And the winner is…

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By Josh Wingrove

Breakout Performance by a Male: Radu Melnic

The award: Given to a male athlete who exceeds all expectations while creating whole new ones.

The nominees: Radu Melnic, soccer. Brandon Krupa, basketball. Duane Benjamin, basketball. Chris Sutton, hockey.

The winner: Radu Melnic, soccer. It’s hard to argue a case against a rookie who scored as many goals as the rest of the players on his team combined. The future of the men’s soccer program, which narrowly missed the playoffs this year, likely rests on recruiting to build a solid core around the golden-footed Melnic. He is the only athlete who can possibly challenge volleyballer Ryan Vandenburg as Ryerson’s MVP and, as such, is the Breakout Male of 2004/2005.

Best Performance by a Female in a Supporting Role: Justine Navarro

The award: Given to a female athlete who deserves recognition for her unsung contributions to the team.

The nominees: Justine Navarro, basketball. Tara Di Giuseppe, volleyball. Lisa Greig, basketball.

The winner: Justine Navarro, basketball. On a team featuring OUA second-team all star Amanda Redhead, and former all star Tamara Alleyne-Gittens, Navarro may have gotten lost in the shuffle. She led the team in points in the Rams’ only playoff game, scoring 20 points in a game when graduating veterans Alleyne-Gittens and Kathy-Ann Grizzle could only muster six points combined. Clutch play earned Navarro this award.

Best Performance by a Male in a Supporting Role: Matt Harris

The award: Given to a male athlete who deserves recognition for his unsung contributions to the team.

The nominees: Matt Harris, hockey. Sanel Sehic, basketball. Greg Marszalek, volleyball. Matt Fugard, volleyball.

The winner: Matt Harris, hockey. The rookie defenceman changed to playing wing position in the middle of the season. Despite the shift in attitude, he’s scored two hat tricks this year. He has scored the overtime goal in the Rams’ only win. In their last game, he scored short-handed to give the Rams a one-goal lead with 28 seconds left, a lead the team still lost. It’s an offensive output impressive for any forward, let alone a defenceman. Next year he’ll have to be cast in a leading role if the team expects more than one win.

Breakout Performance by a Female: Brianne Koning

The award: Given to a female athlete who exceeds all expectations while creating whole new ones.

The nominees: Brianne Koning, volleyball. Jena Clark, basketball. Kaitlyn Taylor, basketball. Ali Kennedy, figure skating.

The winner: Brianne Koning, volleyball. The rookie Koning dominated in the middle for the Rams. She finished third on her team in kills with 106, and led the Rams with 24 solo blocks. Her efforts earned her the award for rookie of the year in Ontario University Athletics. Anyone who is the top new player in Ontario surely deserves this award, despite Clark’s spot on Ontario’s all-rookie basketball team.

Best Performance by a Female in a Leading Role: Lily Markovic

The award: Given to a female athlete who turned in the best performance this year for the Rams.

The nominees: Amanda Redhead, basketball. Erin Gallagher, volleyball. Anjela Wilson, volleyball. Lily Markovic, volleyball. Joycelyn Ko, badminton.

The winner: Lily Markovic, volleyball. Lily is the unsung hero of her team. She led her team in kill percentage, and finished with 148 kills, second only to Erin Gallagher’s 191. But with more than 300 fewer attacks than Erin, Lily made the most of her opportunities. She led Ontario in aces with 36, 10 more than the next best server, while also finishing second on the team in blocks. Her impressively well-rounded season helped her edge out the vocal Wilson and go-to Gallagher.

Best Director: Mirek Porosa

The award: Given to the coach who has had the most success with coaching, recruiting and winning.

The nominees: Mirek Porosa, men’s volleyball. Arif Nathoo, women’s volleyball. Sandy Pothier, women’s basketball. Tony La Ferrara, men’s soccer.

The winner: Mirek Porosa, men’s volleyball. His team knocked defending champion Toronto out of the playoffs. They lost in the fifth set to the eventual champions, York University. Ryan Vandenburg, who Porosa recruited, won MVP of Ontario. Porosa recruited Matt Fugard from British Columbia and brought the released Nic Beaver over from rival McMaster. Beaver finished third in voting for Ontario’s rookie of the year. Porosa’s son and libero Lukas Porosa won libero of the year in his first year at the position, which apparently says something about both Mirek’s coaching and parenting. The team won York’s own tournament. This was a great season all around for Porosa’s team. But what clinched the award was his disappointment: The fact that they didn’t win it all really ticked him off. That’s coaching.

Best Performance by a Male in a Leading Role: Ryan “Snake” Vandenburg

The Award: Given to a Male Athlete who turned in the best performance this year for the Rams.

The Nominees: Chris Sutton, Hockey. Ryan Vandenburg, volleyball. Lukas Porosa, volleyball. Geoff Proctor, basketball.

The Winner: Ryan Vandenburg, volleyball. The 6-foot-10 right side had a dominating year for the Rams. He set a new kills record, recording 356 kills for a Rams team that was one of the most competitive in Ontario. He was named the Most Valuable Player in Ontario University Athletics volleyball. He had a season high 29 kills against the University of Toronto, sending the defending champion Varsity Blues home for the season. Oh, and he led Canada in kills, points, and serving aces. What clinched it for Snake was that his team went to the playoffs, putting him ahead of the legitimate stars of the one-win hockey and basketball teams.

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