"I have won with people in this room. I have lost with people in this room. I went to war with people in this room," said Reid Jorgensen from the University of Calgary men's hockey team, addressing a crowd of varsity athletes, coaches and staff at the 45th annual Night of the Dino on April 3.
Jorgensen, like many varsity athletes, has finished his eligibility and is putting away his Dinos jersey.
"What I can take away from this is that I am proud to be a Dino," he said to end his speech.
The awards banquet acknowledged both the triumph and heartbreak of Dinos varsity teams over the year.
The two largest trophies in the room, and the athlete of the year honour that came with them, were awarded to Hayley Wickenheiser and Sam Hurl.
Wickenheiser led the women's hockey team to their first-ever national championship and became the first women's hockey player ever to win the female athlete of the year award. She beat out basketball player Jenna Kaye, field hockey player Kaitlyn Longworth, Rachael McIntosh from the track and field team and wrestler Erica Wiebe.
Hurl, named a first team Canadian Interuniversity Sport all-Canadian, was an important asset for the Dinos football team in their fourth-straight Hardy Cup victory. For the second year in a row, Hurl was named Canada West defensive player of the year. For male athlete of the year, Hurl beat out basketball player Tyler Fidler, football teammate Steven Lumbala, swimmer Gleb Survorov and volleyball player Graham Vigrass.
"It's such a great honour," said Hurl. "You know what? I'm really surprised. I didn't think I would get it."
The rookie of the year awards went to Amanda Reason and Teigan Zahn. Reason from the swimming team had three gold and two silver medals in her first CIS championship.
Hockey defenceman Zahn was awarded a first all-star team and a spot on the CIS all-rookie team.
In its inaugural year, the Senate Service Award was presented to a student-athlete with strong community involvement. The award was given to Evan Kimick of the track and field team. Kimick also won the scholar-athlete award with a 3.90 GPA in chemical engineering. Soccer player Tessa Miller, hockey player Brock Nixon and Wickenheiser were also recognized with scholar-athlete awards.
Every year, the Gauntlet presents the Extra Effort Award to a male and a female athlete who have persevered through adversity. This year, both recipients overcame knee injuries. Elana Lovell of the women's hockey team and Boris Bakovic of the men's basketball team received the awards. Lovell, in one of her first games back, scored two goals in the CIS championship, helping her team to victory. Bakovic was the leading scorer in the CIS and, unofficially, in Canadian university men's basketball history.
The coaches were also honoured at the banquet.
"I would like to thank the unsung heroes," said women's hockey player Casey Irving in a toast to the coaches.
Women's basketball coach Shawnee Harle was recognized for her outstanding contributions and achievements during her time as a Dino. Harle announced on March 30 that she will be stepping down after 18 years as a Dinos coach.
"Just three more words: Go Dinos go!" Harle said after a standing ovation.