Labonté, Légaré to represent QSSF at CIS athletes-of-the-year gala
TORONTO (CIS) - The countdown is on for the 17th annual BLG
Awards honouring the top Canadian Interuniversity Sport female and
male athletes for the 2008-09 season.
After 16 successful years in Calgary, the BLG Awards are coming to Toronto for the first time ever. On Monday, April 27, 2009, the eight national nominees will be honoured, with one female and one male winner receiving a $10,000 post-secondary grant in front of more than 1,000 BLG guests at the John Bassett Theatre, in the Toronto Metro Convention Centre.
The awards show will premier on TSN on Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m.
CIS will highlight one female and one male finalists daily during the week leading up to the awards gala. Today, the nominees from the Quebec Student Sports Federation.
2009 BLG Awards: Quebec Student Sports Federation female nominee
Year of eligibility in 2008-09: 3
Academic program: Physical & Health Education
Hometown: Boisbriand, Que.
Charline Labonté has come as close to perfection as it gets in her first three seasons at McGill. After leading her team to the national final as a rookie in 2006-07, the five-foot-nine goaltender has guided the Martlets to back-to-back CIS titles, the first two in program history. At the 2008 CIS championship, she became the first netminder in history to play every minute of the tournament without allowing a single goal, and at this year's Nationals she was chosen the tourney's best goalie after giving up only three goals in three outings. Named the top goaltender in CIS (first-team all-Canadian) each of her three campaigns at McGill, Labonté finished the 2008-09 regular schedule with a perfect 15-0 mark, including nine shutouts, and led the country with a 0.60 goals against average and a .966 save percentage. She holds the QSSF single-season records for most wins (17), shutouts (11), lowest goals against average (0.47) and best save percentage (.971), and the career marks for most wins (49), shutouts (30), lowest goals against average (0.62) and best save percentage (.963).
A member of Canada's senior national team since 2000-01, Labonté started and won three games at the 2006 Turin Olympics, including a 4-1 gold-medal victory over Sweden. Her other Olympic wins were both shutouts, 12-0 over Russia and 6-0 over Finland. Earlier this month, she was named the tournament's top goaltender at the 2009 IIHF world championship in Finland (April 4-12) where she helped Canada claim a silver medal. It marked her fourth appearance at the "worlds" following a gold-medal finish in 2007 and silver medals in 2005 and 2008. She was the alternate goaltender for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 2003 and 2004 world championships. Two of her teammates with Team Canada 2009 are former Martlets Catherine Ward and Kim St-Pierre - also a goalie and the 2003 BLG award winner -, while McGill head coach Peter Smith is an assistant coach with the team.
Back in 1999-2000, Labonté became only the second female (after Manon Rhéaume) to compete in a men's major junior hockey league in Canada when she played 26 games for the Acadie-Bathurst Titans of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. She also played two games for Acadie-Bathurst in 2000-01.
"Charlie is a big intimidating goaltender who is technically very strong on her angles. She gives our team a huge dose of confidence as they know that they can take some risks because she will be there to make the big saves," says McGill head coach Peter Smith. "She also serves as an offensive weapon to our transition game as she is very good a handling the puck and moving it up the ice quickly."
Other female nominees:
Atlantic University Sport: Ghislaine Landry (Toronto), rugby, St. Francis Xavier
Ontario University Athletics: Lindsay Carson (Cambridge, Ont.), cross country & track, Guelph
Canada West Universities Athletic Association: Annamay Pierse (Edmonton), swimming, UBC
2009 BLG Awards: Quebec Student Sports Federation male nominee
Year of eligibility in 2008-09: 4
Academic program: Education
Hometown: St-Raymond, Que.
Simply put, Étienne Légaré was the best defensive player on the best defensive team in the country this past football season. Despite missing one game due to an injury, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound senior was second in the Quebec conference and sixth in the nation during the regular schedule with 6.5 quarterback sacks, while also tallying 23 tackles and forcing one fumble. His exploits helped Laval set a team record with only 60 points allowed in conference play and put together one of the most dominating defensive seasons in recent history as the Rouge et Or led the nation in least points against, total yards (255) and rushing yards (69) allowed per game, and finished second in pass defence (185 yards per game).
