After every regular sports season in Canada West, coaching staff across Western Canada band together to vote for top-performing players of their teams based on that year.
Together they form two all-star teams and one all-star rookie team to pay tribute to the top talent in the country.
With over 13 teams in each league, it is quite the honour to have your name raised high enough to crack a position on the notable squad. As volleyball and basketball season closes, there were four Wolfpack athletes who received these honours including Kendra Finch and Kseniya Kocyigit from women’s volleyball, Nimo Benne from men’s volleyball, and Joe Davis from men’s basketball.
“I feel very honoured to have received an all-star. There are so many amazing athletes in our league and to be recognized amongst them is humbling,” Kendra Finch from women’s volleyball beamed.
Finch was the only Wolfpack athlete to receive first team all-star honours as she became a member of only seven athletes to earn the accolade across Canada West.
“I would definitely attribute my success to my teammates as they are the ones who inspire me to come to the gym every day and work hard. Volleyball is such a teamwork-dependent sport, and I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today without all the incredible women I play alongside,” the fifth-year expressed.
Finch was not the only volleyball player to crack the all-star team as a first-year player, Kseniya Kocyigit also earned the second team all-star honours.
“I am very happy to be chosen for the all-star team. We did a great job this season and my teammates were always there for me.” Kocyigit said.
With previous professional playing experience, Kocyigit brought her skills to the court and played without any expectations.
On the men’s side of the volleyball court, Nimo Benne was awarded a spot on the all-star rookie team, which is given to athletes who stand out in their first season of play.
“It feels great – especially since it was a goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the season,” Benne said.
The all-star recognition was well deserved as Benne was the Wolfpack’s main offensive threat with a total of 265 kills: fourth most of all players in Canada West.
“The team trusted me, and the coaches gave me a lot of playing time as a rookie,” Benne expressed. “That gave me a lot of confidence to play freely.”
When I asked the six-foot, six inches tall outside hitter about his future aspirations, he expressed his dream to make it to the second all-star team next year. It appears there is much more to come from this goal-driven rookie.
The last player to gain all-star recognition was Joe Davis from the men’s basketball program. Following a stellar season, Davis became the all-time top scorer while leading his team into playoffs. He further added to his success by being named a second-team all-star.
“I am honoured to be recognized by the other coaches. It’s nice to have a good system that gives you opportunities and good teammates that trust me,” said the fifth year, who has now finished his collegiate career. “It is like a team award – there is no doubt that Anton Bilous or Mike Rouault could have won it rather than me.”
Incidentally, Mike Rouault, another spectacular TRU athlete, was nominated as the Canada West representative for the prestigious Ken Shields Award. This Award is given out by U-Sports for the top men’s basketball player who excels on the court, in the classroom, and in the community.
The Wolfpack athletes showed their true dedication to the game – both on and off the court. The way these top athletes carry themselves in a humble manner is refreshing; it gives our sports teams the right perception. They are indeed most deserving of the All-Star title.