MacDonald, Vanderzee named Dinos Athletes of the Year

Article content

 A pair of national champions in track & field in Sienna MacDonald and Noel Vanderzee have been named the 2023-24 University of Calgary Dinos Athletes of the Year.

The two stars were presented with the Dr. Dennis Kadatz Athletes of the Year awards to highlight the 56th annual Night of the Dino awards gala Monday night inside the Jack Simpson Gym, as the Dinos celebrated yet another outstanding year of competition.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

This year’s recipients of the Bill Popplewell Rookie of the Year Awards went to Nicholas Hooper of men’s wrestling and Alexanne Lepage of women’s swimming. The other major honours of the night, the Calgary Booster Club Scholar-Athlete Awards recognizing outstanding athletic achievement, went to Derek Brust (men’s soccer), Gabriella Durante (women’s hockey), Grace Lew (wrestling), and Paul McKenzie (swimming).

Chancellor Jon Cornish presented the Senate Service Award to Alexis Johnson of track & field, while cross country and track and field head coach Jessica Zelinka was crowned the Charlesglen Toyota Coach of the Year.

The Margaret Southern Award for female contribution to the Dinos went to long-time events staff member Marianne Dyke, while the Dr. Lou Goodwin Award recognized broadcast producer and director Ned Bosnak. Men’s basketball team manager Cole Charlebois was honoured with the Murray Fraser Award as the outstanding volunteer.

Named for the first athletic director and football coach at the University of Calgary, the Dr. Dennis Kadatz Athlete of the Year awards recognize excellence on the playing field during the varsity season. The winners become the Dinos’ nominees for the U SPORTS athlete of the year awards.

Advertisement 3

Article content

Sienna MacDonald | Track & Field | 3rd Year | Arts | Airdrie, AB
Everything MacDonald touched this season turned to gold. Competing in the Pentathlon, 60m hurdle and long jump, MacDonald continually set new personal bests and made Team Canada standard in hurdles for the World Athletics Indoor Championships with a time of 8.11 seconds. At the Canada West Championships, she claimed gold in all three events and took down a conference record in the 60m hurdles en route to being named the CW Track Athlete of the Year and Performer of the Meet. On the national stage, MacDonald was once again took triple gold and was honoured as the U SPORTS Athlete of the Meet.

Noel Vanderzee | Track & Field | 2nd Year | Arts | Lethbridge, AB
After time away from the sport, Vanderzee was ready to jump to new heights at UCalgary. In all five occasions he competed this season, Vanderzee won his event – but it was his performance at the Canada West Championships that was eyepopping. His 2.22m jump broke the Dinos, Canada West and province of Alberta record in the high jump and earned him the CW Field Athlete of the Year and the Male Co-Performer of the Meet honours. He capped off the season by being named the U SPORTS Field Athlete of the Year and a national gold medal.

Article content

Advertisement 4

Article content

The Rookie of the Year awards were created in 2000 and named after Bill Popplewell, a tireless supporter of the Dinos for over two decades as one of the athletic department’s longest-standing corporate partners.

Alexanne Lepage | Swimming | Schulich School of Engineering | Vernon, BC
Lepage’s season was impressive by not only freshman standard – but by any. With the Canada West Championships at home, Lepage shined, medalling in all seven of her events, and claiming gold in each of her individual swims – all by two seconds or more. She was named both the conference’s top rookie AND swimmer of the year. At the U SPORTS Championships, Lepage collected seven more medals, topping the podium in the 200-metre breaststroke and 400-metre individual medley, and was honoured as the national rookie of the year.

Nicholas Hooper | Wrestling | Haskayne School of Business | Cochrane, AB
Hooper joined the Dinos after winning gold with Team Alberta at the Canada Summer Games. An injury in his first collegiate competition kept Hooper off the mats for a few months – but he made a roaring return. In The Jack at the Canada West Championships, Hooper won both his bouts in convincing fashion by tech fall to capture a gold medal and conference rookie of the year honours. At the U SPORTS Championships, Hooper rolled into the gold medal match with three tech fall wins before winning gold by decision. He was named the national rookie of the year.

Advertisement 5

Article content

The Scholar-Athlete awards recognize outstanding achievement in academics and athletics, and each year four student-athletes are presented with $1,250 scholarships by the Calgary Booster Club.

Derek Brust | Soccer | 5th Year | Schulich School of Engineering | Calgary, AB
Gabriella Durante | Hockey | 4th Year | Graduate Studies | Calgary, AB
Grace Lew | Wrestling | 3rd Year | Cumming School of Medicine | Calgary, AB
Paul McKenzie | Swimming | 4th Year | Kinesiology | Calgary, AB

The Senate Service Award annually recognizes a student-athlete who shows strong community engagement by demonstrating direct involvement. Representing the UCalgary Senate’s vision of engaging the community, the recipient is a student-athlete in good academic standing with significant commitment to improving the lives of those around them and is selected by a committee of the Senate. UCalgary Chancellor Jon Cornish presented the award, which celebrates its 11th anniversary in 2023.

