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By Chelsea Miya

The two figure skaters announced as nominees for the female Greatest Contribution to Sports award say they’re out to prove that figure skating is just as good as any other sport. Hockey coach Graham Wise announced the nominees for the annual Interuniversity Sports Awards last Thursday.

Camellia Asbreuk is being recognized for playing on both the soccer and figure skating teams as well as acting as a team leader. Leila Boyadjian is nominated for being a hockey events supervisor for three years and organizing youth beach volleyball clinics.

“It’s all about raising the profile of figure skating,” Asbreuk said. “A few years ago, nobody knew there was a skating team. But now we’re getting noticed.”

The nominations came after a season of hardship when head coaches Lisa Boyer and Jackie Frank unexpectedly quit in late November.

Two months earlier, a fire caused severe damage to Moss Park Arena, stranding the team without a practice rink for several weeks.

“A lot of people were worried about the team after the coaches quit,” said veteran skater Ali Kennedy, 20. “But (the nominations) show the team’s ability to hold up under everything that’s happened.”

Ryerson’s figure skating team is finished with hiring outside coaches. Next season, the team will be coached entirely by students. “We’ve always had problems keeping coaches,” said Kennedy, who will be coaching the dance category on top of competing in free skate and synchronized skating. “A lot of them don’t want to stay for very long. We hope this new setup will improve things.”

McGill University is the only other university in Ontario with an all-student coached figure skating team.

Most community figure skating coaches work one-on-one with individual athletes, maybe only taking on a few skaters at a time. But Ryerson coaches are dealing with as many as seventeen skaters at once for a part-time salary.

Every one of Ryerson’s figure skating head coaches for the past five years left the team after only one season. “Outside coaches can charge more than $40 an hour,” Kennedy said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t have the finances. Student coaches are paid a lot less. That’s one of the reasons why we decided to do it. It’s always been our back up.”

Twenty-three Ryerson athletes are nominated for the awards.

The categories include Greatest Contribution to Sports, Greatest Contribution to Campus and Community Life, Athlete of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

Other nominees include stand-out rookie Tessa Dimitrakopoulos who led the Rams women’s soccer team in scoring and to their first-ever playoff berth. She is nominated both in the Rookie of the Year and Athlete of the Year award categories.

Another rookie joining Dimitrakopoulos is basketball star Boris Bakovic, who is also nominated for both honours. He averaged a double-double per game and was named to the national All-Rookie team.

Finally, three-time male Athlete of the Year winner Ryan Vandenburg was nominated for the category again. No Ram has won the award four times.

The winners will be announced at the Sports Awards Banquet on March 28.

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