Story and Photo Credit: Brad Mcleod, Cranbrook Townsman
The College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball program hosted their annual awards banquet on Saturday, April 8, at the Heritage Inn in Cranbrook.
During the night, the players were recognized for their achievements both on the volleyball court and in the classroom. The Avs then, in turn, took time to thank all those who made the season possible including their coaches, academic staff, and parents.
Although the final results at the PACWEST Provincial tournament in February were frustrating for both teams — the men finished fifth and the women were fourth— there were still plenty of reasons to celebrate their achievements.
"You're all amazing athletes and students, and what all of you who are leaving have given us is continuity for our family," COTR Student Life and Athletics Manager Cori Andrichuk told the crowd in her address on Friday. "The commitment to practice, going to school, doing homework — you really try to achieve as much as you possibly can as students and athletes."
Alexa Koshman took home the most hardware after the night was all said and done. The third-year libero turned left side hitter, was honoured not only with PACWEST and COTR Academic Excellence awards but was declared the women's Most Valuable Player and won the women's Avalanche Award.
The Avalanche Award, as described by head coach John Swanson, recognizes a player who "excels in the classroom, on the volleyball court and in the community, [and] understands the importance and value of being a well-rounded student-athlete."
It was the second straight year, that Koshman has been given the award and the first time she has been named the team's MVP.
"[Koshman] has an overall skill set that I've said repeatedly is second to none in the PACWEST," Swanson said while presenting the MVP trophy. "She challenged the opposition on every attack, served with a purpose and continued to play defence as well as anyone in the entire country."
For her impressive performance at the PACWEST tournament, Koshman was named to the Provincials All-Star team despite her team's 3-0 bronze medal game loss.
"Throughout the season she was asked to perform as one of the team's vocal leaders, perform at the highest level, and participate and coordinate in non-team activities," Swanson said of Koshman while presenting the Avalanche Award. "[Koshman] was extremely gracious with her time in helping [with] many community events, and was usually the first person to volunteer when something needed to be done."
While Swanson said there were many deserving candidates, Koshman's teammates did not object to her double dipping in big awards and gave rousing applause breaks both times her name was called.
Fellow Chinook High School graduate Megan Clark also had a big night, winning the women's Most Improved Player Award and also taking home the Sun City Coachlines First Year Student Athlete Award.
The Sun City trophy is the only award open to both men and women, and is given to a rookie player who "demonstrates a commitment to the team, a strong work ethic on and off the court and good sportsmanship for the duration of the Avalanche season."
"[Clark] showed incredible tenacity and heart to want to improve and become an impactful teammate," Swanson said in his presentation of her award. "Her willingness to learn and develop her skill-set propelled her to play her best match of the season in the opening game of the provincial tournament against UFV, which greatly contributed to our victory."
Sydney Herrick was named the women's side's Rookie of the Year, after also impressing Swanson immensely at provincials.
"[Herrick] was the epitome of being adaptable," Swanson said. "She started the season as a power hitter, moved to right side and even filled in as a middle in a couple of matches late in the season after injuries decimated our lineup.
"The impressive thing was that [she] never hesitated or stressed out about the situation. She was always a presence on the floor no matter what position she was asked to play."
On the men's side, Matt Cespedes was named the team's Most Improved Player in a rookie season that saw him steadily improve his game, while David Dobson won the Rookie of the Year Award after putting up 196 kills — second on the team — as an outside hitter.
Captain Spencer Janzen was given the MVP Award for the men and setter Alex Cassels won the Avalanche Award. Janzen had a very impressive year for the Avalanche, leading the team in blocks with 48, and Cassels made his presence felt both in games and in the community.
Before the end of the night, the program saluted each one of the team's 11 departing players.
Adriel Goodman, Taylor Forster, Kennedy Koop, Mackenzie Morey, Sarah Wood, Miranda Myndio, Kolby Fenton, Patrik Toze, Alex Cassels, Duncan Sutherland, and Spencer Janzen were all celebrated for their unique characteristics and were wished well in their future endeavors.
The majority of the players leaving are continuing their volleyball careers and education at other post-secondary institutions. Some, including Goodman (U of C) and Toze (MRU) will be playing at the U-Sports level next season, while others, like Wood (VIU) and Janzen (Camosun) will become the Avs' PACWEST rivals in 2017-18.
Summarizing the entire season before presenting his awards, Swanson said that he could not thank every member of the program enough, for what they did to make it a fantastic year.
"Whatever we asked you guys to do, you did it seamlessly and I really appreciated that," he said. "I received a lot of compliments from other coaches [throughout the year] about how you all carried yourself and competed [and] they admired you because they heard how you do academically.
"You're an incredible bunch and it will be very hard since we're going to be missing so many [of you]."
The next COTR Avalanche season will begin in September.
2017 COTR Avalanche Awards Recipients List:
2015/16 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Scholar Awards
Miranda Myndio, Taylor Forster, Mackenzie Morey
PACWEST Academic Excellence Awards
Alexa Koshman, Taylor Forster, MacKenzie Morey, Miranda Myndio, Spencer Janzen
PACWEST Performance Awards
Alexa Koshman - Second Team All-Star
Adriel Goodman - Second Team All-Star
Patrik Toze - Second Team All-Star
Spencer Janzen - Second Team All-Star
David Dobson - All-Rookie Team
College of the Rockies Academic Excellence
Matt Lavery, Taylor Forster, Spencer Janzen, Mackenzie Morey, Alex Cassels, Miranda Myndio, Alexa Koshman, Mikaela Pushor
Sun City Coachlines First Year Student Athlete Award
Women's Avalanche Awards
Megan Clark - Most Improved Player
Sydney Herrick - Rookie of the Year
Alexa Koshman - Most Valuable Player
Alexa Koshman - Avalanche Award
Men's Avalanche Awards
Matt Cespedes - Most Improved Player
David Dobson - Rookie of the Year
Spencer Janzen - Most Valuable Player
Alex Cassels - Avalanche Award
To view photos from the Awards Banquet, click here: