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NEWS: Soccer’s Smith and Swimming’s Casarin named University of Ottawa Varsity Athletes of the Year

Smith and Casarin
Photos: Greg Mason.

The Gee-Gees varsity teams and varsity clubs gathered on Friday night to celebrate the 2018-19 season at the annual awards banquet. This year's event was held at the Canadian War Museum and featured a keynote speech from CBC's Scott Russell, who has covered 14 Olympic Games during his career.

Miranda Smith and Davide Casarin were named the uOttawa Varsity Athletes of the Year following their sensational seasons in Garnet and Grey. Smith was the captain of the national-championship winning women's soccer team and earned an OUA All-Star award for her play at midfield as the Gee-Gees went 14-1-1 in regular season play. Smith continued to shine in the postseason, and provided one of the most memorable moments in program history when she scored the go-ahead goal in the national championship final from 30 yards out. The fifth-year senior and communications student was named the MVP of the national championship tournament. 

Casarin takes home the male athlete of the year award following his second season of excellence at uOttawa. At the RSEQ Championships, Casarin took home an eye-popping six gold medals – four individually as he swept the freestyle events, and two relay wins. Those results led the Public and International Affairs Master's student to be named the RSEQ Male Swimmer of the Year. He carried his success over to the U SPORTS Championship, winning gold in the 400m freestyle and the 200m butterfly, establishing a U SPORTS record in that event. He also won silver in the 100 and 200m freestyle, bringing home four total medals from one national championship to set a Gee-Gees record. He holds team records in seven events, and is currently in his native Italy competing at the national swimming trials. 

In many measurable ways, the 2018-2019 varsity season has been the most successful in school history. Ten teams were ranked in the national top ten polls this season - more than in any other season in history. The women's soccer team won the national championship, and three individual athletes claimed five gold medals at the U SPORTS level. The women's rugby team and women's basketball team captured national bronze medals after being ranked no. 1 in the nation during the regular season. The men's hockey team sported the best regular season record in the OUA and reached a no. 4 national ranking as well as two national major award winners. The women's rugby team won its fifth straight RSEQ title, the women's soccer team won its record-breaking ninth OUA banner, and the men's golf team won its first OUA Championship as a Varsity Club level team. 

In all, the Gee-Gees won 11 national medals – the most of any season in history. 

Women's Rugby

Team

Bronze

Women's Soccer

Team

Gold

Swimming

Montana Champagne

Gold 200 IM

Swimming

Montana Champagne

Gold 400 IM

Swimming

Davide Casarin

Gold 400 free

Swimming

Davide Casarin

Gold 200 fly

Swimming

Davide Casarin

Silver 200 free

Swimming

Davide Casarin

Silver 100 free

Women's Basketball

Team

Bronze

Track and Field

Stephen Evans

Gold 600

Track and Field

Women's 4x800

Bronze

 
Eric Locke was named the winner of the Male President's Award, which recognizes the accomplishments a student-athlete who best combines athletic achievements, academics and community involvement. The captain of the men's Hockey team, Eric Locke led the team's "Hockey Gives Blood" campaign and assisted in the team's minor hockey partnerships while pursuing his Medical studies. In his final year of U SPORTS eligibility, Locke finished with 8 goals and 25 assists.
 

Katherine Bearne and Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu were named co-winners of the Female President's Award. Bearne, who also took home the award for 2017-18, had another All-Canadian season at midfield for the national championship-winning soccer team. She scored the OUA Championship-winning goal and the game-winning goal in the national quarter final, and was named a national tournament all-star. A four-time Academic All-Canadian, Bearne continues to excel in her Physics and Mathematics program and is an active youth soccer coach. She also visited orphanages in Panama this summer with a local soccer group.

Lefebvre-Okankwu was the leading scorer on the national bronze medal-winning women's basketball team which was ranked number one in the nation this season for the first time in program history. She was named an OUA Third Team All-Star and is an Academic All-Canadian in her Biomedical Science program. The Gatineau, Que. product has been very involved in the team's efforts to build basketball facilities in Togo and Haiti, and has also worked in the local community with the Underdog program. She also supports her team mates in achieving academic success, setting up the A+ challenge.  

The 2018-19 Rookies of the Year are Sara Godon from the swimming team, and Guillaume Pépin from men's basketball. Godon had an outstanding first season at uOttawa, setting five new team records. She won four medals at the RSEQ championship, with three silvers and one bronze. She then added four top 20 finishes to the women's team best-ever result at the U SPORTS national championships. Godon is from Gatineau, Que. and is studying Biomedical-Mechanical Engineering.

