TRU WolfPack hands out annual athletic awards

By Larry Read - TRU Athletics
April 3, 2019 - 5:41am

KAMLOOP — A women’s volleyball player and a men’s basketball player were ‘double winners’ as the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack held its annual awards banquet on Tuesday (Apr2).

Olga Savenchuk  (1st year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine) and Micheal Rouault (4th year, guard, Vernon, BC)  each took home two major awards.

Savenchuk was recognized as the winner of the Sports Task Force female athlete of the year and was also named the female newcomer of the year.

The native of Donetsk Ukraine –the same hometown as TRU great Iullia Pakomenko made the same big splash to Canadian University Sport as she did.  Olga was named a Canada West first team all-star. Olga was fourth in Canada West in both kills (340) and kills per set (3.78).  She played in all 24 league matches and appeared in 90 sets.  She had 271 digs (second most on the WolfPack), had 10 solo blocks and 66 total blocks and had 23 assists and is enrolled in the Masters of Business Administration program.

For the STF female athlete of the year award, Savenchuk topped basketball player Michelle Bos (5th year guard, Surrey, BC) and Emily DaGasso of swimming (1st year, Kamloops, BC). 

On winning the female athlete of the year, her coach Chad Grinm remarked, “Very happy to see Olga get the recognition she deserves as TRU Female Athlete of the Year.  Olga came to our team after completing a professional career and brought her work ethic and competitive nature to our team each and every day.  A fierce competitor, Olga is willing to do whatever it takes to win and puts the success of the team above her individual accolades.  Although coming to university sport from the world of professional athletics was an adjustment and not always easy for Olga, I appreciate her desire to make our group stronger moving forward and she is very deserving of this award.”

For female newcomer of the year, Savenchuk was chosen over soccer player Chantal Gammie (forward, Smithers, BC) and DaGasso.  Says Grimm, “Although Olga came to TRU with an abundance of experience as a volleyball player, her adjustment to the world of university athletics was definitely a big one.  Blending in to a team of young athletes and studying at the university level in a new language has been a huge challenge that Olga has been able to overcome because of her desire to succeed and her ability to stick with any task that needs to be completed.  Olga never shies away from hard work and provides an example to all around her of doing what is necessary to be successful and being able to tackle challenges head on.  This is why I believe Olga represents what it takes to be a successful newcomer at TRU.”

Rouault won the Cliff Neufeld Leadership award for the second straight year as he was selected over Thomas Lantmeeters (4th year, midfielder, Genk, Belgium) and volleyball player Tim Edge (5th year, outside hitter, Langley, BC).  . Mike is a three time Academic All Canadian and is on pace for a fourth year. The PACE Leader volunteers with the Special Olympics.  On the court .He was 12th in Canada West and led the team in rebounds with 150. He led the team and was 8th in Canada West with 47 offensive rebounds.  He led the team and was 12th in the Canada West in field goal percent with 50.5.

Says men’s basketball head coach Scott Clark, “ Michael is exactly what you want when you when you recruit a student athlete. He takes both aspects of that title very seriously. He is a hard working student and is very diligent. He is a worker both in the classroom, on the court and in the weight room. He just keeping doing what you ask him to do and is progressing in both aspects of the student athlete life. I couldn’t be more happy for Micheal. He is very deserving of any accolades that come his way that are individual. He just adds to our team in that regard. He never goes out to earn individual honors. He is a ‘team first’ guy.  I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Rouault was also the male winner of the prestigious Doctor Roger H. Barnsley Scholar award. This honor is based on a combination of athletic performance and academic achievement. The winner has to have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the fall.   Other nominees were Lantmeeters and swimmer Ryley McRae (1st year, Kamloops, BC).

Rouault’s older brother Brett was a five-year member of the WolfPack basketball program and also a top scholar.  Coach Clark says the Rouaults have similar work ethics. “ Brett was a very hard worker as well.  Michael has followed suit. I would like to say I always knew that but I didn’t. Both are great examples of what good things can happen if you work hard in every aspect of being a student athlete. Brett left a legacy with our team.  With his brother, Michael is doing exactly the same thing. He is leaving a legacy for the kids who are freshmen right now.  He came in as a very good student and continues to excel in that area and has done the same on the basketball court. There has been progression in both areas. Just really happy for him.”

Tim Dobbert (5th year,outside hitter, Aichelberg, Germany) was the Sports Task Force Male athlete of the year.  Dobbert had a fifth year season which gained national recognition. He became the third WolfPack volleyball player to be named a U SPORTS First Team All Canadian joining Gord Perrin and Brad Gunter—who was a three time First team All-Canadian.  Tim led the Canada West in kills with 379 and was second in the league in kills per set (4.36).  Tim is on his way to his second straight U SPORTS Academic All Canadian honor.  Although he’s only been with the WolfPack for two years, his legacy with the men’s team will remain for years to come.

Head coach Pat Hennelly on Dobbert, “Tim Dobbert had a great year and is well deserving of all his awards and honors. Tim is an excellent student, teammate and athlete, we will miss him and wish him all the best.”   Other nominees were McRae from swimming and Mitchell Popadynetz (5th year, midfielder, Nelson, BC) of soccer.

