AFL Quebec 2015 Awards Night Round Up
2015 AFL Quebec Awards Night Roundup
In the grand dining hall of André Grasset College last Saturday the 22nd of November those in attendance witnessed the night of nights, the most glamorous of all, the 8th Annual AFL Québec Awards! During the evening those 125 plus in attendance which is the largest on record, gave witness to the celebration of all those players, board members, organizers and volunteers and everything they had achieved in the past season. The festivities were presented by our two hosts, the exquisite Larissa Andrusyshyn and the forever charismatic Steve McCammon. 2015 saw an expansion of the women’s league into Ontario and a record number of players participating across all teams. Not to mention an incredibly successful representative trip down to Austin, Texas for the 2015 US AFL National Championships.
The night began by acknowledging winners of the 2015 season and the best players from the respective grand finals. In their debut season it was the Carleton Warriors who showed class from the start to the finish, battling toe to toe all year with their Montreal nemesis and 2014 champions the NDG Giants, fostering what could be an ongoing rivalry for years to come. However it was the underdog Rideau Shamrocks which upset the mighty Giants in the semifinals only to fall to the Warriors at the final hurdle. Ashley Scott, the hard hitting defender from the Warriors received the Sargeant medal for best on ground in that final for her outstanding performance.
In the men’s grand final it was again the team who had finished the season on top of the table, the defending champion Wooders who clashed against the Montreal Demons. Like the Shamrocks, the Demons had rallied from a sub-par regular season record and last place season finish only to suddenly come together and storm through to the last Sunday of the season. In what will be remembered for many, many years to come, the match saw the two teams battle back and forth for a full 4 quarters only to come up totally even at the buzzer. David McMurtie of the Demons slotting a banana kick goal from an impossible angle to tie up the game after 60 minutes of regular time action. But it would be the Men from the West who would prevail in extra time, who again proved again that they are the benchmark of the league. For the final Daniel Robinson was awarded the Southern Cross medal for best on ground and Pierre Olivier Chemin, the Fleur de Lys medal for best Canadian player.
Next on the agenda was to highlight the amazing feat that our Men’s representative team the Québec Saints, managed to achieve at the US National championships. Entering the tournament in a very strong Division 2 as the 16th seed in North America, the lads managed to defeat all those that stood in their way. The Saints finished with a clean slate winning every game in the pool matches only to go on and win the grand final on the Sunday in a lock out 27 to 0! This was no mean feat considering the Saints had to go through powerhouse teams such as Chicago, Minnesota and Houston just to get out of their pool. The result attested to the countless hours that was put into the training throughout the season and the endless efforts provided by the coaches and organizers. Who knows, here’s to seeing the Québec Saints crowned US Division 1 champions in 2016!
It is very difficult to win a football match without kicking the ball between the big white sticks and this year it was Valérie Moreau and Todd Rogers who took home the silverware for leading the league in goals. Valérie recorded 27 majors on the season and Todd, 38. Then it was on to this year’s Iron men and women awards. These are given to those players who fought through injury, time commitments, rain, wind and fire and played every game in the season, something which is very difficult and requires a mixture of commitment, a high pain threshold and a lot of luck! It was Vivian Nguyen (Warriors), Dora Bartulovic (Warriors), Meaghan Derynck (Warriors), Valérie Moreau (Giants), Margo Legault (Giants), Gabrielle Bureau (Giants), Mariette Parrod (Giants), Sarah James (Giants), Larissa Andrusyshyn (Eagles) and Marie-Soleil Jacques (Eagles) for the women and for the men Christopher Cuellar (Demons), Ronan Shaughnessy (Dockers), Steve McCammon (Dockers), Randy Andrada (Dockers), Todd Rogers (Bombers), Bogdan Rotaru (Bombers).
After a quick pause for the main meal break it was down to business and time for the big awards of the night. First up was the Coaches Awards which is given to the Man and Woman who not only showed complete commitment to winning, they also showed the greatest dedication to coming to training, learning from the coaches and just generally working their arses off to get better for themselves and their teams. On the women’s side it came to no surprise to anyone that Sarah James (Giants) earned the 2015 trophy. She was an Iron woman and attended more training sessions than 90% of the league despite the 2 hour drive each way from Burlington, Vermont (yes in the United States). Not only that, she gave more than 100% during every minute she was on the field and for most part with a smile on her face. For the Men, Chris Cueller (Demons) epitomized the award this season and did everything aforementioned. Possibly most memorable about Chris winning the award was not his performance throughout the year but rather him giving arguably the greatest acceptance speech of all time. There wasn’t one person in the room who had any idea what Chris was talking about but the passion contained in his voice brought laughter, tears and many sideward puzzled glances to those who witnessed the unforgettable moment. If only Chris himself could remember this, his grandest of moments.
