Mustang wins prestigious Russ Jackson Award

Mustang Athletics // Special to Western NewsWestern Mustangs linebacker Nick Vanin was honoured for his achievements, both on and off the field, with the prestigious Russ Jackson Award at the U SPORTS football All-Canadian Gala Thursday night.

Western Mustangs linebacker Nick Vanin was honoured for his achievements, both on and off the field, with the prestigious Russ Jackson Award at the U SPORTS football All-Canadian Gala Thursday night.

Vanin is not only the first Western student-athlete to win the Russ Jackson Award, he is also the school’s first-ever nominee for the prestigious trophy, which was first presented in 1986.

The award recognizes a football player who best exemplifies the attributes of academic achievement, football skill, and citizenship. It is named in honour of Russ Jackson, a former quarterback for the McMaster Marauders who is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada.

Vanin, a fifth-year linebacker from London, Ont., had a successful season, earning first-team OUA all-star honours for the second straight year, thanks in large part to his 34 tackles in eight league games, good for second on the team.

Having already graduated from Western’s Physiology program with a 91 per cent average, he is currently in his first year of studies in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Vanin is also a researcher with the Victoria Research Laboratories’ Centre for Critical Illness Research at London Health Sciences Centre.

His community involvement doesn’t stop there, however. Vanin has also taken part in numerous football and sport-related activities, including the London Jr. Mustangs Football Club, Western Football Mentorship Program – which he created – and BMO Sports Day, just to name a few. He has also been involved with the Women’s Community House and Sexual Assault Centre, Ronald McDonald House, and Andrew’s Legacy Fundraiser.

“Nick is a fantastic example of exactly who we want our student-athletes to be,” said head coach Greg Marshall. “Not only is he a standout player on the field, but he also excels in the classroom, managing the demands of both football and medical school and succeeding in both. Nick is also heavily involved in the community, helping with coaching youth teams, while also volunteering with a number of groups around London.”

Along with Vanin’s award, four Mustangs were selected as U SPORTS All-Canadians, with Alex Taylor, David Brown, and Jean-Gabriel Poulin earning spots on the First Team, with Marc Liegghio being named to the Second Team.

The Mustangs will face Rouge et Or de l’Université Laval in the Vanier Cup Saturday, Nov. 25 in Hamilton. This is the Mustangs’ 13th appearance in the Vanier Cup. Tickets are available at vaniercup.com.