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Ambanza, Dodds earn top athlete honours at year-end banquet

Narcisse Ambanza, left, and Shae-Lynn Dodds pose after being named the athletes of the year at the Wesmen Athletics year-end banquet Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Kelly Morton/Wesmen Athletics)
Narcisse Ambanza, left, and Shae-Lynn Dodds pose after being named the athletes of the year at the Wesmen Athletics year-end banquet Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Kelly Morton/Wesmen Athletics)

A pair of UWinnipeg student-athletes became first-time winners of the Wesmen Athletics female and male athletes of the year award Thursday night.

Shae-Lynn Dodds, a second-year forward on the Wesmen women's soccer team, and Narcisse Ambanza, a third-year guard with the U of W men's basketball team, were named the school's athletes of the year during the annual Wesmen Athletics year-end banquet Thursday night at the Radisson Hotel.

Both Dodds and Ambanza were also named MVP of their respective programs.

Dodds had the finest offensive season in the history of the Wesmen women's soccer program, finishing fourth in Canada West in goals scored with seven. She also became the first player in program history to be named a conference all-star, earning second-team all-Canada West honours.

The Sturgeon Heights Collegiate graduate set career-highs for shots on goal (28) and shots-on-goal percentage (.700) and extended her games-started streak to 28 dating back to the start of her freshman season.

Ambanza had a career-high for points (18.8), career-high for assists (6.2) and was second on the team in rebounds per game (6.1). He earned a conference all-star award for the third straight year, being named all-Canada West second-team. The Toronto native matched a career-high for points in a game with 36 against Manitoba and set a career-high for assists in a game with 16 again against Manitoba.

Among the other major award winners were Mikayla Funk and Austin Anderson of women's basketball and men's volleyball, who were named the Wesmen rookies of the year. Funk averaged 17.4 minutes per game and had points in all but three games this season. The Winkler native notched a season-high 13 rebounds in a narrow loss at Trinity Western in January and had a string of 13 straight games as a starter.

Anderson, from Niverville, appeared in 21 matches and posted six kills and a .444 attack percentage in his first career start at Thompson Rivers.

Women's basketball's Jessica Dyck and men's basketball's Spas Nikolov were named winners of the Bill Wedlake Awards, given to the most improved players and named after the former men's basketball coach and athletic director.

Dyck started every game for her team, logged more playing time and increased her offensive production and shooting efficiency. Nikolov became one of the most efficient players in the Canada West conference making at least 50 per cent of his shots from the field in 15 conference games. He finished the season sixth in the conference in field-goal percentage and set career-highs for points and rebounds per game in the process.

Taylor Kleysen of women's volleyball was named the Keith Cooper Award winner for her commitment to community service. Kleysen gave her time to volunteering with Special Olympics Manitoba and volunteered with the Sport For Life Newcomer academy, which provides physical activity opportunities for new Canadians. She has taken on multiple volunteer coaching roles in a variety of sports and once again spearheaded the U of W's contributions to Handbags of Hope.

Former women's soccer player Inga Christianson was recognized with the Tom Kendall Award, named after the former women's basketball coach and going to a student-athlete with the highest GPA. Christianson finished 2018-18 with a 4.47 GPA.

In total, Wesmen Athletics boasted 36 academic all-Canadians across its five programs. Students must achieve a 3.5 GPA or better to earn the status.


Women's soccer: Shae-Lynn Dodds

Women's basketball: Faith Hezekiah

Men's basketball: Narcisse Ambanza

Women's volleyball: Emma Parker

Men's volleyball: Daniel Thiessen


Wesmen MVPs: Shae-Lynn Dodds and Narcisse Ambanza

Rookies of the Year: Mikayla Funk and Austin Anderson

Bill Wedlake Most Improved: Jessica Dyck and Spas Nikolov

Keith Cooper Award: Taylor Kleysen

Dave Anderson (Friend of the Wesmen) Award: Chris Newman, Coca-Cola

Tom Kendall Academic Award: Inga Christianson