A successful 2018 year in sport in Ottawa was celebrated last night at the annual Ottawa Sports Awards, with the Garnet and Grey taking a notable part with its outstanding coaches, teams, and student-athletes.
Steve Johnson took home the trophy as Ottawa's Male Coach of the Year, a first for the veteran Gee-Gees coach. 2018 marked Steve's 25th season as head coach of the women's soccer team, and it will likely go down as the most memorable yet. Ranked ninth nationally in the pre-season poll, Steve's Gee-Gees wound up climbing all the way to the top.
Built with a majority of players from the Ottawa area, the Gee-Gees won the ninth career OUA crown under Steve's watch, and then came away with an emotional triumph at the national championship tournament on home field. Johnson has coached the Garnet and Grey to the playoffs in all 25 seasons that he has been at the helm of the program but brought the team back to the national championship tournament for the first time since 2014, posting a 20-1-1 season record and averaging 2.56 goals per game to just 0.47 against.
Five uOttawa student-athletes, coaches, or alumni were named the top representative of their sport for 2018:
MODERN PENTATHLON – ROBERT BONOMO: This national medallist for the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees swim team has quintupled his sports pursuits and become Canada's top male athlete in modern pentathlon. In 2018 – not long after taking up the 5-sport, 1-day pursuit following his varsity swim career – Robert joined the national team. He was the top Canadian, 22nd overall, at the Pan American Championships in Peru. He will be a top prospect to return to Lima as 1 of 2 Canadian men's 2019 Pan Am Games entries. Robert topped the Pan Am swim standings in both the individual event and the relay.
RUGBY – MAYA MONTIEL: Maya is a second-year communications major at the University of Ottawa and was part of the Gee-Gees women's rugby team's Quebec conference championship season and the U Sports national bronze medal win in 2018. Maya was a second-team conference all-star, scoring 6 tries during the regular season for the Gee-Gees, who are undefeated against Quebec opponents since 2014. She also played for the Canadian women's under-20 team this summer against England and USA, and earned a Quebec league championship playing club rugby for the Ottawa Irish.
SOCCER – KAYLA DA COSTA-PACHECO: Kayla enjoyed a Hollywood finish to her university soccer career with the uOttawa Gee-Gees women's team. The 5th-year defender won just about every prize she could in 2018. She was an Ontario all-star and a first-team All-Canadian, while her underdog Gee-Gees rose to the top and captured their program's first Canadian university championship since 1996 on their home field.
SOFTBALL – ELISSA SIVEL: This Pembroke native led her Bytown Belles to a bronze medal at the 2018 provincial championships, posting an earned-run-average of just 1.23 at the tournament. Elissa was also named top pitcher at a tournament in Innerkip. She's long studied the art of pitching a softball, and today is 1 of 2 Master Pitching Instructors with Softball Canada. She's also recently signed on as pitching coach for the University of Ottawa women's softball team.
SWIMMING (ARTISTIC) – MADDIE BERRY: Maddie was a standout performer with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees Artistic Swimming Club in 2018, placing 2nd in the solo, duet and team events at the Canadian university championships. She later competed alongside a slew of Olympic team members at the Canadian Championships. Maddie then went overseas and earned a place on Great Britain's national team. She's expected to soon make her debut on the FINA world circuit. Maddie has also twice earned the Gee-Gees' Spirit Award by encouraging and motivating all around her to improve and persevere.
Finally, six Gee-Gees teams were recognized for their championship-winning seasons:
Artistic Swimming Garnet Team – Eastern Canada Divisionals Champions
Artistic Swimming Novice Team – Eastern Canada Divisionals and National Champions
Men's Fencing – OUA Foil Champions
Men's Golf – OUA Champions
Women's Rugby – RSEQ Champions
Women's Soccer – OUA and U SPORTS Champions
(with info from the Ottawa Sports Awards)