Kamloops, BC—Two thirds of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack Ukrainian connection were honored as the programs Athletes of the Year at the program’s 2016-17 annual awards banquet.
Volleyball player Iuliia Pakhomenko (5th year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine) was named as the Sports Task Force female athlete of the year for the third straight time. Basketball player Volodymyr Iegorov (5th year, forward, Donetsk, Ukraine) was chosen as the Sports Task Force male athlete of the year.
Pakhomenko led the country in points (444.2), points per set (5.4), kills (381) and kills per set (4.65). She was also fifth in service aces (40) and 13th in Canada in service aces per set (0.49). She also finished her Canada West career leading in kills per set (4.640), aces per set (0.502) and points per set (5.379). She was fourth in career kills (1211), and seventh in service aces (1.31).
She also holds the top eight single match marks for most points (38 being the highest) and holds six of the top seven kills in a single match. Her most was 33: one off the Canada West record.
Pakhomenko was a Canada West and USport first team all-star.
Her head coach Chad Grimm stated: “Iuliia was a great player when she came in and improved every year. Looking at her numbers and the progression of the team: she became a more proficient player. Her skills got better. Her ability to accept her role as the leader of the team also improved during her time here. She grew a lot as a player and a person. She has meant a lot in helping turn around this program in her three years here.”
Grimm says her story as a whole will be something he will remember the most. “ She doesn’t talk much about it or share it very often. Her first year coming to North America. She didn’t really speak English. She didn’t know anyone. She wanted to change her life and continued to do that moving to Canada. She didn’t know anyone here. She jumped on a plane and trusted that coming here would change her life. That has been her approach to life. She is willing to put in the work and take the risks to enable her better opportunities. Not many people want to do that—especially as a young person. It is an amazing story and tells you what kind of character she has and what kind of vision she has. Not only looking year to year but looking long term.”
Pakhomenko’s other challengers for the awards were basketball’s Emma Piggin (Kamloops, BC) and swimmer Breena Rusnell (Fort McMurray, AB).
Iegorov was a Canada West first team all-star in his second season with Thompson Rivers. He was second in the league in free throw percentage (84.8), third in total rebounds: (182), fourth in rebounds per game (9.1), sixth in points (365) and points per game (18.5).
He was chosen over baseball’s Tyler Hodder (Fort McMurray, AB) and soccer’s Ryan Glanville (Williams Lake, BC).
“I am happy for Vlad, “ said coach Scott Clark. “ He was named a Canada West all-star and player of the week this year. To be recognized within our institution and our community is great for him. It is a team sport and obviously team recognition is what we strive for. But to be recognized individually is great for him from the standpoint of a payoff for all the hard work he has put in. He has been a hard working guy ever since he got here: in the class room, the weight room, practice, the games—all these things make him a worthy recipient. Then, when you talk about what his contribution on the court has been: they have been huge but the contributions what you don’t see –in the community, with our younger players is huge. I thought he was one of the toughest players in the Canada West this year. People struggled to cover him in a bunch of different areas. His versatility caused people problems.”
Hodder and Glanville were also recognized.
Glanville took home the Doctor Roger H. Barnsley male student/athlete of the year honor. The 5th year forward was a first team Canada West all-star along with being a U Sport Academic All Canadian. He continues to astound as he excels in the classroom and soccer pitch while holding down a full time job and helping to raise two young children.
“We are proud and honored that Ryan has won the Scholar athlete for TRU Athletics,”stated his coach John Antulov. “ We have said so many things about Ryan over the last 2 years but his accomplishments continue to grow.
Ryan has been an amazing example for our team on how to conduct yourself as a student athlete. He is a Canada west allstar and and Academic All Canadian. He is able to do this while holding a full time job and family – wife and 2 kids. This is an unbelievable accomplishment and a true indication of his commitment to TRU and our athletics program. He continues to excel on the field and in the class room and we look forward to him completing his senior year and lead us into Canada West and hosting the Usport national championships.”
