HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
Members of the men’s basketball and women’s rugby teams swept the major honours as the Carleton University Ravens concluded a successful 2021-22 athletic season with their recent annual award presentations.
Lloyd Pandi, the country’s top university men’s basketball player, was selected Carleton’s male athlete of the year. It was the 31st time a basketball player has won the men’s athlete of the year award, either outright or shared it with another athlete.
Vanessa Chiappetta, an impressive point scorer for the women’s rugby side, was named the Ravens women’s athlete of the year. Chiappetta will have her name inscribed on the Ruth Coe Award.
The outstanding graduating athletes were Alain Louis of the men’s basketball team and Roberta Drummond of the women’s rugby club. Louis received the Jack Vogan Memorial Medal for his honour. It was the first time a women’s rugby player was given the award and the 21st year the men’s award was won by a basketball player(s).
Men’s basketball coach Taffe Charles earned the Pat O’Brien Award as the Ravens’ coach of the year. Melanie Judges of the women’s rugby program was the recipient of the Ravens’ other major honour, when she won the Varsity Council Volunteer Award.
Pandi was not only the Ontario conference and Canadian university most valuable player for the 2021-22 season, but also led the seventh-seeded Ravens, 16-1, to their 16th national men’s basketball championship with wins over Victoria, Calgary and Saskatchewan.
When the OUA released its Honour Awards this week, Pandi was one of the men’s athletes of the year. He also was a first-team OUA, U Sports and Final 8 national championship tournament all-star.
The other four finalists for the men’s athlete of the year award were Ricky Comba, soccer; Aaron Boyd, hockey; Keaton Bruggeling, football; and Devon Pegrum, nordic skiing.
Chiappetta finished ahead of women’s athlete of the year finalists Mya Van Haaster, soccer; Kali Pocrnic, basketball; Nicole MacNeil, hockey; and Bronwyn Williams, nordic skiing, to become only the second rugby player to secure the highest honour.
The Rigaud, Que., student-athlete recorded 44 points, including seven tries, to rank her fifth on the Ravens women’s rugby career scoring list. She played a vital role in helping the Ravens to a 5-1 record in the RSEQ league and winning the conference playoff bronze medal with a 26-24 win over Montreal.
Louis was an OUA East Division second-team all-star, the U Sports men’s basketball championship tournament MVP and sparked the Ravens to their third national title in a row and 16th title in the past 19 years.
The other men’s graduating athlete of the year finalists were David Lapins, water polo; Colin Ward, nordic skiing; Scott Mazzotta, soccer; Cedric Theriault, football; and Aaron Boyd, hockey.
Drummond was the women’s rugby team captain as well as a U Sports Academic All-Canadian. The other finalists for the women’s graduating athlete of the year were Angelina Callocchia, hockey; and Maggie McClure, nordic skiing.
Charles is no stranger to the Pat O’Brien Award. After leading the Ravens to an undefeated OUA regular season (12-0) and three straight wins at nationals, Charles was named Carleton’s coach of the year for a fourth time.
Earlier, Charles won the award with the women’s basketball program for the 2010-11, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. If you check the Ravens’ awards history, you’ll also find Charles was the graduating male athlete of the year for the 1993-94 season.
The other finalists for Ravens’ coach of the year award were Kwesi Loney, men’s soccer; Dani Sinclair, women’s basketball; and David Luong, women’s rugby.
A former player with Carleton (2016) and Queen’s (2012-15), Judges won the Varsity Council Volunteer Award for her four years of serving as an assistant coach with the Ravens women’s rugby team. She specializes in coaching the forwards and lineouts.
Carleton won two U Sports medals during the 2021-22 athletic season. Besides the men’s basketball gold medal, the Ravens men’s soccer team staged the national championship and took the silver medal, after a loss to Montreal. The final ended 2-2, but Montreal won 5-3 on penalty kicks.
The Ravens won medals at four OUA championships: fencing, men’s sabre team, bronze; water polo, men’s, silver; nordic skiing, men and women, one silver and three bronze; and rowing, men, three bronze.
EMMA ACRES MISSES MEDAL ROUND AT U18 CURLING NATIONALS
RCMP Curling Club’s Emma Acres dropped her third straight game Thursday afternoon at the Canadian girls’ U18 curling championship in Oakville and won’t advance to the championship round.
Needing a win in one of her last two matches to finish in the top three in her pool and have a chance to play for a medal, Acres dropped both games, including her final round-robin test by a 10-2 margin against British Columbia’s Gracelyn Richards.
Acres made her national championship debut by winning her first three games, but then lost her final three to the teams which will move into the championship round.
Along with her teammates – third Ava Acres, second Liana Flanagan and lead Mya Sharpe – Acres conceded the match against Richards, after six of the scheduled eight ends.
Richards scored two in the first end before Acres responded with two in the second to even the game. But Acres couldn’t score a point in the final four ends as Richards counted three in the third and stole two in each of the fourth and sixth ends and one in the fifth.
The Acres rink, which won the Ontario championship and is representing the province as its No. 1 team, will play in the championship consolation round to get a taste of what it’s like to play in a playoff-style bracket format.
TOSHKA BESHARAH, SOPHIE JENSEN SCORE PADDLING FIRSTS
The Canoe Kayak Canada national team trials No. 1 concluded Thursday in Dartmouth, N.S., and National Capital Region paddlers were part of the fastest boats in two tandem races.
Toshka Besharah of the Rideau Canoe Club and Andréanne Langlois of Trois-Rivières, Que., won the senior women’s K2 500 metres in 1:46.024. They were followed by Natalie Davison of Rideau and Courtney Stott of Balmy Beach in third, 1:47.304; Alanna Bray-Lougheed of Burloak and Madeline Schmidt of Rideau in fourth, 1:47.437; and Maren Bradley of Rideau and Allie Wang of Lachine, Que., in fifth in 1:49.957.
Sophia Jensen of Cascades and Julia Lilley Osende of Mic Mac placed first in the senior women’s C2 500 metres in 1:59.005. Matthew O’Neill of Rideau and Foster Salpeter of Pointe-Claire, Que., were third in the men’s C2 500 metres in 1:46.129.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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