By Lindsay English
Lightning men’s basketball head coach, Dane Morris summed up the 2014-2015 season perfectly, quoting an empowering story of the connection between one person’s contributions and an organization’s goals.
“During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?”
The janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”
With the addition of new department staff, three new head coaches and three teams full of fresh faced young athletes, the man on the moon story accurately depicts the gradual steps the St. Mary’s University athletics program is taking, and how every contribution, accomplishment and goal are setting the tone of what’s to come.
The 2014-2015 athletic season was one to be celebrated, and that’s just what happened at last Friday night’s annual Lightning Athletics Awards Banquet, held in Fr. Michael J. McGivney Hall.
Prior to the awards being handed out, President Gerry Turcotte addressed the athletes, parents, and supporters in attendance, reflecting on a successful athletics campaign and the remarkable accomplishments our teams and athletes had this year.
The cross country team, made up of four runners, was a force in its first year competing in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association (ACAC). Qualifying for ACAC provincials and following it up with a Canadian Colleges Athletic Conference (CCAA) appearance is a major accomplishment for a program fresh in its first year.
With only three returning veterans this year, the men’s basketball team had their work cut out for them. Building a championship team from the ground up is a challenge and takes time. Coach Morris faced the challenge head on securing Charnjot Gill, one of the top recruits in Alberta last summer, as well as other first year valuable additions that will be his foundation in developing the men’s program for years to come.
Gill, who finished his rookie season consistently in the top 20 lists of ACAC stats rankings and was a contender for overall ACAC rookie of the year, took home the Lightning Athletics Male Athlete of the Year trophy for the 2014-2015 season.
Perhaps one of the biggest Cinderella stories of this year goes to the women’s basketball team. A program, that in its first two years in the ACAC struggled to find the wins column, finished with a 10-14 record and clinched their first ever playoff spot. The girls hit the road for their post season appearance at the ACAC Provincial Championships at NAIT, and despite not medalling; the experience alone was one of value to this program. With a season full of ‘firsts” , the women’s basketball team earned bragging rights on the court getting Lightning Team of the Year, as well as in the classroom as the Lightning Academic Team of the year.
Following up with her team’s success, Montana Romeril had a personal success story. The second year Bachelor of Arts student lit it up in the ACAC this year. Averaging 16.7 points per game, Romeril finished fourth in the South Division in scoring with 401 points and was among the top 20 scorers in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. Her stats this season have shattered previous St. Mary’s women’s basketball records in seven categories including points, steals, and assists.
Her performance this season led to her recognition by the league as an ACAC First Team All-Conference award recipient as well as earning the Lightning Female Athlete of the Year award for 2014-2015.
While each head coach took turns at the podium praising the hard work and dedication of their athletes and passing out their team awards, nobody could be prouder than the Athletics staff. Every athlete, coach, trainer, staff member, and faculty member, truly play a role in the success and growth of our athletic program, and we are so grateful to be able to work with such a great group of people every year.
See you in 2015-2016!
Other awards handed out:
Band-Aid Award- Calen Van Cadsand (MBB) Kassandra Harkema (WBB)
Jim Look Memorial Scholarship – Heidi Anderson (WBB)
Calgary Juventus Scholarship- Oskar Golebiowski (MBB) Matthew Patrician (MBB) Quinn Taylor (MBB)
Calgary Italian Sportsman Dinner Association Scholarship – Sara Kloot (WBB) Blake Seebach (MBB)
Lightning Academic Awards- Garrett Kawa (MBB) Wendy Lafferty (WBB) Chris White-Gloria (XC)
Each Lightning team handed out awards for their Most Valuable player, Lightning Award, and Rookie of the Year. Listed below are those winners.
Cross Country Running
Enthusiasm and Promptness Award- Lucas Empey
Most Improved Runner- Matthew Mundy
Lightning Award- Jake Stanley
Most Outstanding Runner- Christopher White- Gloria
Rookie of the Year- Jenny Leinweber
Lightning Award- Mary-Jean Ritchie
Most Valuable Player- Montana Romeril
Rookie of the Year- Quinn Taylor
Lightning Award- Carson Young
Most Valuable Player- Charnjot Gill