There was tons of excitment and flair at the 2013-2014 Ryerson Rams Athletics Awards Monday night at the jam-packed Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel.
Capturing the evening’s two major awards were women’s volleyball outside hitter Veronica Livingston, who won the H.H. Kerr Female Athlete of the Year Award, and men’s soccer midfielder Alex Braletic, who took home the Ryersonian Male Athlete of the Year Award.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it. I’m not going to lie to you, it just kind of went over my head,” said Braletic after being named male athlete of the year. “Making the CIS nationals is the thing that I’m going to remember, not this award. I would rather take CIS gold.”
Braletic won a tough race for his award, which saw three other first-team OUA all-stars nominated – Jahmal Jones, Jamie Wise and Robert Wojcik.
Braletic was coming off arguably the best individual season in Ryerson Rams history where the Thornhill, Ont., native won the university’s first-ever CIS Most Outstanding Player of the Year.
Livingston, who was nominated but lost for female Rookie of the Year at last year’s banquet, won after a successful 2013 season, in which she was named an OUA East first team all-star. Her 3.69 points per game were eighth in the OUA.
“It is an amazing honour,” said second-year Livingston. “I have an amazing team, staff and family who support me and push me so that I can have the chance to be a part of situations like these.
“Honestly, there were so many talented women in contention for this award I fully felt that I didn’t stand a chance.”
Domenic Alberga of the men’s hockey team won the Eyeopener Male Rookie of the Year award and women’s volleyball player Julie Longman won the RSU Female Rookie of the Year award.
“I’d say it’s close to the OUA East division Libero of the Year award,” says Longman. ” I think it will be the most significant for me because I got to share it with all of Ryerson’s athletic community.”
Nella Brodett of the women’s hockey team won the G.L. Dobson award and Yannick Walcott of men’s basketball won the D.H. Craighead Award, honours given out to students based on community engagement and active leadership in Ryerson Athletics.
Ryerson director of athletics Ivan Joseph said he was extremely proud of the high calibre of candidates at this year’s banquet.
“I am just so impressed by the quality of athletes that were represented in the major awards,” said Joseph.
“I thought every single one of them, in another year, would have won that award. This was the strongest nominations, especially on the men’s side, that I’ve seen in the six years that I’ve been here.”
Women’s hockey coach Lisa Haley was one of three coaches honoured by Ryerson president Sheldon Levy. Haley was recognized for helping Team Canada’s women’s hockey team win a gold medal in Sochi as their assistant coach.
Ryerson men’s hockey coach Graham Wise and Joseph, the men’s soccer coach, were recognized for winning OUA Coach of the Year awards in their respective divisions.
Women’s hockey assistant captain Melissa Wronzberg was one of 13 team MVPs, after scoring 11 points to lead her team.
Figure skater Lisa Makeeva, men’s volleyball outside hitter Stefan Ristic and women’s badminton player Vivian Kwok also took home team MVP honours.
“I think I felt like there was a chance I’d win it but I also felt like there was quite a few girls on our team who could have easily won it,” said Wronzberg.
Kwok, who who was nominated for female athlete of the year, was chosen to represent Canada at the FISA World Badminton University Championships.
“I am ecstatic about it because I really wanted to go,” said Kwok. “I knew about this tournament before and I knew the only way I’d be able to attend was if I did really well at nationals.”
Among the other award winners, men’s volleyball’s Robby Earl was named the Claude Lajeunesse Award recipient for a GPA over 3.50.
Student-journalist Charles Vanegas won the media and communications award. The Ryerson journalism student was sports editor at the Eyeopener last year and served as public address announcer for the Rams in 2009.
“You put a lot of time into it and it feels nice to have your work appreciated,” said Vanegas, moved nearly to tears after winning. “It’s a big deal so I’m very pleased. This is how I wanted to go out: on top.”