Women’s rugby wins big at Colour Awards

Lauren McEwen and Mike Tomlinson named top graduating athletes

Lauren McEwen was all smiles after women's rugby won the Jim Tait award as team of the year.
Lauren McEwen was all smiles after women's rugby won the Jim Tait award as team of the year.
The annual Colour Awards honour Queen's top athletes.
The annual Colour Awards honour Queen's top athletes.

Women’s rugby had plenty to celebrate last night after they won two awards at the annual varsity team Colour Awards.

Captain Lauren McEwen picked up the PHE '55 Alumnae Award as top female athlete while her team picked up the Jim Tait Trophy as team of the year.

Members from all varsity teams gathered in the ARC on Wednesday night to recognize the athletic accomplishments of the 2015-16 season.

The other major awards include the top female and male rookies of the year, and top male athlete.

Alfie Pierce Trophy for female rookie of the year: Katrina Manoukarakis, hockey

This OUA Rookie of the Year was one of the most consistent Gaels throughout the season.

Manoukarakis scored 15 goals and added another 10 assists in 26 games this year, leading all OUA rookies in goals, points, power-play goals and game-winning goals.

The first-year forward attributed her success to the support around her.

“It feels absolutely amazing, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, coaches, friends and family … I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Manoukarakis said.

 “I think my teammates made me feel confident in myself so I took it to the ice and brought it every game and gave results.”

Alfie Pierce Trophy for male rookie of the year: Chris Brunet, volleyball

While the men’s volleyball team was filled with veteran talent, first-year outside hitter Chris Brunet was a major contributor to their season.

The OUA rookie of the year amassed 132 kills in 19 games, making him fourth on the team.

“It feels pretty neat, just to be around all these sweet athletes at Queen’s,” Brunet said. “A lot of people were deserving of this award, and it was awesome to be recognized.”

Jim Tait Trophy for outstanding varsity team: Women's Rugby

After a rollercoaster of a season, the women’s rugby team claimed their second Jim Tait Trophy in three years.

With nearly half of the team in first year, expectations weren't high for the Gaels. But after an opening season come-from-behind win against McMaster, Queen’s was poised for a strong season.

Consistently ranked near the top of the CIS standings, the team hit a rough patch before the OUA playoffs and crashed out without a medal.

At the National Championships hosted at Queen’s, the Gaels were the lowest seed but upset the top-ranked Acadia Axewomen in the first round, 24-17.

From there, they went on to beat Concordia and lost in the final to McMaster.

Co-Captain Erin Geddes said the trophy rewards the team’s resilience.

“It just goes to show that no matter how low things can get, you can climb back up.”

Jenkins Trophy for top male athlete: Mike Tomlinson, volleyball

During his time as a Gael, Tomlinson was a two-time OUA Dale Iwanoczko Sportsman Award winner and a three-time OUA All-Star.

When asked about the award, Tomlinson looked back at past winners.

“When I think back to the past winners like Jacob Rumball, Liam Underwood, Jackson Dakin — they are some pretty amazing people and to be mentioned in the same sentence is pretty awesome.”

Having played his last game for the Gaels, Tomlinson said there are more important things than the award.

“As absolutely amazing as it is, it doesn’t sum up the five years of my career,” Tomlinson said. “They are summed up with the guys I’ve met, the friendships we’ve made and the memories we have together. It’s been an incredible ride.”

Chris Brunet (right) and Tomlinson (second from right) pose after winning individual trophies at last night's awards.

PHE '55 Alumnae Award: Lauren McEwen, women’s rugby

There's not much to say about Lauren McEwen that hasn’t already been said.

McEwen is the all-leader in points for the women’s rugby team with 219 points. During her five-year career, she helped lead the team to a OUA gold in 2013 and a silver medal at the National Championships this past November — both firsts in the program’s history.

Even with a decorated resume, McEwen said she was shocked to win.

“I honestly did not think I was going to win because of the stellar female athletes that were in this category,” she said.

In her five-year career, she was the 2013 OUA MVP, a four-time OUA All-Star and a two-time CIS All-Canadian.

With such a young team, McEwen knows she’s leaving the women’s rugby program in good hands.

“I look at them and think, ‘wow, you were so much better than I was in first year’, and you are going to blow my records out of the water, you are going to surpass me by so much,” McEwen said. “These girls don’t know how good they are.”

McEwen hopes the team's culture will be her lasting impact at Queen’s.

“The sense of community, the sense of sisterhood,” McEwen said. “It's great to accomplish things on your own, but when you accomplish things together, you can do so much more.”

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