Tyra Meropoulis & Dan Hayfield named StFX student-athletes of the year

Tyra Meropoulis & Dan Hayfield named StFX student-athletes of the year

ANTIGONISH, NS --- The StFX Athletic Department honored the athletic accomplishments of their varsity athletes this week via an online awards celebration. X-Women hockey forward Tyra Meropoulis was named the StFX Female Student-Athlete of the Year, while X-Men soccer striker Dan Hayfield received StFX Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors. The StFX Female Community X-Cellence award was co-awarded to Amy Graham (X-Women hockey) and Sam Lake (X-Women rugby), while Paul MacLellan from X-Men cross country was the winner of the StFX Male Community X-Cellence award.

Tyra Meropoulis is a second year business student from Edson, Alta. playing forward with the X-Women hockey team. She had a breakout season, leading the nation in both points (37) and goals (26) scored as she won the Brodrick Trophy as the top women's hockey player in U SPORTS. Also the AUS most valuable player, Tyra's 26 goals put her in a tie for third in the AUS record books for most goals scored in a single season. She led the country in game-winning goals (7), short-handed goals (3), and her plus/minus rating of +19 was the fourth best nationally. The AUS all-star and U SPORTS first team All-Canadian was the playoff MVP in helping to lead the X-Women to a first place finish and AUS championship banner.

Meropoulis becomes the sixth X-Women hockey athlete to be named the StFX Female Student-Athlete of the Year. Previous winners include Daley Oddy (2018), Sarah Bujold (2017), Alexa Normore (2014), Suzanne Fenerty (2011) and Brayden Ferguson (2008).

Dan Hayfield is a fourth year Arts student (in his fifth year eligibility) from Exeter, UK as a striker with the X-Men soccer team. The four-time AUS all-star led the conference in scoring this season with 11 goals and was third overall in the nation. He helped lead the X-Men to a second place finish in the conference and a berth in both the AUS final and the U SPORTS championship tournament for the first time since 1997. Dan was named a U SPORTS first team All-Canadian, receiving national distinction for the third time in his career. The 2017 U SPORTS player of the year, Hayfield wrapped up an impressive four-year career with the X-Men, scoring 38 goals to put him second overall on the X-Men career scoring list and sixth overall in the AUS record book. He is the only StFX male athlete in any sport to be honoured as a national MVP, aside from Eric Gillis (cross country, 2003).

Hayfield is the fifth X-Men soccer athlete to win the StFX Student-Athlete of the Year award and takes home the honour for the second time in his career, having also won in 2018. Previous X-Men soccer winners include Michael Marousek (2012, 2011), Trevor Reddick (1994), Glen MacDougall (1989) and Sean Riley (1974).

Amy Graham is a third year Human Kinetics student from Nepean, Ont. and a defenseman with the X-Women hockey team. She has taken a leadership role on several committees and organizations while at StFX, including co-chairing the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI) and serving as vice president of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) Society. Amy is a bystander facilitator, able to educate fellow StFX students on the effects of sexual violence, and she is a member of the X-Out Sexual Violence Committee.

A third year representative on the StFX Pre-Med Society, she also volunteers at the StFX Student Food Resource Centre, and for the past decade has been involved with the Graham family Christmas cheer campaign for the Ottawa Mission, distributing Tim Hortons gift cards to residents of various missions in the Ottawa area.   

Sam Lake is a fifth year prop with the X-Women rugby team, currently in her first year of the Education program at X. She has taken a leadership role with organizations while at StFX, including co-chairing the Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHI), the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and the One Team Initiative which pairs varsity athletes with at-risk local youth in an inclusive environment. A first year representative on the Education executive, Sam also volunteers twice a week with the KC Blades learn to skate program and is an assistant coach with the high school girls rugby team. She is a bystander facilitator, able to educate fellow StFX students on the effects of sexual violence, in addition to serving as a member of the X-Out Sexual Violence committee.

Paul MacLellan is a fifth year Business student from Antigonish, N.S. and is a member of the X-Men cross country team. StFX's nominee for the AUS James Bayer award recognizing athletics, academics and leadership, MacLellan garnered accolades for his community involvement at the conference and national level as the winner of both the U SPORTS and AUS community service awards for men's cross country. He volunteers his time weekly with such initiatives as StFX Fit 4 Tots, the StFX Student Food Resource Centre, the Antigonish Multisport Program and coaching youth with the Halifax Road Hammers and the local junior high cross country team. MacLellan is a bystander facilitator, able to educate fellow StFX students on the effects of sexual violence, and he was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC).

Ben Berthiaume is the winner of the 2020 StFX Coach of the Year award, as voted on by his peers, fellow head coaches at StFX. In his fourth season as head coach, Berthiaume led the X-Women to a 22-5-1 record, tied with 45 points atop the AUS conference. His X-Women finished the season on a 12-0 run and went 4-0 in the AUS playoffs to win their 11th AUS championship title in team history. They finished the year undefeated with a thrilling overtime victory in the U SPORTS quarterfinal game before having the season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Coach Berthiaume's X-Women team were second in the country in goals (85), assists (131), shots/game (34.7) and were third in goals/game (3.04). Berthiaume currently has a career coaching record of 97-28-4 in regular season and playoff games.

