While the recent global spread of the corona-virus cancelled the annual University of Victoria Vikes Celebration of Champions banquet, it didn’t stop the program from handing out their major varsity awards.
With no banquet, the awards were announced online this morning. Winning athletes will have their award presented to them when it is safe to do so.
For the first time in the history of the Celebration of Champions, there were three ties for major awards. Swimmer Danielle Hanus and field hockey defender Anna Mollenhauer tied for the Female Athlete of the Year. National champions from men’s rugby, James O’Neill, and women’s rowing, McKenna Simpson, split the votes for the Chancellor’s Award, while Hannah Walline of women’s basketball and Natalie Cavallin of women’s soccer each won the Provost Award for Excellence.
After being crowned the Male Athlete of the Year last season, swimmer Eric Hedlin capped off his varsity career by winning the President’s Cup. This season’s Male Athlete of the Year went to striker Isaac Koch, after he became the second Vike to win the Canada West Player of the Year in soccer. Sharpshooter from three-point range, Diego Maffia, took home the Male Rookie of the Year Award, while up-and-coming rower Aida Lissel-DeCorby won the Female Rookie of the Year Award.
Usually at the Celebration of Champions, the Vikes not only honour current greatness within their program, but recognize phenomenal athletic achievements from their distinguished alumni family. It was announced earlier in the spring that Christina Proteau (Spence) and Trish Wellmann-Fougner make up the UVic Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020.
Proteau becomes the first golfer to enter the Hall of Fame after she placed second in the Canadian University/College Golf Championship in 2007 and won the individual title one year later at the Cordova Bay Golf Course when she carded a 297 to win by 12 strokes. Her outstanding performance also guided the Vikes to their first national championship as a team. Amazingly accomplishing all of that while finishing her Law degree, Proteau embarked on an amateur career that has been highlighted by nine provincial and five national championships. She even appeared in the United States Women’s Open Championship in 2011 and has competed in seven other U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championships.
Wellmann-Fougner’s trophy case is crammed full with 13 Canada West championships, eight conference records and six national titles from her time with the Vikes Cross Country and Track programs in the 1980s. She was inducted two years ago with the 1987 cross country team after they won the Canada West title by occupying the top seven spots and set a CIAU record with 15 points.
In 1983, Wellmann-Fougner helped cross country win gold in Canada West and bronze at the CIAU meet. She set a conference record in the 1,000-metre, won gold in the 1,500m and was named Outstanding Female Performer. She also was the UVic Rookie of the Year. In 1984, she helped cross country add another Canada West crown. She later broke her conference record in the 1,000m and also won gold in the 4x800m relay. At the CIAU meet, she won the 1,000m and the 4x800m. In 1985, she set a new record in the 4x800m at the Canada West meet and won bronze in the 1,000m. The following cross country season, she won gold at the Canada West and CIAU championships. She added two more track records in the 1,000m and set the record in the 4x800m by five seconds.
For more information about the Hall of Fame inductees, read here.
The President’s Cup is given annually to the outstanding student-athlete in their fourth or fifth year who best combines scholastic achievement and athletic ability.
Eric Hedlin, Men’s Swimming – San Diego, Calif. (Engineering)
Eric Hedlin is one of the most dominant long distance swimmers the Vikes have ever produced.
The Calgary-born swimmer amassed seven U SPORTS medals over his time with the Vikes. He owned the 1,500m freestyle with three golds, one silver and one bronze. He has also won gold in the 400m free in 2017.
Away from the Vikes, he has turned into a phenomenal open water distance swimmer.
His breakout season occurred in 2018, when he took home silver at the Pac-Pacific Championships in the five-kilometre race. Later that season, he won bronze at the World Championships.
He was named the Swim BC Open Water Swimmer of the Year for 2018 and 2019.
Hedlin is empathetic, caring and willing to work for the betterment of the program and never focuses on individual results.
His dedication to the sport is endless, as he logs anywhere from eight to 11kms per training session. The long hours in the pool hasn’t effected his grades, as he has posted an 8.0 GPA in his first year in the Masters program.
