Canada: 24th BLG Awards — CIS Athlete Of The Year Nominees Announced
General public invited to vote online for second straight year
Last Updated: April 25 2016

Ottawa (April 18, 2016 ) — Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) announced Monday the eight finalists for the 24th annual BLG Awards.

Photos & videos of nominees (Dropbox).

The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with CIS.

On Monday, May 2nd, the eight national nominees will be honoured at the Martha Cohen Theatre in Calgary. The female and male winners will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, while all finalists will return home with a commemorative gold ring from Jostens and a watch from Timex, the official suppliers of CIS.

This year's event will mark the 21st presentation of the awards gala in Calgary. Over the years, the event has also held been held in Toronto (2009, 2013) and Vancouver (2011). The 2016 ceremony will air nationally later in May on Sportsnet.

Although the 2016 recipients will be determined by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board which has selected the winners for the past 23 years, the general public is once again invited to vote online, building on last year's pilot project which generated over 10,000 votes. Fans can vote through the following websites:

CIS: http://en.cis-sic.ca/blg_awards/2015-16/vote
BLG Awards: www.blg.com/blgawards
Sportsnet: www.sportsnet.ca/cis

"We are extremely excited to be hosting the 24th BLG Awards in Calgary," said Doug Mitchell, National Co-Chair of BLG. "We continue to be amazed by the talents and accomplishments of these outstanding athletes. Each year, as we follow the past winners and hear about their accomplishments or what they are involved in, we realize how important their university sports background has been to them. We congratulate the universities who have provided the great education and athletic programs for these students to succeed in their careers."

"The BLG Awards represent the highest honour for our student-athletes and are always a highlight of the CIS season," said Graham Brown, chief executive officer of CIS. "This year's national nominees are not only exceptional athletes, each of them is also a leader in the classroom and in the community. They are tremendous ambassadors for the entire CIS membership and our universities."

The 2016 nominees for the Jim Thompson Trophy presented to the female BLG Award recipient are basketball player Paloma Anderson from Acadia University, hockey player Mélodie Daoust from McGill University, swimmer Kylie Masse from the University of Toronto and volleyball player Iuliia Pakhomenko from Thompson Rivers University.

On the men's side, the finalists for the Doug Mitchell Trophy are hockey players Jordan Murray from the University of New Brunswick and Guillaume Asselin from the University of Québec at Trois-Rivières, as well as volleyball player Stephen Maar from McMaster University and football player Andrew Buckley from the University of Calgary.

Daoust (2013) and Buckley (2015) are both repeat BLG Award nominees, while Pakhomenko and Asselin became the first-ever finalists from their respective institutions.

Anderson, a sociology student from Phoenix, Arizona, became the first player in school history to be named MVP of the AUS conference in women's basketball. The diminutive 5-foot-1 guard, who was also voted a first-team all-Canadian, finished second in the country in league play with 18.7 points per game and was one of the main reasons the Axewomen improved from a 4-16 record a year ago to 16-4 this season.

Daoust, a physical and health education student from Valleyfield, QC, was named RSEQ MVP and a first-team all-Canadian thanks to her superb 18-16-34 dossier in only 20 regular season contests. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist claimed the Québec scoring race and topped the nation in both goals (0.9) and points (1.7) per game while helping the Martlets reach the RSEQ final and the CIS championship tournament.

Masse, a kinesiology student from LaSalle, ON, was selected as the CIS female swimmer of the year after she guided the U of T women to their first national title since 1997. At the CIS championships, the 20-year-old sophomore, who recently qualified for the Rio Olympics, captured seven medals in as many finals, broke the meet record in all three individual backstroke events, and set a new Canadian senior long-course standard in the 50-metre back.

Pakhomenko, a master of business administration student from Donetsk, Ukraine, became the first Thompson Rivers player to merit CIS-MVP honours in women's volleyball. In her second season with the WolfPack after transferring from Northwood University in Michigan (NCAA Div. II), the 5-foot-11 left side hitter topped CIS in kills (4.67) and points (5.5) per set while leading her team to a playoff berth only two years after TRU finished with an 0-22 mark.

