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Star ‘Stangs honoured at Gala

Back Row (Left to Right): Jeff Martin - Baseball, Jack Sheffar - Cross Country/Track & Field, Kelsey Veltman - Women's Volleyball, David Brown - Football, Matthew Hooker - Men's Volleyball and Caroline Stricelj - Track & Field. Front Row (Left to Right): Kristina Popadich - Cross Country/Track & Field, Manraj Nijjar - Men's Lacrosse, Charis Huddle - Swimming, Daniel Gleason - Track & Field and Julie Steffler - Wrestling. Missing: Helen He - Tennis.

After a decorated year of success for Western University’s Athletic Program, the Mustangs celebrated an incredible year at the 2019 Athletic Awards Gala this spring.

On a night spent recognizing the dedication of Western’s athletes and coaches, a variety of awards were presented, including the Bronze ‘W’ Award, team MVP Awards, the illustrious Purple Blanket, the Claude Brown Trophy, the FWP Jones Trophy, and the Athlete of the Year Awards.

Twelve athletes were awarded Western’s Purple Blanket this year, as David Brown, Matthew Hooker, Jeff Martin, Manraj Nijjar, Jack Sheffar, Dan Gleason, Helen He, Charis Huddle, Kristina Popadich, Julie Steffler, Caroline Stricelj, and Kelsey Veltman were honoured. The Purple Blanket has remained one of Western’s most established athletic honours since 1949, as the award is reserved for student-athletes who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, achieved superior distinction at the Provincial/National level of competition during their careers at Western.

Sheffar and Veltman were honoured once again later in the evening with a pair of awards.

Sheffar took home the prestigious Claude Brown Trophy, which is presented to the Western male student-athlete who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, has made the greatest contribution to Intercollegiate Athletics within the University. Sheffar (cross country and track & field) earned the award due to a dominant senior season with the purple and white, as he earned a pair of OUA Championships before winning another two gold medals at the U Sports Championships.

Veltman (volleyball) was awarded the FWP Jones Trophy, presented to the athlete who made the greatest contribution to women’s athletics during their years spent at Western. Veltman’s final season with the Mustangs was highlighted by a record-breaking achievement, as she became the first player in school history to be named a First Team OUA All-Star in all five of her eligibility years.

Fraser Sopik (football) and April Clark (hockey) were named the Men’s and Women’s Athletes of the Year, respectively, as both athletes enjoyed dominant seasons with their respective teams.

Throughout the season, Sopik was named OUA First Team All-Defence, All-Canadian First Team, U Sports Defensive Player of the Year, and led the Mustangs’ dominant defence in total tackles. Sopik’s efforts ultimately led the purple and white to their second straight Yates Cup, the Mitchell Bowl, and their second straight trip to the Vanier Cup.

In her fourth season with the team, Clark earned nearly every possible individual award, as she was named the OUA Player of the Year, OUA Forward of the Year, First Team OUA All-Star, and scored 33 points during the season to lead the OUA.

After a season filled with an array of individual and team accomplishments, the Gala served as the perfect way to celebrate the dedication and success of all our student-athletes.

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Submitted by the Western Mustangs