On his own time, Hedlin has been very involved with Swim BC Summer Camps and has served as a coach or trainer since 2012, working with kids between 12- and 18-years-old. Away from the pool, he helps organize fundraising projects for the food drive and two summer’s ago, he helped design a micro-processing software called ARDUNIO for kids at UVic’s summer science camp to use.
The other nominees for the President’s Cup were striker Kiara Kilbey from women’s soccer and Zoe Goodwin-Sutton, a shutdown defender from women’s rugby. Read more.
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
This award is given annually to one male and female student-athlete based upon their outstanding achievements in university competition only over the past 12 months. The Female Athlete of the Year Award is presented by the UVic Alumni Association, while the Male Athlete of the Year Award is presented by Best Western Plus Carlton Plaza Hotel.
Female Athlete of the Year (tie):
Danielle Hanus, Swimming – Newmarket, Ont. (Humanities)
It is hard to imagine a swimmer having a better performance than what Danielle Hanus pulled off during the U SPORTS National Swim Championship last month at her home pool.
Already one to watch at the national level, Hanus had a meet for the ages. She racked golds in the 50m backstroke, 100m back, 100m butterfly and set a U SPORTS record in the 200m butterfly on the first two days of competition. She was also named a U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian.
Coming back for a third day, she swam in the 4x100m medley relay, where her distance took the Vikes from fifth and gave them the boost they needed to earn a bronze medal.
It wasn’t her first four-gold medal performance of the season, either.
At the Canada West meet in Lethbridge, Hanus complied golds in the 50m back, 100m back, 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly. In the 100m back and 100m fly, she established new conference records. Following all of her accomplishments, she was named the Female Swimmer of the Meet.
Hanus also raced internationally. During the 2019 Pan American Games, she captured silvers in the 100m back and 100m butterfly, along with two silvers in a pair of relays.
Anna Mollenhauer, Field Hockey – Victoria, B.C. (Education)
The field hockey program was lodged in a 10-year championship drought before Anna Mollenhauer began to dominate at the Canada West and U SPORTS level.
Now, with the local defender in the mix, the Vikes are the two-time defending Canada West and U SPORTS national champions.
Mollenhauer turned down a chance to train with the senior national program in order to return to the Vikes and to have a crack at repeating as champs on home soil.
Relied on as a leader on a team with no fifth-year presence, Mollenhauer led the Vikes to their 19th Canada West banner while earning All-Star honours along the way.
Winning the conference meant that the Vikes hosted the national championship.
Playing with a broken bone in her foot, Mollenhauer put on a show for the hometown crowd, as she produced a pair of goals in the clinching game over the University of Guelph Gryphons and was named U SPORTS Championship MVP.
Away from the turf, Mollenhauer received the prestigious Top 8 Academic All-Canadian award.
She’s also a rising star internationally, as she has competed multiple times for Canada and was the top U21 player at the FIH Hockey Series Final in Valencia, Spain, last summer.
Paige Farries had an incredible year on the pitch from women’s rugby. She was the third nominee in this category. Read about her nomination package here.
Male Athlete of the Year: Isaac Koch, Soccer – West Kelowna, B.C. (Humanities)
Isaac Koch was one of the best goal scorers in the country this season.
After missing all of last season to rehabilitate a knee injury, Koch was unstoppable in the Canada West.
In his fourth season with the Vikes, Koch finished tied for second with nine goals and lead the conference with eight assists. He also led the Canada West with 17 points, three points ahead of second place.
Koch led the Vikes to an 8-6-1 record and the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division – it was the Vikes best regular season finish since 2014.
For his efforts, he was named player of the game three times and was a Canada West First Team All-Star. He also was named the Canada West Player of the Year. It was the second time a Vike has won the award. Koch eventually was the runner up for the U SPORTS Player of the Year.
The other finalists for Male Athlete of the Year were 600-metre sprinting champion Vaughn Taylor and Canadian University Men’s Rugby national champion Gavin Kratz. Read about their nomination bio here.
CHANCELLOR’S AWARD (tie):
The Chancellor’s Award is presented to a student-athlete who is an outstanding contributor to his or her team, both in and out of the competition venue. They provide leadership and vision exemplifying the goals of the team. The Chancellor’s Award is presented by bubly Sparkling Water.
McKenna Simpson, Women’s Rowing – Mission, B.C. (Education)
McKenna Simpson has been a calming influence and a leader during an unusual and unpredictable rowing season.
