York student nominated for national athlete of the year award

York Lions men’s soccer player Francesco Bruno is the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) male nominee for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) athlete of the year award – the BLG Award – founded by the national business law firm Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Bruno is one of four finalists for the male side of the 17th annual BLG Awards announced Tuesday. Four finalists were also chosen for female athlete of the year.

Left: York Lions men’s soccer player Francesco Bruno in action

Bruno’s nomination for the prestigious award represents another accolade for the talented 24-year-old midfielder in a season already full of them. The CIS and OUA men’s soccer player of the year, who guided the Lions to a national title, was also a CIS tournament all-star and OUA West Division first-team all-star, York’s male athlete of the year and the Lions soccer team’s most valuable player. 

“It is such an honour to be recognized as a nominee for this award,” said Bruno, a student in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. “There are so many talented athletes across Canada and I am just honoured to be included among this group. This nomination represents the hard work of not only me but also my teammates, the coaching staff and the trainers who have been part of the Lions men’s soccer team this season.”

The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with CIS. After 16 successful years in Calgary, the BLG Awards are coming to Toronto for the first time ever.

On Monday, April 27, the eight national nominees will be honoured, with one female and one male winner receiving a $10,000 postsecondary grant in front of more than 1,000 BLG guests at the John Bassett Theatre in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The awards show will premiere on TSN on Saturday, May 16 at 2pm.

“Our goal in hosting these awards in Toronto is not only to focus attention on the importance of athletics at Canadian universities, but also to shine a spotlight on the exceptional athletes produced right here in Canada,” said Doug Mitchell, national co-chair of BLG LLP.

“To be selected as a BLG nominee is a prestigious honour that all top athletes aspire to,” said Marg McGregor, CIS chief executive officer.  “It is truly impressive to see how this year’s cohort of candidates has excelled as athletes without compromising their academic success as students." 

Right: Francesco Bruno

In addition to Bruno, who hails from Toronto and will be attending the festivities in his hometown, the other male finalists for CIS athlete-of-the-year honours are Saint Mary’s University hockey player Marc Rancourt of Gloucester, Ont., Laval University football player Étienne Légaré from Saint-Raymond, Que. and University of Alberta volleyball player Joel Schmuland of Calgary, Alta.

The BLG awards are based on athletic accomplishments, outstanding sportsmanship and leadership. Each of 52 CIS schools selects one female and one male athlete of the year. From these nominees, one female and one male athlete are chosen within each of the four regional associations: Atlantic University Sport, Quebec Student Sports Federation, Ontario University Athletics and Canada West Universities Athletic Association. To be eligible, a student-athlete must have competed in a CIS sport for a minimum of two years and cannot be a previous recipient of a BLG Award.

Nominees receive a commemorative gold ring, and winners are presented with a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend a Canadian university graduate school. Winners are selected by the Canadian Athletic Foundation (CAF), a not-for-profit board established for the purpose of administering the BLG Awards and protecting the integrity of the selection process. The CAF Board of Trustees consists of 23 members from six Canadian cities representing 11 major corporations from across the country who are committed to ensuring that Canadian university athletes receive the recognition they deserve.

Submitted to YFile by Alyson Grant, sport & recreation information officer, with files from CIS