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Swimmer Gabriel Mastromatteo, from the University of Toronto, and basketball guard Sarah Gates, from McMaster University, pose with their Lois and Doug Mitchell Awards for the 2022-2023 U Sports Male and Female Athletes of the Year in Calgary on May 24.Todd Korol/The Canadian Press

Sarah Gates and Gabriel Mastromatteo were crowned winners of the Lois and Doug Mitchell trophies for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday night. It’s the fifth time that both awards were given to nominees from Ontario’s conference, the OUA.

The winners were announced at the McDougall Centre in Calgary, marking the 30th anniversary of the awards.

The eight nominees – one male and one female – from each of the four U Sports conferences received a commemorative gold ring. Gates and Mastromatteo each received a trophy, as well as a $5,000 scholarship to attend any graduate school in Canada.

The winners were selected by a combined vote of the Canadian Athletic Foundation and the public on Consideration for the award is based on athletic accomplishment, sportsmanship and leadership.

“We had an exceptional group of nominees this year, with seven academic All-Canadians and five most-outstanding athletes-of-the-year winners in their respective sports,” said Pierre Arsenault, CEO of U Sports. “To be recognized like this is a wonderful accomplishment for Sarah and Gabe.

The awards turned out to be a historic win for both the McMaster Marauders and the University of Toronto Blues.

For Gates, the award caps off her university basketball career on a high note. The Marauders guard is the first athlete from the school to take home the Lois Mitchell Trophy.

After leading the country in points per game (27.3), field goals made (210), three-pointers (73) and free throws made (117), Gates not only spearheaded the Marauders to become the OUA’s top offensive team, but she won the 2023 Nan Copp Trophy as U Sports women’s basketball player of the year.

While she admits the award came as a shock, Gates credits her coach for helping her find the voice to champion for women’s sports. The award is another reminder of the power of girls in sports, she added.

“I didn’t know if I was going to win or anything, so it was nice to see it pan out the way it did,” Gates said. “Hopefully, the future generation of women can kind of go through that process and believe in themselves early and just see everything that they can accomplish.”

Although Mastromatteo is only in his second year swimming for the Blues, his experience and dominance in the pool have led him to become the first male athlete from U of T to win the Doug Mitchell Trophy.

This past season, the Kenora, Ont., native earned six medals split over long- and short-course races and set a OUA record during the conference championships. Mastromatteo was also at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he placed 38th overall in the 100-metre breaststroke and helped two medley relays finish seventh and 13th overall.

Despite his impressive list of accolades, Mastromatteo said this award represents more than his performance in the pool.

“It’s a reflection of winning, yes, but also being able to academically prosper and being able to be involved with the people who matter to me,” he said. “It really emphasizes how much effort I’ve put into being a well-rounded individual, and I’ve always thought that was extremely important.”

Lois Mitchell, whose name is on the award with her late husband, said she was proud of all the nominees, and said, “Sarah and Gabe had outstanding seasons and are excellent recipients of the Lois and Doug Mitchell Awards.”

Female finalists for the award included Tatum Amy of Mount Royal, Kendra Woodland of the University of New Brunswick and Jessy Lacourse of Laval.

The other male finalist included Pablo Collin of McGill, Andrew Peverill of Saint Mary’s and Jordan Canham of the University of Alberta.

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