Murray, a business administration student from Riverview, NB, was chosen CIS defenceman of the year and a first-team all-Canadian before guiding the Varsity Reds to their fifth University Cup triumph in the past decade. The 6-foot-1 rearguard, who played with Acadie-Bathurst and Drummondville in the QMJHL, tied for the lead among AUS blueliners with 28 points in 27 league games and helped UNB post the second-best defensive record in the country.

Asselin, a business administration student from Québec City, claimed the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy as CIS player of the year after leading the nation in goals (27), points (47) and game-winning goals (6) in 28 conference games. The 5-foot-11 right-winger, who starred with Montreal and Chicoutimi in the QMJHL, helped the Patriotes capture the Queen's Cup as OUA champions and qualify for the University Cup tournament.

Maar, a history and political science student from Aurora, Ont., was voted OUA player of the year and a first-team all-Canadian thanks in large part to his conference-leading 4.29 kills and 5.0 points per set. The towering 6-foot-7 outside hitter guided the Marauders to first place in Ontario with an 18-2 league record, their fourth straight OUA banner and a silver medal at the CIS championship.

Buckley, a kinesiology student from Calgary, claimed his second straight Hec Crighton Trophy after he rewrote the record books while leading the Dinos to an undefeated 8-0 regular season. In his final university campaign, the 6-foot quarterback and 2015 draft pick of the CFL's Calgary Stampeders set a single-season CIS record for most passing yards (3,162), established a new Canada West standard for completion percentage (72.0) and kept the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the nation (19-1).

2016 Female BLG Award Nominees (Jim Thompson Trophy):

AUS: Paloma Anderson, basketball, Acadia (Phoenix, Ariz.)
RSEQ: Mélodie Daoust, hockey, McGill (Valleyfield, QC)
OUA: Kylie Masse, swimming, Toronto (LaSalle, ON)
CWUAA: Iuliia Pakhomenko, volleyball, Thompson Rivers (Donetsk, Ukraine)

2016 Male BLG Award Nominees (Doug Mitchell Trophy):

AUS: Jordan Murray, hockey, UNB (Riverview, NB)
RSEQ: Guillaume Asselin, hockey, UQTR (Québec City, QC)
OUA: Stephen Maar, volleyball, McMaster (Aurora, ON)
CWUAA: Andrew Buckley, football, Calgary (Calgary, AB)

All-Time BLG Award Winners:

2014-15: Korissa Williams — Windsor (basketball) / Ross Proudfoot — Guelph (c country & T&F)
2013-14: Justine Colley — Saint Mary's (basketball) / Philip Scrubb — Carleton (basketball)
2012-13: Shanice Marcelle — UBC (volleyball) / Kyle Quinlan — McMaster (football)
2011-12: Ann-Sophie Bettez — McGill (hockey) / Marc-André Dorion — McGill (hockey)
2010-11: Jessica Clemençon — Windsor (basketball) / Tyson Hinz — Carleton (basketball)
2009-10: Liz Cordonier — UBC (volleyball) / Erik Glavic — Calgary (football)
2008-09: Annamay Pierse — UBC (swimming) / Joel Schmuland — Alberta (volleyball)
2007-08: Laetitia Tchoualack — Montreal (volleyball) / Rob Hennigar — UNB (hockey)
2006-07: Jessica Zelinka — Calgary (track & field) / Josh Howatson — Trinity Western (volleyball)
2005-06: Marylène Laplante — Laval (volleyball) / Osvaldo Jeanty — Carleton (basketball)
2004-05: Adrienne Power — Dalhousie (track & field) / Jesse Lumsden — McMaster (football)
2003-04: Joanna Niemczewska — Calgary (volleyball) / Adam Ens — Saskatchewan (volleyball)
2002-03: Kim St-Pierre — McGill (hockey) / Ryan McKenzie — Windsor (cross country & T&F)
2001-02: Elizabeth Warden — Toronto (swimming) / Brian Johns — UBC (swimming)
2000-01: Leighann Doan — Calgary (basketball) / Kojo Aidoo — McMaster (football)
1999-00: Jenny Cartmell — Alberta (volleyball) / Michael Potts — Western (soccer)
1998-99: Corinne Swirsky — Concordia (hockey) / Alexandre Marchand — Sherbrooke (T&F)
1997-98: Foy Williams — Toronto (track & field) / Titus Channer — McMaster (basketball)
1996-97: Terri-Lee Johannesson — Manitoba (basketball) / Curtis Myden — Calgary (swimming)
1995-96: Justine Ellison — Toronto (basketball) / Don Blair — Calgary (football)
1994-95: Linda Thyer — McGill (track & field) / Bill Kubas — Wilfrid Laurier (football)
1993-94: Sandra Carroll — Winnipeg (basketball) / Tim Tindale — Western (football)
1992-93: Diane Scott — Winnipeg (volleyball) / Andy Cameron — Calgary (volleyball)

