Athletes honoured at Colour Awards

Annual ceremony recognizes the accomplishments of all those involved in athletics at Queen’s

Jenkins Trophy winner Steve Willis, left, shares the moment with teammates.
Jenkins Trophy winner Steve Willis, left, shares the moment with teammates.
Eilish McConville was awarded the PHE ’55 Trophy.
Eilish McConville was awarded the PHE ’55 Trophy.

The 71st annual Colour Awards, a celebration of Queen’s athletic talent, was held on Sunday afternoon at the Ambassador Conference Resort. Each team named a Most Valuable Player, a Most Improved Player and a Rookie of the Year. Eight major awards were presented to Queen’s most accomplished athletes.

PHE ’55 Trophy: Top Female Athlete—Eilish McConville, women’s soccer

The Ottawa native closes an incredible four-year career as the graduating female athlete who contributed the most athletically and academically. McConville scored 22 goals in 16 regular season games this season, accounting for half of her team’s total goals and single-handedly outscoring 12 of the 17 other teams in the province. She finishes her career with 55 goals, after guiding the Golden Gaels to this year’s national final. The four-time All-Canadian was named CIS Rookie of the Year in 2003-04 and Player of the Year this season.

“It’s the culmination of four amazing years I’ve had here at Queen’s,” she said. She expressed a hope to build on her outstanding university career. “As a junior player, I never had the opportunity to win an Ontario Cup or a national championship, so it would be amazing to have that opportunity as a senior player.”

McConville will try out for the world university games this summer in Thailand.

Jenkins Trophy: Top Male Athlete—Steve Willis, men’s volleyball

Willis was named the male athlete who contributed the most to Queen’s athletically and academically. Over the last six years, Ontario’s 2005-06 Libero of the Year has been a key contributor to the two-time OUA champion men’s volleyball team. He finished in the top 10 in the country in digs and sets for three consecutive years, and represented Canada at the 2005 World Maccabia Games.

“It was an honour even to be thought of,” Willis said.

Willis had been a member of three championship teams and he said the highlight of his Queen’s career was last year’s provincial championship win because no one expected them to do it.

“The feeling now is just as good but [at the time] it was even better.”

He plans to continue his volleyball career after graduation.

“Whether I’m [in Kingston] or not I’ll definitely be doing something with volleyball.”

Award of Merit: Outstanding Female Athlete, team sport—Erin Bailey, women’s rugby

A three-time All-Canadian and two-year team captain, Bailey was integral in guiding the women’s rugby team to a fourth-place finish this year in the tough Sheils division. She was a member of the FISU rugby team in 2006 and the Canadian Under-23 and Ontario Provincial Senior and Under-19 teams.

Bailey is proud of the rugby program’s growth throughout her four years at Queen’s.

“Over the last four years we’ve come together as a team and played more together than as individuals.”

She hopes to play for the Canadian senior women’s team in the future.

Jim Tait Award: Outstanding Male Athlete, team sport—Brad Smith, football

Recognized for his leadership, dedication and sportsmanship, Smith finishes his career as Queen’s all-time touchdown leader with 23. He scored seven touchdowns this season, leading the Gaels to the OUA semifinals where they lost to the eventual champion Ottawa Gee-Gees.

Smith was both surprised and honoured to receive the award.

“I’ve never been a vocal leader. It was nice to be recognized for those three characteristics,” he said.

The two-time first-team All-Canadian looked to Queen’s rich football history to put his career into perspective.

“When you think of great receivers like James McLean and Jock Climie, those are guys I look up to. To be on the list with them is a great personal honour.”

Smith hopes to catch on at a CFL training camp.

Marion Ross: Outstanding Female Athlete, individual sport—Rachel Coens, figure skating

A five-time OUA all-star, Coens was honoured for outstanding female performance in an individual performance. Over her five-year career, she has helped the Gaels to three OUA championships and captained this year’s team to third place.

“It just represents four years of dedication and commitment to my sport, and as well as leadership and sportsmanship,” Coens said of the award, adding that “[the team’s] accomplishments are all based on the amount of training we put in.”

Jack Jarvis: Outstanding Male Athlete, individual sport—Simon Gowdy, rowing

During Gowdy’s five-year career, he finished first in four provincial championship events, helping the Gaels to one OUA team title and three second-place finishes. Honoured for outstanding male performance in an individual sport, he went undefeated this season in the lightweight single, capping the season with the provincial gold medal.

Gowdy is a three-time member of Canada’s Under-23 Rowing Team and is currently training with them.

Alfie Pierce Trophy (Female): Top Rookie—Elizabeth Kench, hockey

Kench led the OUA in rookie scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists, earning the league’s Rookie of the Year honours. She played in many key situations and scored three game-winning goals for the Ontario silver-medalist Gaels.

“This [award] was definitely one of my goals,” she said.

She was pleased with her decision to come to Queen’s to play hockey and said she knew from Grade 10 that she wanted to play for the Gaels.

She looks to build on the progress made this season.

“My major goal is definitely to win OUAs next year.”

Alfie Pierce Trophy (Male): Top Rookie—Ryan Gibb, hockey

Gibb, the OUA East Rookie of the Year and second team OUA All-Star, started all 28 of the Gaels’ league games. He faced 1,048 shots and made 961 saves, both totals higher than any other goalie in the country. He carried the team throughout its difficult first half of the season and was a key contributor in their first playoff berth in four years.

“I didn’t really have too many expectations coming into the year,” he said. “I just wanted to put together a good season.” After playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals for two years followed by a year in the major juniors, Gibb said it was an adjustment returning to school, but is confident going into next season.

“I feel good going into next season, like I can conquer the league, like the team can conquer the league.”

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