McRae was named the male Newcomer of the Year.  He became the first swimmer for TRU ever to qualify for U SPORTS Nationals.  In the 1500 freestyle, Ryley qualified for the Canadian 2020 Olympic Trials and 10 days later won five medals—three of them gold at the BC Winter provincial swimming championships.  Later this season, he went to Knoxville Tennessee and qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trails in the 800 Freestyle.

“"I’m very excited for the year that Ryley had at TRU,” stated head coach Brad Dalke. “ He had a very steep learning curve becoming a Student Athlete at TRU. Overall we were very pleased how the year went". 

Other nominees were keeper Jackson Gardner (Chilliwack, BC) of soccer and cross country runner  Calum Carrigan (Kamloops, BC).

Women’s volleyball was the big winner on the night winning all four major awards. In addition to Savenchuk’s two honors,  Kendra Finch (4th year, outside hitter, North Vancouver, BC) was selected as the Cliff Neufeld Leadership Athlete of the year.

Finch, who was the co-mc of this year’s awards banquet volunteer on a weekly basis at the Campus Wellness center and also the Education and Skills Training program for a total of 10 hours per week. Kendra also finds time to be an assistant coach with a 14U team with the Kamloops Volleyball Association.   Kendra also took over the team’s “I believe you campaign to raise awareness against sexualized violence.  On the court, Kendra had an ‘all-star type’ season—dressing for all 24 matches earning 266 kills, 286 digs and 31 service aces in 89 sets.

Says Grimm, “Not only did Kendra step up her contributions on the floor this season, but has also increased her contributions to our institution as a whole Her volunteerism is done on a regular weekly schedule in the neighbourhood of 10 hours per week.  This dedication, along with being one of our team captains and maintaining a 3.78 GPA shows what is possible if you are willing to dedicate your time to not only yourself, but also those around you.  I appreciate Kendra’s continued contribution to our program and institution and the example she provides to our team.

Natalie Verdiel (4th year, defender, Powell River, BC) of soccer and Gurcharan Uppal (2nd year, Kamloops, BC) were the other nominees.

  Finch was the winner of the Doctor Roger H. Barnsley award last year: that honor in 2018-19 went to her teammate  Avery Pottle (3rd year, middle, Uxbridge, ON). Other nominees were Marisa Mendonca (4th year, midfielder, Penticton, BC)  and Kanesha Reeves (5th year, guard, Kamloops, BC)  of basketball.

Pottle  had a GPA of 3.67 in third and fourth year sciences majoring in biology.  She finished the season with 208 total points and 0.9 blocks per set.  Avery was the Pack’s starting middle.

Grimm stated, “Avery is a very deserving recipient of the Roger Barnsley Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.  Avery has increased her contributions to our team each year since her arrival at TRU and was one of the cornerstone players of our team this year.  Avery’s competitive fire is vital to the success of our team on the floor and her dedication in the classroom is an example to our entire team.  As a PACE (student athlete academic assistance) program leader, Avery also helps other student athletes with building study habits and time management as these are strengths of hers.  I am happy that Avery has been recognized for her accomplishments and know Avery will continue to be successful in the future as she works towards her long term goal of a career in the medical field.”


One other student athlete being honored at the banquet was volleyball player Tim Edge who was given the Directors Award.  Tim’s fifth year with the WolfPack was his third as team captain.  He missed the first third of the season due to a concussion but came back to help lead the teams to the playoffs.  Tim is on pace for a third straight U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian honor and is one of the leaders of the PACE program.  He also worked the last two years at the Eureka Science Camp and was involved in the team’s community events including Raise a Reader.

‘Tim epitomizes what we want out of that award,” says coach Hennelly. “ He was a member of the Captain’s council, was our captain for three years, was one of the PACE leaders.  He has not always started during his career here but he took on the leadership role and was THE guy operating behind the scenes. He led, organized and got things done.  Any good program needs guys that that. They can assist and become leaders and don’t need the limelight to continue. I think Tim has had a great career here and I respect a lot of things he has done. He has been a great teammate, captain and a guy to coach the last five years. “

He adds, “When we recruited him he came in with a big group of guys. Every year we talk about grades and I asked Tim if he wanted to work a little harder to get “All Canadian academic status”.  He said he didn’t really consider it and set his sights. This year will be his third straight earning U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian.  He has evolved and went from a guy who wasn’t even sure he wanted to be a student athlete to someone who assumed a lot of responsibility for the team. Tim has really matured as an athlete and an adult over the last few years. It is always great to see these guys do it. Tim has been exceptional.”

The banquet also saw the WolfPack’s fifth year and graduating players honored.  They were, Edge, Dobbert, Cole Hansen and Isaac Smit (both of Kelowna, BC) from men’s volleyball.  Finlay McPhie (Vernon, BC),  Jason Staiger (Agassiz, BC), Popadynetz and Lantmeeters of men’s soccer, Derek Rhodes (Antoich, CA) of men’s basketball,  Emily Vilac (Kamloops, BC), Reeves and Bos of women’s basketball,  Marlie Rittinger (Ashcroft, BC) of women’s soccer,  Erica Johnson (Abbotsford, BC) of Cross Country, Josh Iannetti (Fort McMurray, AB), Liam Shibata (South Surrey, BC), Isiah McDonald (Grand Forks, BC),  Cole Paquin (Regina, SK),  and Tyler Moskalyk (Thunder Bay, ON)  from baseball along with Rachel Watters (Inuvik, NT) of Cheerleading.


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