Royals host their 2017 Athletic Banquet
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
There’s no better way to wrap up a year of sports than with a nice dinner with your friends and a bit of a show. Last week, the Royals hosted their annual Athletic Banquet to wrap up the athletic year. It was a joyful and merry event as several athletes were honoured and recognized amongst their peers.
The first thing of note was the overall success of this year’s program. The Royals have seven teams in the PACWEST, and six of the teams captured medals in the post-season. Their NWAC programs saw softball nearly take the NWAC title. Overall, it’s been a heck of a year to be a Royal.
With over 30 individual awards being doled out by the PACWEST and NWAC respectively, it’s safe to say that this year saw a lot of personalities distinguish themselves. Let’s take a look at this year’s award winners.
It was a great year for men’s soccer. A silver medal at the PACWEST Provincial Championship and their third appearance at Nationals in four years were the highlights of their season. The team was led by fifth-year transfer Tony McCullough, who picked up this year’s Unsung Hero award. With his last year of eligibility finished, there was some question as to what McCullough would be doing in the coming year. That is a question no longer, as it was confirmed that McCullough will be returning to the Royals in a coaching position.
Picking up the Player’s Choice Award was Isaac Kyei. The fifth-year Royal has spent his entire career with the Royals and was acknowledged for it. During his time with the program, Issac has picked up two PACWEST gold medals, two PACWEST silver medals, and a CCAA bronze medal.
Race Williams picked up the Rookie of the Year award, which made sense considering he picked up the PACWEST Rookie of the Year award for his contributions to this year’s campaign. He finished fourth in PACWEST scoring with five tallies. For his efforts this year, Race was also nominated as a candidate for Male Athlete of the Year.
No story is more satisfying to tell than the story of this year’s women’s soccer team. After having to fill the gap left by the absence of two of the PACWEST’s top goal scorers, as well as having to fill the hole left by losing their first choice goalkeeper, the team came into the league and captured the title, as well as a PACWEST silver. They would go on to win the program’s first CCAA medal, capturing bronze.
Leading the team this year was third-year Samantha Kell. She would pick up the Heart of a Royal award for her dedication and passion to the team. Alongside her was her co-captain Michelle Wessa, who would pick up the Best All-Around Player award. Along with being a leader, Wessa was a key defensive midfielder, and even chipped in her fair share from long range.
But there was one player who rose above her peers this year. Andrea Perrotta would be the player to take home the MVP award. She led the PACWEST in goals and assists, chipping in on more than half of the Royals goals this year. She also won the PACWEST Player of the Year award, and was named a CCAA All-Canadian. On top of all of this, for her efforts this year, Perrotta was named the Royals Female Athlete of the Year.
Coach Laxton was also acknowledged at the banquet. His team’s performance over the last two years has seen him make history in two straight years, and earned him the Royals Coach of the Year award.
Coming in the year needing to rebuild, the men’s volleyball team wasn’t expected to win anything. But led by head coach Jay Tremonti, the team would go on to win a PACWEST bronze. On the court, the team was led offensively by Comeback Player award winner Devon Dunn. He led the Royals and the PACWEST in scoring, and picked up a First Team All-Star nod. Dunn was also nominated for the Male Player of the Year Award.
Aaron Neumann would pick up the Most Improved Player award. His performances spiked during the PACWEST Championships when his team needed him the most, earning him the nickname, “The Neuminator.” But this year, the team was led by one player. At the beginning of the season, Jared Collin was tipped to be in the running for the captaincy, but he proved throughout the season that he deserved the title. He grew to be a vocal leader for the team and took control in tight situations. His efforts earned him the MVP award this year.
The women’s volleyball program had one of its best years in recent program history. Led by their new head coach Jeff Ross, the team finished second in the PACWEST and captured silver at the PACWEST Championships. Ross earned a PACWEST Coach of the Year award, as well as a Royals Coach of the Year award nomination. Had Camosun College not been hosting the CCAA National Championships, the Royals would have been in.
