Fraser Valley – Tammer Byrne, Taylor Claggett, Brad Hildenbrandt and Ana Godinez Gonzalez took top honours as the University of the Fraser Valley athletic department held its annual awards ceremony on Wednesday evening.
The Cascades’ athlete of the year awards were reconfigured this year, with separate categories for team-sport and individual-sport athletes in an effort to recognize the depth of excellence on display during the 2018-19 season.
Byrne (men’s soccer) and Claggett (women’s basketball) took home the men’s and women’s athlete of the year nods in the team sports category, while wrestlers Hildenbrandt and Godinez Gonzalez combined to sweep the top prizes for the individual sports.
Other winners included soccer players Jashan Sandhar and Sahib Sidhu, who were the female and male rookies of the year, respectively. Individual academic awards went to Veronica Kobes (women’s basketball) and Jacob Lucki (men’s golf), and the rowing program earned the President’s Shield for posting the best team GPA. Serene Blanchard of the women’s rowing team was selected for the Jen Simpson Memorial Leadership Award, and Jas Braich (women’s rugby sevens) and Tripat Sandhu (women’s soccer) were co-winners of the outstanding community athlete award. Additionally, Cascades public address announcer Ian Wilson was the recipient of the first annual Cascades Crew award, recognizing excellence among student game-day staff.
Further details on the Cascades’ major award winners, along with a listing of team MVPs, are as follows.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR | TEAM SPORTS
Finalists: Taylor Claggett (basketball), Amanda Matsui (volleyball), Brittney Zacharuk (soccer)
Taylor Claggett (Mission, B.C.) earned Canada West third team all-star honours while leading the Cascades women’s basketball team to a ninth consecutive playoff berth. The fourth-year forward finished fifth in the conference scoring race, averaging 18.4 points per game, and she pulled down 8.4 rebounds per game to rank 11th overall. She also had a historic season at the free throw line, setting single-game records for foul shots made and attempted by going 20-for-24 against the Alberta Pandas on Nov. 9, and her 131 made free throws are the fourth-most in a season in Canada West history.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR | TEAM SPORTS
Finalists: Tammer Byrne (soccer), Parm Bains (basketball), Riley Jepson (baseball)
Tammer Byrne (Abbotsford, B.C.) captained the Cascades men’s soccer team for a third straight year, and was the backbone of a defence which dramatically reduced its goals-against from 31 in 2017 to just 18 last season. Byrne helped the team to a Canada West Final Four berth, and was subsequently voted a Canada West first team all-star and a U SPORTS first team All-Canadian. He concludes his career as the most decorated player in the history of the UFV men’s soccer program.
FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR | INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
Finalists: Ana Godinez Gonzalez (wrestling), Emery Bardock (golf)
Ana Godinez Gonzalez (Surrey, B.C.) dominated the competition nationally in the women’s 63 kg weight class to an incredible degree. She won the Canada West and U SPORTS gold medals without allowing a single point against, and at nationals, she won her four matches by a total of 42 points to zero. She was subsequently voted the U SPORTS female wrestler of the year, becoming the first UFV athlete across all sports to earn a U SPORTS national athlete of the year award.
MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR | INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
Finalists: Brad Hildenbrandt (wrestling), Daniel Campbell (golf)
Brad Hildenbrandt (Surrey, B.C.) completed a pair of incredible three-peats on behalf of the Cascades wrestling program, winning his third consecutive heavyweight titles at the Canada West and U SPORTS championship tournaments. He was dominant throughout, rarely allowing points against. Hildenbrandt was voted the Canada West male athlete of the year for wrestling, becoming the first UFV athlete to earn that honour, and was selected as the conference’s athlete of the month for February across all sports. He also represented Canada at the U23 World Championships in Romania last fall.
FEMALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Finalists: Jashan Sandhar (soccer), Alysha Cooper (volleyball), Abby Zawada (basketball)
Jashan Sandhar (North Delta, B.C.) was an impactful presence from Day 1 for the Cascades women’s soccer squad, causing problems for opposing teams with her speed and playmaking ability down the right wing. She finished the year with a goal and four assists, the latter total tied for ninth in Canada West. Her five points tied for second-most on the team, and she was voted to the Canada West all-rookie team.
