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Top student-athletes celebrated at Algoma U athletics banquet

Thunderbirds varsity athletes recognized for dedication, skill, and academic achievement
Faith Holmes of the Algoma University Thunderbirds Women's Soccer Team.

Algoma University and the Algoma University Thunderbird Varsity Athletics Department recognized the hard work, dedication, skill, and academic achievements of their student-athletes during the 2022-23 Varsity Athletics Banquet held at the Grand Gardens recently. 

This year, the university presented two outstanding Thunderbirds with the Athlete of the Year Award, the university said in a news release.

The first Athlete of the Year Award winner to be highlighted was Faith Holmes of the women’s soccer program.

The first women’s soccer player to receive the award, she totalled 1,170 minutes of playing time.

Holmes’ coaches said that she “made numerous tackles per game, which denied opponents of obvious goal-scoring opportunities”.

As a leader, she has helped transform the nature of the program itself, depicting what it means to be a high-performance athlete - putting in the extra hours, maintaining her academic integrity, and being a role model for new players on the team.

Holmes is also a dual athlete, participating in cross-country running this season as well. 

The next athlete to be highlighted with an Athlete of the Year Award was Kyle Price of the men’s wrestling team.

Beginning in January, Price went 3-0 to bring home the gold medal at 100kg from the Brock Open, as well as bringing home gold from the Western Open.

Price’s undefeated season positioned him to do well at the OUA Championships at McMaster where he ultimately ended the competition winning gold.

He then rounded off his season with a bronze at the USports championships.

The Algoma University Student’s Union (AUSU) introduced a new award to highlight a student-athlete who demonstrates a leadership role within their sport, but who is also a shining example of character and leadership in their daily life.

The "AUSU Exemplary Student Athlete Award, Celebrating the Example of Timotheus van Weerden" will now be awarded annually in honour of Tim Van Weerden, who was this year’s men’s soccer captain and AUSU president. 

Algoma University recognized the 2007/08 Men’s Basketball team as this year’s inductees into the Thunderbird Wall of Fame.

The team finished fourth in the OCAA west region with a record of 11 and 7, making them the first team to qualify for the OCAA Men’s Basketball playoffs.

The team’s playoff run included: defeating the Loyalist College Lancers in the playoff qualifying game, the Centennial College Colts in the quarterfinals, and the St. Lawrence Vikings in the semi-final game.

In the OCAA Men’s Basketball final, the team lost to top-ranked Sheridan claiming the silver medal - the first for Algoma U.

Vyron Phillips was a West Region First Team All-Star and Robbie Green was a West Region Second Team All-Star. The team consisted of the following players and coaches: Peter Chapman, Robbie Green, Andy Haidar, Patrick Murray, Andrew Turgeon, Ryan Vetrie, Igor Vukovic, Zach Wright, James Tusingwire, Vyron Phillips, Garnet Cory (Manager), Winston Ivey (Assistant Coach) and Thomas Cory (Head Coach). 

“Tonight was a great evening as we were able to celebrate the many accomplishments of our student-athletes, coaches, and support personnel,” said Dave Trudelle, director of student life and ancillary services.

“We congratulate all of our award winners and thank everyone who participated in or supported the Thunderbird Varsity Athletics program this year. We’re looking forward to seeing what our Thunderbirds do next year."

The following awards were also handed out:

U SPORTS Academic All Canadian Awards for the 2021-2022 year
Allison Read - WBB
Bethany Balaktsis - WBB
Devin Miron - MBB
Mercedes Mazzuca - WBB
Peter De La Paz - MBB
Qeila Mbonihankuye - WBB
Roman Niro - MBB
Amber Dunbar - WSOCC
Eloise Mark Wallace - WSOCC
Ethan Mendes De Franca - MSOCC
Faith Holmes - WSOCC
Jenna Crombie - WSOCC
Katie Nippard - WSOCC
Leigha Nippard - WSOCC
Maria DeMelo - WSOCC
Megan Chandler - WSOCC
Taylor Barker - MSOCC
Tim Van Weerden - MSOCC
Carina Cognigni - XC
Emily Duchesne - WWRES
Breanna Hamilton - WCURL
Hunter Schumacher - MCURL