Fellow nominees were Mike Rouault of men’s basketball (Vernon, BC) and men’s volleyball player Cole Keddie (Edmonton, AB)
The female winner of the Barnsley Award was cross country’s Rachel Lobay (2nd year, Kelowna, BC). Her coach is Carmin Mazzotta: “Rachel excels at whatever she applies herself to. She is a consummate perfectionist, with a sky-high grade point average in ridiculously challenging courses. On the cross country team, Rachel has been our top runner the past two cross country seasons. She doesn't train with us year-round as I can't convince her of the benefits of doing speed work and running track, but she's out there on the roads in monster shape. Rachel was coming off an injury at the start of the 2016 cross country season, and was injured through the middle of the 2015 season, yet she still finished in the top half of university runners at Nationals each year. Running can be a tough sport to stay healthy in sometimes, but if Rachel comes in fit and has no setbacks all season? Well, game on.”
Also nominated were volleyball’s Morgan Kolasa (5th year, Calgary, AB) and basketball’s Michelle Bos (3rd year, Surrey, BC).
Hodder was chosen as the newcomer of the year. His rookie season (2016) was a brilliant one. He was a Canadian Collegiate Baseball conference first team all-star: going unbeaten in seven starts. He accounted for half of his teams victories.
Baseball head coach Ray Chadwick states: “Each year that I have been here we have had an ace that has been a league all-star and or top pitcher. We were losing Alex Reid (All-star and leagues outstanding pitcher). I was looking for someone that could come in and do that right away and he did. He led the league in wins and ERA.”
Other newcomers getting consideration were: Abby Spratt of women’s volleyball (Calgary, AB), Justin Donaldson of men’s soccer (Kamloops, BC), swimming’s Breena Rusnell (Fort McMurray, AB), Anton Napolitano of men’s volleyball (Victoria, Australia), Derek Rhodes (Antoch, CA) of men’s basketball, and women’s soccer’s Cassie Morris (Kamloops, BC).
The winners of the Cliff Neufeld Leadership awards for 2016-17 which combine contributions on the court, pool, pitch or diamond along with community involvement and performance in the classroom went to women’s soccer’s Katie Harding (Salmon Arm, BC) and cross country’s Conlan Sprickerhoff (Williams Lake, BC).
Women’s soccer head coach Kelly Shantz: “Katie represents everything we are looking for in a student athlete. A focused and tenacious competitor when she steps into her office on the field, Katie knew how to switch gears off the field and be a kind, confident and open leader with our extremely young team this year. Her easy smile, warm personality and always optimistic outlook on life, friendships and the sport she loves will be deeply missed with Katie's graduation. Add this to her stellar academic achievements and dedicated, thoughtful commitment to her community through charitable and awareness events and you have the complete WolfPack athlete.”
While cross country coach Mazzotta had this to say about Sprickerhoff: “Conlan has grown into a leadership role as Team Captain which he has absolutely embraced over the past year. It was a long winter, and our athletes were training outside through all of it -- minus 20 evenings, ice-covered terrain, wind, snowstorms, you name it. Conlan sets an example of dedication and commitment that others follow. At every practice, every community event we participated in, and every race, there was Conlan, always positive, always encouraging others, always motivated to do more. Right now our team is setting a strong foundation for future success, and Conlan is at the heart of that.”
Other candidates were: Kendra Finch (North Vancouver, BC) of women’s volleyball, Nicole Phillips (Port Moody, BC) of Cheerleading, Tim Edge (Langley, BC) from men’s volleyball and Jagdeesh Uppal (Kamloops, BC) of Swimming.
The WolfPack paid tribute to their 12 graduating players; Pakhomenko, Kolasa, Alina Sophizuk (Donetsk, Ukraine) and Julia Niemczewska (Calgary, AB) of women’s volleyball, Christa and Alesha Miller (both Vernon, BC) of cross country running, Daniel Eikeland Rod (Oz, Norway) of men’s volleyball, Mikayla Levy (Smithers, BC) and Kelsey Hayes (100 Mile House, BC) of cheerleadering, along with Harding, Iegorov and Uppal.
The “WolfPack Appreciation” Award was presented to Ron Tapley-an ardent supporter of the TRU women’s basketball program.
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