2015-2016 Female BLG Award Nominees (Jim Thompson Trophy)

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

Paloma Anderson

Acadia University
Sport: Basketball
Year of eligibility: 3
Academic program: Arts (Sociology)
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Tt took the better part of two decades but Paloma Anderson is finally in a very good place, both on and off the court.

Anderson, who was born in New York City, calls Phoenix, Arizona home, and attended junior college in Iowa, faced a lot of adversity growing up, especially as a young teenager. On the basketball court, those challenges included being told she could not achieve success at a higher level, especially due to her diminutive 5-foot-1 frame.

At one point, the 21-year-old quit the sport altogether. But then came the opportunity to move to Canada to study at Acadia University and join the Axewomen program midway through the 2014-15 season... and did she ever make the most of it.

Despite an impressive 18.3 point-per-game average in her Axewomen debut, the addition of Anderson didn't immediately translate into team success as Acadia finished league play with a 4-16 record. It was a different story in her sophomore campaign however, under new head coach Len Harvey.

The Axewomen produced a spectacular turnaround this season and posted a 16-4 mark, good for second place in the AUS standings. Anderson continued her torrid scoring pace, finishing second in the country with 18.7 points per contest. She also developed into one of the nation's best all-around players, ranking among the CIS top 10 in assists, steals and free-throw percentage.

The all-conference point guard became the first player in school history to be named AUS league MVP in women's hoops and merited first all-Canadian honours. Above and beyond the basketball accolades, Anderson has also found success in the classroom and is working towards a bachelor of arts in sociology.

"The opportunity to play in the CIS has been the best thing that has happened to me thus far in my life. I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to play at this level and represent Acadia University," says Anderson. "Basketball has been my gateway out of trouble and into university. It is funny to say, but basketball truly is my life. I can't picture myself as successful as I am without basketball. To be nominated for the BLG Award is humbling and allows me to show that not only am I a good athlete, but I am also a good person off the court."

"Paloma's move to Canada has allowed her to blossom into a more mature young woman, and also let her move forward to a more positive and progressive time in her life," Harvey says. "She is an exceptional talent on the court, anyone can see that. Perhaps more important though, is Paloma's growth as a person and a teammate. I think she is an excellent example of the power of athletics, particularly CIS athletics."

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Mélodie Daoust

McGill University
Sport: Hockey
Year of eligibility: 4
Academic program: Physical & Health Education
Hometown: Valleyfield, Que.

Another year, another BLG Award nomination for McGill's powerhouse women's hockey program. And for the first time in team history, a repeat nominee.

A flashy centre from Valleyfield, QC, Mélodie Daoust was previously in the running in 2013, when UBC volleyball player Shanice Marcelle ended up winning the Jim Thompson Trophy. The impressive list of former nominees from the hockey Martlets also includes BLG Award winners Ann-Sophie Bettez (2012) and Kim St-Pierre (2003), as well as finalists Katia Clément-Heydra (2014) and Charline Labonté (2009).

In her fourth campaign with McGill, Daoust continued to add to her remarkable on-ice resume. No small task for a player who, in her first three seasons with the team, had already claimed CIS rookie-of-the-year and player-of-the-year honours, to go with two selections as an all-Canadian. Not to mention, of course, her exploits with Canada's national program, which include — among others — a gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, silver at the 2015 IIHF world championship, and gold at the Nations Cup in Germany last January.

