Two student-athletes from McGill – basketball star Mariam Sylla and hockey player Cedric McNicoll – will represent the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec among the eight national finalists for the 23rd annual BLG Awards, today, April 22, by CIS and the law firm of Borden Ladner Gervais.
The BLG Awards were established in 1993 to recognize the top female and male athletes from universities affiliated with CIS.
Sylla, a 6-foot-1 centre who emigrated to Montreal 10 years ago from Conakry, Guinea, guided the RSEQ champion Martlets to the best result in program history at the CIS championship, a silver-medal finish. In league action, the pharmacology junior averaged a “double-double” with 12.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game and was rewarded with the conference MVP trophy and a spot on the first all-Canadian team.
McNicoll helped the Redmen top the Ontario University Athletics East division standings but the team fell 61 seconds short of qualifying for the CIS championship tourney with an overtime loss at Windsor. In league play, the third-year management student tallied 34 points in 25 games en route to meriting OUA East MVP honours and CIS second-team all-Canadian status.
“I decided to leave the pro game because I wanted to finish my education,” said McNicoll, a 5-foot-10, 186-pound centre born in Longueuil, Que., and raised in nearby Boucherville. He just concluded his fifth year of CIS eligibility after playing three seasons at the professional level, including stints in the American Hockey League and the East Coast league. “The management program at McGill was strong and the hockey program is a high-level one so it was a good match for me.”
On Monday, May 4, the eight national nominees will be honoured at the Martha Cohen Theatre in Calgary. The female and male winners will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, while all finalists will return home with a commemorative gold ring and a watch from Timex, the official supplier of CIS.
This year’s event will mark the 20th presentation of the awards gala in Calgary. Over the years, the event has also held been held in Toronto (2009, 2013) and Vancouver (2011). The 2015 ceremony will air nationally later this May on Sportsnet.
Although the 2015 recipients will be determined by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, a not-for-profit board which has selected the winners for the past 22 years, the general public is encouraged to vote as part as an online-voting pilot project. Fans can vote through the following websites:
“We are extremely excited to be hosting the 23rd BLG Awards in Calgary,” said Doug Mitchell, national co-chair of BLG. “We continue to be amazed by the talents and accomplishments of these outstanding athletes. Each year, as we follow the past winners and hear about their accomplishments or what they are involved in, we realize how important their university sports background has been to them. We congratulate the universities who have provided the great education and athletic programs for these students to succeed in their careers.”
“The BLG Awards represent the epitome of what it means to be a student-athlete, and this year’s nominees more than meet that standard,” said Thérèse Quigley, president of CIS. “Not only are these eight extraordinary athletes, each one is also a leader in the classroom and in the community.”
Joining Sylla among the 2015 nominees for the Jim Thompson Trophy presented to the female BLG Award recipient are rugby player Emma Taylor from St. Francis Xavier University, soccer player Jessica King from Trinity Western University, as well as basketball standout Korissa Williams from the University of Windsor.
On the men’s side, joining McNicoll among the finalists for the Doug Mitchell Trophy are soccer player Justin Maheu from Cape Breton University, cross country and track runner Ross Proudfoot from the University of Guelph and football player Andrew Buckley from the University of Calgary.