By Curtis Wolff
The Dinos were feeling the love at the 47th annual Night of the Dino, an awards ceremony held at the Olympic Oval on Tuesday, March 8 to celebrate the athletic and academic achievements of the University of Calgary’s varsity and club athletes.
Swimmer Fiona Doyle and running back Mercer Timmis were awarded the top prizes of the night, taking home the Dr. Dennis Kadatz awards for female and male athletes of the year.
Doyle won six medals at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport swimming championships in February, including gold in the 100-metre breaststroke, leading the women’s side to a third-place finish despite only having nine athletes competing.
“I’m honestly shocked. It means so much to me, it really does,” said Doyle. “I wasn’t expecting this at all. There are so many amazing athletes here, and to be chosen as Athlete of the Year, it’s amazing.”
The Dr. Dennis Kadatz award is just another accolade to add to Timmis’s dominant year as running back for the Canada West champion football team. The second-year Dino was named Canada West MVP after setting a conference record for both rushing and all-purpose touchdowns and leading the nation in rushing yards.
“It’s an honour. Our school has a tradition of putting out great athletes each and every year,” said Timmis. “To just be a nominee was an honour — to be a winner, it felt great.”
The Bill Popplewell Rookie of the Year awards went to women’s rugby player DaLeaka Menin and men’s hockey player Chris Collins. Menin becomes the first Dinos women’s rugby player to win a major Dinos award, after taking home CIS Rookie of the Year earlier in the year. Collins was an offensive force for the Dinos this year, leading the team in scoring with 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points in 28 games.
The top academic honours of the night went to Andrew Buckley, Bogdan Knezevic, Tessa Miller and Tianna Rissling, who won the Calgary Booster Club Scholar-Athlete awards and a $1,000 scholarship each for their academic and athletic achievements. Buckley also won the Senate Service Award for community engagement.
The Gauntlet Extra Effort awards were given to women’s basketball player Jessica Thielen and football’s Doctor Cassama. Cassama led the best defence in the Canada West to the Vanier Cup despite being one of only two returning starters on the defensive side of the ball. More importantly, he was recognized as a great leader in the Dinos community, who can regularly be seen supporting the other Dinos teams at their games.
Thielen was a top performer for the women’s basketball team this season, but as far as important prizes of the night went, her Gauntlet Extra Effort Award came in a very distant second. Earlier in the evening, Dinos football player Elie Bouka invited Thielen to the stage, where he proposed to her in front of the entire Dinos community. She said yes, and Bouka wins an extra effort award in our hearts for the brave and sweet public display.
Other Night of the Dino highlights included a speech on behalf of the fifth-year athletes by swimmer Allison Long and an energetic grace before dinner delivered by basketball player Matt Letkeman. Other award winners included Dinos football head coach Blake Nill, who won the Charlesglen Toyota Scion Coach of the Year Award, and Sarah Beth Plishka from the fastball club and Ben Drybrough from the rowing club who won the inaugural Competitive Club Student-Athlete awards.