Women's hockey player Sandy Heim and men's golfer Barrett Belland were the major awards winners as female and male athlete of the year at MacEwan University Griffins' annual awards and banquet on Thursday night.
The Griffins' ACAC championship-winning women's hockey squad was named the Murray Orvis Team of the Year, while the golf team won the Cathryn Heslep Academic Team of the Year Award in the event, held at the Sutton Place Hotel.
Heim was voted as the female athlete of the year in a poll of Griffins coaches and Athletics department staff. The women's hockey goaltender from Wilderswil, SUI, is coming off a spectacular season, where she was named ACAC women's hockey player of the year after leading the conference in saves, goals against average and save percentage.
"It means a lot to me," said Heim. "I worked the whole season and so hard. It's amazing to get honoured."
Women's cross-country and indoor track athlete Hannah Leggatt – a first-team Canada West cross-country all-star and ACAC women's indoor track athlete of the year – and women's volleyball player Cassidy Kinsella – a second-team Canada West all-star – were the other finalists.
Belland, voted as the men's athlete of the year winner, became the first golfer in MacEwan program history to sweep every ACAC event of the season, including the championships. The St. Albert product was named the ACAC player of the year and also earned CCAA All-Canadian honours.
"it's an honour because for all my years here everyone who's won has done something so special and so recognizable within their sport that it's really special to be a part of that," said the fifth-year graduating student-athlete. "Now that I'm out the door, it's nice to know that I did something right and took advantage of every opportunity while I was here."
Men's hockey captain Ryan Benn – who became MacEwan's career goals and points leader this season – and men's cross-country and indoor track athlete Scott Kohlman – the ACAC men's indoor track athlete of the year – were the other finalists.
MacEwan's women's hockey team was voted as team of the year after winning their first ACAC championship since 2008 earlier this month.
"I honestly wasn't expecting it at all, but it's a great honour," said captain Sydney Thomlison. "I think our girls deserved it. We've worked hard all year on and off the ice. We've had a tremendous influence throughout the community.
"Honestly, there's no words to describe it. I'm very happy for our entire team."
The other finalists were the Griffins men's hockey team, who also broke an ACAC championship drought with their first title since 2004, and the MacEwan women's soccer team, who finished with their best-ever record in Canada West and came within a win of qualifying for nationals.
Other awards on the evening, included the golf squad, which claimed the Cathryn Heslep Academic Team of the Year honour, awarded to the team with the highest combined team GPA. With a combined GPA of 3.08, they led the pack of six Griffins teams with 3.0 or higher.
Another highlight of the evening was when the student-athletes presented a special award to outgoing MacEwan University President David Atkinson, who received a standing ovation in appreciation for his support of Griffins Athletics.
The event also honoured Most Outstanding (MOP) and Most Improved (MIP) players on each team:
Women's Basketball: Kendall Lydon (MOP), Alex Lauber (MIP).
Men's Basketball: Keith Gerdes (MOP), Thomas Laxdal (MIP)
Women's Cross-country: Hannah Leggatt (MOP), Roxanne Skoreyko (MIP)
Men's Cross-country: Scott Kohlman (MOP), Adam Lehners (MIP)
Curling: Taitan Hagglund (MOP), Jordan Semen (MIP)
Women's Golf: Elizabeth Stewart (MOP), Amy Klassen (MIP)
Men's Golf: Barrett Belland (MOP), Noah Lubberding (MIP)
Women's Hockey: Sandy Heim (MOP). Jaime Erickson (MIP)
Men's Hockey: Ryan Benn (MOP), Michael Roberts (MIP)
Women's Indoor Track: Hannah Leggatt (MOP), Nikita Case (MIP)
Men's Indoor Track: Scott Kohlman (MOP), Brandon Toal (MIP)
Women's Soccer: Emily Burns (MOP), Suekiana Choucair (MIP)
Men's Soccer: Dylon Powley (MOP), Samuel Foster (MIP)
Women's Volleyball: Cassidy Kinsella (MOP), Claire McLoughlin (MIP)
Men's Volleyball: Kai Hesthammer (MOP), Jordan Peters (MIP)