(FREDERICTON, NB) Basketball players Laura Kaye(Fredericton, NB) and Javon Masters(Kitchener, ON) were named the UNB Varsity Reds female and male athletes of the year on Wednesday night.
Kaye took home the Colin B. MacKay Shield for a second straight year, while Masters earned the James Downey Shield for the first time in his illustrious five-year career.
“Javon has been one of the premier players in our conference and the country over the last five years and it’s no coincidence that our success as a program has run parallel with his as a player,” said Varsity Reds men’s basketball coach Brent Baker.
In 19 regular season games, the fifth-year guard scored 466 points. His average of 24.5 points per game led the country. He also established a new U SPORTS career scoring record, finishing with 2407 regular season points.
“It’s fitting that he saved the best for last, with an AUS championship and now being named UNB’s male athlete of year,” said Baker.
Masters is the first basketball player to be named UNB’s top male athlete since Dan Goggin, in 2004.
Kaye is the first repeat winner of the MacKay Shield since Melanie Doucette won it four years in a row(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).
Kaye played in 19 of UNB’s 20 regular season games, averaging 12.4 points per game.
On February 17th, in a Varsity Reds home court win over UPEI, Kaye recorded her 1000th regular season point.
“Laura had a solid season, despite battling injuries most of the year,” said Varsity Reds women’s basketball coach Jeff Speedy. “She excelled despite the fact teams were able to focus on stopping her because she was without some key teammates who were injured themselves.”
Kris Bennett(Brampton, ON), of the men’s hockey team, and wrestler Jasmine Thebeau(Rexton, NB) were named the Varsity Reds rookies of the year.
Bennett led the Varsity Reds in scoring on route to earning AUS and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year honours.
Thebeau earned a bronze medal at the UNB Open before wrestling to a fourth place finish at the U SPORTS Championships, at Algoma University, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Fourth-year men’s hockey player Randy Gazzola(Thorold, ON) was named winner of the Garnet Copeland Award, which honours athletics, academics and citizenry.
Baker was named the first recipient of the Varsity Reds’ new Dean’s Award for UNB Coach of the Year.
“The Varsity Reds are fortunate to have a lot of hard-working and dedicated coaches, and we thought it was time we recognized their efforts,” said John Richard, UNB’s Director of Athletics.
“There will always be several exceptional candidates for this award, but in a year when his team ended a 51-year conference championship drought it’s fitting that Coach Baker is the winner.”
Special recognition was paid to outgoing women’s volleyball coach Jilliane Portelli and Masters, for his record-breaking season.
Portelli is relinquishing her position as she and her husband focus on their growing family.
Masters’ new national career scoring record pushed the mark 125 past the previous record of 2282.
He was presented with a framed Varsity Reds jersey. A similar framed jersey, bearing Masters’ number 23, will be hung in the Richard J. Currie Center.
“Jilliane’s years of service and Javon’s career scoring mark were two things worth a little extra attention,” said Richard. “We’re sorry to be seeing them go and wanted to send them off with a token of our appreciation.”
Student-athletes Hannah Currie, from the women’s basketball team, and Kristian D’Amore, from the men’s soccer team, presided over the two-hour ‘Celebration of Excellence.’