Concordia’s athletes and coaches were honoured for the 2016-17 season
Athletes from all of Concordia’s sports teams packed into the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall at the Loyola campus for the Stingers annual athletics awards gala on April 6.
The event was hosted by TV host Chantal Desjardins, who opened the evening with jokes that got the crowd roaring with laughter. Later in the night, the two Stingers valedictorians got on stage to leave the players with some words of wisdom, while also making some jokes at the expense of their teammates and coaches. The valedictorians were Antoine Marchand of the men’s hockey team and Emily Hickson of the women’s rugby team.
“It was honestly extremely unexpected and humbling,” Hickson said about being selected as valedictorian. “It’s an honour to be representing the athletes this way, and it was a really amazing experience.”
Like Hickson, Marchand said he felt being able to speak on behalf of his fellow athletes was an honour.
“Words can’t explain what it means after four years of being here,” Marchand said. “There are so many amazing people graduating here this year, and to be able to represent them and sum up the year for them was more than honourable—it’s inexplicable.”
The first awards of the night were the President’s Academic Awards which were given to the female and male athletes who achieved the highest academic standing while demonstrating success in their sport.
Hockey player Alexandra Nikolidakis won the award, as well as football player Patrick Mills.
Immediately after, the Marvin Cooper Award, which is given to the athlete who has successfully overcome the most adversity, was awarded to football player Mickael Côté. Côté has been through shoulder and leg injuries in the past three years, but his determination to keep playing football is what ultimately earned him the award, according to the Stingers.
About halfway through the evening, Interim Athletic Director D’Arcy Ryan handed out the awards for each team’s best rookie and most valuable player.
Men’s hockey forward Anthony De Luca swept his team’s awards, winning men’s hockey team rookie of the year, while also being named MVP. De Luca led the men’s hockey team to their best season in 30 years, according to the Stingers. He scored 24 goals and recorded 19 assists for a total of 43 points.
At the end of the night, De Luca was also named Male Athlete of the Year. While the awards may recognize individuals, De Luca said he could not have done it without his teammates.
“It’s an honour, and I love the fact that in my first year I can make an impact,” De Luca said. “It was a great season, and I’m really proud of my teammates and the progress we made. But as I say in all of my other interviews, there’s room for improvement on my end and the entire team, and we’re going to get ready for next season.”
In women’s rugby, fourth-year player Alex Tessier won the team’s MVP award and, later in the night, Female Athlete of the Year. Tessier won the award in 2015 as well, during her second year with the Stingers. She has played with Canada’s national rugby team and was named to the tournament’s all-star team at nationals in 2016.
“It’s always such an honour. It’s one of the best awards you can win at the banquet,” Tessier said regarding winning Athlete of the Year. “Honestly, I did not expect it this year, but it’s definitely one of the best feelings I’ve had in my four years here to win it again.”
In the last three years, the Female Athlete of the Year awards have all gone to rugby players, as Frédérique Rajotte won it in 2016. For Tessier, sharing the award with her teammate is special.
“Me and Frédérique have such a connection on and off the field,” Tessier said. “We’re actually roommates and she’s a good friend of mine. I’m proud of what she’s accomplished.”
After the awards were handed out, graduating football player Andrew Barlett said a few words to the crowd before being interrupted by hockey captain Olivier Hinse, who told Barlett he wasn’t actually the valedictorian. Of course, this was simply a joke Hinse and Barlett were already in on. As the crowd laughed and Barlett left the stage, Hinse introduced Marchand and Hickson for their valedictorian speeches.
According to Hickson, the initial nerves she had about her speech were settled thanks to one of her classes earlier in the day.
“I was a little bit nervous, but I had a class presentation about two hours before the event so I got the nerves out,” Hickson said. “I was just excited to speak in front of everybody because it’s been an amazing five years here and I had a lot of jokes to say.”
The night was also a send-off for this year’s graduating Stingers athletes. Marchand, who has been at the school for four years and has helped run the Swarm,—an organization dedicated to creating more unity around the Stingers—said he’ll definitely miss his time as a Stinger.
“Honestly, it’s hard to explain just the love, the family coming together here,” Marchand said. “The fact that I’m leaving hasn’t even sunk in yet to be honest with you so I couldn’t even tell you how it feels to leave.”