Red Deer, AB – It was another impressive year in RDC Athletics and the student-athletes, coaches, trainers, and supporters were recognized at the 2019 RDC Athletics Awards Night, held on Tuesday evening at the RDC Arts Centre.
During 2018-19, RDC Athletics picked up another 26 medals. Red Deer College teams won 10 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) and three Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) medals. RDC student-athletes added 11 ACAC individual medals and were recognized with 23 ACAC awards. At the CCAA level, two individual medals and eight awards were earned. Kari Elliott (Cross Country Running), Scott Bergdahl (Golf), Brad Hamilton (Curling) and Chris Wandler (Queens Volleyball) were honoured as ACAC Coach of the Year.
Ken King, Queens Basketball Head Coach, Clayton Pottinger, Kings Basketball Head Coach and Chris Wandler, Queens Volleyball Head Coach, are moving on to other opportunities next season, and all three dedicated coaches received recognition and a gift for their hard work and commitment.
Emcees Shaelyn Moltzahn and Andrew Jones Pic - Colby Brochu Photography
The motivated student-athletes spent countless hours in surrounding communities making a positive impact. They volunteered their time to coach, raise funds for charities, read with children, encourage students to stay physically active and mentor youth.
Many student-athletes were recognized on a provincial and national level. RDC student-athletes were named the ACAC Athlete of the Week on nine occasions and CCAA Athlete of the Week four times.
Jill Stewart was chosen as the 2019 Red Deer Bottling RDC Female Athlete of the Year after an exceptional season with the RDC Queens Cross Country Running and Indoor Track teams. The decision came as a surprise to the Red Deer runner, who credited the other RDC female nominees, Shaye Leidenius, from Queens Golf, and Catherine Longchamps, of Queens Hockey.
"Honestly, I was really shocked. They were good nominees who had great seasons," says Stewart. "I am really honoured to receive this award. My season was the strongest that is has been, so I am really happy. I love the team and my coaches, and it's like a second family."
Stewart led the Queens to a silver medal at the ACAC Cross Country Running Championships, and she earned individual bronze along with an All-Conference selection. Then, the third-year student-athlete guided the RDC Queens to national bronze at the CCAA Cross Country National Championships. Stewart finished tenth, solidifying a position on the All-Canadian team.
Kari Elliott, RDC Cross Country Running and Indoor Track Head Coach, has been impressed with Stewart's progression beyond competition.
"Jill has grown tremendously over three years in our program - not just in athleticism. The last two years she has served as a representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council," says Elliott. "This year, she really stepped into a leadership role as our strongest female athlete. Her top three finishes at all of our grand prix races and top 10 finish at nationals were absolutely essential to our team's success this season."
The Occupational and Physical Therapist Assistant Diploma student was also a strong competitor with the RDC Queens Indoor Track team. Stewart helped guide the team to silver at the ACAC championships and was a member of the gold medal winning women's 4 x 400 metre relay team. In the women's 3,000 m final, she wrapped up bronze.
"Jill carried her success into Indoor Track as well, finishing on the podium twice," says Elliott. "She elevates the entire team by modeling discipline, determination, hard work and setting big goals. Jill is a joy to coach and an inspiration to watch compete."
Looking ahead, Stewart feels that she has some unfinished business. "I am coming back for another semester, so I will compete in Cross Country Running," she says. "It will give me another shot at cracking that national top five, so that's my goal."
Regan Fathers was selected as the Red Deer Bottling RDC Male Athlete of the Year after a tremendous season as a member of the Kings Volleyball team. Spencer Klassen, from Kings Basketball, and Chase Thudium, of Kings Hockey, were the other male nominees.
"Hearing the accolades of Chase and Spencer, it is an honour to stand next to those guys," says Fathers. "It means a lot and I am honoured to receive this."
He led his team (18-6) to second place in the competitive south division and dominated in several statistical categories. The six-foot-six right side hitter led the league with 435 total kills and 5.37 kills per set. He was selected the ACAC Men's Volleyball Player of the Year and to the South All-Conference team.
"Regan's lengthy list of individual achievements are very well deserved based on his level of play and ability to take over matches this season," says Aaron Schulha, Kings Head Coach. "I am very happy for Regan to receive the RDC Male Athlete of Year Award for a second time, and it really puts an exclamation point on the dominant season that he had."
Fathers, a fifth-year from East Fremantle, Western Australia, helped the RDC Kings earn national silver at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in front of an electric crowd, and he was named a CCAA Tournament First Team All-Star. Prior to the national championship, Fathers was recognized as the CCAA Men's Volleyball Player of the Year and an All-Canadian.
