Watch the 2018 BLG Awards – celebrating the U SPORTS Athletes of the Year – on USPORTS.Live free of charge
In 1993, the BLG Awards were established to recognize the top male and female student-athletes from U SPORTS-affiliated universities.
Each year, one male and one female nominee are chosen to represent Canada West (CW), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) and Atlantic University Sport (AUS). These eight nominees are then considered for the U SPORTS Male and Female Athletes of the Year based on their athletic accomplishment, outstanding sportsmanship and demonstrated leadership. The winners are selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a non-profit board established to administer the awards and protect the integrity of the selection process
With the 26th edition of the BLG U SPORTS Athlete of the Year Awards Gala taking place on Monday in Vancouver, it’s the perfect time to look back on the continued success of last year’s eight distinguished nominees.
Since capturing the Jim Thompson Trophy as the BLG U SPORTS Female Athlete of the Year last May, Arielle Roy-Petitclerc has continued to play the beautiful game at a high level. Upon graduation, the highly-skilled St. Nicolas, Que., native and Laval soccer star headed west, suiting up for the Calgary Foothills WFC of United Women’s Soccer (UWS), a second-tier league focused on giving post-collegiate players an opportunity to continue to develop. At the conclusion of the Foothills’ season in which she recorded one goal, the former U SPORTS All-Canadian joined Team Canada at 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei, Chinese Taipei. Roy-Peticlerc would serve as Canada's flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony, before participating in four matches as Team Canada finished the tournament in eighth place. Upon returning home Roy-Peticlerc packed up again, this time heading overseas joining ASPTT Albi of the Feminine Division 1 in France. In her first professional season, the 23-year-old appeared in 18 of 22 matches, 15 of which were starts, helping her team record five wins.
Fellow Rouge et Or and BLG nominee, Mathieu Betts, followed up his noteworthy campaign with another stellar performance in his third season with Laval, this past fall. The defensive lineman appeared in all eight regular season contests for the defending Vanier Cup champions in 2017 campaign, recording 12.5 total tackles, a team-best six pass breakups and 5.5 sacks, cementing himself as the J.P. Metras Trophy winner as the Most Outstanding Down Lineman for the second consecutive season. Betts’ performance would lead his team to another RSEQ title and a second consecutive appearance in the national championship game, but were ultimately dispatched by Western in the 53rd ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup.
More recently, the Montreal, Que., native participated in the 2018 U SPORTS Valero East-West Bowl in May, scoring Team East’s lone touchdown to earn Team MVP honours.
His explosiveness off the ball and energy was noticeably superior, making him a highly touted prospect heading for the 2019 CFL draft and someone many scouts south of the border have taken an interest in.
Betts, a physical education and health student, will return to Laval for his fourth season this September.
Last season, UNB Varsity Reds hockey player, Philippe Maillet claimed the Doug Mitchell Trophy as the BLG U SPORTS Male Athlete of the Year, after leading the nation in scoring during the regular season and adding another U SPORTS championship banner to his collection.
At the conclusion of his U SPORTS season last year, the offensively-gifted forward from Terrebonne, Que., made the jump to professional hockey, suiting up for the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League (AHL), the top development team of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He appeared in eight regular season games, and four post-season contests.
Maillet returned to sunny California this past September for his first full AHL season, which turned out to be a success. In 64 games, the former UNB star tallied 18 goals and 36 points, placing him fourth in team scoring. His biggest performance came against the San Jose Barracuda – the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks – in late March, when he recorded five points in a 7-3 win. He would also add a pair of goals in four playoff games in the Reign’s opening round defeat.
Fourth-year forward Sarah Bujold – last season’s AUS female nominee – returned to the StFX women’s hockey team this season after an impressive showing last year. During the 2017-18 campaign, the Riverview, N.B. native put up 27 points in 24 games, 16 points fewer than the year prior in which she was named the U SPORTS women’s hockey Player of the Year. However, her offensive output would help establish StFX as the highest scoring team in the nation.
At the conclusion of her season, Bujold once again led her team to the U SPORTS national championship this past March – the team’s third appearance in four seasons. The X-Women would finish sixth in the tournament, improving on their result of a season ago.
After an impressive performance during the 2016 U SPORTS Cross Country season, which earned her the OUA’s female BLG nomination, Claire Sumner, a Calgary, Alta., native was again a juggernaut on the varsity circuit this past season and was named a U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian.
Since being a named a 2016-17 BLG nominee, Sumner has represented Canada at the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei City last August, and this past April travelled to Switzerland as part of Team Canada for the 2018 World University Cross Country Championship where she finished eighth. In November 2017, the Gaels standout returned home and took part in the Canadian Cross Country Championship, shocking a field full of other elite Canadian runners, crossing the line in first to win the women’s 10K with a time of 34:48.
Like Sumner, fellow OUA student-athlete Jonathan Lao has continued to excel in the OUA since being recognized as a BLG nominee.
Lao, a midfielder from Unionville, Ont., returned to the York Lions men’s soccer team for his fifth and final season. The talented midfielder, who excels at both ends of the ball, was excellent during the 2017 season, appearing in 16 games, 14 of which he started. He was tied for fifth in team scoring after racking up six points on three goals and three assists. Lao’s strong play helped propel his team to an OUA championship and a fifth-place finish at the U SPORTS national tournament.
Last year, UBC Thunderbirds volleyball player Danielle Brisebois was the Canada West female nominee for the BLG Awards after playing a key role on UBC’s first U SPORTS women’s championship team since 2013. On the heels of her dominant 2016-17 campaign, Brisebois played for the Canadian national team throughout 2017, including the FIVB World Grand Prix in July , the Pan Am Cup and NORCECA Continental Championship.
Similarly to Brisebois, Trinity Western volleyball player Ryan Sclater led his team to a national championship in his BLG-nominated season. Since then, the dominant outside hitter has gone on to play for Team Canada, showing why he was a top-ranked attacker in U SPORTS. The Coquitlam, B.C., native and father, has represented Canada numerous times, including at the Pan American Cup in the summer of 2017 and in the Volleyball National League. At the club level, Sclater completed his first season SVG Lüneburg of the Bundesliga, the top German league. In his first season, Sclater would help his team win 11 of 20 matches, while also finishing second in the league in both total points and attacking points.
Looking back at last year’s nominees, it is evident that the BLG Awards are a strong indicator of future athletic success at the professional, international, and varsity levels.
The BLG Awards nominees for the 2017-18 season will be recognized Monday night at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver.
2017-18 Male BLG Award Nominees (Doug Mitchell Trophy):
- CW: Ed Ilnicki, football, Alberta
- OUA: Kadre Gray, basketball, Laurentian
- RSEQ: Francis Carter, wrestling, Concordia
- AUS: Javon Masters, basketball, UNB
2017-18 Female BLG Award Nominees (Jim Thompson Trophy):
- CW: Temitope Ogunjimi, rugby/wrestling, Calgary
- OUA: Theanna Vernon, volleyball, Ryerson
- RSEQ: Marie-Alex Bélanger, Volleyball, Université de Montréal
- AUS: Paloma Anderson, basketball, Acadia
To learn more about the 2017-2018 BLG U SPORTS Male and Female Athlete of the Year nominees, click here.
Matt is a third-year Sport Media Student at Ryerson University. His experience includes writing a wide variety of sports-focused articles for The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s campus newspaper, and for many online sports websites. Matt is currently a Communications Intern at U SPORTS.