For an encore, Daoust was once again named MVP of the RSEQ conference and a first-team all-Canadian this season after she won the Québec league scoring crown with a superb 18-16-34 dossier in only 20 contests. The 24-year-old physical education senior led the country in both goals (0.9) and points (1.7) per game, ranked second in the nation with her RSEQ-leading five game-winning markers, and maybe even more impressive scored or assisted on 62.9 per cent of McGill goals during the regular schedule.

In the playoffs, Daoust potted five of the team's 14 goals as the Martlets reached the RSEQ final and the CIS national championship tournament.

"I am honoured to be selected as a BLG Award nominee from so many outstanding athletes," says the 5-foot-6 forward, who showed signs of things to come back in 2010 when she scored the overtime winner in the gold-medal game of the IIHF under-18 world championship. "McGill has provided me with a challenging environment to succeed, not only as an athlete but also as a student. I feel very fortunate to once again be part of this amazing event."

Peter Smith, a former national team coach who has produced four McGill players for the Canadian Olympic roster over the past decade, considers Daoust one of the all-time greats to wear the Martlets uniform.

"Mélodie inspires her teammates with her dedication and commitment," Smith says. "She works extremely hard both in the classroom and on the ice. She is a great captain who can put the team on her back when the game is on the line."

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Kylie Masse

University of Toronto
Sport: Swimming
Year of eligibility: 2
Academic program: Kinesiology
Hometown: LaSalle,ON

In only her second campaign with the Varsity Blues, Kylie Masse put together one of the best seasons in Canadian university swimming history. A memorable year that got that much better on April 6, when the 20-year-old qualified for her first Olympic Games thanks to a record time of 59.06 seconds in the 100-metre backstroke at the national trials.

Of course, close observers of the Canadian swimming scene are not surprised by her success. After all, the native of LaSalle, Ont., had already made plenty of waves a year ago when she was named the OUA female swimmer of the year as a freshman, before claiming seven medals in as many events in her first CIS championship appearance.

A few months later in South Korea, Masse served notice that she was ready for the world stage by winning Summer Universiade gold in her specialty event.

This university season, the new Olympian proved virtually unstoppable, posting 18 individual victories in six conference competitions before setting six OUA records and a pair of Canadian short-course marks at the OUA championships. And then she kept the best for last.

In late February, Masse reached the CIS podium in each of her seven events for the second straight year en route to female-MVP honours. The kinesiology student finished the national meet with four gold and three silver medals, including a sweep of the three backstroke finals, all in championship-record times. In the 50 back, she lowered her own Canadian short-course standard in the preliminaries (26.72) before shattering the long-course record in the final (27.84). Her performance helped the U of T women capture their first CIS team banner since 1997.

"Swimming has been a huge part of my life and I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to pursue it while getting my education at the University of Toronto. Coaches Byron (MacDonald) and Linda (Kiefer) and my teammates have truly helped me develop not only as a swimmer but as a student-athlete," says Masse. "This has been a whirlwind of a season since last summer. I'm so grateful for everything this year, including the BLG Award nomination. To be considered as one of the top university athletes in Canada is humbling."

In his 37 seasons at the helm, Varsity Blues head coach Byron MacDonald has mentored his fair share of world-class swimmers, including 2002 BLG Award winner and 2004 Olympian Elizabeth Warden.

"Kylie's improvement arch since coming to U of T has been remarkable. She went from being ranked 200th in the world to top 10 in just two years. Her hard work has certainly paid off. She loves swimming, loves her team, and is the most unassuming world-class athlete you will ever meet."

Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA)

Iuliia Pakhomenko

Thompson Rivers University
Sport: Volleyball
Year of eligibility: 4
Academic program: Master of Business Administration
Hometown: Donetsk, Ukraine

In terms of difference makers in CIS sports, one would be hard-pressed to find a better example in recent years than volleyball player Iuliia Pakhomenko.

The 5-foot-11 left side hitter left her native Ukraine in 2012 to enroll at Northwood University in Michigan (NCAA Div. II) before transferring to Thompson Rivers in the fall of 2014. At the time, she was joining a program that was coming off back-to-back winless seasons, going a combined 0-44 in league play over that period.

As envisioned by head coach Chad Grimm, his international newcomer had an immediate impact on the WolfPack. In year one of the Pakhomenko era, the team finished with a respectable 10-14 record in the ultra-competitive Canada West conference and missed the post-season by only two spots. The Pack continued its progression in 2015-16, reaching the .500 mark (12-12) to qualify for the playoffs.

Pakhomenko comes from an athletic family, her mother, Elena, being a former university handball player, while one of her cousins is currently playing professional soccer in Austria. Her good genes were in full display in her second season with Thompson Rivers as she led the country in kills per set (4.67), total kills (425), points per set (5.5), total points (496.5) and service aces (50). With an astounding 1,009 total attacks in 24 matches, she was the most active hitter in the nation in league play.

After being selected to the second all-Canadian team in her first campaign in Kamloops, the former member of the Ukrainian junior national squad was named CIS player of the year this season, and is now the first student-athlete from TRU to be nominated for the BLG Award. Not bad for a player who was sidelined for six months after suffering a torn ACL in her first season at Northwood.

"Taking up volleyball has been a life changing experience for me. It taught me that discipline and hard work pay off. Maybe more importantly, the sport has allowed me to leave my war-torn homeland for a better life in North America and to pursue my dreams of a business degree and soon a master's," says Pakhomenko, who recently got married and has taken the first steps towards becoming a Canadian citizen. "My teammates and coaches have also taken the place as parental units and family with mine being so far away."

"Over the past two years, I have seen Iuliia grow from a quiet and closed person to a leader on our team. She has also grown from a struggling English language learner student four short years ago to a thriving MBA student," says Grimm. "Iuliia has an unmatched ability for work, in the gym, on the court and in the classroom. Her abilities have helped transform our volleyball program."

2015-2016 Male BLG Award Nominees (Doug Mitchell Trophy)

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

Jordan Murray

University of New Brunswick
Sport: Hockey
Year of eligibility: 3
Academic Program: Business Administration
Hometown: Riverview, NB

On a team that has achieved unparalleled success in recent years in CIS men's hockey, Jordan Murray has established himself as a leader and the cornerstone of one of the best defensive units in the country.

A product of Riverview, N.B., Murray joined the powerhouse UNB program in the fall of 2013 following a three-year QMJHL career with Acadie-Bathurst and Drummondville. Named to the CIS all-rookie team in his university debut, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound rearguard has been voted to the first all-Canadian squad each of the past two campaigns, and this season became the first Varsity Red to earn CIS defenceman-of-the-year honours.

Not bad for a player who was originally cut from his Midget AAA team.

While there is no shortage of standout defencemen across CIS hockey, it would have been hard to pass on Murray when the time came to vote for this season's best D-man. The business administration student not only excelled in his own end, posting a +24 rating and helping UNB finish with the second-best defensive record in the nation, he also tied for the lead among AUS blueliners with 28 points in 27 league games.

Murray's all-around strong play was in full display at the University Cup championship in Halifax, where the Varsity Reds outscored their opponents 12-2 over three contests en route to their remarkable fifth national title in 10 years.

Among his greatest influences, Murray lists his grandfather, 73-year-old Fred Murray, who regularly took his grandson to practice and attended games during his minor hockey days, and now travels from his Moncton-area home to Fredericton for every UNB home game, just as he used to make the trip to Bathurst for Titan's contests.

"Hockey has taught me many life lessons. Without sport, I don't know who I would be. I couldn't imagine being in university without playing hockey. It has made me who I am today," says Murray, who last December was selected to the CIS all-star squad that split a two-game series against Canada's national junior team hopefuls in Toronto. "I aspire to play hockey for as long as I can, whether in North America or in Europe. I want to play at the highest level I can."

The 23-year-old is the third UNB men's hockey player to be nominated for the BLG Award after 2010 finalist Hunter Tremblay and 2008 winner Rob Hennigar, now the V-Reds associate coach.