MALE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Finalists: Sahib Sidhu (soccer), Josh Berenbaum (baseball), Simren Brar (wrestling)
Sahib Sidhu (Surrey, B.C.) stepped into the lineup and started all 15 games for the Cascades men’s soccer team, forming an effective centre back partnership with captain Tammer Byrne. The Canada West all-rookie selection helped the UFV squad dramatically reduce its goals-against – the team’s 1.2 goals allowed per game was the second-best mark in Canada West.
COMMUNITY ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Finalists: Jas Braich (women’s rugby sevens), Tripat Sandhu (women’s soccer), Evan Bell-Foley (men’s volleyball)
Abbotsford products Jas Braich and Tripat Sandhu were selected as co-winners of this award, which honours exceptional leadership in serving the community.
Despite suffering significant injuries each of her years with the Cascades women’s rugby sevens, Braich has been a positive leader with the club. She’s also very involved in the community, both on campus and off. At UFV, Braich served as a sexualized violence prevention facilitator, volunteered at Campus Rec’s spring break kids camp, and connected with donors as a student ambassador at the Town and Gown fundraiser. She also works with stroke patients through the TIME program at Abbotsford Rec Centre, helping them through exercise routines, and coaches youth girls rugby at Eugene Reimer Middle School and with the Fraser Valley regional program.
Sandhuof the Cascades women’s soccer team gives back to the community on a number of levels. She’s the co-founder of the Sikh Sewa International Society of Youth, a non-profit which provides local and international relief to vulnerable individuals. She’s also a co-facilitator and mentor with Abbotsford Restorative Justice, and volunteers with the Cyrus Centre, the Warm Zone women’s drop-in centre, and the Abbotsford Police Department’s victim services. Additionally, Sandhu tutors school-aged students and coaches with Abbotsford United Soccer Club. At UFV, she is a member of the Student Union Society and assists the student body president.
FEMALE ACADEMIC AWARD
The Cascades’ academic awards take the entire 2017-18 academic year into account, including the fall, winter and summer semesters.
Veronica Kobes (Abbotsford, B.C.) was the winner of the female academic award. The third-year forward completed 33 credits in the Bachelor of Science program last year with great distinction.
MALE ACADEMIC AWARD
Jacob Lucki (Agassiz, B.C.), a sophomore with the men’s golf team, was the recipient of the male academic award. He did outstanding work in the classroom last year, earning 23 credits towards a degree in kinesiology.
The Cascades rowing program earned the President’s Shield, emblematic of the best team grade point average. The rowers combined for a 3.11 GPA in 2017-18.
JEN SIMPSON MEMORIAL LEADERSHIP AWARD
Serene Blanchard (Maple Ridge, B.C.) is the recipient of the Jen Simpson Award, which recognizes leadership in three areas: on an athletic team, in the community, and in academics and involvement at UFV. The award honours the memory of Cascades rower Jen Simpson, who died tragically in a car accident in 2008 at the age of 20. Her parents and friends have established this annual award in her name.
Blanchard brings an incredible work ethic to all she does, and is very committed to her training and to the team. The Business student is a certified Level 1 rowing coach, and gives many hours to the Cascades’ newer recruits. Her organized, diligent leadership is greatly valued by her teammates and coaches.
CASCADES CREW AWARD
Ian Wilson (Agassiz, B.C.) was selected for the first annual Cascades Crew award, recognizing excellence among student game-day staff. Now in his third year as a public address announcer with the Cascades, the Bachelor of Science student got his start working volleyball games, and added soccer and basketball this season. He is very dedicated, and brings a great deal of skill and passion to his role.
Cascades team MVPs for 2018-19 were announced as part of awards night.
Men’s basketball: Parm Bains
Women’s basketball: Taylor Claggett
Men’s soccer: Tammer Byrne
Women’s soccer: Brittney Zacharuk
Men’s wrestling: Brad Hildenbrandt
Women’s wrestling: Ana Godinez Gonzalez
Men’s golf: Daniel Campbell
Women’s golf: Emery Bardock
Men’s volleyball: Ben Friesen
Women’s volleyball: Amanda Matsui
Rowing: Julia Siemens
Women’s rugby sevens: Shalaya Valenzuela
Baseball: Riley Jepson