When reflecting on the past season, Fathers noted the vibrant environment during nationals at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre as one of his highlights.
"My season was a reflection of the work I put in, and the work my teammates put in. Gold would have been incredible, but we pushed everyone as hard as we could," he says. "Nationals was unlike anything else I've ever experienced. I thought in my third year, playing in the provincial championship at home - I thought that was as good as it gets. The energy and passion from the people was incomparable to anything that I've been a part of. That was really special."
Schulha is excited for the opportunity for Fathers to continue his volleyball career.
"It has been an honour to coach Regan over the years and to help him develop into a very impressive volleyball player," says Schulha. "I have no doubt that he will continue to push himself to improve at the next level while playing professionally in Europe, and I very much look forward to hearing updates on his future volleyball accomplishments."
Fathers is waiting for the final plans to play overseas to be solidified. "I have signed with an agent for next year. In terms of where I am going to be, that is still up in the air," he says. "It is still playoff season in Europe. I have everything compiled that I need to, and I am just excited to expand on my volleyball career."
2018-19 RDC Academic Award recipients Pic- Colby Brochu Photography
RDC student-athletes also excelled in the classroom. At Awards Night, 102 student-athletes, who maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher, received an RDC Academic Excellence Award. Five student-athletes were recognized as CCAA Academic All-Canadians. Regan Fathers (Kings Volleyball), Matt Hope (Kings Cross Country Running and Indoor Track), Shaye Leidenius (Queens Golf), Teryn Wright (Queens Soccer) and Adam Turlejski (Kings Volleyball) achieved honours (3.5 GPA or higher) at Red Deer College and were selected to a 2018–19 ACAC All-Conference team.
Additional 2019 RDC Athletics Awards Winners
Al Ferchuk Athletic Leadership Award – Matt Hope (Kings Cross Country Running and Indoor Track)
Nexus Energy Technologies Student-Athlete Leadership Awards – Shae Best (Queens Basketball) and Spencer Klassen (Kings Basketball)
Come Back Awards - Ashley Sutherland (Queens Hockey) and Adam Turlejski (Kings Volleyball)
Corporate Loyalty Award – ZS Holdings
Donor Spotlight Award - Phyllis Ward
Coach's Award – Eric Bakker
Most Improved Player – Barzin Eskandarkhah
Most Valuable Player – Spencer Klassen
Rookie of the Year – Payton Baltzer
Coach's Award – Lauren Cardinal
Most Improved Player – Samantha Wade
Most Valuable Player – Sandra Garcia-Bernal
Rookie of the Year – Heena Sidhu
Cross Country Running and Indoor Track
Coach's Award – Daniel Szucs
Most Improved Player – Devin Saunders
Most Valuable Player – Jill Stewart
Rookie of the Year – Shayla Sklaruk
Coach's Award – Brett Day
Most Improved Player – Jayden Mitchell
Most Valuable Player – Thomas Crawford
Rookie of the Year – Erica Watts
Coach's Award - Gaige Weseen
Most Improved Player – Bradie Ouellette-Pillman
Most Valuable Player - Shaye Leidenius
Rookie of the Year - Chloe Sies
Coach's Award - Anthony Neurauter
Most Improved Player - Chase Thudium
Most Valuable Player - Tanner Butler
Rookie of the Year - Ryley Smith
Coach's Award - Shelby Ballan
Most Improved Player - Sydnee DeCorby
Most Valuable Player - Catherine Longchamps
Rookie of the Year - Mary Hirsch
Coach's Award - Kyle Bett
Most Improved Player - Will Arcinegas Salazar
Most Valuable Player - Theoren Gill
Rookie of the Year - Colin Purnell
Coach's Award - Emily Richard
Most Improved Player - Hayley Nassichuk-Dean
Most Valuable Player - Teryn Wright
Rookie of the Year - Mikayla Fujimoto
Coach's Award - Paul Mennie
Most Improved Player - Mark DeWit
Most Valuable Player - Regan Fathers
Rookie of the Year - JJ Graham
Coach's Award - Britt Davis
Most Improved Player - Natalie Bloemen
Most Valuable Player - Kaylee Domoney
Rookie of the Year - Emma Holmes
Major Volunteer Contributor Award - Brittany Carlson (with Kings Hockey)
ACAC Minor Officials Awards - Emma Mantie and Kelcie Garnick