by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Windsor Essex Sports Persons of the Year Awards showered local teams and individual athletes for their success and contribution to their respective sports this past weekend and once again Lancer athletes took home their fair share of the hardware given out during the 11th annual instalment of the event.
The awards were based on the athletes accomplishments during the 2015 calendar year and nine representatives in total from the University of Windsor were honoured in their specific gender and sport category.
Windsor swept the track and field category as Corey Bellemore and Lancer alumni Nicole Sassine were named the male and female recipients of the Dennis Fairall track & field athletes of the year award. The accolade was renamed this year in honour of legendary Lancer head coach Dennis Fairall who took a leave after 29 years with the program has a total of 25 CIS national championships to his credit.
“I am so honoured to win the renamed Dennis Fairall Female Track and Field Award,” said Sassine. “To be nominated in the company of two other fantastic female track and field athletes was an honour in itself. Dennis Fairall was one of the main reasons I decided to come to Windsor. He has this special influence on everyone he comes into contact with. As athletes, he makes you feel as if you are apart of something bigger than track and field, bigger than yourself. He is a great coach and person, and I’m grateful for the influence he has had on my track career and in my personal life.”
For the third consecutive year, a Lancer was named the overall female athlete of the year as track and field alum and Canadian Olympian, Melissa Bishop took home the night’s top honour for the second time in her career. Bishop ran a Canadian record time to a gold medal finish in the women’s 800 metres at the Pan Am Games in Toronto last summer.
Lancer soccer stand out Leighton Speechley-Price was named co-recipient of the men’s soccer athlete of the year award after winning CIS rookie of the year in 2015. The Lymington, England native recorded 11 goals en route to Windsor’s most successful season on the pitch and a home playoff match. A 12-2-2 regular season finish earned the program’s highest ranking ever, the CIS fourth-ranked Lancers dropped a heart-breaking 0-1 defeat to the McMaster Marauders in the OUA quarter finals on home turf at Alumni Field.
“It’s been a great season for the men’s soccer program, we exceeded all outside expectations even if we didn’t meet our own,” Speechley-Price said. “It’s been an extremely enjoyable season for myself, one I’ll always remember.”
Speechley-Price was also named a first team All-Canadian in his first CIS season but alongside his returning team-mates and head coach Steve Hart, the Englishman hopes the Lancers can kick on further next year.
“It’s been fantastic to receive a lot of individual recognition and I believe it will help push me on further. But soccer is a team game so all the awards every single player has received individually this season is a celebration of our teams effort and success. A lot of credit has to go for the coaching staff too as well as the players.”
Lancer basketball alum Korissa Williams was named the female basketball athlete of the year while Spencer Pommells took home the Ed Jovanovski male hockey athlete of the year. Both athletes had sensational campaigns during the 2014-15 season with Williams being named the BLG Award recipient as the CIS overall female athlete of the year while Pommells was named the CIS men’s hockey player of the year after leading the entire country in scoring with 50 points in 28 regular season games.
Lancer women’s basketball coach Chantal Vallee was named the WESPY awards coach of the year. During the 2014-15 season, Coach Vallee alongside her star player Williams led the Lancers to their national record-tying fifth consecutive national championship. Lancer men basketball rookie Isiah Osborne, who was just awarded CIS rookie of the year, captured the prestigious Mickey Renaud Captain’s trophy for his time in high school with the Kennedy Clippers while Lancer track athlete Virginia McLachlan captured the female parasport athlete awards.