By Aron Yeomanson
SWEET — I NEEDED A NEW BLANKET. Four of Western’s
Purple Blanket winners — Chris Hessel, Janis Kawamoto,
Dave Fenicky, and Matt Wood — ham it up for the camera
Tuesday evening’s athletic awards ceremony saw 13 exceptional
athletes honoured as recipients of the prestigious Purple Blanket.
Awarded annually, the Purple Blanket is given to student athletes
who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, achieved superior
distinction at the Provincial/National level of competition as
representatives of Western.
Athletes must also make satisfactory academic progress and already
have received three First Colour awards (for making outstanding
contributions to athletics) in order to be considered. Aside from
the Athlete of the Year awards, the Purple Blanket is the greatest
honour bestowed upon Western athletes.
This year’s recipients were Bob Westman (track & field),
Dave Fenicky (water polo), Janis Kawamoto (badminton), Chris Hessel
(football), Eva Havaris (soccer), Andrew Dold (rugby), Matt Wood
(swimming), Jenn Manley (swimming), Christian Heffernan (multi-sport),
Shannon Gerrie ( cross-country), Jackie McCormick (curling), Justin
Davis (hockey) and Ken Lockhart (badminton).
Much of the prestige associated with the Purple Blanket comes
from the fact that athletes must possess a long list of attributes
in order to earn a Blanket.
“Obviously, first and foremost, they have athletic ability
and excel at their sport,” explained Western hockey coach
Clarke Singer. “There are a lot of other things that are
rolled into it as well. There are a lot of leadership qualities,
time management qualities and personal qualities that are very
“It really is a great honour,” Manley said. “I
had [knee surgery] during the year and I didn’t even know
if I’d be able to finish, so to come back and be a Purple
Blanket winner — I couldn’t imagine it being any better
This year’s recipients of the award were added to some pretty
“In comparison with previous winners of the Purple Blanket,
this is a great honour,” Dold said. “Everyone that
I’ve seen win this award in the past four years has been
an outstanding athlete, so that pretty much brings all the prestige
to the award for me.”
Owning a Purple Blanket is a testament to an athlete’s longevity
and prolonged success in university athletics. Since athletes rely
on others to aid them in their quest for glory, teammates and coaches
play a large role in their individual accomplishments.
“Rugby is a 15-man sport, so without my teammates this is
nothing,” Dold said.
“Even though swimming is an individual sport, we win awards
for team championships,” Manley added. “I couldn’t
have done it without the support and encouragement from my teammates.”
This year’s recipients have embodied the Western spirit
while competing for Western, and have rightfully been commended
for their efforts with Purple Blankets.
“It’s an outstanding group this year,” said
director of Sports and Recreation Dan Smith. “The fact that
we had 13 winners is a demonstration that there were a lot of outstanding
athletes to choose from.”