Dan Boutwell and Donata Huebert both went about their business with the Brandon University Bobcats in a quiet manner this season, but their demeanour couldn’t hide how good their campaigns were.
Huebert, a 5-foot-9 libero, was a big reason why the Bobcats women’s volleyball team had its best-ever season even though she only played in the back row, while Boutwell captained the Bobcats men’s volleyball team to an appearance in the Canada West conference final four without dominating the limelight.
On Tuesday, both were recognized as BU’s female and male athletes of the year, respectively.
Huebert, who’s in her second year of eligibility, capped a season filled with awards at the banquet held at the Victoria Inn. She was also named CIS libero of the year and a first-team all-Canadian, an honour that liberos rarely receive.
After looking at some of the other names on the Nancy Stanley Award, the honour took on a whole new meaning for the native of Minden, Germany.
"I just saw on the trophy that Teagan Hunter got it and Jaryn Ruether and just being next to those girls I played with is amazing because I know how they played the sport and how they behaved on and off the court," she said. "They are great role models and idols for every young athlete in Canada and it’s great to be on the same trophy as them."
Huebert, who was also named her team’s MVP, finished fifth in Canada West with 3.64 digs per set. That helped the Bobcats improve from 8-14 to 17-5 and secure home advantage for the first round of the Canada West playoffs. Brandon, which was ranked as high as second in the country, fell to the UBC Okanagan Heat in the conference quarter-finals.
Despite the early finish, Huebert admitted it was a season that she’ll never forget.
"It was a very special year," said Huebert, who was also the CIS libero of the year in 2011 before she returned to Europe to play professionally for two seasons. "It was very successful. We dropped out too early and I wish we would have went further. The season was amazing, but I had a great team, probably the team that was closest together that I’ve ever played on. That was a great feeling."
For Boutwell, winning the R.J. McCarthy Award will be his final memory as a Bobcat. The 6-foot-7 middle exhausted his CIS eligibility in a season in which Brandon barely snuck into the playoffs with a 10-12 record before upsetting the host UBC Thunderbirds in the CWUAA quarter-finals. The Bobcats fell to the Trinity Western Spartans in the semifinals and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in the bronze-medal match.
The Kenora, Ont., native had a solid year, finishing third on the team in kills with 191 in 26 matches, averaging 1.87 per set. His attack percentage of .418 led the squad and was the fourth best in Canada West. He also averaged one block per set, which was ninth best in the conference.
When Boutwell came to Brandon, he never imagined he could have accomplished what he did — which includes being named a second-team conference all-star this season and a pair of appearances at national championships — and he just enjoyed the moment on Tuesday.
"It feels great," said Boutwell, who was also named his team MVP. "If you’re going to leave the program, it’s a great way to go; end on a good note. It says a lot about the coaching staff and all that this year. You put in five years and good things happen and you develop a lot as players."
Meanwhile, James Elias of the men’s basketball team joined exclusive company on Tuesday. Elias became the third person to win the Jim Casey Memorial Award for sportsmanship by a male athlete twice. Elias, who also took home the award in 2012, joined his head coach Gil Cheung and Jim Minions, who played hockey in the 1950s, as the only two-time winners.
2013-14 BU ATHLETICS AWARD WINNERS:
R.J. McCarthy Award for Outstanding Male Athlete:
Nancy Stanley Award for Outstanding Female Athlete:
Student Union Service Award: Jaynell Gillett, Kaela Cranston, Stephanie Haynes, Ilarion Bonhomme, Isaiah James, Ali-Mounir Benabdelhak, Lexi Loewen, Shanlee McLennan, Brianna Walsh, Sam Tuivai, Dave Stasica, Daryl McCharles
Doug Crandle Award: Ilarion Bonhomme
Jim Casey Memorial Award for Sportsmanship: James Elias
H. Stuart Perdue Memorial Award for Sportsmanship:
MEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM AWARDS
Most Valuable Player: Dan Boutwell
Bill Gadd Inspirational Award: Frank Jones
Leadership Award: Brendan White
Rookie of the Year: Ty Moorman
WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM AWARDS
Most Valuable Player: Donata Huebert
Leadership Award: Kellie Baker
Daryle McCannell Inspirational Award: Lexi Loewen
Rookie of the Year: Vaovai Aiono
MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM AWARDS
Jerry Hemmings Most Valuable Player:
James O Dolling Inspirational Award:
Leadership Award: Jordan Reaves
Rookie of the Year: Mikee Dosado
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM AWARDS
Most Valuable Player:Cassie Cooke
Tracy McLeod Inspirational Award: Aleah Bridges
Leadership Award: Stephanie Haynes
Rookie of the Year: Keegan Robinson