"Jordan's skill level separates him from a lot of other players. He's a very intelligent player," says Hennigar. "Off the ice, Jordan is a very happy-go-lucky person, but on the ice, he's focused, ultra-competitive and always wants to succeed. He holds his teammates in high regard and always expects and encourages them to perform at the best of their abilities."

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Guillaume Asselin

University of Québec at Trois-Rivières
Sport: Hockey
Year of eligibility: 3
Academic program: Business Administration
Hometown: Québec City, QC

In his third season with the Patriotes, Guillaume Asselin accomplished a rare feat by leading the country in both goals and points thanks to his 27-20-47 dossier in 28 league games, on his way to CIS player-of-the-year honours. While his tally was indeed impressive, it came as no surprise to those familiar with the Québec City native's hockey career.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound right-winger joined the UQTR program in January of 2014 following an 11-game pro stint with the East Coast Hockey League's Greenville Road Warriors. He has since averaged 1.6 points per contest with the Patriotes, including 23 points in 12 league games in 2013-14 and 34 points in 25 outings during his sophomore season. Earlier this year, on Feb. 6, he collected the 100th point of his university career in only his 63rd conference game, reaching the plateau in style with a stellar six-point performance.

At the CHL level, Asselin starred for five QMJHL seasons with Montreal and Chicoutimi, where he tallied 306 points in 331 career contests.

The business administration student was simply sensational this season. In addition to his national scoring crown, he led the country in game-winning goals with six, three of them in overtime. His MVP campaign included a 14-game point streak and a remarkable stretch of 10 goals in five contests from Jan. 16 to Feb. 6 that saw him notch back-to-back hat-tricks.

Thanks in large part to their first-line forward, the Patriotes topped CIS in scoring for the second straight season with a whopping 5.00 goals per game on their way to posting a CIS-leading 24-3-1 record. They added seven wins in as many OUA playoff duels to capture the Queen's Cup title and advance to the CIS championship for the 20th time in program history.

Needless to say the hockey world wasn't shocked last December when Asselin was named to the CIS all-star squad for a two-game series against Canada's national junior team prospects in Toronto.

"I've been playing hockey since the age of four, when I put on a pair of skates for the first time, thanks to my grandfather," says the 23-year-old sniper, who became the first-ever BLG Award nominee from UQTR. "I faced a number of challenges and made many sacrifices over the years, including leaving home at 16. But if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing."

"Guillaume wanted to excel both in the classroom and on the ice this season," says Patriotes head coach Marc-Étienne Hubert. "With this nomination for the BLG Award and his selection as the CIS player of the year, it's safe to say he met his objectives. We're proud to see Guillaume represent our program on the national stage."

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Stephen Maar

McMaster University
Sport: Volleyball
Year of eligibility: 4
Academic Program: Humanities (History & Political Science)
Hometown: Aurora, Ont.

In January of 2012, after being courted by the best men's volleyball programs north and south of the border, Stephen Maar accepted a full scholarship to play at the University of Hawaii. Who could blame him? Palm trees and a top-level NCAA team... seemed like a dream come true. A few months later however, the then 17-year-old recruit changed his mind and turned down the glitz and glamour of the NCAA to stay in Canada and suit up for the Marauders.

It's a decision that would change the face of the McMaster program, and one he wouldn't regret.

Over the past four campaigns, the Marauders have topped the OUA standings every year, winning 73 of 78 league contests, and have captured four straight conference titles. They have reached the CIS podium every season, including two silver and two bronze medals, marking the four best national results in team history.

The 2015-16 campaign was a special one for McMaster, which was set to host the 50th anniversary edition of the CIS championship. While they ultimately fell just short of their objective of claiming their first national title, dropping a heartbreaking decision to Trinity Western in the CIS final, the Marauders got all they expected all season from their star 6-foot-7 outside hitter.

Maar led the OUA in both kills (4.29) and points (5.0) per set on his way to conference-MVP honours and a selection on the first all-Canadian team. Despite a late-season ankle injury, he managed to elevate his game in front of his home crowd at the CIS championship, where he averaged an eye-popping 5.30 kills and 6.4 per set over three matches.

