Awards Athletes of the Year

Athletes of the Year

In honour of the
top Canadian university athletes

The U SPORTS Athlete of the Year Awards honour the top university athletes in the country and promote post-graduate studies at Canadian universities. 

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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, U SPORTS 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 (formerly known as the BLG Awards and Howard Mackie Awards) have been an annual celebration in the national sport community, recognizing Canada’s top athletes competing in university athletics within U SPORTS, while also promoting post-graduate studies. 

Each of the 56 U SPORTS universities select a male and female Athlete of the Year from which one finalist of each gender 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.

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In 2019, the awards were relaunched as the U SPORTS Lieutenant Governor Athletic Awards, continuing to be championed by His Honour Doug Mitchell and Her Honour, the Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.

In 2019, the awards were relaunched as the U SPORTS Lieutenant Governor Athletic Awards in honour of Lois Mitchell’s term as Lieutenant Governor of Alberta (2015-20). For the last two years, the awards added a focus on creating a leadership legacy, broadening the scope of the event and providing nominees with a unique personal development experience.

Beginning in the 2021-22 season, the awards were renamed The Honourable Lois Mitchell and Doug Mitchell U SPORTS Athlete of the Year Awards Presented by Makadiff Sports

The winners are selected by a combined vote of the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board chaired by Doug Mitchell – BLG national co-chair, philanthropist and UBC Thunderbird football alumnus – and the public on The Canadian Athletic Foundation was established for the purpose of providing more recognition for Canadian university student-athletes.

All nominees will receive a commemorative durilium ring from Baron, the Exclusive Provider of championship rings and recognition jewelry of U SPORTS.

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Selection Criteria

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 Doug & Lois Mitchell Trophies

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.

Beginning in 2020, both the Male and Female Athlete of the Year hardware were rebranded after its champions - Their Honours Doug and Lois Mitchell. A new award was then created in honour of the female trophy's former namesake.