Men’s rugby captain Jacob Rumball and his team took home big awards at Queen’s annual varsity athletic banquet.
Boisterous bagpipes and a procession of All-Canadian student-athletes started off the 79th annual Varsity Colour Awards Wednesday night in the ARC.
Members from all 13 Gaels varsity teams were present to recognize athletic accomplishments over the 2014-15 season.
Hockey and basketball players also took home major individual awards, as did a champion rower.
Jim Tait Trophy for outstanding varsity team: men’s rugby
After winning three provincial championships in as many years, men’s rugby finally claimed their first team of the year nod during that stretch.
The Gaels mounted a stirring comeback against the Guelph Gryphons in the OUA final on Nov. 8, prevailing 32-23 at Nixon Field.
According to fourth-year fly half Andrew Carr, the team developed close bonds over the past few years.
“I think it just speaks volumes to the kinds of athletes that we develop in the rugby team,” he said. “I can’t really compare it to anything else I’ve ever experienced. Every single guy on that team is my brother.”
Carr attributed the Gaels’ prolonged success to an atmosphere of selfless play.
“We really thrive on that kind of atmosphere and that’s how we want to be as players,” he said.
“It’s an all-round team effort. I would thank every one of the guys on the team, every guy in the club, every one of the coaches for everything we’ve accomplished.”
Jenkins Trophy for outstanding male student-athlete: Jacob Rumball — men’s rugby
The rugby captain capped off an OUA MVP campaign with one of Queen’s highest solo honours.
A three-time OUA Academic All-Star, Rumball was part of three provincial championship teams during his time with the Gaels.
He’s been an integral part of the program’s Run for the Cure and White Ribbon campaigns, in support of combating breast cancer and violence against women.
Though he wasn’t a top scorer, the fifth-year forward led the way in terms of leadership on and off the field.
He has split his playing career between the Gaels, the Ontario Blues and, at one point, Canada’s Under-20 national team.
Rumball wasn’t in attendance to accept the award.
He’s currently playing a short stint with the Hong Kong Rugby Football Club, a club team that participates in Hong Kong’s top level of competition.
Rumball is currently a sales representative at the Journal.
PHE ’55 Alumnae Award for outstanding female student-athlete: Liz Boag — women’s basketball
A three-time OUA All-Star, Boag led her team to two OUA Final Four appearances over the past two years.
Averaging 13 points and three assists per game in 2014-15, she wasn’t only a scoring and passing threat, but a leader as well.
“It’s a great award. I’m just honoured to win in a class of athletes,” she said.
Her most memorable basketball moment with the Gaels, Boag said, was winning the OUA East championship last year, and advancing to the CIS national tournament.
Before she came to Queen’s, she wasn’t used to winning prestigious awards. She was named to the OUA All-Rookie team in 2010-11 and has been improving consistently ever since.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, and it’s definitely paid off.”
Outstanding performance of the year:
Larkin Davenport Huyer — rowing
The third-year rower dominated on the provincial and national stages this year.
After taking a gold and silver medal at the OUA championships, Davenport Huyer moved onto the Canadian University Rowing Championship, where she won gold in the women’s single event.
Davenport Huyer was surprised by — and grateful for — the award.
“I could be here for days thanking people,” she said.
A highlight of the season was her national championship win.
“It was pretty remarkable to win the CU Championships — it was kind of surreal,” she said. “Doesn’t really seem like it happened.”
The OUA All-Star is hoping to build on this year’s success. Davenport Huyer said she’s eyeing a spot on Canada’s under-23 national team, in addition to another season with the Gaels.
Alfie Pierce Trophy for top male rookie: Spencer Abraham — men’s hockey
Joining the Gaels after a stint with the CHL’s Erie Otters, Abraham stormed into university competition this season, winning CIS Rookie of the Year.
His 28 points tied him for most points by a defenceman in the country.
The trophy’s history left an impression on Abraham.
“Obviously, it’s a pretty prestigious award coming from such a historic institution in Queen’s University,” he said. “It’s been around for close to 75 years, I was reading on the plaque. Obviously to win that award, it’s pretty special.”
Last year, this award went to men’s hockey goaltender Kevin Baillie. This year, it could easily have gone to another of Abraham’s teammates — forward Darcy Greenaway.
“Darc, he had an unbelievable season. I wish we could share all these awards because he’s just as worthy,” Abraham said.
“I think individual awards are a reflection of the 28 guys in our room. They play a big part in it, so I think I owe a lot to them.”
Alfie Pierce Trophy for top female rookie: Addi Halladay — women’s hockey
This OUA Rookie of the Year brought a deft offensive touch to the Gaels, finishing third in scoring on the team.
The first year bagged the award thanks in part to her 23 points over the regular season.
“It’s pretty prestigious. There were a lot of great candidates there tonight,” she said.
The top female first-year had a slew of people to thank.
“I have to thank my teammates, my captains and my coaching staff. They’ve been here for me the whole year since day one. They made the transition easy for me.”
— With files from Adam Laskaris
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