Fraser Valley (Dan Kinvig) – In a year where inter-university sport competition was almost nonexistent, the University of the Fraser Valley department of athletics and recreation nevertheless had many reasons to celebrate its student-athletes.
In a typical year, awards like male and female athlete of the year and rookie of the year would take centre stage. But after a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, with conference and national schedules cancelled and varying limitations on training, those awards stayed on the shelf.
Instead, the Cascades shifted their focus to recognizing outstanding leadership amidst the challenges of the pandemic, honouring 11 student-athletes as recipients of the Cascades Leadership Award. A selection of traditional awards were also bestowed, including Community Athlete of the Year, the Jen Simpson Memorial Leadership Award, and the Cascade Crew Award.
“I’ve been so proud of how our student-athletes have responded in the face of adversity this year,” marveled Steve Tuckwood, UFV director of athletics and campus recreation. “Their drive to continue to develop their athletic gifts, the gains they made in the weight room, their achievements in the classroom, and their community contributions are all tributes to their endurance and persistence. We’re proud to honour some of our best and brightest, and we look forward to seeing them in action on their respective fields of play as we continue to work toward a return to Canada West competition this fall.”
Cascades Awards winners for 2020-21 are as follows.
COMMUNITY ATHLETE OF THE YEAR
Stephanie Demeules, Chestermere Alta. | Women’s Volleyball
This annual award recognizes exceptional leadership in serving the community, and Demeules, a third-year libero with the Cascades women’s volleyball team, epitomized that ideal in 2020-21.
Demeules served the UFV community in a pair of formal roles: as a senior community assistant in the Baker House on-campus residence, and as president of the Cascades’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Her work at Baker House included assisting students struggling with depression and seeking to build personal connections amidst the pandemic; working with campus groups to create an online panel presentation called “Seen and Unseen: Missing Women and the Media”; helping organize a Chinese New Year event for Baker House residents; and running an information booth to promote mental health on Bell Let’s Talk Day. Highlights of her work with SAAC included organizing a blood drive, creating a pet calendar to raise funds for the SPCA, and pulling together supplies for donation to Operation Christmas Child.
Outside of UFV, Demeules volunteered twice a week at Chilliwack Central Elementary, giving extra assistance to students who were struggling with schoolwork. She also served as a volunteer beach volleyball coach, and led a UFV women’s volleyball Instagram campaign where the team shared healthy recipes, volleyball drills, and at-home activities to encourage the community during periods of COVID-19 isolation.
“Cascades women’s volleyball strives to be generous, and we are proud of Stephanie and how she freely gives to those around her,” Cascades women’s volleyball head coach Janelle Rozema said. “She is generous in sharing who she is, and committing her time not only to our team but also the UFV and Abbotsford community. When opportunities to be involved arise, Stephanie is always eager and excited to participate. To top it off, she does it with contagious joy.”
JEN SIMPSON MEMORIAL LEADERSHIP AWARD
Jessica Phan, Langley B.C. | Women’s Rowing
Jessica Phan, a member of the Cascades rowing program who is studying kinesiology at UFV, 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 on campus. 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.
“Jessica has served as the rowing team’s media rep for the past two years while attending university full-time and working two part-time jobs,” Phan’s rowing teammates said in a group statement. “Her community involvement and positive enthusiasm on and off the dock embodies what it means to be a model Cascades student-athlete. Her contributions to team morale and peer-to-peer communication are foundationally valued by our team.”
CASCADE CREW AWARD
Adam Hutchison, Torquay, United Kingdom | Cascades Communications Assistant
The Cascade Crew Award annually recognizes excellence among student game-day staff. Hutchison, a Cascades communications assistant throughout the entirety of his UFV studies dating back to 2017, has helped to elevate the experience of Cascades student-athletes through his game-day social media and video work. Though games were few and far between in 2020-21, Hutchison, a graduate of Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Secondary, contributed to several video projects while completing his Bachelor of Arts degree with an extended minor in media and communication studies and an additional minor in communications.
“Adam brings passion and consistency to all he does, and it’s been a joy to work alongside him,” Cascades communications coordinator Dan Kinvig said. “As he graduates, I’m confident he is well-equipped to work effectively in this field if he so chooses.”
CASCADES LEADERSHIP AWARDS
The 2020-21 Cascades Leadership Awards are intended to honour athletes who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in team settings, whether on the court, in the weight room, or in the community, in a highly challenging year amidst COVID-19. These individuals are deliberately selfless, create patterns of progress and purpose, and honour those around them.
The recipients are as follows, with a quote from their respective coaches explaining the impact of their leadership contributions.
