Bearne, Champagne, Lefebvre-Okankwu, and Boyd get nods this year
Every year the Fulcrum gives out Cavalry Awards for the best that varsity athletics has to offer. This year saw strong athletic performances for the Gee-Gees, so without further ado, here are our top picks.
Female MVP: Katherine Bearne
The Women’s Soccer team had a great showing this year, and it’s safe to say Katherine Bearne was a big part of their success.
With a good showing in the regular season and the playoffs, the team had great defence, letting in only eight goals, the second-least of any team in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA). However, while their defence was excellent, they also needed to put points on the board themselves, and no one was better at scoring points than Bearne.
Bearne scored eight of the team’s 40 goals and added two assists to lead the team in scoring, as well as putting up the best shooting percentage.
She was also no stranger to coming up clutch, her four game-winning goals good for second in the league.
Male MVP: Montana Champagne
Montana Champagne is coming off a strong season last year, where his gold medal in the 400m medley at the U Sports national championship snapped a six-year medal drought for the Gee-Gees swim team. But he had even more in store this year.
This year, Champagne put on amazing performances at both the provincial and national level. At the OUA championships in London, Ontario, Champagne took first overall in the 200m medley with a time of 1:59.85 and 200m butterfly with a time of 1:57.37, as well as a silver medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay and bronze in the 400m Medley Relay.
He was also presented with the Jeno Tihanyi Award for individual medley excellence.
Champagne continued to shine at the U Sports national championship, where he became the first Gee-Gee to win a second career gold medal at nationals, taking first in the 200m butterfly with a time of 1:56.58, a Gee-Gees record.
He also won a bronze medal in both the 200m and 400m medley.
Runners up: Stephen Evans, Jean-Emmanuel Pierre-Charles.
Rookie MVP: Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu
The Women’s Basketball team had a strong year. The team had a nine-game winning streak towards the end of the season, and finished off with a 15-8 record to head into the post season strong. In the playoffs, the team continued their excellent play and made it to the third round, where they were only edged out by a single point.
Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu played a huge part in the team’s success this year. Despite being new to the team, she put up big numbers, leading the team in scoring, with 259 points, in field goals with 108, in rebounds with 142. On top of that, she had one of the best shooting percentages in the league—her 50.2 per cent field goal percentage was eighth-best.
She also demonstrated good chemistry with the team during games, especially in her pairing with Angela Ribarich.
The league also approved of Lefebvre-Okankwu’s play, naming her to the U Sports Women’s Basketball All-rookie team.
Coach of the year: Jen Boyd
It’s been a busy year for Women’s Rugby coach Jen Boyd, who started off the year by coaching Rugby Canada’s U20 team in a series against USA Rugby in August as the teams faced off in Ottawa. The team even featured two of the Gee-Gees she coaches, Taylor Donato and Alex Ondo. Boyd’s team would go on to win 45–24 and 50–12, and she would carry her winning ways into her season with the Gee-Gees.
Boyd is no stranger to recognition. In 2016 she was named Rugby Canada coach of the year. With her incredible performance this past year, she definitely deserves the top spot among Gee-Gees coaches.
Right from the start, Boyd had her eye on the national title this year. When she was interviewed after the team won the RSEQ title this year, Boyd said she was of course happy with the win, but the real goal was the U Sports national championship. The Gees had come ever so close to being first in the country in the past few years, but weren’t able to finish the job.
This year they got the win in the big game in Lethbridge, Alberta, and brought the title back to the University of Ottawa.
Fan Favourite: Women’s Rugby
The fall semester saw a lot of heartbreak losses in the playoffs for the Gee-Gees varsity teams. The Football team went out in the first round, while the Women’s Soccer looked like they could go all the way, but got knocked out in round two.
But one team gave fans of the Garnet and Grey plenty to cheer about, which was the Women’s Rugby. This team would put on strong performances in every game it played, including a lights out 116-0 win against McGill, before going all the way to win the national championship.
The Women’s Rugby team has set a high bar for themselves in recent years, consistently winning the RSEQ division handily, and placing well at nationals.
But this year they outdid themselves and did something that most varsity teams couldn’t—bring home the national title.
—With files from Zack Goobie and Daniel Birru.