The best of the Gee-Gees’ winter season
Photos by Marta Kierkus, Remi Yuan, and Jeff Taylor
Women’s athlete of the season:
Myriam English, women’s volleyball
Five years have passed, and this outside hitter leaves the Gee-Gees with a more than impressive resumé. With almost as many awards as her number of kills—and there are many—this Ottawa native deserves our particular attention.
Throughout her five years with the women’s volleyball team, English has carried the team to five consecutive national quarterfinals. She was named player of the year and first-team honours back in 2013–14 by the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS), and her performance this year did not fall short.
This season, for the second year in a row, English was named in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) first all-star team. She was also nationally ranked first for service aces (43) and service aces per set (0.64), and seventh for total points (318). She was also third for points per set (4.8) and kills per set (3.78).
English’s accomplishments are reflective of her disciplined leadership as captain, and her skill development has shown a great deal of maturity. Her season highlights include an impressive 15 kills and 15 digs she made during a matchup against the Toronto Varsity Blues on Feb. 7 and the 19 points she led during the OUA gold medal game Feb. 22. English leaves Gee-Gees volleyball with quite the legacy.
Men’s athlete of the season:
Johnny Berhanemeskel, men’s basketball
What a year for Johnny B. The groundbreaking, history-making fifth-year guard glided through the season winning award after award, shooting point after point, and ultimately showing everyone what great offensive work looks like.
This season was without a doubt the best the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team has had in their history. Berhanemeskel played a big role in the near-perfect season with his great leadership, teamwork, and exquisite ball skills. While the team came up shy of winning gold during nationals, they did break Gee-Gees history with a regular season record of 18-1. Highlights of this year include Berhanemeskel’s unforgettable last-minute shot during a Jan. 10 matchup against their all-time rivals the Carleton Ravens.
Known for his three-pointers, Berhanemeskel has managed to pile up a top-notch 2,000 regular-season points throughout his five years as a student-athlete. He was the first-ever Gee-Gee to earn the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy for player of the year, a highly recognized national award given by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). In fact, he was the first-ever Gee-Gee in history to win any national award. Other awards include his fourth straight first-team all-star, and his second consecutive all-Canadian selection. This being his last year playing for the Gee-Gees, Johnny Berhanemeskel graduates from a star to a legend.
Rookie of the season:
Clare McGrath, Track and Field
While she might not have participated in many track and field meets, first-year Clare McGrath certainly has stood out amongst the ones she has competed in, dominating the top ranks.
McGrath flourished in February during the University of Ottawa Winter Invitational, placing first in the 1,500-metre run, second in the 1,000-metre, and third in the 4×400-metre relay. During the U of O Last Chance qualification, she placed second in the 1,500-metre and qualified to compete provincially at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship at York University, and nationally at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship held at the University of Windsor. She took a slight break at middle-distance at these events, participating in the 4×800-metre relays for which she won bronze at the OUA championship. Alongside her team, McGrath also placed fifth in the country at the CIS championship for the same relay.
With three years to look forward to and improve on, it’s common for most track and field freshman athletes to start their first season wavering a little bit above or below 10th place. But this Gee-Gee has quickly put her talents to work, and her improvement looks promising for seasons to come.
Coach of the season:
James Derouin, men’s basketball
In his fourth season at the helm of the Gee-Gees, “Coach Jimmy” has launched the men’s basketball program into the nation’s elite. Back in 2010, when Derouin first began with Ottawa, the team had an 11-11 record. Now, the coach has lifted the team to an 18-1 record in regular season competition. This year also included a huge win over Carleton and a handful of weeks as the first-ranked team in the nation. During the playoffs the Gee-Gees added the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) silver. Derouin finished 2015 by becoming the first Ottawa coach to be named theOUA and CIS coach of the year in the same season.
Most memorable moment:
Johnny Berhanemeskel and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue leave Montpetit Hall
The most memorable moment of the season was in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Wilson Cup bronze-medal game between the Gee-Gees and the Ryerson Rams. The figureheads of the University of Ottawa men’s basketball program played their last game in Montpetit Hall, and left the floor to a roaring standing ovation from the sold-out crowd. The co-captains checked out of the game before winning their second consecutive Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) silver medal the next weekend. The pair had a combined 50 points and 12 rebounds in their final game on the floor at Montpetit.
— Spencer Murdock
Gee-Gees fan favourite:
Kaly Soro, women’s volleyball
After a successful rookie campaign last year, Soro is becoming one of the best young stars in the Ontario University Athletic (OUA) division. A combination of athleticism, personality, and intensity makes Soro a favourite for all fans. She was constantly seen this year as a passionate player on the floor with big cheers and celebrations. With the Gee-Gees graduating four star players this year, Soro will step into a bigger role next season and be a leader for the young team. On or off the court, she absolutely demands attention.
— Spencer Murdock