Légaré and his teammates kept rolling in the playoffs. After opening the post-season with a 32-7 win over Montreal and surviving a close call to prevail 28-17 over Concordia in the QUFL final, the Rouge et Or dominated Calgary in the Uteck Bowl, 59-10, and Western Ontario in the Vanier Cup final, 44-21, to capture their second CIS title in three years, and the second of Légaré's career. Laval finished the campaign with an unblemished 12-0 overall record, marking the first perfect season in the program's history.
The third Laval player to claim the J.P. Metras trophy as CIS lineman of the year - after current Toronto Argonaut Dominic Picard, in 2005, and former B.C. Lion Carl Gourgues, in 2001 - Légaré is one of the top prospects going into the 2009 CFL Canadian Draft, set for May 2. He was ranked fifth on the first list of CIS prospects published by the CFL's Amateur Scouting Bureau on September 28, and moved up to fourth on the second list that came out on November 10. The native of St-Raymond, Que., had a golden opportunity to impress pro scouts on January 17 when he was one of two CIS players invited to suit up in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game in Texas. His coach for the day was Bobby Ross, who, over his distinguished career, led San Diego to a Super Bowl appearance in 1995 and guided Georgia Tech to the NCAA title in 1990.
"Étienne was without a doubt our most dominant defensive player last season. He is a very versatile and explosive player," says Laval head coach Glen Constantin. "He is a model student-athlete who perfectly exemplifies the overall mission of the Rouge et Or football team, he has developed both has a student and a football player. He displays strong leadership and his nomination as a BLG award finalist crowns a fantastic season for him. It is a well-deserved honour."
Other male nominees:
Atlantic University Sport: Marc Rancourt (Gloucester, Ont.), hockey, Saint Mary's
Ontario University Athletics: Francesco Bruno (Toronto), soccer, York
Canada West Universities Athletic Association: Joel Schmuland (Calgary), volleyball, Alberta
BLG AWARD WINNERS
2007-08: Laetitia Tchoualack (Montreal - volleyball), Rob Hennigar (UNB - hockey)
2006-07: Jessica Zelinka (Calgary - track & field), Josh Howatson (Trinity Western - volleyball)
2005-06: Marylène Laplante (Laval - volleyball), Osvaldo Jeanty (Carleton - basketball)
2004-05: Adrienne Power (Dalhousie - track & field), Jesse Lumsden (McMaster - football)
2003-04: Joanna Niemczewska (Calgary - volleyball), Adam Ens (Saskatchewan - volleyball)
2002-03: Kim St-Pierre (McGill - hockey), Ryan McKenzie (Windsor - cross country & track)
2001-02: Elizabeth Warden (Toronto - swimming), Brian Johns (UBC - swimming)
2000-01: Leighann Doan (Calgary - basketball), Kojo Aidoo (McMaster - football)
1999-00: Jenny Cartmell (Alberta - volleyball), Michael Potts (Western Ontario - soccer)
1998-99: Corinne Swirsky (Concordia - hockey), Alexandre Marchand (Sherbrooke - track)
1997-98: Foy Williams (Toronto - track & field), Titus Channer (McMaster - basketball)
1996-97: Terri-Lee Johannesson (Manitoba - basketball), Curtis Myden (Calgary - swimming)
1995-96: Justine Ellison (Toronto - basketball), Don Blair (Calgary - football)
1994-95: Linda Thyer (McGill - track & field), Bill Kubas (Wilfrid Laurier - football)
1993-94: Sandra Carroll (Winnipeg - basketball), Tim Tindale (Western Ontario - football)
1992-93: Diane Scott (Winnipeg - volleyball), Andy Cameron (Calgary - volleyball)
About the BLG Awards
The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with CIS. The BLG Awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and leadership.
Each of 52 CIS schools selects one female and one male athlete of the year. From these nominees, one female and one male athlete are chosen within each of the four regional associations: Atlantic University Sport, Quebec Student Sports Federation, Ontario University Athletics, and Canada West Universities Athletic Association. To be eligible, a student-athlete must have competed in a CIS sport for a minimum of two years and cannot be a previous recipient of a BLG Award.
Nominees receive a commemorative gold ring, and winners are presented with a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend a Canadian University graduate school. Winners are selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit Board established for the purpose of administering the BLG Awards and protecting the integrity of the selection process. The CAF Board of Trustees consists of 23 members from six Canadian cities representing 11 major corporations from across the country who are committed to ensuring that Canadian University athletes receive the recognition they deserve.
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