Awards and All-Canadians
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Britt Benn, Guelph
Benn is the fourth Guelph player to be voted CIS player of the year. She joins Jacey Murphy (2011, 2010), Barbara Mervin (2005) and Lauren Smithson (2001).
In her fifth and final year of eligibility, the sociology student led the OUA conference in scoring in the six-game regular season with 80 points on 16 tries, eight more than any other player. The 5-foot-6 outside centre helped guide the Gryphons to a perfect 6-0 record in league play and a trio of playoff wins en route to their fifth consecutive OUA title.
Benn ends her remarkable university career with five selections as an OUA all-star, four OUA scoring titles and four all-Canadian nods. Named the OUA Russell division rookie of the year back in 2008, she led Guelph to the podium in each of her first four trips to the CIS championship, including three bronze medals and a Monilex Trophy triumph a year ago in Peterborough, Ont.
A graduate of Napanee District Secondary School, Benn is an exceptional player both offensively and defensively. From her outside centre position she can attack gaps, break tackles, beat the opposition with her footwork or outright speed.
“Britt is a fantastic athlete that enjoys and excels at the one-on-one battles in the game,” said Guelph head coach Collete McAuley. “She has been able to score at will this season but has greatly improved on putting the wingers away as well. She has a lot of passion for the sport and her teammates and carries a lot of pressure on her shoulders. Her leadership skills have improved immensely over the last few years and she makes a lot of time for the rookies of the squad.”
StFX No. 8 player Tyson Beukeboom, McGill back Brianna Miller and Alberta scrum-half Chelsea Guthrie were the other nominees for CIS MVP honours.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Bianca Farella, Concordia
Farella is the second Concordia player to merit CIS rookie-of-the-year honours. Hughanna Gaw claimed the award in 2009.
The 5-foot-8 centre led the RSEQ conference in tries (12) and finished third in scoring (60 points) in her university debut despite playing in only six of the Stingers’ seven regular season games. The 20-year-old freshman guided Concordia to a 6-1 record in league play, good for second place in the Quebec standings, and a 2-0 mark in the playoffs, including a thrilling 35-34 win at Laval in the conference final. Her prowess was recognized by CIS coaches as she was the only first-year player voted to the all-Canadian team.
Farella joined the Stingers after three years as a dominant force in the Quebec CEGEP league where she was a three-time all-star and the team MVP with the Dawson College Blues, who she led to three consecutive provincial championships. In 2010, she was a member of the Quebec under-20 team that won gold at the national championships and a member of Canada’s national under-20 squad. The Montreal native is also a carded athlete with the senior women’s national team and will travel to Dubai in November to represent Canada at the International Rugby Board Women’s Sevens World Series.
“Bianca has had an immediate impact on our program both on and off the field,” said Stingers head coach Graeme McGravie.“On the field her commitment to be a better player has raised the game of those around her. Her vision going forward with the ball allows her to create space for herself and her teammates. On defence, her tackles have been game breakers for us as she forces the attacker backwards most of the time. She has exceptional work habits during and after practices and in the gym.”
Acadia winger Maddie MacKenzie, Queen’s centre Nadia Popov and Alberta back 3 Amee Svatos were also in the running for the top freshman award.
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Marin MacLeod, Queen’s
MacLeod, a native of Pictou County, N.S., has been an integral part of the Gaels’ front row since she arrived at Queen’s. A former member of the Nova Scotia under-19 and Canada under-20 teams, the fourth-year prop played all six OUA league games this year, and scored her first career regular season try in the final contest against York.
Throughout her four years at Queen’s, MacLeod has contributed to the Kingston community on a regular basis. This year, the health studies student joined the Varsity Leadership Committee and has spearheaded an initiative to provide Christmas hampers for those in need from all 13 varsity sports at Queen’s University through the community organization called Martha’s Table. She has also persuaded every athlete on the Queen’s team to be involved in a community volunteer capacity whether that is with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kingston or with the numerous other organizations she is involved in.
For the past two years, MacLeod has co-ordinated the Queen’s Women’s Rugby fundraising efforts for Run for the Cure. She also volunteers in the Revved Up program where she works with children with disabilities and is a big buddy to a Grade 2 in the Queen’s Kaleidoscope program which helps students with social and academic challenges. She has also done volunteer work in Guatemala (2009) and Cambodia (2012).