Emery Bardock, Armstrong B.C. | Women’s Golf
“Emery leads by example with her effort and energy, on and off the golf course. Her commitment to not only return from injury but take her game to new heights is inspiring and shows her competitiveness. The standard she sets every day for our team makes everyone that much better. I strongly believe that the impact she has on our young athletes today will play a large part in our team’s success for years to come.” – Cody Stewart, women’s golf head coach
Ryan Donald, Surrey B.C. | Men’s Soccer
“Ryan’s high standards on the field, in the classroom and in the weight room help to push his teammates to be better every single day. Over the past year he has improved his vocal presence within the group to take his leadership skills to a new level. In a year where he could have gone easy, he was there leading, mentoring and developing the rest of the squad. He has been an excellent role model for what we want our program to be about.” – Tom Lowndes, men’s soccer head coach
Cheye Gustafson, Aldergrove B.C. | Women’s Rugby Sevens
“While Cheye continued to work through a chronic ankle problem this year, she did so with a determination and work ethic that inspired those around her. Her unfailing commitment during training sessions set the standard for her teammates. Her passion and belief in our program is evident in all she does. Cheye applies this same work ethic to her academic studies as well.” – Jen Ross, women’s rugby sevens head coach
Victoria Jacobse, Mission B.C. | Women’s Basketball
“Victoria was thrown into a very challenging leadership role this year, and it has been enjoyable to watch her mature and gain a comfort level in this role under such difficult circumstances. Her years of experience with the program have served her well, and the wisdom she shared with the 2020-21 team has been invaluable. Victoria has been instrumental in making this very different year enjoyable and successful.” – Al Tuchscherer, women’s basketball head coach
Caleb Kastelein, Langley B.C. | Men’s Volleyball
“Caleb did a great job this year in leading by example in the weight room, on the court, in the classroom, and in extra volunteer activities. He was focused on the task at hand while being vigilant of his teammates around him and how he can help. Our program is proud to have a person like Caleb, with his character, athleticism, and drive to win. We are looking for great things to come.” – Nathan Bennett, men’s volleyball head coach
Travis Klein, Maple Ridge B.C. | Men’s Baseball
“Travis has been an amazing asset to our program. He is one of the hardest workers on the team both on the field and in the classroom. Time after time he goes well beyond the call of duty to help his teammates and the program. The staff is extremely grateful for his commitment to the team and wish him the best as he completes his degree and moves on to a career in criminal justice.” – Kyle Lotzkar, men’s baseball general manager and pitching coach
Jacob Lucki, Agassiz B.C. | Men’s Golf
“Jacob is a rock on our team and has been for many years. He has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to upholding our program standard in the classroom, at the golf course, and as a team member. Day in and day out he brings it, so it’s no surprise to see his teammates vote him to receive this award.” – Aaron Pauls, men’s golf head coach
Tripat Sandhu, Abbotsford B.C. | Women’s Soccer
“Tripat is an exceptional leader on and off the field. She has selflessly given of her time and energy to assist, support, and speak out on behalf of those who may not have the ability to do so themselves. Tripat is an inspiration to our women’s soccer program, and her devotion and selfless acts within our community are ones that we will try to emulate so that we can carry on the positive tradition she has established.” – Niko Marcina, women’s soccer head coach
Jordyn Sekhon, Quesnel B.C. | Men’s Basketball
“While maintaining a stellar GPA in the classroom, Jordyn was instrumental in helping a new coach transition into the program. He often took the lead on volunteer activities, organizing team deliverables, and being a liaison between coach and team members. We look forward to having Jordyn back in the mix next season and his continued progress and purpose.” – Joe Enevoldson, men’s basketball head coach
Kara Williams, Mission B.C. | Women’s Volleyball
“Kara epitomizes the culture I would like to build as we transition to U SPORTS. She is fully committed, whether on the court, in the weight room or in the classroom. Kara leads by example, and shows courage by striving to do what is best, not necessarily what everyone else is doing. Her leadership was put to the test this year, with no guarantee of a season, but she stayed consistent in her pursuit of excellence.” – Janelle Rozema, women’s volleyball head coach
Alexis Worrell, Liberia, Costa Rica | Women’s Basketball
“Lex had to adapt quickly to a new leadership role with the graduation of three key leaders from our team in 2020 and the challenges of a global pandemic impacting virtually every aspect of our lives. Her gregarious personality was exactly what our team needed. She is equally comfortable communicating with coaches and younger teammates, and was a key to this challenging season being productive and enjoyable.” – Al Tuchscherer, women’s basketball head coach