Carabins quarterback Jonathan Senecal among finalists for university sport awards

RICHMOND HILL, Ont. — University of Montreal quarterback Jonathan Senecal was among the finalists announced Thursday for the Canadian university sport athletes of the year awards.

In addition to leading the Carabins to a 2023 Vanier Cup title, Senecal was named MVP of that game and earned Hec Crighton Trophy as the top U Sports football player.

University of New Brunswick hockey player Austen Keating, Guelph runner Max Davies and Alberta volleyball player Isaac Heslinga joined Senecal as finalists for male athlete of the year.

The finalists for the female award were UNB basketball player Jayda Veinot, Laval sprinter Audrey Leduc, Brock volleyball player Sara Rohr and University of British Columbia soccer player Katalin Tolnai.

The winners will be announced at the Lois and Doug Mitchell U Sport Athlete of the Year Awards ceremony June 10 in Calgary.

"We celebrate not only the exceptional athletic achievements of our nominees but also their dedication and leadership both on and off the field of endeavour,” Lois Mitchell said in a statement.

The top U Sports male and female athletes have been recognized since 1993 when former CFL player and commissioner and UBC football alum Doug Mitchell founded the awards. Mitchell died in 2022 at the age of 83.

His wife Lois Mitchell, who was Alberta's lieutenant-governor from 2015 to 2020, has continued their joint sponsorship of the honours previously called the Howard Mackie Awards, BLG Awards and Lieutenant Governor Athletics Awards.

One finalist of each gender from each of the four conferences — Atlantic, Ontario, Quebec and Canada West — are chosen annually.

No winners were announced in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 winners were University of Toronto swimmer Gabriel Mastromatteo and McMaster basketball player Sarah Gates.

The 2022 recipients were Edmonton Elks quarterback Tre Ford (Waterloo) and Canadian women's team rugby player Sophie de Goede (Queen's).

Previous winners also include CFL players Jesse Lumsden, Don Blair and Andrew Buckley as well as Olympic swimmer Kylie Masse, heptathlete Jessica Zelinka and hockey player Kim St. Pierre.

The trustees of the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board founded 31 years ago by Doug Mitchell, vote for the winners.

U Sports is one of the largest sports leagues in Canada with approximately 4,000 student-athletes playing varsity sports in 57 Canadian universities from Victoria to St. John's, N.L.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press