Volume 96, Issue 100
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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The Purple Pipe Awards

By Jordan Bell, Ryan Hickman and Benjamin Mills
Gazette Staff

Beth Kerim/Gazette
WHO ARE THEY TRYIN' TO FOOL WITH THOSE SUITS? Can you think of anybody you'd rather accept an award from than (from left to right) Gazette sportos Ryan Hickman, Ben Mills and Jordan Bell?

The first Pipe to be handed out was for Best New Mustang Performer. With a strong lineup of nominees that included football phenom Andy Fantuz, the award was given to first-year rugby player Barb Mervin, who scooped up the Ontario University Athletics Rookie of the Year and the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Rookie of the Year as the best new female rugger in the country.

The gala continued with awards being divvied out for individual performances. The first Pipe for a specific feat of athletic prowess was Best Female Single Performance. Nominees included Jenn Moskal for the four silver medals she earned at the OUA Track and Field Championships and Sarah Farah of the women's squash team, who won the OUA Championship. The Pipe was awarded to Jane Rumball for her ass-whooping of the entire OUA field at the rowing championships in the open singles. Rumball hadn't competed in an OUA competition all season and showed up to dominate for one weekend and helped the Western women take home the gold.

The male single performance award had to be tweaked a bit for the recipient, but the whole awards show was done on the fly. Western b-baller Jimmy Grozelle was given a Pipe for Best Single Game Performance by a Male under Six Feet for his Jan. 25, 50-point game against Waterloo. The dropping of 50 in a Canadian university basketball game might be the best single performance in Western history.

No sporting awards show would be complete without a duo award, and this Pipe was a no-brainer. The Best Mustangs Duo award went to none other than "Hessel to Fantuz." Mustangs quarterback Chris Hessel threw for 2,806 yards, good for second in the country, and wide receiver Andy Fantuz caught almost half of those yards with a national best 1,300 yards receiving. With all those receiving yards, "The 'Tuz" also set a new Canadian single season receiving record as a rookie.

Next up, Pipes were given out for Best Male and Female Ensemble Cast, which is just upscale awards show jargon for best Western team. On the men's side, the Western men's tennis team beat out strong competition from the invincible men's squash team and the CIS winning 4 x 400 metre track team. The tennis team dominated all year in both the team and individual competitions and even won a pseudo-National Championship when they beat the University of Alberta.

The female award was a difficult choice for the Gazette Sports Writers Guild, with strong cases coming from the OUA gold medal-winning figure skating team, the OUA and CIS silver medal rugby team and the provincial gold-winning rowing crew. The upset victory of the Western women's track and field team at the OUA championships was still not enough to keep the award from the Western women's curling team. The Mustangs curlers swept their way to the OUA championships and a silver medal at the Nationals and even spanked The Gazette's own all-star team in an exhibition match which was not mentioned at the awards show.

Only one Purple Pipe was awarded this past year to a Western coach (Jack Fairs of the men's squash team), but a nod had to be passed on to the teachers of Mustangs athletes. The Pipe for Best Role as a Coach had stiff competition, but Western track and field coach Catherine Bond-Mills, in her interim role this year, took the accolade. Bond-Mills, one of Western's most acclaimed former athletes, took over the men's and women's teams for this season while head coach Vicky Crowley was on leave. Bond-Mills inherited a depleted defending National Champion in the women's team and pulled off a surprising OUA team championship over higher ranked Toronto and York. Bond-Mills, who was also pregnant the entire season and now is a proud mother, commented on the award.

"I am truly honoured to win this prestigious award that I've never heard of," Bond-Mills said.

The Best Female Performance was next up, and the women's lacrosse team's Anne Benedetti took home the honours. Not only did she coach the team and lead them in scoring, but she did it all while attending law school. She also took home the award for Best Example of Why Students Shouldn't Complain About Exam Stress.

Next up was the Best Male Performance, which was awarded to the men's squash phenom Rob Nigro. Nigro took home the gold in both Ontario and in Canada, proving him to be the best squash player in the world – bold statement, but this is the last issue, so sue us.

And the last award to be given out on this night to end all nights was for the Purple Pipe Lifetime Achievement Award, which couldn't have been given to a more fitting candidate, squash coach Jack Fairs. The old silverback kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, regaling them with tales of "the good ol' days" and, "way back in nineteen-hibbity-six when me and some Tommies took the bust of the Kaiser and threw it in the river, that's when they changed the name from New Berlin to Kitchener."


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