Soccer standout Monika Levarsky and wrestling champion Brad Hildenbrandt were named the University of the Fraser Valley’s 2016-17 athletes of the year on April 5, as the Cascades athletic department held its annual awards banquet at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre.
Levarsky, a third-year forward from Surrey, B.C., was honoured in the aftermath of a season that her head coach Rob Giesbrecht termed “the best-ever by a Cascades women’s soccer player.” The Sullivan Heights Secondary graduate, despite suffering a late-season ACL injury and missing the better part of three games, scored 10 goals to set a new team record and tie for second in Canada West. She added six assists to finish fourth in the conference with total points, and was recognized as a Canada West first team all-star and a U SPORTS second team All-Canadian. She’s the first U SPORTS All-Canadian for the Cascades women’s soccer program.
Levarsky topped a strong group of female athlete of the year finalists which included Kayli Sartori (basketball), Karla Godinez Gonzalez (wrestling) and Sharon Park (golf).
Hildenbrandt, a fellow Surrey, B.C. product, had an outstanding sophomore campaign with the Cascades wrestling program. The Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary grad became the first UFV athlete to win a U SPORTS gold medal, battling his way to the title in the heavyweight (120 kg) division at the national championships in Winnipeg. His season featured five other podium finishes: Gold at the Canada West championships, the Golden Bear Invitational and the Cascades Classic; silver at the Dino Invitational; and bronze at the SFU Clansman International.
The men’s athlete of the year finalists were an equally star-studded group, with Hildenbrandt emerging from a field which also featured Joel Kleingeltink (volleyball), Manny Dulay (basketball) and Tammer Byrne (soccer).
The rest of the major award recipients are as follows.
Karla Godinez Gonzalez was the female rookie of the year winner in the aftermath of a historic season – she became the first Cascades female athlete to earn a Canada West rookie of the year award. The Surrey product was the Canada West wrestling bronze medalist at 51 kg, and added two other third-place finishes during conference regular-season action, at the Golden Bears Invitational and the Cascades Classic. She went on to post a fifth-place result at the U SPORTS national championships.
Ryan Donald, a right back from Surrey, took home the male rookie of the year. He had big shoes to fill as he stepped into the starting lineup with the Cascades men’s soccer team in the place of graduated all-star Colton O’Neill. He made a remarkable transition from the youth soccer ranks on his way to winning the male rookie of the year award, helping UFV post eight clean sheets in 16 Canada West games and notching one assist along the way.
The team academic award went to the Cascades men’s volleyball, while individual academic awards went to soccer player Jasmine Mangat and volleyball player Luc De Gianni.
The Jen Simpson Leadership award was given to rower Michelle Olive, with the outstanding community athlete award given to rower Riley Dueck.
— UFV Cascades (@UFVCascades) April 10, 2017
For more on the winners, visit ufvcascades.ca.