Fourth-year University of British Columbia forward Robyn Pendleton was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year in women’s field hockey, Wednesday night.
The native of Victoria, who rejoined the Thunderbirds this season after a one-year absence, is only the third UBC player to claim the Liz Hoffman award since the inception of the trophy in 1992. She follows in the footsteps of former T-Birds Christine De Pape (2006) and Stephanie Jameson (2004).
Other CIS major award winners announced in Calgary during the All-Canadian Banquet were Toronto’s Amanda Woodcroft of Waterloo, Ont., who captured the Joyce Slipp award as rookie of the year; Calgary’s Lindsay Koch of Calgary, who received the Gail Wilson Outstanding Contributor award; Toronto’s John DeSouza, who was named coach of the year and received the Marina van der Merwe award, presented by Coaches of Canada; as well as Denise Pelletier, who referees in the OUA conference and was named umpire of the year.
The 2011 Field Hockey Canada – CIS championship, hosted by the University of Calgary, gets under way Thursday and culminates Sunday at 1 p.m. Mountain with the gold-medal final.
Pendleton, 22, returned to the Thunderbirds’ lineup this season after taking a one-year break from the university game in 2010 to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games in India.
Because of several injuries to teammates, the kinesiology student was called on to play defence, midfield and forward in her return to the CIS circuit and still managed to score a team-leading six goals in 12 games, good for second place in the Canada West conference. Named a team co-captain prior to the campaign, the 5-foot-8 senior started every contest for the T-Birds, who claimed their ninth straight CWUAA title thanks to an 8-2-2 mark and are set to compete at the CIS championship for the 14th consecutive year.
A graduate of Victoria High School, Pendleton started her CIS career at the University of Victoria in 2006, before transferring to UBC and suiting up for the T-Birds in 2008 and 2009. She was named Canada West rookie of the year in ‘06, a CIS championship all-star in ‘08, and a first-team all-Canadian and the CIS championship MVP in ‘09, when she guided the ‘Birds to their record 12th McCrae Cup triumph. Her awards collection also includes two more CIS medals, a silver (2006) and a bronze (2008).
“By playing three positions this season, Robyn demonstrated her versatility and all-around capabilities,” said UBC head coach Hash Kanjee. “Robyn is a competitor in every sense of the word and inspires her teammates with her tenacity and never-say-die attitude. She is a wonderful role model and has been instrumental in helping take the team to a more competitive level this season.”
St. Francis Xavier’s Kate Whitters and Guelph’s Brittany Seidler were the other nominees for CIS MVP honours.
Woodcroft became the first Varsity Blue since 2003 to be named the OUA rookie of the year and only the second U of T player to claim the Joyce Slipp award, following Erin Fraser in 1998.
The crafty midfielder ranked second on the team and tied for fourth in OUA scoring in her university debut with seven goals in 12 conference games. Her offensive prowess earned her a selection as an OUA all-star and a spot on the second all-Canadian squad. She was a major part of Toronto’s success this fall as the Blues finished first in Ontario in the regular season before capturing the conference title for the first time since 2008.
A member of the Canadian junior national team, Woodcroft competed at the 2011 Pan American indoor championship in Venezuela. She has been playing for provincial teams for over two years and was co-captain of the Ontario under-18 squad that won the gold medal at last summer’s Canada Cup tournament in Calgary.
“Amanda is the next big star in CIS field hockey,” said Toronto head coach John DeSouza. “We’ve had some truly talented players come through our program and Amanda is no exception. She is so versatile and excels in any position we’ve put her in this season.”
Saint Mary’s Brittany Avery and UBC’s Sarah Keglowitsch were also in the running for the top freshman award.
Koch is the first-ever Dino to receive the Gail Wilson award, presented annually to an individual who displays exceptional leadership and performance while exemplifying the conduct expected of a CIS field hockey student-athlete.
A key player on her team that can fill virtually any role asked of her, Koch’s influence extends off the field both inside and outside the field hockey community. In addition to helping coach a local high school team and volunteering for player-run field hockey camps in the off-season, the fourth-year U of C midfielder-defender found another way to give back to her sport by becoming a certified umpire.
Away from the field, Koch has worked with a classmate with developmental and learning disabilities for the past seven years, using her kinesiology background to help him stay active and demonstrating her selfless and giving nature by simply being a friend. She has also participated with an organization that takes university students abroad to offer them global learning and volunteer experiences, an opportunity she used to go to Uganda in 2009 to serve in a local orphanage. A trip to Brazil followed in 2010, where the team connected with street children through the power of sport. Most recently, Koch led a team to the border of Thailand and Myanmar to volunteer in a local school and learn about the plight of the Burmese people.
“Lindsay is an amazing person. Her keen desire to help and nurture is evident with everything she does,” said Calgary head coach Jenn Swagar. “She is a very versatile player. Because of her desire, work ethic and maturity she has developed into a key player and strong leader on this team.”
McGill’s Rachel Berta was also nominated for the Wilson award.
DeSouza became only the second U of T bench boss to claim the Marina van der Merwe award since its inception in 1984. Legendary coach Liz Hoffman was honoured by her CIS peers in 1985, 1988 and 1993.
