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Gittens Jr., Morrison named President's Award winners
WATERLOO, Ont. (April 4, 2018) – Men’s football receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and women’s basketball guard Nicole Morrison were named the recipients of the 2017-18 President’s Award as the Wilfrid Laurier Department of Athletics and Recreation hosted their annual athletic banquet on Wednesday evening at the Wilfrid Laurier Athletic Complex.

The President’s Award, which was one of 11 major awards handed out at the banquet, is awarded annually to the most outstanding athletic performance from a male and female athlete over the past year.

Gittens Jr., a native of Ottawa, became the third men’s football player in the last four years to win the award. One of the most dangerous and exciting skill positions players in the country this past year, the third-year receiver/returner had a season to remember for the purple and gold. He set the U SPORTS record for receptions in a season with 75 while also setting the Laurier record for receiving yards in a season with 953. On top of that, the sociology major finished the year as the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards with 1665 while scoring seven total touchdowns. For his efforts, he was honoured as the OUA Most Valuable Player and was recognized as a U SPORTS All-Canadian at two different positions, the first player in team history to accomplish the feat. His play was crucial in helping the Hawks finish second in the conference standings with a 6-2 record and helping the team reach the Yates Cup for the second straight season.

As for Morrison, the native of Hamilton, she became the first women’s basketball player to win the President’s Award in 12 years. The fifth-year guard capped off a stellar career by dominating opposing teams all year long, finishing fourth in U SPORTS in scoring average at 19.3 points per game while ranking sixth in the country in assists at 4.4 per contest. However, that was just the tip of the iceberg for the communications studies major as she re-wrote the Laurier record books all season. She started the year by setting a new single-game scoring mark with a 37-point performance against Queen’s before going on to set new team marks for most points in a season (462) and most points in a career (1394). She also set two assists records in 2017-18 including most assists in a season (105) and assists in a career (317). To cap it all off, she was named an OUA Second Team All-Star, becoming just the fourth player in program history to be named an all-star three times.

The Rich Newbrough Rookie of the Year Award, handed out annually for the most outstanding athletic performance from a male and female rookie, was awarded to women’s curling’s Kelly Middaugh of Victoria Harbour, Ont., and men’s basketball’s Ali Sow of Ottawa.

Middaugh, the first women’s curler to be named the Rich Newbrough Rookie of the Year, had a very strong year for her team as she helped them win their fourth OUA Championship in the last five years and qualify for the U SPORTS Championship. During the OUA Championship, the communication studies major was the team’s steadiest player, curling 75 percent during the week. Laurier’s second then stepped up her game to another level at the U SPORTS Championship, curling 80 percent for the week while out-curling opposition seconds by at least five percent in five of the Hawks’ seven games. That performance earned her a U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian nod following the event.

Sow, the third straight men’s basketball player to take home the award, provided a big boost to the Golden Hawks’ offence in his first year and was subsequently named the OUA Rookie of the Year. The global studies major led all conference rookies in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game while playing just over 25 minutes per contest, as he helped Laurier to their best regular season record in six years. An offensive threat from all over the court, Sow finished the year with seven games of 20 or more points, and wound up pouring in a total of 393 points, setting a new Laurier single-season rookie scoring record.

The Luke Fusco Academic Athletic Achievement Award, which honours the male and female athlete who best combines academic and athletic achievement, was awarded to Scott Hutter of London, Ont., from men’s football and Emily Ferguson of Waterloo, Ont., from women’s lacrosse.

Hutter, a third year environmental studies major, has a cumulative GPA of 10.14 after posting a 11.0 GPA in the Fall. A defensive back for the Golden Hawks, Hutter was a key piece of Laurier’s defence that ranked third in the OUA in points allowed per game. Over the course of the year, he was named the Laurier Defensive Player of the Week twice and the OUA Defensive Player of the Week once. He would finish the year ranked fifth on the team in total tackles with 30.5 while adding three pass breakups, two interceptions and one sack. 

Meanwhile, Ferguson, a third year kinesiology and physical education major, posted a 10.8 GPA in the Fall to raise her cumulative GPA to 10.68. The defender had a strong season for Laurier as she started all 16 of her team’s games while causing 21 turnovers, the second most on her squad. The Hawks’ team captain also recovered 11 ground balls as she was named an OUA First Team All-Star. She capped the year by taking home the Outstanding Women of Laurier Award for her combined athletic, academic and community involvement achievements.

The Glenn Carroll Team of the Year Award was presented to women’s curling as they returned to the top of the podium at the OUA Championship. After a slow start in pool play, Laurier, which featured a lineup that had three of their four players in their first year with the varsity program, won three of their final four games to qualify for the playoffs. In the quarter-finals, the Hawks stunned the defending OUA and U SPORTS Champions, the Laurentian Voyageurs, before eliminating the defending U SPORTS silver medalists, the Lakehead Thunderwolves, in the semifinals to qualify for the U SPORTS Championship. Facing Queen’s in the finals, the Hawks completed the impressive run with a 5-3 victory over the Gaels, securing their sixth OUA title in the last eight years. At the U SPORTS Championship, the Hawks would post a 3-4 record to finish fifth overall, just missing out the opportunity to play for a medal.

