24th 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.”
“BLG is proud to support the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s top athletes and to be the founding sponsor of the annual BLG Awards,” said Sean Weir, BLG’s national managing partner and CEO. “Excelling in sports requires unwavering commitment and a strong team ethic. That’s what sports and business have in common – the kind of leadership where, to succeed, the needs of the team are put ahead of the individual.”
“The BLG Awards represent the highest honour for our student-athletes. This year’s national nominees are not only exceptional athletes, they are also tremendous ambassadors for the entire CIS membership and our universities,” said Graham Brown, chief executive officer of CIS. “On behalf of 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.”
Masse, a LaSalle, Ont. native who was only in her second year of CIS eligibility, merited the Jim Thompson Trophy presented annually to the female winner. She became the fourth BLG Award recipient – all women – from the Varsity Blues program, joining swimmer Elizabeth Warden (2002), track and field standout Foy Williams (1998) and basketball player Justine Ellison (1996).
Buckley, a repeat nominee from 2015 who completed his fifth and final year of CIS eligibility last fall, returns home with the Doug Mitchell Trophy. The Calgary native adds to the Dinos’ record total of BLG Award winners (8), as he follows in the footsteps of football quarterback Erik Glavic (2010), track and field star Jessica Zelinka (2007), volleyball player Joanna Niemczewska (2004), basketball player Leighann Doan (2001), swimmer Curtis Myden (1997), football receiver Don Blair (1996) and volleyball player Andy Cameron (1993).
The other female finalists for this season were Acadia University basketball player Paloma Anderson of Phoenix, Arizona; McGill University hockey player Mélodie Daoust of Valleyfield, Que.; and Thompson Rivers University volleyball player Iuliia Pakhomenko of Donetsk, Ukraine.
The other male nominees were University of New Brunswick hockey player Jordan Murray of Riverview, N.B.; University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières hockey player Guillaume Asselin of Quebec City; and McMaster University volleyball player Stephen Maar of Aurora, Ont.
In only her second campaign with the Varsity Blues, Masse put together one of the best seasons in Canadian university swimming history. A memorable year that got that much better on April 6, when the 20-year-old qualified for her first Olympic Games thanks to a record time of 59.06 seconds in the 100-metre backstroke at the national trials.
Of course, close observers of the Canadian swimming scene are not surprised by her success. After all, the kinesiology student had already made plenty of waves a year ago when she was named the OUA female swimmer of the year as a freshman, before claiming seven medals in as many events in her first CIS championship appearance.
A few months later in South Korea, Masse served notice that she was ready for the world stage by winning Summer Universiade gold in her specialty event.
This university season, the new Olympian proved virtually unstoppable, posting 18 individual victories in six conference competitions before setting six OUA records and a pair of Canadian short-course marks at the OUA championships. And then she kept the best for last.
In late February, Masse reached the CIS podium in each of her seven events for the second straight year en route to female-MVP honours. She finished the national meet with four gold and three silver medals, including a sweep of the three backstroke finals, all in championship-record times. In the 50 back, she lowered her own Canadian short-course standard in the preliminaries (26.72) before shattering the long-course record in the final (27.84). Her performance helped the U of T women capture their first CIS team banner since 1997.
“Swimming has been a huge part of my life and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to pursue it while getting my education at the University of Toronto. Coaches Byron (MacDonald) and Linda (Kiefer) and my teammates have truly helped me develop not only as a swimmer but as a student-athlete,” says Masse. “This has been a whirlwind of a season since last summer. I’m so grateful for everything this year.”
In his 37 seasons at the helm, Varsity Blues head coach Byron MacDonald has mentored his fair share of world-class swimmers, including Elizabeth Warden, the 2002 BLG Award winner and 2004 Olympian.
“Kylie’s improvement arch since coming to U of T has been remarkable. She went from being ranked 200th in the world to top 10 in just two years. Her hard work has certainly paid off. She loves swimming, loves her team, and is the most unassuming world‐class athlete you will ever meet.”
To say that Andrew Buckley has had an exceptional past two years might be the biggest understatement… in CIS history. Simply put, he might run out of room in his trophy case now that he has added a BLG Award to his collection.
Back in the fall of 2014, the dual-threat quarterback became the first player in CIS football annals to claim both the Hec Crighton Trophy (player of the year) and the Russ Jackson Award (football, academics and citizenship) in the same season. It marked his second straight Russ Jackson Award win.
Cue in 2015. A few months before his fifth and final campaign with the U of C, Buckley earned his first BLG Award nomination and, a few days later, was selected by Calgary in the CFL draft and went on to play in two pre-season games for his hometown Stampeders. Back with the Dinos in the fall, he captured his second Hec Crighton Trophy and was named a Top 8 Academic All-Canadian, becoming the first CIS student-athlete to merit both honours in the same year.
Did we mention he is also the reigning two-time Calgary Booster Club – City of Calgary male athlete of the year?
Buckley made sure his 2015 farewell tour as a Dino was a memorable one. While guiding his troops to an 8-0 regular schedule, he set a CIS single-season record for passing yards (3,162), established a new Canada West standard for completion percentage (72.0) and kept the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the country (19-1). The offence he directed set school records in points (471 – also a conference record), touchdowns, passing yards and total yards.
An exceptional kinesiology student whose community involvement ranges from helping the homeless in downtown Calgary to a humanitarian trip to Guatemala, Buckley will graduate this spring as a five-time Academic All-Canadian and has his short-term sights set on his second training camp with the Stampeders.
“My goal for as long as I can remember is to become a doctor like my parents. I am pursuing medical school following the completion of my undergraduate degree,” says the 22-year-old. “That being said, I have the opportunity to play for my hometown Stampeders this summer. It’s going to be a very difficult choice if I have to pick, but right now my heart is leaning towards playing professional football for as long as I can and completing medical school after my playing days are done.”
“Andrew is an outstanding student-athlete who strives for excellence in all that he does,” says Dinos head coach Wayne Harris Jr. “On and off the field, he is a team player who approached all challenges with a determined and positive attitude. He has earned the respect of all those who have been associated with him, and he has represented Dinos Football and the University of Calgary exceptionally well.”
ALL-TIME BLG AWARD WINNERS:
2015-16: Kylie Masse – Toronto (swimming) / Andrew Buckley – Calgary (football)
2014-15: Korissa Williams – Windsor (basketball) / Ross Proudfoot – Guelph (cross country & track and field)
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)