Recognizing the best in WolfPack athletics

Masters of Ceremonies Jen Ju and Tanner Gainer cede the stage to TRU Athletics Director Ken Olynyk as he provides some inspiring words to WolfPack athletes at the awards banquet on March 31. PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIES

Mike Davies: Sports Editor  Ω

TRU athletes clean up real nicely when they get the chance to trade their uniforms for formal wear.

This was evident at the TRU athletics awards banquet held on March 31 in the Grand Hall of the Campus Activity Centre.

Jen Ju of women’s basketball and Tanner Gainer of baseball were the masters of ceremonies of the event which recognized the achievements of TRU student athletes over the course of the year.

The event began with a roast beef dinner buffet—where the VIPs included “the esteemed members of the media” and were first in line, thank you very much—before the various awards were handed out to the best-of-the-best in TRU athletics, not only for their performances on the court or field, but also in the classroom.

Pat O’Brien was recognized for his contribution to the TRU athletics department. O’Brien was the department’s first athletic director when it was still Cariboo College and was the founder and is still a board member of the Sports Task Force (STF).

Next, the student athletes were honoured with their awards.

Tom Barley, head of the STF, presented the TRU STF Male Athlete of the Year award to Tim Unaegbu, TRU’s only dual-sport athlete this past season.

Unaegbu played both soccer and basketball for the WolfPack this past year and was a leader both on and off the court/pitch.

After finishing his bachelor’s degree in social work this year, Unaegbu will hopefully be continuing his education, intending to pursue a master’s degree in counseling, but graduation doesn’t mean the end of his athletics career. Next year he’ll be helping out with the South Kamloops Secondary basketball team.

“I love working with kids,” he said, “and it’s always been a dream of mine to coach basketball, so it’s a great opportunity.”

The STF Female Athlete of the Year award was given to Abbey McAuley of women’s soccer, who was unable to attend the event but graciously accepted her award via pre-recorded video.

The Dr. Roger H. Barnsley Scholar Athletes of the Year were then awarded by Dr. Barnsley himself.

TRU’s former president presented the awards to Alex Condon of baseball and Ashley Piggot of women’s soccer. Both athletes contributed immensely to their respective team’s successes this past year while carrying a GPA above 4.0.

Condon, who turned in a perfect semester with five A+ grades last year—a 4.33 GPA—was proud to be nominated as part of the field and was surprised at his selection.

“There were so many great athletes nominated, they must’ve just drawn the winner out of a hat for me to be chosen,” he joked after being selected.

“But seriously, it’s a great honour.”

Finally, the TRU Athlete of the Year awards were handed out to badminton’s Marlee Mertens and men’s basketball’s Greg Stewart.

Mertens said she was also surprised to be chosen—because of the many exceptional athletes she was up against for the award but also because it’s difficult to compare her sport to the others in a statistical way because of the individual nature of badminton.

Someone must be able to—badminton players have won the honour twice in the past three years (Garrett Babichuk won Male Athlete of the Year in 2008).

TRU athletic director Ken Olynyk took to the podium twice during the evening to share some inspiring words with those in attendance.

“Tonight was all about the students,” he said after all was said and done.

“They do it all—from organizing to the decorations—and my hat is off to them for putting on a wonderful event celebrating our great year of TRU athletics.”

Not all WolfPack sports are done for the year, though.  Baseball’s regular season is just getting under way. Check their schedule at http://www.tru.ca/athletics and be sure to make it across town to Norbrock stadium and catch some baseball action this spring.

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