On the water, she was unstoppable – even when faced with unprecedented scenarios.
When the Vikes hosted the Canadian University Rowing Championships last fall, Simpson and her teammate Piper Battersby were set to defend their national title in the women’s pair. After a strong time trial, the duo appeared to repeat as champions, but the University of Western Ontario Mustangs protested the race. A lengthy review occurred. Meanwhile, both rowers competed in the varsity 8+ and won silver. It was later determined that Simpson and Battersby had to re-race the women’s pair at the end of the day, where they eventually won gold despite racing for the third time.
Simpson was looking for her fourth Brown Cup title earlier this spring, but the 29th annual race got cancelled due to the coronavirus.
She is also the heart and soul of the rowing program. She is the first to arrive and last to leave all training sessions. In the community, she has been involved with Kid Sport Victoria and volunteers as a coach within the local rowing community.
James O’Neill, Men’s Rugby – Cochrane, Alta. (Social Sciences)
After spending each of the past four years on the varsity team, men’s rugby captain James O’Neill just wrapped up one his best seasons on the pitch.
O’Neill was a major reason why the Vikes ended the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds attempt at a three-peat during the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship last fall in Montreal.
Over the course of the tournament, O’Neill led the Vikes with five tries, including two in the championship game. He was named player of the game for the quarterfinal and championship match. He was also named a tournament all-star for the third time in his career.
Vikes long time Head Coach Doug Tate calls O’Neill his most dedicated captain since 1993.
Each fall, O’Neill organizes meetings with each varsity player to outline individual and team goals, while establishing work ethic and commitment levels to the program. He also built a players manual that outlines philosophy, tactics and training session protocols, among other items.
O’Neill has rarely missed a training session over the past four years with the Vikes. On top of that, he also spends two or three days each week at the Rugby Canada centre. He always puts his team and program first and has been a great role model for younger players.
In the community, O’Neill is engaged in numerous clinics at the middle and high school levels. He speaks on behalf of Rugby Canada and is an acting mentor to a variety of age groups at the national level. Away from rugby, he also volunteers his time by feeding people at homeless shelters, works with elderly at retirement homes and works with special needs children in after school programs.
Impenetrable keeper from women’s soccer, Puck Louwes, was the other finalist for the Chancellor’s Award. Read about her bio along with the other two winners here.
ROBERT T. WALLACE SHIELD AWARD
The Robert T. Wallace Shield recognizes the outstanding female and male student-athletes in his or her first year of competition in intercollegiate sports. The Female Athlete of the Year Award is presented by Hot House Pizza and the Male Athlete of the Year Award is presented by Dairyland.
Female Rookie of the Year: Aida Lissel-DeCorby, Rowing – Saskatoon, Sask. (Social Sciences)
Aida Lissel-DeCorby was already a well-known name in Canadian rowing before she entered the Vikes program. Last August at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Tokyo, Japan, she placed fourth in the women’s quad.
On campus, she made her stamp on the program in November during the Canadian University Rowing Championships, where she won silver in the lightweight coxed quad and lightweight single.
Her stock continued to rise, as she earned a seat on the varsity 8+ for the Brown Cup – an incredible feat given her age and lightweight frame. It is rare for first year athletes to come in and win a spot in the 8+ for the Brown Cup.
For the safety of all competitors, staff and fans, the Brown Cup was cancelled due to the global progression of the coronavirus. She will certainly be a focal point of that crew when the race returns next season if it is safe to do so.
Read about the other two nominees for the Female Athlete of the Year here.
Male Athlete of the Year: Diego Maffia, Basketball – Victoria, B.C. (Humanities)
Diego Maffia stepped on campus as one of the most anticipated recruits in years. He garnered much attention at the high school level for his ability to orchestrate the offence while producing eye-popping numbers. Those skills translated smoothly at the U SPORTS level.
As the Vikes sixth man, Maffia was second on the team with a 12.5 points-per-game average and shot 35.2 per cent from three-point range. He also averaged 1.7 assists. Those stats earned him the recognition of being named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team.
PROVOST AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE (tie):
The Provost Award is presented to a returning student-athlete with the highest academic average in the previous year. For the second time in the history of this award, there were two recipients.
