Adrian Pena and Effie Petrou named York Athletes of the Year

York University Lions soccer player Adrian Pena and field hockey player Effie Petrou were named the male and female athletes of the year on Thursday, March 31 at the 43rd annual Interuniversity Sport Banquet.

Pena and Petrou were named York’s top athletes from among a group of more than 400 student-athletes who celebrated at the banquet after finishing off a successful 2010-2011 campaign. Pena captured the award two years after teammate Francesco Bruno won it in 2009, while Petrou is the first field hockey player to earn the honour since Sherry Hartnett won it in 2004.

Adrian Pena, male athlete of the year, and Effie Petrou, female athlete of the year
Above: Adrian Pena, male athlete of the year, and Effie Petrou, female athlete of the year

Several other student-athletes were also honoured at the banquet.

Hockey player Autumn Mills was named the recipient of the Bryce M. Taylor Award, given to a graduating female athlete who has made outstanding contributions to interuniversity sport at York University. Kevin Montgomery of the cross-country and track & field teams received the Charles Jennifer Myers (left), director, Sport & Recreation, presents the Bryce M. Taylor Award to Autumn MillsSaundercook Memorial Trophy, which is presented to a male athlete who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, enthusiasm for life and the consideration of others.

Left: Jennifer Myers (left), director, Sport & Recreation, presents the Bryce M. Taylor Award to Autumn Mills

The first coach of the year award was presented to men’s soccer head coach Carmine Isacco after leading the Lions to their second Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championship in three seasons.

Soccer player Alon Badat and volleyball player Brandie Wilkerson were named the male and female rookie of the year award winners, respectively.

The women’s volleyball team was named the most improved team for the season.

The Spirit Cup, which was donated by President Emerita Lorna Marsden and is presented to the individual or group within York University that best exemplifies the spirit of York University and involvement in sport, was given to five-year promotions team member Mitchell Starkman.

Rounding out the awards was the Sport Council Award, which was won by council president Sara Vitelli of the women’s field hockey team.

Male Athlete of the Year: Adrian Pena, soccer

Pena, of Woodbridge, Ont., dominated the CIS soccer scene in 2010. In the regular season he led all players in the country with 13 goals in 16 games and was the recipient the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West most valuable player award and earned a spot on the OUA West first all-star team. He continued his strong play in the playoffs, helping the Lions win the OUA silver medal with a pair of goals in three games played. But it was at the CIS championships that Pena truly showed he is one of the top players in the nation. A finalist for the CIS player of the year award and a CIS first-team all-Canadian, he scored all four Lions goals at the national tournament to lead the squad to the gold medal while earning player of the match honours in the semis and final. He was named the tournament’s most valuable player and earned a spot on the all-star team, and following the event he was named OUA and CIS athlete of the week. Pena’s strong performance on the field helped the Lions receive OUA team of the month honours for November.


Female Athlete of the Year: Effie Petrou, field hockey


Petrou was once again one of the most dominant field hockey players in the league this season. She led all Lions in scoring and was 10th in the OUA with eight goals to help the Lions finish fifth in the regular-season standings and advance to the OUA championships, where they finished sixth. The Oakville, Ont., native finished second in OUA player of the year voting and was named an OUA first-team all-star and a CIS first-team all-Canadian.


Charles Saundercook Memorial Trophy: Kevin Montgomery, cross-country and track & field


Montgomery, of Carrying Place, Ont., was the captain of the cross country and track and field teams and was consistently the cross country team’s top performer. Under the direction of a new coach, he was also instrumental in getting his teammates to buy into a new training program that led to success at the OUA championships. While running middle distance events for the track and field team, he has trained hard throughout his career and has lowered his times in all distances, some by as much as 25 seconds. Montgomery has accomplished all of that in athletics while excelling in the classroom and studying in the athletic therapy program, where he has been a therapist for many of York’s varsity teams.


