Soccer player Jenna White, football player Alex Taylor and swimmer Gamal Assaad were recognized for their outstanding careers Tuesday night at the Western Mustangs Athletic Awards Gala.
White wrapped up her five-year Mustangs career as the 62nd F.W.P. Jones Trophy winner, while Taylor and Assaad were named co-winners of the 79th Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy. Both awards are presented to an athlete judged to have made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics during their time at Western.
Over the past five seasons, few players have made the impact White has on the soccer field, helping Western claim three Ontario University Athletics (OUA) silver medals, one bronze and earned a spot in the national championship three times in her Mustangs career.
Along with her team success, she started things off with OUA West and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours in 2013, while also earning OUA First Team All-Star status. White earned a spot on the OUA West All-Star team in each of her five seasons and, twice, named a U SPORTS All-Canadian.
Taylor and Assaad were named co-winners of the Dr. Claude Brown Memorial Trophy, marking the first time since the 2010-11 season that two student-athletes were chosen for the honour.
Assaad has had an outstanding career at Western capturing 18 medals at the OUA championships, along with another five at the U SPORTS championships. Along with his success as a Mustang, Assaad has represented Canada at both the Pan Pacific Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
Throughout the past four seasons, Taylor has emerged as the top running back in Canadian university football, and has been named an OUA All-Star and U SPORTS All-Canadian in each of the past three seasons. He is the second all-time leading rusher in Western history with 3,106 regular season yards, and is first in Mustangs history with an astounding 8.5 yards per carry. He was a driving force on this year’s undefeated championship team, including rushing for 150 yards in the Mustangs Vanier Cup victory in November.
Along with the Brown and Jones trophies, two Mustangs were selected as the Female and Male Athletes of the Year.
Larissa Werbicki claimed Female Athlete of the Year Award after a phenomenal year on the Mustangs women’s rowing team.
Since arriving at Western, Werbicki has been absolutely dominant, becoming the first female athlete in the 18-year history of the Canadian University Rowing Championships to win all three lightweight women’s events in the same year.
She helped lead the Mustangs to both an OUA Championship and National Championship, where she was also honoured as Oarswoman of the Year.
Receiving the Male Athlete of the Year Award was football player Jean-Gabriel Poulin.
Key to a Mustangs defence that was arguably the most dominant unit in the country this season, the middle linebacker racked up 37 tackles and 2.5 sacks during eight regular season games to earn both First Team All-Star and First Team All-Canadian honours.
A leader both on and off the field, Poulin was crucial in guiding the team to an undefeated season, as the Mustangs galloped through the playoffs and captured the 31st Yates Cup and seventh Vanier Cup in program history.
Fourteen Purple Blanket Awards, given to student-athletes (usually in their graduating year) judged to have made an outstanding contribution to Western athletics, were also handed out, with six going to major award nominees Pearson, Case, Taylor, Assaad, Pelletier, and Poulin.
Other Purple Blanket winners included volleyball’s Aja Gyimah; rowers Reid Vassallo and Marilyse Dubois; football’s Nick Vanin; softball’s Rachael Jacques; volleyball’s Kat Tsiofas; rugby’s Peter Milazzo; and basketball’s Mackenzie Puklicz.
Team MVPs were honoured as well, including:
Men’s Badminton: Jack Hall
Women’s Badminton: Cara de Belle
Baseball: Matt Bowden
Men’s Basketball: Marko Kovac
Women’s Basketball: Mackenzie Puklicz
Men’s Cross Country: Ben Carson
Women’s Cross Country: Kristina Popadich
Men’s Curling: Ryan Thompson-Brown
Women’s Curling: Carolyne Graham
Men’s Fencing: John Huang
Women’s Fencing: Victoria Edwards
Field Hockey: Marielle Fernback
Figure Skating: Denis Margalik
Football: Jean-Gabriel Poulin
Men’s Golf: Mac Carter
Women’s Golf: Tasha Macdonald
Men’s Hockey: Luke Peressini
Women’s Hockey: Evra Levesque
Men’s Lacrosse: Jackson Rakoczy
Women’s Lacrosse: Hayley Liske
Ringette: Hailie Pavanel
Men’s Rowing: Reid Vassallo
Women’s Rowing: Larissa Werbicki
Men’s Rugby: Mike Coldwells
Women’s Rugby: Arielle Dubisette-Borrice
Men’s Soccer: Kody Thomson
Women’s Soccer: Julia Crnjac
Softball: Rachael Jacques
Men’s Squash: David Mill
Women’s Squash: Lindsey Smith
Men’s Swimming: Matt Loewen
Women’s Swimming: Charis Huddle
Men’s Table Tennis: Aaron Bo-Yun Hsueh
Women’s Table Tennis: Helen Qiu
Men’s Tennis: Mark Jensen
Women’s Tennis: Helen He
Men’s Track and Field: Daniel Gleason
Women’s Track and Field: Caroline Stricelj
Men’s Ultimate Frisbee: Neal McKinnon
Women’s Ultimate Frisbee: Katherine Fraser
Men’s Volleyball: Chris Newcombe
Women’s Volleyball: Kelsey Veltman
Water Polo: Maksym Koval
Men’s Wrestling: Brayden Ambo
Women’s Wrestling: Michalia Walls