Attention then shifted to the Most Improved players for season 2015. It is indeed a clear reflection of the dedication and hard work ethic of Dora Bartulovic of the Carleton Warriors and the Coaching team of Emma Dickinson and Chris ‘Rookie’ Lockhart in Ottawa that Dora was the well-deserved Most Improved Women’s Player. After first learning the game in 2014 in Montreal, Dora improved out of sight this year to become one of the league’s most dangerous offensive weapons. PO Chemin of the Wooders took out the Men’s award. PO built on the solid foundation of being 2014 Rookie of the year to becoming one of thes years league’s marquee players. Both Dora and PO were selected to represent Canada this year at the 49th Parallel Cup in Fort Lauderdale a reflection of how far they have come.
Next it was on to this year’s rookies of the year. Hopefully Valérie Moreau has a large mantelpiece because the amount of awards our debutant pocket rocket has won this year is unprecedented. Before this award, Moreau had already been named Montreal Women’s Preseason Tournament Rookie Winner, 49th Parallel Cup Senior Game Best and Fairest, USAFL Nationals Tournament Most Consistent and 2015 AFL Quebec Women’s Leading Goalkicker. Now added to this is 2015 AFL Quebec Women’s Rookie of the Year as Moreau beat out fellow nominees Kelly Cambridge (Shamrocks) and Larissa Andrusyshyn (Eagles). Ken Boudreau (Wooders) was selected as the Men’s rookie of the year over fellow first year standouts Matt Ingersole (Demons), Eric Chemin (Wooders) and Dominic Coogan (Dockers). With superior athleticism Ken became a dynamic fullback battling mightily every week versus the toughest and most experienced attackers running around.
Of course nothing in this league is possible without the help of our volunteers. Well in fact it should be noted that every single person that has done anything to help out this year and every other year has totally donated their time. But in 2015 two people rose above the rest. Week in week out there was one person who was there holding the flags behind the goals or grabbing a whistle to run the boundaries before anyone had even asked him to do so and for his effort David Simon was rightly named the Game Day Volunteer of the Year. Behind the scenes there are the countless hours of work that we don’t necessarily all see, and the truly deserved winner of the Volunteer of the Year was Fabio Petosa. Without him we would have had no field to play on, no cars to drive to the games (because they all would have been towed!), no inflated balls, and who knows what else.
The AFL Québec Teams of the Year was next to be presented. To be selected in the team is one of the highest accolades that can be given to a player in the league and it acknowledges the best of the best at each position. This year it was with great honour that we had Daniel Jackson present the teams. A veteran of 10 seasons in the AFL in Australia and the winner of the 2013 Richmond Football Club’s best and fairest award. The teams were as follows:
2015 AFL Québec Women’s Team of the Year
Kelly Cambridge (Shamrocks) - Full Back
Catherine Geci (Warriors) - Back Pocket
Gabrielle Bureau (Giants) - Back Pocket
Larissa Andrusyshyn (Eagles) - Ruck
Valérie Moreau (Giants) - Centre
Holly Costanza – Captain (Warriors) - Rover
Dora Bartulovic (Warriors) - Forward Pocket
Lauren Stoot (Shamrocks) - Forward Pocket
Vivian Nguyen (Warriors) - Full Forward
Margo Legault – Vice Captain (Giants) - Interchange
Margaret Werniuk (Warriors) - Interchange
Francesca Benedetti (Giants) - Interchange
2015 AFL Québec Men’s Team of the Year
Phil Manassa (Wooders) - Full Back
Justin Leyva (Dockers) - Back Pocket
Ronan Shaughnessy – Vice Captain (Dockers) - Back Pocket
Morgan Whyte (Demons) - Ruck
Todd Rogers (Bombers) - Centre
Dan Robinson – Captain (Wooders) - Rover
Andrew Michelmore (Demons) - Forward Pocket
Wilfried Houvion (Wooders) - Forward Pocket
Fabio Petosa (Wooders) - Full Forward
Aaron Fellows (Dockers) - Interchange
Bogdan Rotaru (Bombers) - Interchange
Kyle Graham (Demons) - Interchange
Jack Robson (Dockers) - Interchange
The final two awards of the night were the two everyone was waiting for, the Best and Fairest winners for 2015. This award is determined based on the 5-4-3-2-1 voting system provided by the umpire at the end of each game. As each game was recounted and each vote was tallied before the enthralled audience, both the Men’s and Women’s counts came right down to the wire and a number of players could have taken home the gong going into the last round.
