Friday, November 27, 2009

All Canadian!!!!

Four Gaels walked away with first team All-Canadian honours tonight at the CIS All-Canadian Banquet - Jimmy Allin, Scott Valberg, Osie Ukwuoma and Matt O'Donnell.

The guys were introduced in what was a glamorous entrance coming through the centre of the banquet hall - up a small stage in the middle of the hall - then up to the larger stage in front.  Each was given a certificate from Jostens and a very nifty Roots watch with  the CIS engraved on the face. 

TJ Leeper was up against a few outstanding candidates for the  Russ Jackson Award, but Thomas Hall from Manitoba earned the award.   The Russ Jackson Award is given annually to a player for combining academics, athletics and citizenship. 

Although TJ is an outstanding candidate for this award I was impressed by Hall's credentials at only 19 years of age.  Here's an except from the Canadian Press story:
University of Manitoba linebacker Thomas Hall won the Russ Jackson Award for combining academics, athletics and citizenship.

This season the six-foot-three, 223-pounder led his team with 38.5 tackles, ran an interception back for a touchdown and forced two fumbles for the Bisons.

Hall was an academic all-Canadian in 2008-09 when he earned a 4.00 grade point average in the classroom.
He volunteers for several community organizations and raised $25,000 for a charity that fights breast cancer with his siblings after their mother was diagnosed with the disease.
Russ Jackson was on hand to personally present this award to Hall and Hall twice got a standing ovation.  I don't know Hall at all - but he seems like a tremendous person. 

What I found particularly interesting - was this award clearly seemed like the biggest award.  It was given second last (before the Hec), but Hall got a standing ovation twice.  It was clear the football community embraces this type of award and lends prestige to an award that combines athletics, community and academics. 

I didn't have a chance to speak with TJ after the reception, but having been around him in the past I know he would consider himself lucky to be among the four canidates. 

The Hec Crighton Award was given to Calgary's Erik Glavic (his second in three seasons).  He gave a nice speech in both languages which got cheers from the crowd.  Michael Faulds (Western) was unable to make the trip to represent the OUA due to his injury.  I received a message a few days ago letting me know he wouldn't make the trip because he elected to have surgery and is unable to travel great distance - even by plane.

The entire banquet is a ritzy affair - complete with a giant size screen to show live video and head shots of award recipients.  It was a classy effort, organized well and seemed to run smoothly.  I talked to Scott Valberg following the event and he said it was "good" but similar to other banquets he's attended in the past.

The football community was out in full force - Almost every (if not all) coach in the CIS were present.  Other notibles included Duane Forde, Rod Black, Russ Jackson, Bryan Crawford (Present Argo and OUA staff member) several Athletic Directors including  Queen's Leslie Dal Cin.

Following the Banquet - I had an opportunity to speak with Ward Dilse (OUA) while we walked back to the host hotel.  Ward and I discussed the upcoming OUA Communication Committee meeting scheduled in December as well as the positive media coverage the OUA experienced this year.  

Ward, Bryan Crawford and Drew Soleyn quickly took a stroll through the Tailgate Party area in front of the hotel.  It's literally a full city block of different types of exhibits and such.  The area was complete with a JUMBOTRON - showing the NFL football games from today.  Not many people were in attendance when we walked through - but it is only Thursday and more things are  suppose to happen on Friday night

For those watching the photo gallery - I uploaded a bunch of new photos taken over the course of today.  Nothing from the banquet yet as our photographer (Greg Black) on site is still processing the many images. - check them out here...

The Gaels get a sleep in day tomorrow - but I'll look to post again sometime in the morning and then post practice - We're only sleeps away!

Michael Grobe
Communications & Sports Information