Ejaz Causer, McKinley Hunt named top varsity athletes at 84th Colour Awards

De Goede, Gibson, Siksna, and Women’s cross country among honourees for 2019-20 season

This year's Colour Awards were held online.
This year's Colour Awards were held online.
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Thursday night marked the 84th annual Colour Awards, honouring the best varsity athletes throughout the Gaels’ 2019-2020 seasons. This year’s ceremony was forced to deviate from its traditional banquet format due to COVID-19. Instead, winners were announced via an online YouTube stream.

The winners of the two most prestigious awards honouring the top male and female student-athletes were football’s Ejaz Causer and women’s rugby all-star McKinley Hunt.

Causer, who was nominated for the award last year, felt humbled to be selected again. 

“I knew that [the other nominees] are all really strong athletes that have done a lot for their own individual programs. So, I was like, just to be nominated alongside those guys was an honour in itself,” the defensive back told The Journal.

Causer has been an exemplary Gael not only on the field, but in the classroom and Kingston community. Having played every regular season game throughout his five-year tenure, he has netted 106 total tackles, 12 breakups and three interceptions. Last year, the master's student was selected to attend the CFL regional combine. 

The team captain has also been a role model in the Kingston community, volunteering with Revved Up, The Autism Mentorship Program, and Martha’s Table. Topping it off, Causer is a four-time Academic All-Star and a two-time recipient of The Nixon Academic Leadership Award for his exceptional record in athletics, community involvement, and academics. 

Causer attributed his success to surrounding himself with people he could rely on.

“Having a strong support system you can lean on when you’re feeling down is crucial,” he said. “A lot of these things you can’t take on by yourself.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Hunt after she took home Female Athlete of the Year. 

“Winning this award, it just means so much to me when I look back at my university career and how many people have played a role in my development,” Hunt told The Journal

The fourth-year returned this season after sitting out all of 2018 while recovering from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction. 

“I was just trying to find myself again and trying to get back on the pitch and remember what it felt like to play rugby at that level, and try and get comfortable again playing.”

Despite the setback, Hunt was able to return in full form and was crowned OUA championship All-Star for contributing 10 points in the Gaels' 46-17 OUA gold win over Guelph. Hunt’s impressive play continued at nationals, helping women’s rugby win silver at the U Sports Championships.

The rugby standout had words of wisdom for athletes looking to bounce back from injury.

“I had to learn that even when things weren't going the way I imagined, it didn't mean that I was going down a path that was wrong,” Hunt said. “I just had to kind of trust the process and trust my training and my coaches, and my teammates that we were going to get there.”

The success for women’s rugby continued as double-threat Sophie de Goede was honoured with Outstanding Performance of the Year for her impressive achievements on the rugby pitch and basketball court. 

The third-year earned a laundry list of achievements throughout the past year, not only by helping the women’s rugby team in their championship run, but also by competing for Team Canada at the 2019 World Rugby Super Series. Following the 2019 season, she was named OUA MVP, first-team U Sports All-Canadian, an OUA All-Star, and tournament all-star at the U Sports Championships. After her banner season ended for women’s rugby, de Goede laced up to join the women’s basketball team, where she finished sixth in the OUA in rebounds.

While the schedule of a two-sport athlete would make most students’ heads spin, de Goede believes she’s nailed the balancing act between school and sport. 

“I typically work out in the morning, and then get all my classes done in the first half of the day and then practice in the afternoon, study a bit, and then practice again in the evening with the other sport and then study in the evening,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Alfie Pierce Trophy for male and female rookie of the year was awarded to Erik Siksna of men’s volleyball and Lizzie Gibson of women’s rugby. The two first-years were able to hit the pace of university athletics in stride. Siksna was ninth in the OUA in points, 10th in kills, and fourth in hitting percentage. Gibson finished with the fourth-most points in the OUA, scoring six tries and hitting six conversion for a total of 42 points.

Finally, the Jim Tait Trophy for Team of the Year was presented to the women’s cross country team, who won their first ever national title this season and their third consecutive OUA banner in the fall. 

Team captain Kara Blair credited the team’s success to a strong team atmosphere and excellent coaching.

“Each and every one of the women on this team showed perseverance, dedication, grit and put their heart and soul into this team over the season and so it is nice to see this acknowledged,” Blair wrote in a statement to The Journal. “However, we couldn’t have accomplished this without the guidance and support of our head coach, Steve Boyd and assistant coaches, Steve Weiler and Leslie Sexton.”

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