Pépin was named the OUA Rookie of the Year and was a member of the U SPORTS All-Rookie team after leading the Gee-Gees in scoring and rebounding this season. He led the nation in points scored by a rookie this season – his total of 354 points also broke the Gee-Gees program record for points scored by a rookie. Pépin hails from Montreal and majors in Marketing.

Meagan McGaughey was named the inaugural winner of the Garnet and Grey Community Engagement Award, which recognizes one student-athlete who has made a significant contribution to the community through his or her leadership and involvement during the year. An Academic All-Canadian from Sudbury, Ont., Meagan has shown outstanding commitment to growing the Gee-Gees community. She is a fierce competitor, dedicated student-athlete, and leads by example. She also exemplifies giving back within sport through her work with the OGHA community, and contributes her time and passion by volunteering in the community at large at CHEO and in research projects on campus.

The Gee-Gees also recognized graduating swimmer Montana Champagne with a special Career Achievement Award. Champagne won four gold medals at nationals over a three-year span, along with two silvers and two bronze medals. His career total of eight national medals is the most of any Gee-Gee student-athlete in school history. He won 20 conference medals which is tied for first in team history, and he holds 9 team records. In his final season, Montana became an Academic All-Canadian.  Simply put, he has raised the bar for the swimming program and will be remembered as one of the all-time great Gee-Gees.

Champagne was one of 67 graduating student-athletes recognized, including 26 who have spent their entire five years of U SPORTS eligibility in Garnet and Grey. Those individuals are: Gio Felix, Jesse Fortier, Andrew Heffernan, Mackenzie Morrison, Brandon Robinson, Sarah Besselink, Jennifer Crowe, Matt Bruder, Luke Ffrench, Bryce Vieira, Maude Lévesque-Ryan, Laurence Morissette, Véronik Samson, Montana Champagne, Claire Fong-McMaster, Mackenzie Finkbeiner, Anne-Marie Kaczmarczyk, Morgan McCartney, Emily Babcock, Paulina Karwowski, Erin McCallan, Sophie Curtis, Kayla Da Costa-Pacheco, Delaney Rickert-Hall, Caroline LeMay, and Sabrina Roy.

Finally, each team presented its Most Valuable Player Award. The winners are:

Men's Basketball: Calvin Epistola – 4th year guard / Toronto, Ont. / Linguistics

Women's Basketball: Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus – 4th year guard / Ottawa, Ont. / International Development and Globalization

Men's Cross Country: Nicholas Roberts – 3rd year / Ottawa, Ont. / Human Kinetics

Women's Cross Country: Rebecca Brennan – 4th year / Ottawa, Ont. / Social Sciences

Football: Luke Griese – 2nd year defensive back / Newmarket, Ont./ Human Kinetics

Men's Golf: Anthony Brodeur – 3rd year / Morin Heights, Que. / Human Kinetics

Men's Hockey: Kevin Domingue – 3rd year forward / Laval, Que. / Social Sciences

Women's Hockey: Mélodie Bouchard – 4th year forward / Sept-Îles, Que. / Social Sciences

Men's Rowing: Cameron Fynney – 4th year / Toronto, Ont. / Common Law

Women's Rowing: Maryn Diiorio – 4th year / St. Catharines, Ont. / Linguistics

Women's Soccer: Miranda Smith – 5th year / Ottawa, Ont. / Communications

Men's Swimming: Davide Casarin – 2nd year / Mirano, Italy / Master's of Public and International Affairs

Women's Swimming: Delphine Vandal – 4th year / Shelburne, VT / Communications and Sociology

Men's Track and Field: Stephen Evans – 4th year / Ottawa, Ont. / Political Science

Women's Track and Field: Maeliss Trapeau – 2nd year / Ottawa, Ont. / Biotechnology

Men's Rugby: James Flemming – 4th year back / Belleville, Ont. / Geography and English

Women's Rugby: Tori Wyman – 4th year second row / Metcalfe, Ont./ Human Kinetics

Women's Volleyball : Caroline LeMay – 5th year left side hitter/ Rockland, Ont./ Accounting

Student Trainer of the Year: JJ Van Goozen (Women's Hockey) – 4th year/ London, Ont. / Human Kinetics