TORONTO / CALGARY – U SPORTS is proud to announce the eight nominees for the 2019 Lieutenant Governor Athletic Awards Presented by Makadiff SPORTS celebrating the U SPORTS Athletes of the Year for the 2018-19 season.
The 2019 nominees for the Doug Mitchell Trophy presented to the U SPORTS Male Athlete of the Year are football players Adam Sinagra from the Calgary Dinos and Mathieu Betts of the Laval Rouge et Or, Guelph Gryphons soccer player Jace Kotsopoulos, and UNB Reds hockey player Christopher Clapperton.
On the women’s side, the finalists for the Jim Thompson Trophy presented to the U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Year are volleyball players Kiera Van Ryk of the UBC Thunderbirds, Theanna Vernon of the Ryerson Rams and Courtney Baker of the Dalhousie Tigers, and Laval Rouge et Or basketball player Sarah-Jane Marois.
Celebrating their 27th year in 2019, the awards are being relaunched and championed once again by His Honour Doug Mitchell and Her Honour, the Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.
This year’s event will take place in Calgary on May 1 and 2, where the eight finalists chosen from 56 U SPORTS universities and four conferences from across the nation will once again vie for the top prize. One male and female nominee are chosen to represent Canada West (CW), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and Atlantic University Sport (AUS).
The athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a new leadership summit, a formal media conference held at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (May 1 - 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT) and the official awards ceremony at the historic McDougall Centre (May 2 - 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT). All finalists will return home with a commemorative gold ring from Baron Rings, the Exclusive Provider of championship rings and recognition jewelry of U SPORTS.
The winners will be determined by a combined vote of the Canadian Athletic Foundation – a not-for-profit board chaired by His Honour Doug Mitchell – and the public on USPORTS.ca.
Click here to view the All-Time Award Nominees and Winners.
Below are the profiles of the AUS finalists.
ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY SPORT (AUS)
University of New Brunswick
Year of Eligibility: 4
Academic Program: Business Administration
Hometown: Cap d’Espoir, Que.
Chris Clapperton, or Clappy, to his friends, had a breakout season for the UNB Reds men’s hockey team in the 2018-19 season.
He led all scorers in Atlantic University Sport, earning conference MVP honours and 1st Team All-Canadian status, helping the Reds capture the AUS regular season and playoff championships.
The quick-skating and crafty forward was named a University Cup All-Star as UNB captured the 2019 national championship, their third in four years and eighth in school history.
Clapperton’s season should be considered more impressive, given the fact it came less than a year after being knocked out of the Reds lineup for seven games with a concussion.
Clapperton, who graduates in 2019 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, led the country in assists and was second in the country in plus-minus, at +27. He was also selected to the U SPORTS All-Stars, and faced the national junior team prospects in a three-game series, in Victoria, B.C., in December.
His final season as a Red saw Clapperton capture the James Downey Shield, awarded to UNB’s top male athlete of the year.
In his time at UNB, Clapperton has been part of three national championship teams, winning the University Cup in 2016, 2017 and 2019. In 2018, UNB earned the bronze medal at the national championship tournament.
In late March of 2019, he signed a one-year contract with the Belleville Senators, of the American Hockey League. He was also selected in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL draft, 122nd overall, by the Florida Panthers.
“Chris has been a difference-maker with us from his first year. That escalated this year as he led the AUS in scoring, his first scoring championship since minor hockey. He’s an impact player, and he was recognized as such, being named as the Atlantic conference MVP,” said UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall. “He’s become much more consistent and he’s able to find ways to be more successful and more productive. He’s faster too, he’s developed more of an offensive prowess, he can really make plays. Before, he might’ve been considered just a scorer, but he’s added to his game with his passing ability.”
“I’ve met a lot of good people that motivate me to keep pushing to get better. I’ve grown my character with all the obstacles that have come my way as an athlete,” said Clapperton. “I’ve had teammates who are great leaders, and I’ve learned from them. It’s not always easy as a high-performance athlete, but you have to stay positive at all times, whether in sports or in your everyday life.
Winning this award would be an unbelievable accomplishment. There are so many great student-athletes in all sport. They work so hard to have success. Just the fact I’m being considered at this level is an honour and I’m grateful.”
Year of eligibility: 4
Academic Program: Kinesiology
Hometown: Bridgewater, N.S.
Courtney Baker made an immediate impact on the court in her first season with the Tigers.
A dynamic player, she is a talented setter with an excellent hitting percentage and an equally imposing and effective blocker who was ranked in the top 20 in most AUS statistical categories this year.
In her fourth season with the Tigers, she finished second in the conference in hitting efficiency (.368) and added 91 kills (1.63 kills per set), 22 service aces (0.39 service aces per set), and 130.0 points (2.3 points per set).
Baker appeared in 18 matches for the Tigers this year, leading them to a first-place finish in the regular season standings with an 18-2 record. She led them to their seventh straight AUS championship title, earning AUS championship MVP and all-star honours in the process.
In addition to being selected as the AUS MVP for the second year in a row, Baker earned a place as an AUS First Team All-Star for the fourth consecutive year. Her career accomplishments also include having been named to the 2015-16 AUS All-Rookie team in her first season with Dalhousie.
The Bridgewater, N.S., native is also a two-time U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian and has been named Dalhousie’s Class of ’55 Award winner as the Female Athlete of the Year the last two seasons.
The kinesiology major has twice been selected to Volleyball Canada’s senior team.
“Courtney is one of the most outstanding student-athletes that I have had the privilege to coach,” says head coach Rick Scott. “I am most proud of her ability to succeed on the court and in the classroom, while still finding time to volunteer in the community.”
“It's a huge honour to be nominated for this award,” said Baker. “There are so many fantastic athletes nominated and I'm extremely proud to be standing next to them on award night. While it is humbling to be recognized for my hard work, I also recognize that I couldn't have come this far without all of my coaches and teammates along the way, as well as the overwhelming support from my friends and family. Sport has always been extremely important to me. It has provided me with an amazing outlet to stay healthy, happy and to be a part of a team. I'm grateful for the opportunity to play volleyball at such a high level and I can't wait to see where it takes me in the future.”
For the complete list of national nominees, please click here.