April 2, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 97  

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Western’s best given Purple Blankets

By Aron Yeomanson
Gazette Staff

Bela Nizami/Gazette
OH, 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 night.

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 important.”

“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 than this.”

This year’s recipients of the award were added to some pretty high company.

“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.”



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