Volume 93, Issue 96

Thursday, March 30, 2000


The backbone of field hockey

Western awards athletic heroes

University Cup - An exciting brand of hockey

Western awards athletic heroes

Sean Maraj/Gazette
OK EVERYBODY, SAY CHEESE! HEY YOU IN THE BACK, BIGGER SMILE ALREADY. The best of the best, these were the 1999-00 Purple Blanket award winners announced Tuesday at the Athletic banquet.

By Wes Brown
Gazette Sports

The most anticipated night of the year for movies may have been last Sunday's Oscars, but the equivalent for Western sports took place Tuesday at the Annual Athletic Awards Banquet.

The who's who of Western athletics gathered and celebrated an unprecedented year of university champions. This season featured seven different Mustang teams winning Ontario University Athletic gold, while nine others achieved OUA silver and five accomplished bronze.

Western had one Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union champion in the men's soccer team which was accompanied with a CIAU coach of the year in Rock Basacco. Eight other Western coaches were also recognized as OUA coaches of the year.

"Tonight is a great representation from the 36 varsity sports in our program," said Darwin Semotiuk, chair of intercollegiate athletics. "It was a wonderful showing tonight, we tried some new things and have a new venue for the banquet and we've received a great reaction to the changes."

Semotiuk said this year in Western athletics would be tough to top in the future, but guaranteed the Mustangs would be back stronger than ever for the 2000-01 season. "The best way I've heard people describe the Western athletics program is that we don't rebuild – we reload."

Athletic co-ordinator Karen Danylchuk spoke about the overall season and said everyone in the program was delighted with the success, adding it went over and above what they all could have possibly imagined. "There is a real diversity in terms of the sports recognized tonight, but one thing that remains the same is the all around excellence of all our athletes."

In the past, the banquet has always proven lengthy due to the large number of awards the program bestows every year. This is something Danylchuk wanted to address and she said the new format made the evening that much more enjoyable.

"Our athletes wanted a night where everyone could get together, give out the awards and have a dance after. The presentation and the music were something we thought would make it go a little better. We wanted to maintain a great Western tradition and that's exactly what we're doing."

Of all the awards given out Tuesday none were as anticipated, or as prestigious, as the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy and the F.W.P. Jones Trophy. These two awards are given to the respective male and female athletes who, in the opinion of the selection committee, have made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics within the university.

Mike Potts, captain of the men's soccer team, was this year's recipient for his outstanding season. Potts, who was also this year's CIAU player of the year for soccer, said he didn't expect the honour and added it was an incredible feeling to have the male athlete of the year award go to a soccer player twice within the last four years.

"This is my graduating year and I can't think of a better possible way to finish my career off. At the same time, it's a little bit sad that I won't be back again next season," Potts said. "Playing has been incredible but the most important thing to me has been the friendships I've made while playing."

As for the F.W.P. Jones Trophy, that honour went to women's volleyball player Marnie Simpson, who also received the OUA Award of Merit this season. Simpson said when she was listening to the accomplishments preceding the announcement, she thought they sounded very familiar. "I was thinking to myself 'someone has some of the same stuff as me.'"

She said this was the cherry on the cake of her university career – a career, she added, in which she would not change a thing. "I think that every year you improve at the sport you play, whether it be mentally, in skill or even time management. I think this is a wonderful way for someone to end their career."

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