Two Lions soccer players named athletes of the year

Soccer players Francesco Bruno and Stefania Morra were named York University’s athletes of the year on Thursday, March 26 at the 41st annual Interuniversity Sport Banquet.

Bruno received York’s top male honour after a remarkable 2008-2009 season on the field that was capped off by a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship, the program’s first in 31 years, and the first for York in any sport since 1990. The third-year midfielder from Toronto was named CIS player of the year after scoring 10 goals in 14 conference games while leading the Lions to top spot in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West Division, an OUA silver medal and the national title.

Above: From left, Francesco Bruno and Stefania Morra, the male and female athletes of the year. Photo by Terry Ting.

In addition to receiving the highest individual honour in the country, Bruno was also named a CIS first-team all-canadian, OUA player of the year, an OUA first-team all-star, a CIS tournament all-star and the York Lions team most valuable player (MVP).

Also nominated for the award were track and field sprinter Tyrone Halstead and tennis player Mikhail Lew.

One year after being named York’s female rookie of the year, Morra had a dream season en route to athlete-of-the-year honours. The second-year Scarborough, Ont. native led the CIS in scoring with 18 goals, including four hat tricks, to be named CIS player of the year. After guiding the Lions to top spot in the OUA West Division with a 9-2-3 record, Morra was also named a CIS all-Canadian, OUA player of the year and an OUA West first-team all-star this season.

Other nominees for female athlete of the year were field hockey player Brittney Blount, hockey player Mandy Cole, pole vaulter Heather Hamilton, basketball star Laura MacCallum and volleyball athlete Candice Paulsen.

Winning the prestigious awards for graduating athletes were basketball star Tut Ruach and tennis player Joelle Fisher.

Ruach picked up the Charles Saundercook Memorial Trophy, which is presented to a male athlete within the men’s interuniversity sport program who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, enthusiasm for life and the consideration of others. In his five-year career at York, the guard from Mississauga, Ont. earned three OUA East all-star selections, OUA and CIS rookie of the year in the 2004-2005 season and finished second on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,635 points. Ruach, the team captain, was a strong leader for the squad and put forth a solid effort in all five seasons while showing a great deal of enthusiasm for the team.

Fisher was awarded the Bryce Taylor Award, presented to a graduating female student who has, throughout the undergraduate years, made outstanding contributions to interuniversity sport at York while exemplifying leadership, dedication, enthusiasm and participation in all aspects of her sport. A star tennis player for the Lions and a Toronto native, Fisher was chosen as an all-star in all four seasons she played for York and was team captain for three seasons. She was also a York Sport Council representative from 2006-2008 and has been a loyal supporter of all events related to the tennis program over the years.

The male and female rookie of the year awards went to basketball player David Tyndale and volleyball standout Thinesa Sriskandarajah, respectively. Tyndale was chosen after a stellar rookie season in which he won OUA East rookie of the year honours and was named to the CIS and OUA East all-rookie teams after finishing 15th in the OUA in scoring. Sriskandarajah was equally impressive in volleyball as she was the OUA rookie of the year and named to the OUA and CIS all-rookie teams and the OUA first all-star team. Ranked third in the OUA in points per game and kills per game, Sriskandarajah helped the Lions win their first OUA championship and finish sixth at the CIS championship.

Thanks to that provincial title, the program’s first in 12 seasons, and a sparkling 32-5 record throughout the year, including 18-1 in the regular season, the Lions women’s volleyball squad was named York’s most improved team.

Also winning awards at the banquet were Emily Van Hoof, who picked up the Sport Council Award for her tremendous efforts as the president this season, and Nicole Melnyk, who received the Spirit Cup Award for being a strong supporter of many York teams this year. Student therapists Julie Earl, Lillian Adjetey, Marcy Hadgraft, Katherine Nadon and Nik Komarov were also honoured for their excellent work this season with various York interuniversity sport teams.