Nonetheless, multiple members of the Royals had different kinds of impacts on the team. Rizelle Uy is a perfect example of that. Coming in and playing as a service ace, Uy was the heart of the Royals spirit. For that, she won the Heart award. Olivia Cesaretti would take home the Most Improved award, and will likely have a huge role in the middle for the Royals next year.
But the award of the night went to the team’s leader, Juliana Penner. Penner finished her last year with the team and capped off her list of achievements with an MVP award from the Royals.
The men’s basketball team added another peg up in their journey to the top of the PACWEST this year. With new head coach Joe Enevoldson, the team would go on to capture a PACWEST bronze medal.
Sheldon Derton was a surprise for the team this year. The promising player announced it would be his last year with the team before going on to be a wall to be reckoned with in the PACWEST. Derton won the Best Defender award for his efforts this year.
In terms of the best player this year, there wasn’t just one. There were two. Malcolm Mensah and Grant Campbell picked up Co-MVP awards. Malcolm spent his fifth and final year proving to the PACWEST why his legacy is one to be remembered. He succeeded in earning a Second Team All-Star nod and the appreciation of his teammates.
Grant Campbell was a key member of the Royals roster. The fourth-year guard played out of his mind this year and was rewarded with a PACWEST First Team All-Star nod. Along with being a co-MVP, Grant was nominated and won the Male Athlete of the Year award.
While women’s soccer may have had the best story this year, women’s basketball perhaps had the best “feel good” story. With new head coach Steve Beauchamp, the team went on to capture their first PACWEST Championship title since 1992–93. Although they finished 5th/6th at the CCAA National Championship, it was a milestone for the team nonetheless.
In her last year with the team, Jettie McLaughlin won the Most Inspirational award for her inspiring two-way play. Amber Beasley also had a huge year for the team, but was unacknowledged by the PACWEST. Her peers acknowledged her contributions, awarding her the Unsung Hero award.
But if there was one player who drove the Royals’ dream run this year, it would have to be Rachel Beauchamp. She had a dominant year on the court this year, both on the boards and the scoreboard. She pushed the Royals to the next level and was awarded a First Team All-Star nod and a CCAA All-Canadian award. She won the MVP for her team at the banquet, and was a nominee for the Female Athlete of the Year.
It was a tough year for the Royals last season. But despite the trials, there were a couple of gems. One of those gems was Ethan Fox. Fox overcame several injuries last season and still performed admirably. For this, he was awarded the GRIT award.
Another gem in the rough was Cole Russell. The pitcher had a strong season for the Royals and became one of the few Royals pitchers who could hold his own on the mound and manage his ERA, despite injuries plaguing him. His drive to succeed earned him the Commitment to Excellence award.
In terms of leaders, Brock Morgan stuck out as a natural. It’s his last year with the program, and his leadership will be an asset for the team. For his leadership last year, Brock won the Leadership award.
Year after year, the Royals softball program continues to establish itself as a dominant program in the West. Last year was no different. In fact, it was the best. The team made it all the way to the NWAC Championship game before falling to the champions.
Daniella Vilio had herself a heck a year, and possibly the best moment of the year. She hit a clutch home run, her first of the year, to tie the game in a literal do or die situation in the Championships. For that massive hit, she won the Spirit Award.
But if we’re talking about players that really led the team, it would have to be the pitcher-catcher combo, Jordan Britten-Yung and Keeley Ainge. Both players were magnificent in the season and the Championships, earning First Team All-Star awards in their first year. In the Championship, the two combined for over 500 pitches in four days. Their excellence earned them both Royals softball MVP awards.
Coach Michelle Peters was also acknowledged for her contribution to the program, earning yet another Royals Coach of the Year nomination.
That brings an end to the most of the Royals’ athletic program. Although the majority of the sports are finished, a new season of softball and baseball lay on the horizon, and as the saying goes, the world of sports never sleeps.