The Fred Nichols Community Service Leadership Award, recognizing the male and female student-athlete or student-leader who gives back to the community through volunteer commitments and/or fundraising efforts, was handed out to Emily Ferguson and Andrew Quattrin of Holland Landing, Ont.

Ferguson, taking home her second award of the evening, has made a lasting impact on the Kitchener/Waterloo community as well as the Laurier community. Serving as a coach in both field lacrosse and ringette, she has helped organize sessions in the Waterloo Region for young girls to come out and try both sports. On campus, she serves as Athlete Academic Coach with the Athlete Academic Success program as well as a peer tutor with the Accessible Learning Centre.

Meanwhile, Quattrin, a fourth year captain with the men’s rugby team, has also left a meaningful and lasting impact on the Laurier community through his work as an executive team member with Not My Laurier. Serving as a Male Ally with the group, he has been actively engaged on campus as an advocate for social change and combating gendered violence on campus, including assisting with the event Unpacking Masculinity, which examines the role men play in helping to end gender-based violence.

Laurier Athletics and Recreation also recognized seven individuals for their contributions to the department and varsity teams over the past year. 

The Marty Wamsley Student Trainer of the Year Award was awarded to a pair of trainers including Julia Chambers from the women’s basketball team and Curtis Richards from the men’s football team. Both individuals have worked with their respective teams for the past three years and showed outstanding commitment and dedication to the teams and student-athletes during their tenures. 

The Earl C. Shelley Unsung Hero Award, awarded to someone within the Laurier community who unselfishly gives time and effort to supporting the success of the athletics program, was handed out to Jeyas Balaskanthan. Balaskanthan, the Director of Hospitality Services for the Students Union, has supported varsity teams and student-athletes in a number of ways over the years, with a commitment to helping them succeed that is second to none. He has also served as a member of the Football Dinner planning committee for the past two years.

The Tuffy Knight Award, which recognizes a person not affiliated with the university, for their untiring efforts over an extended period of time, was given to Lynn Brown. The principal contact for the Athletics and Recreation department with Great Canadian Coaches Inc., she provides outstanding customer service to all teams and staff. Over the past four years, she has overseen a total of 660 charter bookings, regularly going above and beyond in her role to ensure the safe arrival of student-athletes and coaches. 

The Chuck Classen Volunteer Coach of the Year award was presented to Dan Creechan from the men’s baseball team. The second men’s baseball coach in as many years to be recognized, Creechan has been a key member of the team’s coaching staff for the past six years, serving as the hitting coach. His work had a direct impact on baseball’s success this season as the Hawks were the top hitting team in the conference, eventually capturing a silver medal.

The Dean E. Brandon Award, awarded to the female contributing most to Athletics, went to Erin Dawtrey. A student leader for the past four years, she has had a far-reaching impact on the department during that time, serving the last three years as Concessions and Summer Events Coordinator, and last four on the events staff. This year, she helped the department out of a tough situation when she filled in as Hockey Coordinator for the Winter semester.

The Bill Haggstrom Trophy, awarded to the male contributing most to Athletics, was given to Nick McCready. Involved in the Athletics and Recreation department in a variety of capacities during his time as a student, McCready has always been a reliable student leader who stepped up for the department this year. He served as the back-up mascot for a number of varsity events while also helping to execute a late-season rugby game back in the Fall.

Also honoured on Wednesday night were each team’s Most Valuable Players and Rookie’s of the Year.

Most Valuable Players
Baseball – Daniel Apostoli
Men’s Basketball - Tevaun Kokko
Women’s Basketball - Nicole Morrison
Cheerleading - Mackenzie Harris
Men’s Cross Country/Indoor Middle Distance - Joe Sheridan
Women’s Cross Country/Indoor Middle Distance - Sydney Pattison
Men’s Curling - Jordie Lyon-Hatcher
Women’s Curling - Riley Sandham
Football - Kurleigh Gittens Jr.
Men’s Golf - Austin Ryan
Women’s Golf - Skylar Turkiewicz
Men’s Hockey - Trevor Sauder
Women’s Hockey - Emily Woodhouse
Women’s Lacrosse - Rose Williams
Men’s Rugby - Andrew Quattrin
Women’s Rugby - Lori Musselman
Men’s Soccer - Luca Pietropaolo
Women’s Soccer - Nicole Lyon
Men’s Swimming - Max Hughes
Women’s Swimming - Jasmine Raines

Rookie’s of the Year
Baseball - Kai Harris
Men’s Basketball - Ali Sow
Women’s Basketball - Maya Day
Cheerleading - Molly Podrebarac
Men’s Cross Country/Indoor Middle Distance - Joseph Hardy
Women’s Cross Country/Indoor Middle Distance - Emma Davis
Men’s Curling - Zachary Cohen
Women’s Curling - Kelly Middaugh
Football - Mario Pineda
Men’s Golf - Henry Luel
Women’s Golf - Stephanie Elsey
Men’s Hockey - Anthony Sorrentino
Women’s Hockey - Hannah Miller
Women’s Lacrosse - Barbara Copeland
Men’s Rugby - Owen Mclean Lavado
Women’s Rugby - Karli Barr
Men’s Soccer - Nicholas Amorim
Women’s Soccer - Emily Tamburro
Men’s Swimming - Ethan Locis
Women’s Swimming - Sarah El-Badawy
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