Hannah Walline, Women’s Basketball – Kelowna, B.C. (Science)
Walline is enjoying her second season with the basketball program. Former Vikes Women’s Basketball Head Coach Dani Sinclair describes Walline as an emerging guard in her third year with the team. She has worked incredibly hard to improve each season and is a fierce competitor on the court. Walline is a tireless worker and one of the most determined athletes and students in the department. Off the court, Walline is a dedicated Vike, who often volunteers her time with the women’s basketball youth programs and worked this past summer as the lead coach for the UVic Basketball summer camps.
“Having better time management and being really dedicated to getting everything done allowed me to be successful last year,” said Walline. “Winning this award was really validating for all the hard work and time it takes to balance my academic and athletic life.”
Natalie Cavallin, Women’s Soccer – Victoria, B.C. (Science)
Cavallin is a fourth-year member of the women’s soccer team. Vikes Women’s Soccer Head Coach Tracy David describes her as the epitome of what a student-athlete should be. She has always believed in the Vikes Women’s Soccer program and has given everything for the program. She is always welcoming and positive to those first year athletes and tries to help them make a smooth transition to university life—including tutoring them. She is an incredibly nice person and tremendous role model off the pitch with her volunteer work in the community.
“It’s such an honour and very humbling to win the award. I feel really proud and special to be apart of the Vikes program. It’s only because of them that this is possible, so I’m very thankful,” said Cavallin.
Read about the co-winners and the rest of the members of the Vikes Honour Roll from last fall.
TIMES COLONIST PUBLISHER’S AWARD FOR COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS
The Times Colonist Publisher’s Award for Community Contributors is usually awarded to those individuals within the community who have made an outstanding volunteer contribution to a varsity program. It is not an annual award and a proper recipient will be determined at a future date.
Camosun Bachelor of Athletic & Exercise Therapy program
For more than a decade, the Camosun Bachelor of Athletic & Exercise Therapy program has supported the Vikes by offering placement opportunities for their students with our varsity teams. Camosun Athletic Therapy students have provided invaluable services to Vikes teams through their work attending practices and competitions, providing athletic therapy skills and first aid services, supporting concussion and injury assessment procedures, liaising with the Vikes Sports Medicine team and varsity team staff, and becoming part of our Vikes teams. This program has facilitated the placement and training of these students, working closely with the Vikes head Athletic Therapist, Traci Vander Byl.
CIRCLE OF CHAMPIONS
Recipients are varsity student-athletes who have competed as a member of national team or played professionally over the past year.
Cross Country and Track: Hilary Stellingwerff (coach)
Field Hockey: Anna Mollenhauer, Stefanie Sajko, Robin Fleming, Erin Dawson
Men’s Rowing: Taylor Perry, William Simpson, Travis Gronsdahl, Skylar Presch, Ben Walls, Tyler Adams
Women’s Rowing: Piper Battersby, McKenna Simpson, Aida Lissel-DeCorby, Kirsten Edwards, Alexis Cronk
Men’s Rugby: Nicholas Carson, Jarvis Dashkewytch, Lockie Kratz
Women’s Rugby: Zoe Williams, Regan Casey, Madison Jumeau, Callie Harder, Paige Farries, Maggie MacKinnon, Ella O’Reagan
Swimming: Eric Hedlin, Danielle Hanus
VARSITY HIGHLIGHT AWARDS
These awards recognize the unsung heroes on each squad, peer selected for leadership, dedication, community involvement and positive attitude.
Basketball: Marissa Dheensaw, Scott Kellum
Cross Country and Track: Andie Wood, Brandon Vail
Field Hockey: Judy Cristante
Golf: Sukriti Harjai
Rowing: Piper Battersby/McKenna Simpson, Travis Gronsdahl
Rugby: Zoe Goodwin-Sutton, Logan Martin-Feek
Soccer: Puck Louwes/Avneet Rai, Evan Libke
Swimming: Kara Wilson, Ethan Phillips
Traditionally, Vikes Athletics produces a program for the Celebration of Champions banquet which includes all the sponsors, award winners, graduating athletes and information about the Hall of Fame inductees. Without the banquet this year, you can still view a PDF version of the program here.