Bryce M. Taylor Award: Autumn Mills, hockey


Mills, of London, Ont., has had a tremendous five-year career with the Lions. She has consistently finished among the team’s top five in scoring, while also dedicating herself in the classroom and the community. She has received academic all-Canadian status in each of the last three years while studying in the concurrent education program, in addition to working multiple part-time jobs for Sport & Recreation in equipment services and the varsity fitness gym. This season she won numerous awards: the OUA Marion Hilliard Award for excellence in athletics, academic and community service; a Kenaidan Contracting Award for demonstrated leadership in the community; and the Patricia Murray Bursary for Sport Excellence. Away from York, Mills is a member of Canada’s national baseball team, representing her country at events around the world, and is also a volunteer coach. In 2009 she was recognized as York’s selection for the OUA Women of Influence Luncheon.


Coach of the Year: Carmine Isacco, soccer


Isacco received the OUA West coach of the year award and was a nominee for the CIS coach of the year award after an outstanding season on the sidelines. He guided the men’s soccer team to an OUA silver medal and the CIS championship, while coaching his players to two OUA major awards, six OUA all-star honours and two CIS all-Canadian honours. Isacco is also a coach with the under-20 national team and is currently in Guatemala competing in qualifying for the U20 World Cup.


Male Rookie of the Year: Alon Badat, soccer


Badat was named the OUA West men’s soccer rookie of the year and earned a place on the OUA West second all-star team after leading all rookies in the country with nine goals in the regular season. He finished third overall in scoring in the OUA and was fifth in the CIS among all players. Badat helped the Lions win the OUA silver medal and the CIS banner, receiving player of the game honours in the CIS quarter-finals and being named to the tournament all-star team.


Female Rookie of the Year: Brandie Wilkerson, volleyball


Wilkerson received the OUA East rookie of the year award and was named to the CIS and OUA all-rookie teams, as well as the OUA East second all-star team, after a tremendous first season with the women’s volleyball team. She finished the regular-season ranked second in the OUA in points per set, third in kills per set and sixth in service aces, and was among the CIS top 15 in the same statistical categories. Her strong play helped the Lions win the OUA East division title en route to a fourth-place finish at the OUA championships.


Most Improved Team: Women’s volleyball


The women’s volleyball team featured a roster with nine rookies, including several that were in the starting line-up in the regular season, but was one of the top teams in the league. After an OUA quarter-final exit last year, the team won the OUA East division this season with three more wins than last year and advanced to the OUA Final Four Championships, where they finished fourth. The Lions started the season on an impressive 8-0 run and were the only undefeated team in the country at the December break.


Spirit Cup Award: Mitchell Starkman, promotions team


Starkman has been a fixture at varsity games not only this season, but over the last few years. He has become recognizable to all student-athletes and fans for his tremendous York Lions spirit as he continually pumps up the crowd during timeouts and intermissions at all of our venues. His ability to work the crowd into a frenzy has no doubt helped many Lions student-athletes raise their energy levels during games. Starkman is graduating at the end of this season and will be missed on the sidelines.


Sport Council Award: Sara Vitelli, president


Vitelli, a member of the Lions field hockey team, was a unanimous vote from the member’s of Sport Council. Her leadership, dedication and positive attitude are some of the many words her fellow council members used to describe her. In her second year as president of the council she was the driving force behind the introduction of a very successful Lions for Lions program.

Team MVPs

  • Men’s Badminton – Erik Chong
  • Women’s Badminton – Samantha Wong
  • Men’s Basketball – Stefan Haynes
  • Women’s Basketball – Brittany Szockyj
  • Men’s Cross Country – Kevin Montgomery
  • Women’s Cross Country – Kathryn Pistor
  • Field Hockey – Effie Petrou
  • Football – Jonelle Tolbert
  • Men’s Hockey – Chris Jones
  • Women’s Hockey – Courtney Unruh
  • Women’s Rugby – Tiera Thomas-Reynolds
  • Men’s Soccer – Adrian Pena
  • Women’s Soccer – Felicia Turone
  • Men’s Swimming – Viktor Verblac
  • Women’s Swimming – Chelsea Knowles
  • Men’s Tennis – Nir Shumonyi
  • Women’s Tennis – Julia Khalilova
  • Men’s Track and Field – Dontae Richards-Kwok
  • Women’s Track and Field – Cynthia Appiah
  • Men’s Volleyball – Karim Khalil
  • Women’s Volleyball – Thinesa Sriskandarajah
  • Men’s Water Polo – Straun Wefers
  • Women’s Water Polo – Kim Muchnick