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Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019
Delving further into the Cambrian Athlete of the Year legacy
by Cambrian Varsity Athletics

In just over a week's time, Cambrian College Varsity Athletics will hand out Athlete of the Year honours, with no lack of worthy recipients on both sides of this equation.

In fact, given the recent 50th anniversary celebrated by both the college, and as a result, by Golden Shield varsity teams and individual sports, safe to say that the New Sudbury campus has seen its fair share of ultra talented recipients rewarded with the above-noted accolade over the years.

A full compilation of the Athletes of the Year, dating back to the 1970s, apparently is not an easy list to access. That said, it will not deter us from looking back on some of the cream of the crop that have risen to the top, both since the turn of the new millenium, as well as in the era of folks whose children might now be attending Cambrian College.

As far as we can tell, the notion of both a Male and Female Athlete of the Year did not initially exist. At least, that's the conclusion to be drawn from the research that points to basketball MVP Pete Lavigeur being named as Student Athlete of the Year back in 1981. That same year, national silver medal winner in badminton, Alanna Larocque, was presented with the Cambrian Shield Award of Distinction.

By the time that the late 1980s had arrived, both sexes were being acclaimed separately. In fact, future OCAA Hall of Famer and three time Female Athlete of the Year Lori Kavanagh (now Lori McCue) compiled a career with the women's volleyball team that might allow her to lay claim to being the most accomplished Cambrian varsity athlete of all time.

The three year run of dominance by the mother of current Sudbury “AAA” hockey talents Sam and Max McCue, from 1989 through 1991, would find Kavanagh monopolizing the women's award while fellow volleyball stars Roger Chouinard and Brad Boudreau rotated the exploit on the men's side.

During her time at the college, Kavanagh would help lead the Shield to their first ever provincial medal, earning tournament MVP honours in spite of the fact that Cambrian finished in third place that year.

The stream of women's volleyball success would continue through much of the 1990s, with local setter and fellow collegiate Hall of Fame member Dolly (Beausoleil) Basso helping to lead her team to a podium finish three times during her career as a member of the Shield.

By the time Y2K arrived, the scope of recognition for the Cambrian clan had expanded. For three straight years, Golden Shield athletes would add OCAA Athlete of the Year designation to their resume, as badminton stars Stacey Michaels (2002-2003) and Glendon Thomas (2003 - 2004), along with volleyball sensation Lisa Martin (2004-2005), all turned the trick.

Despite the presence of some national caliber talent in the years that have passed since, Cambrian athletes have not been able to match that accomplishment. Still, the staying power of cross country runner Amanda (Ryan) Kosmerly cannot pass unappreciated.

As was noted in one of the Golden Shield columns from earlier this year, the graduate of Confederation Secondary School actually enjoyed a great deal of success at two different times, with more than a decade passing between her trips to the podium.

A provincial champion in 1993, Kosmerly would share the Cambrian Athlete of the Year awards in 2005 with badminton star Ryan Rows, a two time CCAA medal winner in mixed doubles play with Kathryn Bobbie.

The 2007 Cambrian Athletic banquet marked the end of Laura Fowler's career with the Shield women's volleyball team, as the 6'4” native of Parry Sound relished the special memory of receiving the Peter Guy Memorial Bursary on the same evening that she was named as Cambrian Female Athlete of the Year.

With various programs being re-introduced during the 2000-2010 decade or so, the selection process became tougher, with shared awards not at all uncommon. In fact, a total of four athletes divided top spot in 2008, with Jody Carruthers and Kristin Martel sharing the female hardware while Ben Cambridge and Mitch Mallette matched that finish for the men.

If there was ever to be a challenge to the claim that Lori Kavanagh could make on the all-time rankings of Cambrian athletes, it would arguably come in the form of Marymount Academy product Shawna Metcalf.

In addition to rewriting the OCAA record book during her time under the tutelage of volleyball coach Dale Beausoleil, the future nurse would also put together a streak of four consecutive Female Athlete of the Year awards, though she shared the 2011 hardware with teammate Kelsey Fielding.

Metcalf's final year (2013) was also the coming out party for cross-country runner extraordinaire Eric Leishman, one of the very few post secondary athletes whose accomplishments have continued to grow since the time that he has left Cambrian College. A native of Chapleau and two time Male Athlete of the Year, Leishman currently ranks as one of Canada's top marathoners.

If different sports are prone to rising to prominence at the home of the Golden Shield at various times, there is little doubt that the most recent years will be best remembered for the soccer success enjoyed on a local level. Little surprise then that the list of those being feted in 2014 and beyond would include the likes of T.K. Rocca, Tiffany Johnson and Evan Phillips, a trio that have all distinguished themselves on the pitch.

Come next Wednesday evening, we will know the latest folks who are to be added to the above-noted list, all while we also look to fill in the gaps from the decades before. Either way, the compilation of Athlete of the Year talent at Cambrian College is an impressive one, a definite source of Shield pride moving forward.

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