In his sixth season as the Varsity Blues head coach, DeSouza led his troops to a first-place finish in conference play thanks to a sparkling 11-1 record, and to a first OUA title since 2008 thanks to a pair of dominating playoff wins, 7-1 against Western in the semifinals and 6-0 over Guelph in the Ontario final. The Blues, who allowed a league-low three goals in 12 conference games while finishing second in OUA scoring with 51 markers, have been established tournament favourites for the CIS championship as they get set to defend their McCrae Cup national title.
DeSouza has been a member of the Varsity Blues field hockey program since 1990. He was a long-time assistant to Liz Hoffman and current U of T director of intercollegiate and high performance sport Beth Ali. His first tour of duty as the Blues bench boss came in 1998, when Ali took a year sabbatical from coaching, and he has assume the permanent head coaching role since 2007. Overall, he has helped guide the team to 11 OUA championships and four CIS banners – including the last two as head coach (2010, 2007).
“We are very happy to see John recognized for the outstanding work he has done with our field hockey program and our student-athletes,” Ali said. “He and his staff work tirelessly to produce top results at both the provincial and national level and have continued the tradition of excellence in Varsity Blues field hockey.”
UPEI’s Sheila Bell and UBC’s Hash Kanjee were the other nominees for the van der Merwe award.
Denise Pelletier started umpiring with the Waterloo Women’s Field Hockey Club only six years ago. For two seasons she officiated at the high school level and was selected to work at the OFSAA championships. She then made the jump to OUA for the past four campaigns and quickly became one of the top university umpires in Ontario.
In just her second season officiating at that level, in 2009, Pelletier was selected to umpire at the OUA championship and has since been a fixture at the tournament. She was chosen to work at the CIS championship for the past two years and will once again be on hand this week in Calgary.
Mario DeMello (Maritimes) and Wendy Stewart (Canada West) were also in the running for the award.
The all-Canadian teams were also announced on Wednesday, with reigning national champion Toronto, perennial powerhouse UBC and 2011 championship host Calgary each placing two players on the first squad.
The 10 standouts joining Pendleton on the first CIS team were OUA MVP Seidler, a forward from Oliver, Ont.; Alberta’s Jacqueline Trautman and Toronto’s Kaelan Watson on defence; Calgary teammates Courtney Campbell and Serena Lockhart, Saint Mary’s Mandy Avery, McGill’s Camille St-Cyr and Toronto’s Hannah Tighe at midfield; as well as forwards Kathryn Hay of UPEI and Poonam Sandhu of UBC.
Trautman, Watson and Avery were all named to the top squad for the third straight year. Campbell and Seidler also return from last year’s first unit, while St-Cyr and Tighe were members of the second team a year ago.
Joining Woodcroft on the second CIS unit for 2011 are Victoria goalkeeper Kaitlin Williams; UBC teammates Kirtsen Bertsch and Miranda Mann, Alberta’s Julianna Cormier and York’s Adriana Fernandes on defence; midfielders Lauren Mackenzie of Western, Kaitlyn Longworth of Calgary and Jessie Janes of Dalhousie; along with forwards Courtney Bisch of Waterloo and Alexandra Evanyshyn of Toronto.
Liz Hoffman award (player of the year): Robyn Pendleton, UBC
Joyce Slipp award (rookie of the year): Amanda Woodcroft, Toronto
Gail Wilson award (outstanding contributor): Lindsay Koch, Calgary
Marina van der Merwe award (coach of the year), presented by Coaches of Canada: John DeSouza, Toronto
Umpire of the year: Denise Pelletier, OUA
Position Athlete University Year Hometown Faculty
Defender Jacqueline Trautman Alberta 4 Delta, B.C. Sciences
Defender Kaelan Watson Toronto 4 Richmond, B.C. PE & Health
Midfielder Mandy Avery Saint Mary’s 4 Halifax, N.S. Arts
Midfielder Courtney Campbell Calgary 5 Calgary, Alta. Nursing
Midfielder Serena Lockhart Calgary 4 Cobble Hill, B.C. Open Studies
Midfielder Camille St-Cyr McGill 4 Richmond, B.C. Biology
Midfielder Hannah Tighe Toronto 5 Penticton, B.C. European Studies
Forward Kathryn Hay UPEI 4 Cornwall, P.E.I. Science
Forward Robyn Pendleton UBC 4 Victoria, B.C. Kinesiology
Forward Poonam Sandhu UBC 2 Vancouver, B.C. Arts
Forward Brittany Seidler Guelph 3 Oliver, Ont. Geography
Goaltender Kaitlyn Williams Victoria 5 White Rock, B.C. Social Sciences
Defender Kirsten Bertsch UBC 5 Duncan, B.C. Arts
Defender Julianna Cormier Alberta 4 Calgary, Alta. Education
Defender Adriana Fernandes York 4 Mississauga, Ont. Health
Defender Miranda Mann UBC 3 Duncan, B.C. Kinesiology
Midfielder Amanda Woodcroft Toronto 1 Waterloo, Ont. PE & Health
Midfielder Lauren Mackenzie Western 2 Burlington, Ont. Sciences
Fwd/Mid Kaitlyn Longworth Calgary 5 Calgary, Alta. Arts
Fwd/Mid Jessie Janes Dalhousie 3 Halifax, N.S. Kinesiology
Forward Courtney Bisch Waterloo 3 Wellesley, Ont. Kinesiology
Forward Alexandra Evanyshyn Toronto 2 Burlington, Ont. PE & Health
About Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Fifty-two universities, 10,000 student-athletes and 550 coaches vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, as well as numerous world university championships. For further information, visit www.cis-sic.ca.