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The 30th anniversary of the U Sports athletes of the year award will recognize Canada’s top university student athletes in Calgary on Wednesday.

Four male and four female athletes from conferences representing Atlantic Canada, Canada West, Ontario and Quebec are vying for the top award for each gender. Consideration for the award, named after Lois and Doug Mitchell, who founded the awards, is based on their athletic accomplishment, sportsmanship, and leadership.

The eight nominees are Pablo Collin (McGill), Tatum Amy (Mount Royal), Kendra Woodland (University of New Brunswick), Jordan Canham (University of Alberta), Jessy Lacourse (Laval), Andrew Peverill (Saint Mary’s), Gabriel Mastromatteo (University of Toronto) and Sarah Gates (McMaster University).

Award winners will be chosen by secret ballot by the trustees of the Canadian Athletic Foundation, as well as the public through an online forum. The results will be revealed to the public during the event.

Collin, a second-year swimmer for the McGill Redbirds, was the Quebec conference’s swimmer of the year and male nominee after a stellar 2022-23 season. With an injury preventing him from competing at the Olympic trials for the 2020 Games, Collin came from Marseille, France, to McGill for a fresh start – and has been successful since.

This past season, the freestyle swimmer set six school records over short-course and long-course events. With a total of 10 gold medals, four silver and three bronze, Collin led his team to a conference championship.

Collin continues to prove his athletic range and dedication to others. Outside the pool, the computer-science student competes with a professional triathlon team in France, where he uses the skills learned in cycling and running as cross-training for swimming.

Amy is Canada West’s female athlete of the year, as well as the conference’s nominee for the U Sports award. Playing for the women’s hockey team at Mount Royal, the captain led her team to the school’s first national championship.

As much as Amy’s impact was felt throughout the season, she had a bigger impact off the ice. Once a week during her five-year career with the Cougars, Amy volunteered with HEROS Hockey – an initiative empowering marginalized youth through the sport.

Woodland, a goaltender for women’s hockey, led her team to their second consecutive title, with a nation-leading save percentage of 0.960 through the regular season and 0.952 in the playoffs. Among her many accolades, the Atlantic Canada nominee was named U Sports women’s hockey player of the year, solidifying herself as the university’s first athlete to win the award.

During her time at New Brunswick, the B.C. native headed across the border to help Canada secure gold at the 2023 FISU World Winter University Games. In the four games she played, Woodland had three shutouts and a 0.984 save percentage.

With one of his best individual seasons at the University of Alberta, Canham was named Canada West’s player of the year and selected as a nominee for the U Sports award. The fourth-year student from Avonmore, Ont., was the backbone of a dominant men’s volleyball team that finished first in the standings at 22-2, a conference record.

Canham helped his team secure the school’s 14th conference title, before placing fourth overall at nationals. The outside hitter hit 49 aces, a single-season record.

For a second consecutive season, Laval’s Lacourse is the female nominee representing the Quebec conference. During the final year of her university career, the middle-distance runner had a near-perfect cross-country season after winning three races in Quebec.

Within her five years at the school, Lacourse had won the U Sports championship three times, and the conference title four times. The Quebec native’s domination carried into the track season, as she set three program records, two of which were also provincial records.

Peverill of Saint Mary’s University rounds up the distance runners in contention for the award. The Nova Scotian was named the Atlantic conference’s athlete of the year in men’s cross country and track and field, for the third and first time, respectively. On the track, Peverill set school records in five events, leading his teammates to win the school’s first national-track-and-field medal in 20 years.

In addition to running, Peverill proved his academic excellence in the classroom. The masters student is a two-time Dean’s List recipient, five-time Academic All-Canadian and the recipient of the 2022 Sobey’s MBA Scholarship.

Mastromatteo, a swimmer with the University of Toronto Blues, is a second-year athlete who proved his dominance throughout the season, earning six medals and setting a new conference record at the 2023 Ontario conference swimming championship. Mastromatteo played an important part in the Blues obtaining their 19th consecutive conference banner and securing a fourth-place finish at nationals.

The Kenora, Ont., native made his international debut at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where he placed 38th overall in the 100-metre breaststroke, and helped the medley and mixed-medley relays finish in the seventh and 13th spots, overall.

Rounding out the nominees is Gates of the McMaster Marauders. She competed on the women’s basketball team, where she led the conference in field goals (210), three-pointers (73) and free throws (117).

With a shooting percentage of 48.3 from the field and 37.7 per cent from the three-point line, Gates finished her university career as the program’s leading scorer, with a third-place finish on the Ontario conference’s all-time list of points scored – 1,857.

The Newmarket, Ont., native was just as impressive off the court, serving as the chair of the Women’s Athletic Leadership Council, as well as a member of the Varsity Leadership Council. Gates simultaneously led multiple initiatives – such as the Think Pink campaign.

The awards will be handed out Wednesday at the McDougall Centre in Calgary.