Photo credit: Marc Jan & Marta Kierkus
Much like years past, the athletes who represent the University of Ottawa had a fantastic year filled with excitement, thrilling victories, and honourable defeats.
In the fall, the Gee-Gees football team ushered in a new era starting with the brand new Gee-Gees Field at Lees Campus. The team also welcomed head coach Jamie Barresi back to his alma mater. The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association welcomed one of its brightest traditions back with the return of the Panda Game against Carleton University. The Gees posted a 5–3 record and made their way back to the playoffs, where they lost in the quarterfinal. With consistently sold-out crowds and nationally televised games, the Gees boosted the football-loving culture during their 119th season at the U of O.
Three players on the football team were recognized at the Gee-Gees Athletic Banquet on April 4. Fifth-year quarterback Aaron Colbon took home the team MVP award, defensive lineman Ettore Lattanzio received a Director’s Award, and defensive back Mike Randazzo was awarded the prestigious President’s Award.
During the early months of the school year, the Gee-Gees women’s soccer team absolutely dominated the league, posting a 12–1–3 record on the regular season. Every opposing team that stepped foot on the Matt Anthony Field knew they were in for a battle. Unfortunately, the nationally ranked squad lost their first playoff game in penalty kicks, which diminished their chance at a run for a national championship.
At the banquet, goaltender Cynthia Leblanc and midfielder Julia Francki took home Director’s Awards. Leblanc was also named team MVP.
The Gee-Gees women’s hockey team also had a successful season. Despite going 9 – 11 in the regular season they came into the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) playoffs fighting. Eventually they lost to the Montreal Carabins in the semi-finals. Defenseman Maude Laramée won MVP for the team and star rookie Vickie Lemire was given a Director’s Award. Goaltender Stéphanie Mercier was the female recipient of the President’s Award.
The Gee-Gees men’s hockey team went 17–9 in the regular season. They made their way into the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoffs where Queen’s University eliminated them. But, the suspension fo the team at the end of February pending an investigation into an alledged sexual assault involving members of the team.
The Gee-Gees women’s volleyball team was outstanding this year and were nationally ranked for the majority of the season. Head coach Lionel Woods coached the team to a 14–5 regular season record in his 21st year at the helm of the program. The team made their way through the OUA playoffs and came out with a silver medal and a trip to the national championship tournament in Regina. At the tournament, they played the Manitoba Bisons and made their exit in the first round. Superstar Myriam English took home the female Athlete of the Year award, as well as the team MVP and Director’s Award, proving her dominance in the U of O sports scene.
The Gee-Gees women’s basketball team was also formidable this year. They posted a 14–8 regular season record and were considered one of the better teams in the country. During the season, injuries plagued the team, but they were still able to defeat the Carleton Ravens at the Capital Hoops Classic and ultimately push their way into the OUA playoffs. The ladies were rolling until they met Carleton at the Raven’s Nest in the semi-finals and could not come away with a win. Forward Maddie Stephen took home MVP honours and the team’s trainer Catherine Fillion was awarded Student Trainer of the Year.
The men’s basketball team was a dominant force that was ranked second in the country all season long. The team posted a 20–2 regular season record with 37–5 in all games played. Only three schools beat the Gees-Gees during the year: the Carleton Ravens, the Syracuse Orange, and the Wisconsin Badgers, the latter two in pre-season games agaisnt NCAA level. It is safe to say the men are among North America’s elite. The Gees blazed into the OUA playoffs and ended up meeting and defeating Carleton at the Wilson Cup before advancing to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Final Eight. They met Carleton in the gold medal game, but were unable to come away victorious, landing as the country’s second-best team. Superstar guard Johnny Berhanemeskel took home team MVP and the male Athlete of the Year award.
The Gee-Gee’s cheerleading squad kicked butt in all of their competitions this past year. To top it off, 11 ladies made the CFL Ottawa RedBlacks squad. Karly Wittet took home the cheerleading MVP for her dedication to her teammates and her enduring work ethic.
The synchronized swimming team had its best-ever results this year, earning a silver medal at nationals. The team competed at the Eastern Canadian Championships in late January, winning a silver medal in duet swimming and a bronze in combo. Megan Drake took home the synchronized swimming MVP.
With another year in the books, it looks like the world of Gee-Gees sports is doing better than ever. There are multiple teams on the verge of reaching their championship potential and many stars that call the U of O home.