CALGARY – On Thursday, March 30, the Mount Royal Athletic Department hosted their annual Cougar Night celebration. For the second straight year, the format featured an awards-style event at the Bella Concert Hall.
In 2016, Cougar Night introduced the Brian Fleming Award. The award encompasses athletics, leadership, academics and community involvement over a student athlete's career at MRU. It was very fitting that the two alums chosen to emcee the evening were last year's winners, Jordan Parkin and Jenna Smith.
Jordan and Jenna, both former volleyball players, honoured a pair of hockey players with the prestigious awards in 2017. Cam Maclise (Men's Hockey) and Sarah Weninger (Women's Hockey) were named this year's recipients of the Brian Fleming Awards. Both Sarah and Cam were top players on their teams and influential members of the Mount Royal community.
Sarah's outstanding community service was recognized with the Marion Hillard Award at the USPORTS National Championships in Kingston, Ontario. Her work with the HEROS Hockey program had one of the most profound impacts on the community in recent memory.
Cam Maclise was widely recognized as one of the top university hockey players in the nation. Maclise was unable to attend Cougar Night after signing with the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL. While excelling on the ice, Cam was even better in the classroom. He was recognized as an Academic All-Canadian each year he was at Mount Royal and will be a highly sought-after commodity in the financial world when his hockey career is over.
Connor Rankin took home Male Athlete of the Year honours after a breakout sophomore season with the men's hockey team. Connor became the first men's hockey player in program history to lead Canada West in scoring. Connor was named to the Canada West First All-Star Team and the USPORTS Second All-Star Team. He finished the 2016-17 season with 17 goals, 18 assists and 35 points, despite appearing in only 26 games.
Women's Volleyball Libero Maddi Quinn took home the Female Athlete of the Year Award. Quinn led the Cougars to their second straight playoff appearance and third in program history. She led the entire conference in digs with 352, 34 more than her closest competitor. Her 352 digs were the fourth-most ever recorded in a Canada West season. Quinn was widely regarded as one of the best defensive players not only in Canada West but in the entire nation.
Former Prince Albert Raiders star defenceman Jesse Lees took home the Male Rookie of the Year Award. Jesse was second in the league in scoring by a defenceman with 7 goals, 13 assists and 20 points. He was named to the Canada West and USPORTS All-Rookie Team. Jesse was the quarterback of Mount Royal's power play that was rated the highest in the conference for the entire season.
The Female Rookie of the Year was a tight race this season as a number of rookies stood out on the female side. Ultimately, it was Carly Neis of the women's soccer team who took home the honour. In her rookie season, Neis led the Cougars in goals and points. She accounted for 27.2% of her team's total offence and led them to the playoffs for the second straight season.
A number of graduating athletes received honours in the Team MVP category. Brett Layton (Men's Basketball), Matt Brown (Men's Hockey), Kamil Zielinski (Men's Soccer), Josh Kirkham (Men's Volleyball), Cylenna Alexander (Women's Hockey) and Maddi Quinn (Women's Volleyball) were all chosen as their team's MVP in their final season. Becky Nash of (Women's Basketball) and Claire Thorimbert (Women's Soccer) were also chosen as the Most Valuable Players of their respective teams.
The Community Leadership Awards were presented to the male and female student athletes who were the most involved in community initiatives. Each award came with a $1000 scholarship and a two free flights courtesy of WestJet. Picking up this season's awards were Noah Lewis (Men's Basketball) and Sarah Weninger (Women's Hockey).
For the first time in two seasons the Cougars added to the prestigious Wall of Fame. Four athletes and one coach had their names enshrined on the wall on Thursday evening. Ashely Dixon (Women's Soccer/Badminton), Brett Kobe (Men's Basketball), Kim Perree (Women's Volleyball) and Marianna Raguz (Women's Basketball) were all added to the Athlete Category. Donovan Martin (Women's Basketball) was the lone inductee in the Coaching Category.
Benjamin Lau was named the Athletic Therapy Staff Award Winner for his work with the women's basketball program. Spencer Schultz took home the Media Award for his work upgrading the CanadaWest.TV broadcasts. Daniel Krol (Courts) and Matt Gumrin (Hockey) were honoured as the top Game Day Staff.
The Cougars also won a collection of Canada West and USPORTS Awards:
USPORTS All-Rookie Team
Jesse Lees (Men's Hockey)
USPORTS Second All-Star Team
Connor Rankin (Men's Hockey)
USPORTS Marion Hillard Community Service Award Winner
Sarah Weninger (Women's Hockey)
Canada West All-Rookie Team
Jesse Lees (Men's Hockey)
Tianna Ko (Women's Hockey)
Jamal Watson (Men's Hockey)
Canada West First All-Star Team
Connor Rankin (Men's Hockey)
Canada West Second All-Star Team
Cody Cook (Men's Soccer)
Josh Kirkham (Men's Volleyball)
Tyrin Hutchings (Men's Soccer)
Canada West Third All-Star Team
Brett Layton (Men's Basketball)
Canada West Major Award Winners
Canada West Women's Volleyball Community Service Award – Robin Potolicki
Canada West Women's Hockey Community Service Award – Sarah Weninger
The evening concluded with a video tribute the 28 graduating student athletes. The grads passed on a message to current and future Cougars about what it means to be a Cougar.