For the Women’s league punters had picked a four horse race between the Warriors duo Holly Costanza and Vivian Nguyen, the mighty fullback from the Shamrocks, Kelly Cambridge, and the do it all and be everywhere speedster from the Giants, Valérie Moreau. After three rounds it was Cambridge who was on top with a perfect 15 from 15 votes, followed hotly by Moreau on 13 and the two Warriors, who may have been stealing votes from each other on 8. However the tide had turned by the end of the regular season with the slightly stronger consistency of Moreau pulling her ahead by 1 vote on Cambridge as well as a late season charging Costanza by 2 votes. It all came down to the semi-finals, the last round where all 4 teams played. Nguyen, who was sporting a broken finger had her best game of the season to claim the 5 votes in ousting the Eagles. But it was Moreau who squeezed out 2 important votes, just enough to claim the biggest individual award of the year, one single vote clear of Costanza. It was an amazing year for Valérie who had never touched a footy before March this year and through a mix of sheer dedication and natural talent won just about every award there is to win here and deservedly so.
AFL Québec Women’s player of the Year final standings:
Valérie Moreau (Giants) - 27 votes
Holly Costanza (Warriors) - 26 votes
Kelly Cambridge (Shamrocks) - 24 votes
Vivian Nguyen (Warriors) - 20 votes
Lauren Stoot (Shamrocks) & Dora Bartulovic (Warriors) - 12 votes
The Men’s league this year was of by far the highest talent level ever seen here in Québec, as was reflected by the dominance our Québec Saints showed down at the US Nationals. At the beginning of the season you could have thrown a blanket over 15 or so guys to predict this years best and fairest winner, the standard was that good. The season began with flying starts to an old vote getting stalwart in Wooders captain Dan Robinson and Demon rookie Andrew Michelmore, both leading the race with 10 votes after 3 rounds. Not to be outdone however, Bomber Todd Roger, who many thought would run away with this award was pedaling away nicely on 8. Three more rounds later and Michelmore remained at the top of the board on 17 votes. Mid season injuries combined with strong performances from 2014 Best and Fairest Phil Manassa and fellow Wooder Wil Houvion saw Robinson fall to 4th place back on 15 votes. However order was restored by the end of the regular season and Robinson and Manassa were tied at the top on 22 votes, while Michelmore was back on 19 after a late season Demons slide cost him valuable votes. Meanwhile a purple patch by Bogdan Rotaru of the Bombers had led him to fight his way up into 4th on 17 votes. Then came the Elimination finals to determine this year’s best. Demons Ruck , Morgan Whyte had a cracking match to claim full votes versus the bombers and make a late charge to tie his teammate Michelmore for third place. But it was Robinson who was given full votes in defeating the Dockers and beat out Manassa for this year’s award. All in all a great year for Robinson who not only managed to lead the Wooders to a championship repeat, he also fought injury to show class and become this years Best and Fairest.
AFL Québec Men’s player of the Year final standings:
Daniel Robinson (Wooders) - 27 votes
Phil Manassa (Wooders) - 24 votes
Andrew Michelmore (Demons) & Morgan Whyte (Demons) - 19 votes
Ronan Shaughnessy (Dockers) - 18 votes
The 2015 AFL Québec Awards Night was a fantastic success all around, by those winning awards, those who helped out in the organization of the event and of course all those came along and had a great night and kicked on their dancing shoes after all was said and done. On a final note none of this great night would have been possible without our two fabulous hosts Steve McCammon and Larissa Andrusyshyn, our guest of honour Daniel Jackson as well as our league’s sponsors TA Pies, Fiddlers Green, 2XU, Le Tequila Bar, Saco, DJ Fancke and of course the amazing photography of Sebastian Di Maulo