By Alexander Cole
Stingers rugby star Frédérique Rajotte and football quarterback Trenton Miller were both given Athlete of the Year honours on April 8 during Concordia’s annual athletic banquet at Oscar Peterson Concert Hall.
“It felt so great and I was happy,” Rajotte said after the event. “It was a whirlwind of emotions because we went to Nationals, I got injured and I’m really happy that all my hard work and passion has paid off.”
Rajotte had a season to remember with the women’s rugby team, as she was named RSEQ MVP and was also a member of Team Canada. The rugby team finished the season with a record of 6-1 and made it to the RSEQ championship where they lost to the University of Ottawa. Rajotte was also nominated for Play of the Year, for her 85-yard score against Bishops.
The title of Play of the Year went to basketball player Ken Beaulieu, who won for one of his signature dunks.
“How can I compete against [Ken Beaulieu]?” Rajotte said. “I see his highlight tapes and I’m in awe. I’m glad he won and I’m glad I even got nominated.”
Miller, who stood alongside Rajotte to claim his award for Male Athlete of the Year, said the award was a reflection of his team.
“Honestly it feels pretty good, but [the award] is a testament to the hard work of my coaches and offensive line,” Miller said. “My first year was great but it was just something to build on and I think we’re ready to come out and do better than we did last year.”
Miller was a standout on the Stingers football team this year, as he was given RSEQ MVP honours and broke the Stingers record for touchdowns in a season with 20. Miller threw for 2,384 yards in his first season with the team and finished with a record of 4-4.
The show started off with a video montage of some of the year’s highlights. The video was met with immediate praise, as each time a particular team would appear in the video, the players from that team would yell out and fill the ears of everyone in attendance with Stingers pride.
Comedian Joey Elias co-hosted the event and was met with laughs and cheering from the crowd. Elias made jokes about the strength of athletes and even the obscurity of CIS sports. Elias jokingly said his career must really be taking off considering he was hosting an event put on by the Stingers.
“I really enjoyed the night,” Miller said. “Having Joey Elias, who is a funny guy, was nice and the speakers did well overall.”
One of the first awards that was given out during the night was the President’s Academic Award for high academic standing. The award was given to Kathleen Browne of the cross-country team and Petr Prokopiev of the wrestling team. The Marvin Cooper Award, which is given to students who overcome adversity, was awarded to Saby Dagenais of the rubgy team, while fittest female and male athlete honours were given to Samantha Bennett of the rugby team and Mikael Charland of the football team, respectively.
Later in the night, men’s hockey captain Olivier Hinse and wrestler Linda Morais were given the Michael Di Grappa Award of Distinction for outstanding career contributions to the Stingers organization. Women’s basketball player Tamara Pinard-Devos took home the Denise Beaudet Award for her community service and leadership, while Charles Debove of the men’s rugby team won the Ron Lapointe Award for loyalty to his team and the Department of Recreation and Athletics.
To round out the awards, football star Yanic Lessard and wrestler Jade Dufour were given Rookie of the Year honours.
“There were great awards and players and teams that were recognized,” Rajotte said. “It’s great to see teams like cross-country and baseball get recognized and to be able to cheer them all on to our fullest is an awesome feeling.”
The event finished with the Stingers’ athletic valedictorians. Stingers men’s and women’s hockey defensemen Youssef Kabbaj and Marie-Pier Cloutier were given the honour of speaking on behalf of the Stingers family. Both athletes put on entertaining and funny speeches together which highlighted the quirks of being a part of the Stingers family.
Kabbaj and Cloutier were both chosen as valedictorians because they are both graduating and therefore, will not be returning to the Stingers next fall.
For Kabbaj, being chosen as a valedictorian was both an honour and a nerve-racking experience.
“I’ve seen these speeches my first three years and to get to do it now is definitely more than a dream come true,” Kabbaj said. “I’m not going to lie I was nervous before, during and after but I’m glad everyone had a good time and laughed at our jokes.
Cloutier, who shared the stage with Kabbaj, was honoured to be able to represent her fellow female athletes.
“I’ve always been very involved with the Stingers and I love the community,” Cloutier said. “It means a lot because I get to represent all of the athletes and share our hard work.”
“I was nervous but at the same time it all felt good,” Cloutier said.
The night marked the official end to the Stingers season, while the 2016-2017 season will begin for most teams in September.