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Teams, athletes, coach recognized by City of Ottawa

Photo by Richard Whittaker

The City of Ottawa awarded a total of 14 awards to Gee-Gees sports teams, athletes, and a coach on Jan. 29 at their annual award ceremony.

The Ottawa Sports Awards (OSAs) recognize amateur athletes as well as senior and veteran coaching members for excellence in their respective domains in sport, and have been operating annually since 1953.

Best male coach of the year was awarded to Glenroy Gilbert, a coach for the Ottawa Lions track-and-field club, where he coached OUA award-winner Oluwasegun Makind and the University of Ottawa’s varsity 4×400 relay team. He’s also the manager of Athletics Canada’s National Sprints and Relay Training Centre.

This year’s winning athletes included the following Gee-Gees: Oluwasegun Makinde for his track performance in the athletics category, Sergiy Shatenko in badminton, Alicia Blomberg in ball hockey, Alex Dupuis for the biathlon, Ettore Lattanzio in football, Natasha Watcham-Roy in rugby, Julia Francki in soccer, Grace Lonergan in softball, Adam Best in swimming, and Katherine Yee in taekwondo.  The winning teams included women’s soccer, women’s ultimate, and the men’s track and field relay teams.

“People get recognized each year in their sport,” said fifth-year health science student Watcham-Roy. “It was really cool how it involved all different types of sports.”

Watcham-Roy had been selected for the All-Canadian rugby team after the varsity season was over in October of 2013 and contributed to the Canadian team’s bronze medal at the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Universiade in Kazan, Russia, in mid-July of 2013.

“It’s cool to be recognized by Ottawa,” she said. “It’s not the same as a University of Ottawa award, it’s different.  My goal is to play for Canada, so it helps to have the city recognize me.”

For varsity athletes in particular, this award is presented with a slightly different tone and can, in some cases, be used as a stepping stone between university  and professional athletics.

Unlike the varsity banquet that the University of Ottawa puts on to celebrate its 11 teams and various athletes, the OSAs present 11 major awards, 63 individual sports awards, and varying team awards.

“They do one per sport so it doesn’t really matter, female or male, it includes both,” said Julia Francki, a third-year communications student at the U of O.  “You don’t really expect that the City of Ottawa pays attention to things going on in university. There are just so many talented athletes.”

Francki ended her 2013 soccer season with a 19th overall rank in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) divisions, having scored 14 points in her 16 games played.  She was selected to be on the All-Canadian soccer team and participated in FISU. Francki was also selected as the OUA east division women’s player of the year.

The OSAs recognize sports varying between traditional ones like soccer and football to less traditional sports like archery, cricket, and broomball.  Winners can range from high school athletes to nearly retired runners.

“I find the award opens your eyes to other sports,” said Watcham-Roy. The award in and of itself doesn’t stand to mean much, but the experience of receiving it definitely contributes to athletes acknowledging their own excellence, not just in their field, but as athletes in general.