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Université de Montréal rewards its athletes

The Université de Montréal held its annual athletic banquet Apr. 9, celebrating the school’s best and most accomplished athletes.

The night was a celebration of all varsity teams, but the women’s hockey team was rightfully given the spotlight.

The women were fresh off a victory at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships in Toronto, where they defeated the defending champion Calgary Dinos 3-2, bringing the school its first CIS title in any sport since the revamping of the sports department in 1995.

It was the team’s third CIS championship appearance, and the program only started four years ago.

The women’s team that took to the stage at the gala had already been honoured by the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

Head coach Isabelle Leclaire, who has been leading the team since its inaugural season, won her first RSEQ coach-of-the-year award.

The team’s top scorer Josianne Legault and top defensive player Sophie Brault were named first-team all-stars, while forwards Ariane Baker and Kim Deschênes made the second team.

At the school’s gala team captain Deschênes was named the school’s female athlete of the year.

Sharing the stage with Deschênes was football standout Jean-Samuel Blanc, who took home the male athlete-of-the-year award. Blanc was a provincial and national first-team all-star this year. The Carabins had one of the best defensive teams in the country, allowing only 102 points in nine games.

The student athlete-of-the-year awards were also handed out to the two athletes who performed the best both in competition and in the classroom: women’s soccer player Émilie Chamard and badminton player Philippe Charron.

For Charron it marked the third straight year he took home the award, which is a school record. He won gold at this year’s Canadian university badminton championships, accomplishing the feat while maintaining a 4.1 GPA in his studies.

A pair of swimmers, Gabrielle Soucisse and Christopher Bezeau, captured the rookie-of-the-year awards. Soucisse, in her first year with the university, won three gold medals at the CIS championships.

Pacini Leadership Award

One other major awards handed out was the Pacini Leadership Award, awarded to a student-athlete remarkable in both sports and community involvement.

For the first time ever the $1000 bursary was split in two, awarded to swimmer Audrey Chartier and soccer player Vincent de Bruille.

The award is sponsored by the Côte-des-Neiges Pacini restaurant.

“It’s important for us to support and encourage young athletes who are looking to surpass themselves through their chosen sports,” said owner Jean Lepage.

The bursary is now in its fourth year of existence, started, says Lepage, to create and develop better partnerships in the Côte-des-Neiges community.

“We’re a restaurant that offers healthy choices, so supporting Université de Montréal athletes seemed like a natural fit, a perfect association.”

Jesse Feith
Photo : James Hajjar

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