Alexis Johnson | Track & Field | 5th Year | Social Work | Calgary, AB
The 2024 Canada West Field Athlete of the Year and once again an Academic All-Canadian in the classroom, Johnson continues to shine seemingly everywhere she goes. The six-time Canada West medallist has also taken on significant community engagement work during her time as a student-athlete. Studying both social work and in UCalgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, Johnson has worked with the Hull Services Nonprofit Organization and with the Society for Autism Support and Services, working with a number of the most vulnerable and adolescents through various challenges. She also volunteers her time giving back to the sport she has grown to excel by coaching local high schoolers during the outdoor season.

Advertisement 6

Article content

Jessica Zelinka | Track & Field and Cross Country
In just her third season as the Dinos head track & field and cross country coach, Jessica Zelinka led her squad to an incredible year of competition. The former world-class athlete returned to her alma mater and was named the U SPORTS Women’s Coach of the Year after helping the Dinos to a bronze medal at the national meet despite traveling just 11 student-athletes. She also coached the Calgary women to silver and the Dinos men to bronze at the Canada West Championships. Additionally, her athletes brought home an incredible eight postseason honours over the course of the remarkable year. This award, sponsored by corporate partner Charlesglen Toyota, is voted on by all varsity head coaches.

The Club Student-Athlete Awards honour two outstanding student-athletes from the Dinos’ competitive club programs for their all-around athletic, academic, and community achievement over the course of the season.

Rahul Duggi | Tennis | 4th Year | Schulich School of Engineering | Calgary, AB
Duggi has compiled a perfect record in university competition over the last two seasons. This past year, he achieved a career-best No. 2 ranking in the province and was 67th overall in the national rankings – a massive achievement after starting his collegiate career 60th in Alberta. He served as the team captain of the Dinos men’s tennis team in 2023-24 and has also dedicated time to coaching high-performance juniors at the national level.

Advertisement 7

Article content

Lindsay Jone | Ringette | 4th Year | Science & Education | Calgary, AB
Jone completed her final season with the Dinos ringette team in 2023-24 and played a key role in their podium finishes at the Bridge Battle tournament, University Challenge Cup and CORA Classic. Jone took the lead in organizing two successful fundraisers for the club – a pub night and winter ringette camp. A dedicated volunteer, Lindsay is recognized for her commitment to her team, all while maintaining an exceptional academic record – earning a place on the Dean’s List each year.

The Margaret Southern Award honours outstanding service and support to athletics by a woman, named in honour of the first female instructor at UCalgary’s Faculty of Physical Education. Inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, Marg and her late husband Ron were the Calgary Booster Club Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year in 1986 and are well known as pioneers in the Calgary business and equestrian communities as the founders of ATCO and Spruce Meadows.

Marianne Dyke is in her 20th season with Dinos Athletics and has done many jobs over the years. This school year, she stepped up in a big way, filling in for sister Amanda Hopkins while on maternity leave – all while working in the Calgary education system teaching sixth grade. Marianne oversaw the Dinos student and casual staff in the roles of concessions, ticketing and security and has helped oversee the Dinos’ revamped ticketing system – leading to increased attendance at every sport this season.

Advertisement 8

Article content

Named for the first Dean of Physical Education at UCalgary, the Dr. Lou Goodwin award honours a male who has provided outstanding service and support to the athletic department. ‘Dr. Lou’ served the city of Calgary, its school system, and its university for more than 45 years and was a founding member of what is now the Faculty of Kinesiology, serving as professor, department head, and dean from 1961 through 1978.

Dinos fans might not necessarily know the name Ned Bosnak but they certainly have seen his work. Bosnak is the president and CEO of Maverick Media – producing the live stream of Dinos sporting events for the past 15 years. From football to court sports to countless conference and national championships hosted by Calgary, Bosnak and his crew have been there to provide the broadcast for anyone across Canada to watch, transmitting by far one of the best products in all of U SPORTS.

Murray Fraser was president of the University of Calgary from 1988 until his retirement in 1996. A dedicated supporter of the Dinos, Murray and his wife Anne were fixtures in the stands during his time as president, and he was a firm believer in student involvement in campus life and a total university education. The Murray Fraser Award is presented annually to students who go over and above in their roles with Dinos Athletics.

Advertisement 9

Article content

Cole Charlebois has become an extension of the Dinos men’s basketball program through his work as a team manager over the past three seasons. He looked after many duties – from practice set up and keeping stats to video work to meal and travel arrangements. Outside of direct coaching, Charlebois has had his hand in just about everything with the program, all while keeping things light with his quick wit or challenging teammates to a game of chess. His giving spirit and serving-minded attitude are part of what make him – according to head coach Dan Vanhooren – a perfect representation of all a Dino should be.

The MedWest scholarships reward two Athletic Therapy majors for their work each season – one for clinical and one for field. Each recipient receives a $1,400 scholarship. Dallyn Shields is the recipient of the clinical award, while Brenna Patenaude received the field award. Shields spent the season with the football team, while Patenaude handled AT duties for women’s rugby and women’s volleyball.

Article content