BELLEVILLE – Members of Loyalist Lancers Athletics  ditched the shorts and team jerseys and dressed themselves up for an evening of celebration Wednesday night.
Loyalist College hosted its annual athletics banquet for student athletes, coaches and athletic staff in the school gymnasium. Students were honoured for their collective successes over the past athletic year.
“Being a Lancer is just the best feeling in the world,” said Sara Piana Yafu, female athlete of the year.
The evening was hosted by Steven Schill, a Loyalist radio broadcasting graduate and recipient of this year’s Bob McKendrick Award, presented to the student who has made an outstanding contribution to campus recreation and outdoor education.
Jim Buck, Loyalist’s athletic director, gave a short speech to acknowledge his pride in all of the athletes. He showed his gratitude to the coaches by giving his own definition of what it means to be a coach.
“It takes a special person to be a coach first and foremost,” he said. “They have to be successful in handling multiple personalities under a variety of situations, while at the same time achieving a number of goals but hopefully one common team goal.”
“Coaches are leaders, mentors, advisers, financial consultants – slash ATM machines,” he joked, “and they are problem solvers and parental figures.”
A buffet dinner started the celebrations off, followed by the ceremony which included 40 awards and accolades in appreciation of individual, team and academic achievements. In addition, 63 students were given certificates for Ontario Colleges Athletic Association  academic awards for having over an 80 per cent average. Among them were 14 students whose academic average was over 90 per cent.
Loyalist president Ann Marie Vaughan gave remarks and presented awards.
Women’s volleyball player Emilie Leneveu (below left) and men’s basketball player Tigh Chapman (below right) were awarded with banners for being named Canadian College Athletics Association  Academic All Canadians. The award is one of the CCAA’s most prestigious honours, recognizing the students’ accomplishments in both athletics and academics.
This year saw the introduction of the Lanny Awards  – awards for best game face, most cringeworthy photo, best fan, best celebration and best action shot.
The ceremony saw successful athletes receive awards in their sports category for most valuable player, coaches’ encouragement, and fair play. The evening ended with the two top accolades: male and female athlete of the year. Buck was on stage to present the two successful athletes with their awards.
The Female Athlete of the Year Award was presented to volleyball player Sara Piana Yafu for the second year running. as she crossed the stage and was handed a bouquet of roses, Piana Yafu’s achievements were read out:
- Athlete of the week
- OCAA athlete of the week
- Being one of the most explosive and passionate players in the league
- The team’s leading scorer
- OCAA all star
- OCAA scoring champion with top overall points and top kills in the OCAA.
The Male Athlete of the Year Award was presented to volleyball star Adam Strickland. As he was handed his award by Buck, his collective achievements were read out by Schill:
- Lancer athlete of the week
- Leader on and off the court
- Fourth year athlete
- Led his team in scoring this year
- Top 10 in scoring in the OCAA and CCAA
- Accumulated 729 points in his college career