The StFX Athletics 'X-Ceptional Award' which recognizes individuals who go above and beyond to contribute in a positive manner to StFX Athletics, was not awarded this year and will be deferred to 2021.

Two StFX teams – X-Women rugby and X-Women Hockey - along with four individual track & field athletes and two relay teams received their traditional varsity 'X's in honor of their AUS championships from this past season. The individual AUS track & field champions honoured included Logan Coulet (high jump), Olivia Crewe (pentathlon), Jane Hergett (1000m, 1500m) and Catherine Kennedy (600m), along with the X-Women 4x400m and 4x800m relay teams.

X-Men and X-Women student-athletes who received AUS and U SPORTS accolades were recognized for their achievements as StFX Athletics produced 32 AUS all-stars, three AUS all-rookies, eight AUS major awards winners, 10 U SPORTS all-Canadians, two U SPORTS all-rookies, and two U SPORTS major award winners this past varsity season. All student-athletes who consumed their first year of eligibility were recognized and will receive their traditional StFX varsity pins from their respective head coaches when they return this fall. 

Student therapists, strength & conditioning interns, and student managers from all StFX varsity teams were appreciated for their contributions to the 2019-20 varsity season, with StFX soccer manager Rachel Tooth and X-Men soccer manager Blake Hatt receiving the student-manager of the year awards.

Individual awards for each varsity team were awarded to student-athletes as listed below. The hardware for all awards will be presented in person at a date to be determined later this year.

2020 StFX Athletic Awards Gala – Individual Award Winners

Rookie of the Year:  Aliyah Fraser (New Glasgow, NS)
Coach's Award:  Briar MacDonald (Antigonish, NS)
Most Valuable Player:  Marley Bonnick (Brampton, ON) 

Rookie of the Year:  Tanna Burke (Cole Harbour, NS)
Coach's Award:  Paige Chisholm (Port Williams, NS)
Runner of the Year:  Jane Hergett (Port Williams, NS) 

X-WOMEN HOCKEY           
Rookie of the Year:  Jamie Johnson (Victoria, BC)
Coach's Award:  Lydia Schurman (Summerside, PE)
Most Valuable Player (co-winners):  Tyra Meropoulis (Edson, AB) & Lindsey Donovan (Mirimichi, NB) 

Rachel Duffley Memorial Rookie of the Year:  Madison Ross (Coldbrook, NS)
Michelle Birks Memorial Coach's Award:  Sophia Parker (Windsor, NS)
Most Valuable Player (co-winners):  Sara Hoerig (Whitby, ON) & Alexandra Hamilton (Eastern Passage, NS) 

X-WOMEN SOCCER            
Rookie of the Year:  Christina Gentile (Laval, QC)
Coaches Award:  Shyanne Hedges (Calgary, AB)
Most Valuable Player (co-winners):  Amanda Smith (Ottawa, ON) & Mercy Myles (Accra, Ghana) 

Rookie of the Year:  Mira Alexander (Truro, NS)
Coach's Award: Catherine Kennedy (Antigonish, NS)
Athlete of the Year:  Jane Hergett (Port Williams, NS) 

Rookie of the Year:  Avan Nava (Mississauga, ON)
Most Improved Player:  Michael Utsalo (Brampton, ON)
Most Valuable Player:  Azaro Roker (Nassau, Bahamas) 

Rookie of the Year:  Jacob Benoit (Windsor, NS)
Coach's Award:  Graydon Staples (Oro Medonte, ON)
Runner of the Year:  Paul MacLellan (Antigonish. NS) 

X-MEN FOOTBALL             
Joe Stewart Memorial Rookie of the Year:  Jay Turnsek (North Bay, ON)
Offensive Player of the Year:  Isaac Fagnan (Bonnyville, AB)
Defensive Player of the Year (co-winners):  Gordon Whyte (Toronto) & Ben Von Muehldorfer (Calgary)
Special Teams Player of the Year:  Keiran Burnham (Cambridge, ON)
Lineman of the Year:  Jonathan Zamora (Mississauga, ON)
Most Valuable Player:  Alex Fedchun (Calgary, AB) 

Melanson Family Top Scorer Award:  Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON)
Rookie of the Year:  Declan Smith (Antigonish, NS)
Wayne Mattie Memorial Unsung Hero Award:  Justin Laforest (Carleton Place, ON)
Most Valuable Player:  Bryson Cianfrone (Stoney Creek, ON) 

Rookie of the Year:  Logan Harrington (Halifax, NS)
Coach's Award:  Josh Read (Bath, England)
Most Valuable Player:  Dan Hayfield (Exeter, UK) 

Rookie of the Year:  Skeets Greene (Barrie, ON)
Coach's Award:  Brad Barclay (Coldwater, ON)
Athlete of the Year:  Logan Coulet (Westville, NS)