The Cavalry Awards are a series of honours given by the Fulcrum to various varsity athletes for outstanding performances and sportsmanship or eye-catching moments. It’s a simple way to let the athletes know we recognize their talent and appreciate the struggle they bear, in addition to being students, to make us proud fans. Although we’d love to give each one an award, we only have so much print space, so we had to make some tough decisions. The candidates aren’t nominated, but hand-picked by the sports staff and volunteers at the Fulcrum and reflect our opinions.
Best Overall Athlete
This is definitely a difficult award to dole out, in part because of the wide variety of sports and their unique demands, but also because of the sheer talent and calibre of athletes we have here at the University of Ottawa. Despite this fact, it had to be done, and two names were finally culled. But before we get to them let’s answer the question: what makes someone the best overall athlete?
Pure talent will only get you so far in this world, a fact most people recognize by now. Being a good leader, a positive role model, and teaching accountability and honesty are also key factors. Perhaps the most important is being a Gee-Gee that inspires fans.
Point Guard, men’s basketball
He has so much talent you could get lost in it, but Berhanemeskel is a subtle presence on the court and often drops more points than you’ll realize. He doesn’t just stand out on the statistics sheet, but also works well with his team.
Goalkeeper, women’s soccer
Being a goaltender in soccer is perhaps one of the most mentally difficult positions to play and is often geared towards supporting the team rather than individual feats of talent. With their undefeated streak looming and their number one ranking in the league overall, Leblanc had no time to take it easy. But she never cracked, even under all that pressure.
Best Varsity team/Sports club
This award goes to the team that, although their performance may be strong, has the best overall chemistry and functioning.
Unlike most teams, although they began their season with quite a few rookies on the roster, the women’s team did not slow down for a moment. To boot, the two English twins, Kelsie and Myriam, have an uncanny sense of understanding between each other on and off the court.
Notwithstanding this fact, they’ve managed to integrate themselves well enough that this does not slow the team down either. And head coach Lionel Woods will be the first person to admit that a lot of the team’s strategy requires fast placement and even more rapid communication on the court.
Quidditch is more complicated sport than you’d think, and the U of O’s club managed to get both of its teams to qualify for the World Cup. Having two teams is a complicated thing in itself, but managing to have both of them competing in the same events and succeeding is also quite impressive. It’s comparable to owning a company that competes with your sibling’s company. It’s difficult because of how personal it can become.
Judging a coach can be like watching a well-rehearsed opera for the value of its clientele’s fashion. They’ve spent time learning a game in a way, with a certain depth of knowledge, which can only really be paralleled by other coaches, and even then it’s a bit of a stretch. They’ve also spent time getting to know their athletes, sharing a unique dynamic of being an authority figure to better the individuals as well as the team.
That being said, a good coach doesn’t necessarily translate into a good team. Their staff and their financial support from the university play into the team’s capacity to perform, practise, and improve.
Head Coach, women’s volleyball
The man is best summarized by his smile, which is beautiful and tells of experience. His coaching is very much like a tactician approaching a situation a couple weeks in advance: his soldiers are prepared, equipped to deal with minor and major deviations under pressure, and more importantly, he’s got their trust.
Trust is a two-way street that often runs parallel to respect. Respect is a necessary component for any unbalanced power dynamic to prosper. The women on the team exude an incredible amount of respect for their coach.
Woods has also brought the team from being off the leaderboard to being a solid top-four contender. He hasn’t just improved the team or the girls, but the program as a whole—he’s built it from the ground up.
Most heart-stopping moments this season
There are games that begin with a defined tone, either of victory or loss, and maintain that tone until the final seconds of the game. There are others that have uncertainty written all over them and leave you on the edge of your seat.
The Panda Bowl
Although the Gee-Gees’ victory seemed certain, the Carleton Ravens had already completed a 129-yard failed field goal kick return and caught a couple of fumbled footballs. In other words, there was room for doubt. So when second-string quarterback Derek Wendel turned his back to the play in the fourth quarter and blindly tossed the football over his head high up in the air into the end zone, there was a momentary silence, as if the crowd was befuddled, holding their breath, hoping the Ravens wouldn’t capitalize. Luckily, despite intercepting the ball, the Ravens promptly fumbled it while running down the field and the Gees recovered the ball.
Women’s soccer in the quarterfinals
The score was 0–0 the entire game, even well into double overtime. So the game moved into the penalty kick component, and while the Gees scored once and ate two posts, the Queen’s Gaels had managed to string together a second goal. The Gees’ fourth attempt was caught by the Gaels’ goaltender, so finally Cynthia LeBlanc stepped up to the task. The Gaels led 2–1.
LeBlanc represented the Gees’ final chance at tying and perhaps winning the game. Despite shouldering the pressure and having been in net for four shots, LeBlanc managed to score a tying goal, making the score 2–2. I don’t know about the rest of the crowd, but my fist was clenched and my nerves were all over the place just watching her take the shot.
There are two solid pillars to this award: being a rookie, and being the better of the lot. Much like the best athlete award, this one is very difficult to gauge across the board because of the diversity of athleticism that composes the Gee-Gee roster and the diversity of sports.
To compensate for the experience and leadership criterias of the best athlete award, the best rookie should encompass strong potential for these things and bring their own unique flavour.
Rookie, women’s swim team
Not only has this girl broken Gee-Gee records in her first three months, but she’s also medalled at a couple events. As a swimmer, she’s definitely a solid and reliable performer.
What’s more is that instead of letting these milestones distract her, Hodge still has her mind trained on improving herself. Given that swimming can be such an individual kind of sport, this type of attitudes translate to determination and drive. Hodge has personal goals and won’t be happy until she achieves them, despite the fact that we’re all happy and impressed with her performance so far.