“Marin gives selflessly and enjoys every minute of her work with all people who have the privilege of working with her,” said Queen’s head coach Beth Barz. “She is a genuinely warm young woman who will certainly go on to contribute to community on an ongoing basis, particularly working in the local Kingston community while thinking about broader, more global needs.”
Hannah Davies from St. Thomas and Tarin Arndt from Calgary were also nominated.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Mike Cavanagh, St. Francis Xavier
Cavanagh was honoured by his CIS peers for the second time in his 14 seasons at the helm at StFX. He won the national award for the first time in 2001 and is also a seven-time AUS coach of the year (2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012).
This fall, Cavanagh guided the X-Women to their eighth consecutive undefeated regular season (8-0), first place in the AUS standings for the 11th year in a row and a 15th straight conference championship. StFX outscored its opponents by 657-3 in league play and set conference records for most points (657) and tries (109) in a single season. The previous marks of 416 points (2008) and 68 tries (2010) also belonged to the X-Women, who have topped all 16 weekly national polls over the past two campaigns.
Since 2002, Cavanagh’s record stands at 63-1-2 in regular season play and 81-17-5 overall, including AUS playoff and CIS championship contests. His X-Women have not lost a conference game since 2004 and are a perfect 13-0 in the AUS playoffs. He has guided his troops to a pair of national titles (2006, 2010) and three more appearances in the CIS final.
“Mike Cavanagh is one of the most accomplished coaches in Canadian Interuniversity Sport,” said Leo MacPherson, StFX Director of Athletics & Recreation. “Much of his success can be attributed to his focus on the successful recruitment and development of his student-athletes along with ensuring they have a top notch experience as they progress towards and earn their degrees.”
Laval’s Bill McNeil (RSEQ), Alberta’s Matt Parrish (Canada West) and the Waterloo duo of Jay and Leslie Shaw (OUA) were named coach of the year in the other CIS conferences this season.
The all-Canadian team was also announced on Wednesday.
Joining Benn and Farella on the all-CIS squad were conference most valuable players Tyson Beukeboom of StFX, Brianna Miller of McGill and Chelsea Guthrie of Alberta, as well as Guelph lock Caitlin Beaton, Guelph fullback Caitlin McNally, Toronto fullback Karla Telidetzki, Waterloo prop Briana Cunningham, Queen’s fullback Taylor White, Laval back Claudiane Renaud, Ottawa fullback Sarah Meng, Calgary centre Brynna Walker, StFX fullback Magali Harvey, and StFX winger Amanda Thornborough.
Five members of the all-star team had already been honoured in the past including Benn (2009, 2010, 2011), Beukeboom (2010, 2011), Telidetzki (2011), Renaud (2009) and Harvey (2010, 2011).
Pos. - Athlete - University - Year - Hometown -
Centre Britt Benn Guelph 5 Napanee, Ont. Sociology
Lock Caitlin Beaton Guelph 5 Clavering, Ont. Psychology
FB Caitlin McNally Guelph 4 Guelph, Ont. Arts
FB Karla Telidetzki Toronto 5 Edmonton, Alta. Graduate Studies
Prop Briana Cunningham Waterloo 5 Waterloo, Ont. Kinesiology
FB Taylor White Queen’s 3 Bancroft, Ont. Sociology
Back Brianna Miller McGill 3 Pointe Claire, Que. Physical & Health Education
Back Claudiane Renaud Laval 5 Trois-Rivières, Que. Geomatics
Centre Bianca Farella Concordia 1 Montreal, Que. Psychology
FB/W Sarah Meng Ottawa 5 Ottawa, Ont. Linguistics & Psychology
Scrum Chelsea Guthrie Alberta 3 Edmonton, Alta. Physical Education& Recreation
Centre Brynna Walker Calgary 3 Souris, Man. Kinesiology
No. 8 Tyson Beukeboom StFX 4 Uxbridge, Ont. Human Kinetics
FB Magali Harvey StFX 4 Quebec City, Que. Business Administration
Winger Amanda Thornborough StFX 4 Brandon, Man. Business Administration