About the Awards
Success in business is more readily achieved when an individual is a team player, has faced competition, and developed passion and an ability to effectively communicate. In the early 1990s, when Canadian universities were facing financial cutbacks and athletic programs seemed the first to be cut, it was hoped that by introducing the Athlete of the Year Awards, we could assist in focusing attention on the importance of athletics at Canadian universities and at the same time, showcase the great student athletes we produce in Canada.
Since 1993, the Athlete of the Year Awards honour the top university athletes in the country and promote post-graduate studies at Canadian universities. Each of the 56 U SPORTS universities select a male and female athlete from which one male and one female nominee are chosen to represent Atlantic Canada, Canada West, Ontario and Québec. These eight nominees are then considered for the U SPORTS Male and Female Athletes on the Year based on their athletic accomplishment, outstanding sportsmanship and demonstrated leadership. For the first 26 years, winners were selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a non-profit board established to administer the Awards and protect the integrity of the selection process.
As the awards celebrate their 27th year in 2019, they will be relaunched as the U SPORTS Lieutenant Governor Athletic Awards, and championed once again by His Honour Doug Mitchell and Her Honour, the Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.
With a focus on creating a leadership legacy, the rebrand will broaden the scope of the event and provide nominees with a unique personal development experience.
The eight nominees are selected based on the following criteria:
- Must have participated in a U SPORTS-sanctioned sport for two years (including the current year of nomination)
- Must be in a course of study leading to their first undergraduate degree or graduate program (minimum second year);
- Must be the university’s Athlete of the Year or runner-up; and
- Cannot be a previous winner
The Jim Thompson Trophy
In 2003, the Women’s Athlete of the Year trophy was named the Jim Thompson Trophy, in recognition of the contribution of the late Jim Thompson, an original Trustee of the Canadian Athletic Foundation Board. Thompson served on the Board of the Canadian Athletic Foundation since its inception in 1993. As President of TSN at the time, he was responsible for bringing the Awards to television. Thompson was not only a strong supporter of the Awards but a firm believer in the value of athletics at Canadian universities and of amateur sports.
At the time of his passing in 2002, Jim was the Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The Doug Mitchell Trophy
In 2009, the Men's Athlete of the Year trophy was named the Doug Mitchell Trophy to honour the Chairman of the Canadian Athletic Foundation, founder of the Athlete of the Year Awards, an original Trustee of the Board, and former CFL Commissioner (1984-88) who played for the UBC Thunderbirds and B.C. Lions.