OUA All-Academic Award 2021/2022
Roman Niro: Men's Basketball
Riya Donnelly: Women's Basketball
Tim Van Weerden: Men's Soccer
Leigha Nippard: Women's Soccer
Gabriel Martynuck: Men's Wrestling
Mel Morrish: Women's Wrestling
Jordan Bryant: Men's Nordic Skiing
Brianna Marshall: Women's Nordic Skiing
Jordan Bryant: Men's Cross Country Running
Faith Holmes: Women's Cross Country Running
Hunter Schumacher: Men's Curling
Breanna Hamilton: Women's Curling

Dr. Lukenda Thunderbird Service Award
Qeila Mbonihankuye

AUSU Exemplary Student-Athlete Award, Celebrating the Example of Timotheus van Weerden 
Tim Van Weerden

Women’s Basketball
Coach’s Award – Kaila Fong
Most Improved – Mercedes Mazzuca
Best Defensive Player – Kaila Fong
Rookie of the Year – Brooke Gruhn
MVP – Bethany Belaktsis

Men’s Basketball
Coach’s Award – Steven Kabongo
Most Improved – Shawn Cher-Enfant
Best Defensive Player – Devin Miron
Rookie of the Year – Johan Germain
MVP – Devin Miron

Cross-Country Running
Coach’s Award – Faith Holmes & Jordan Bryant
Rookies of the Year – Avery Cooper & Mark Jobst
Most Improved - Bilal Khoja
MVP – Avery Cooper

Women’s Curling
Coach’s Award – Nicole Costello
Rookie of the Year - Abbey Engel
MVP – Breanna Hamilton

Men’s Curling
Rookie of the Year - Josh Bondoc
MVP – Hunter Schumacher

Nordic Skiing 
Coach’s Award – Nick Korsunski 
Rookies of the Year – Jordan Bryant & Brianna Marshall
MVP -  Mark Jobst

Women’s Soccer
Coach’s Award – Eloise Mark Wallace
Captain’s Award - Megan Chandler
Best Defensive Player - Faith Holmes
Rookie of the Year – Makayla Townes
MVP – Faith Holmes

Men’s Soccer
Coach’s Award – Tim Van Weerden
Captain’s Award - Thierry Nsega
Best Defensive Player - Ethan Mendes De Franca
Rookie of the Year – Josh Bondoc
MVP – Hiroki Wada

Women’s Wrestling
Coach’s Award – Emily Duchesne
Most Improved - Mel Morrish
Rookie of the Year – Kira Buck
MOW – Lilah Fraser

Men’s Wrestling 
Coach’s Award – Harish Cassie
Rookie of the Year – Gabe Martynuck
MOW – Kyle Price

Thunderbird Award (to graduating student-athletes)
Faith Holmes - Women’s Soccer and Cross Country Running
Jenna Crombie - Women’s Soccer
Megan Chandler - Women’s Soccer
Katie Nippard - Women’s Soccer
Leigha Nippard - Women’s Soccer
Maria DeMelo - Women’s Soccer
Sabrina Adey - Women’s Soccer
Samuel Akingbehin - Men’s Soccer
Lofo-John Kitoko - Men’s Soccer
Dean Amir Kahn - Men’s Soccer
Harish Cassie - Men’s Wrestling
Emily Duchesne - Women’s Wrestling
Peter De La Paz - Men’s Basketball
Olajuwon Oyegoke - Men’s Basketball
Devin Miron - Men’s Basketball
Karly Fracalanza - Women’s Basketball
Hunter Schumacher - Men’s Curling
Breanna Hamilton - Women’s Curling
Taylor Elliott - Women’s Curling
Nicole Costello - Women’s Curling
Nicolas Korsunski - Nordic Ski
Carina Cognigni - Nordic Ski and Cross Country Running