Set to graduate with a bachelor of arts in history, the native of Aurora, Ont., now plans to explore playing opportunities in Europe. There should be plenty of suitors for a pro prospect whose international resume already includes a silver medal at the 2012 under-21 NORCECA championship, the 2013 FIVB junior world championship, as well as the 2015 Pan Am Cup with Canada's senior B team, where Maar was named the top outside hitter.

"Representing McMaster has brought about the greatest period of growth in my life. Varsity involvement not only grew me physically, but I developed mentally and tactically for the international stage as well," Maar says. "Mac will forever be a home away from home for me, and it is a privilege to be nominated in any fashion to represent an institution that has changed my life. Entering University as a boy and leaving as a man will leave me forever grateful."
"Stephen is a natural hitter. High, hard, and every shot in the book. His serve is excellent and has been clocked at 109 kilometres per hour," says Marauders head coach Dave Preston. "This year he set McMaster single-season attack and point scoring records. He is a great player and an even better teammate."

Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA)

Andrew Buckley

University of Calgary
Sport: Football
Year of eligibility: 5
Academic program: Kinesiology
Hometown: Calgary, AB

To say that Andrew Buckley has had an exceptional past two years might be the biggest understatement... in CIS history. Simply put, the Calgary native might run out of room in his trophy case should he win the BLG Award.

Back in the fall of 2014, the dual-threat quarterback became the first player in CIS football annals to claim both the Hec Crighton Trophy (player of the year) and the Russ Jackson Award (football, academics and citizenship) in the same season. It marked his second straight Russ Jackson Award win.

Cue in 2015. A few months before his fifth and final campaign with the U of C, Buckley earned his first BLG Award nomination and, a few days later, was selected by Calgary in the CFL draft and went on to play in two pre-season games for his hometown Stampeders. Back with the Dinos in the fall, he captured his second Hec Crighton Trophy and was named a Top 8 Academic All-Canadian, becoming the first CIS student-athlete to merit both honours in the same year.

Did we mention he is also the reigning two-time Calgary Booster Club — City of Calgary male athlete of the year?

Buckley made sure his 2015 farewell tour as a Dino was a memorable one. While guiding his troops to an 8-0 regular schedule, he set a CIS single-season record for passing yards (3,162), established a new Canada West standard for completion percentage (72.0) and kept the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the country (19-1). The offence he directed set school records in points (471 — also a conference record), touchdowns, passing yards and total yards.

An exceptional kinesiology student whose community involvement ranges from helping the homeless in downtown Calgary to a humanitarian trip to Guatemala, Buckley will graduate this spring as a five-time Academic All-Canadian and has his short-term sights set on his second training camp with the Stampeders.

"My goal for as long as I can remember is to become a doctor like my parents. I am pursuing medical school following the completion of my undergraduate degree," says the 22-year-old. "That being said, I have the opportunity to play for my hometown Stampeders this summer. It's going to be a very difficult choice if I have to pick, but right now my heart is leaning towards playing professional football for as long as I can and completing medical school after my playing days are done."

"Andrew is an outstanding student-athlete who strives for excellence in all that he does," says Dinos head coach Wayne Harris Jr. "On and off the field, he is a team player who approached all challenges with a determined and positive attitude. He has earned the respect of all those who have been associated with him, and he has represented Dinos Football and the University of Calgary exceptionally well."

About the BLG Awards

The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). The Awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and leadership. Each of the 56 CIS schools nominates one female and one male athlete of the year. From these nominees, one female and one male athlete are chosen within each of the four regional associations: Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and Canada West Universities Athletic Association (CWUAA). To be eligible, a student-athlete must have competed in a CIS sport for a minimum of two years and cannot be a previous recipient of a BLG Award.

All nominees receive a commemorative gold ring and a watch from Timex — the official supplier of CIS — and winners are presented with a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend a Canadian university graduate school. Winners are selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation (CAF), a not-for-profit board established for the purpose of administering the BLG Awards and protecting the integrity of the selection process. The CAF Board of Trustees consists of 19 members from five Canadian cities representing major corporations from across the country who are committed to ensuring that Canadian university athletes receive the recognition they deserve.

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