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True Sport Award Recipients Announced

Four photos combined: men's hockey team, Brigitte Lefevbre-Okankwu playing basketball outdoors in Haiti, Gee-Gees swimmers hugging, women's hockey team.

The Gee-Gees are proud to announce that four True Sport Award recipients have been selected from the varsity programs for the 2019-2020 season. The award goes to those individuals or teams who have embodied the True Sport Principles through their actions, with the goal of promoting the principles throughout the Gee-Gees community.

For 2019-20, the Gee-Gees recognize the women's basketball team players for their humanitarian trip to Haiti, the men's hockey team players and coaches for returning J-R Mantha to the starting lineup, the women's hockey team members who were instrumental in organizing the Mélisa Kingsley Memorial Game and scholarship fund, and to Mackenzie Finkbeiner as an individual winner for her years as captain of the swim team.

This marks the first season that uOttawa is presenting True Sport Awards, and the Gee-Gees also presented Tegan Brolsma of the Nordic skiing team, with a True Sport Award as part of the competitive sports clubs awards. All recipients will be recognized on a True Sport display on campus. 

The True Sport Principles are: 

Go for It: Rise to the challenge - always strive for excellence. Discover how good you can be. Play Fair: Play honestly - obey both the letter and spirit of the rules. Winning is only meaningful when competition is fair. Respect Others: Show respect for everyone involved in creating your sporting experience, both on and off the field. Win with dignity and lose with grace. Keep it Fun: Find the joy of sport. Keep a positive attitude both on and off the field. Stay Healthy: Place physical and mental health above all other considerations - avoid unsafe activities. Respect your body and keep in shape. Include Everyone: Share sport with others. Ensure everyone has a place to play. Give Back: Find ways to show your appreciation for the community that supports your sport and helps make it possible.

The women's basketball team, along with 10 Social Sciences students, teamed up with Basket Plus and the Haitian Sports Foundation (HSF) to help uplift the children of Haiti through the use of sports activities. By working together, the student-athletes looked to raise a goal of $15,000 to build an outdoor Sports Complex and assist the HSF with their programs which are designed for youth aged 6 through 17. 

The initiative put in place by the HSF is that every child has the potential to succeed if the opportunity is provided to them. Basket Plus allows youth around the globe to become empowered through basketball and team up with local organizations to help achieve their impact. The Gee-Gees travelled to Haiti in May, 2019 and built the court and play basketball with the local children.

Meagan McGaughey, Taylor McGaughey, Mélina Roy, Christine Deaudelin, Mélodie Bouchard, Marimée Godbout-Parent, and Kailey Lapensée were the core group of women's hockey players who have contributed to the establishment of a scholarship at the University of Ottawa in honour of Mélisa Kingsley, as well as the organization of the first Mélisa Kingsley Memorial Game.

The group has celebrated the memory of their friend and team mate, who suited up for the Garnet and Grey in the 2017-2018 season. At that time she was already undergoing treatment for sarcoma, and she passed away at age 20 in October of 2018. In addition to work done in Ottawa, the team has also honoured Mélisa's memory and love of hockey in her home town of Sudbury, Ont.

Jean-Robin Mantha was part of the starting lineup on February 2 at the Sports Complex, marking his return to the Gee-Gees men's hockey lineup after nearly two full years. A testicular cancer diagnosis in the 2018 offseason sidelined him from games for 23 long months, but the defenceman was never far from the Gee-Gees.

The team visited him and supported him throughout his treatments and rehab, as he looked forward to returning to the ice. After visiting practices during the 2018-19 season, getting on the ice when he could, Mantha practiced with the team throughout the fall of 2019 building up to his game return in February. He was informed he would be dressing when his teammates surprised him after practice by hanging his game jersey in his locker, and was met by a standing ovation from the crowd when he lined up for the opening faceoff.

Mackenzie Finkbeiner has been a captain of the swim team for three seasons, and she is a Gee-Gees Lifetime Award graduate having spent all five of her years of eligibility at uOttawa. After breaking her leg at the start of what would have been her fifth year, August of 2018, Mackenzie dedicated herself to getting back even better than she was before.

Through sheer will power, dedication and hard work for four months, Mackenzie got back in the pool and the weight room and was training at 100 per cent by the beginning of March, 2019. This work allowed her to compete at Swim Canada trials where she posted two best times. This was a huge inspiration to all her teammates who were or are dealing with injuries and has made a significant impact overall on the program.

This season, Mackenzie set a team record in the 1500 free, won an RSEQ gold medal, and returned to the U SPORTS National Championships.Even while in her cast, Mackenzie's presence with the team through volunteering has been outstanding – she is always at the lead and made sure team members represented the team and the school, particularly at Capital Cleanup and Race Weekend.

Mackenzie also has an impressive relationship with the GO Kingfish club swimmers as she trains with them in the summer and is a great role model for them. With her great sense of humour, leadership, steadiness, enthusiasm and positive attitude, Mackenzie has made a huge impact on the Gee-Gees swimmers and coaches.