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Blazers Recognized as the CCAA's Best in Soccer and Volleyball

Ayesha Umar, Victor Hugo Gomes de Abreu, and Cameron Gayleard Highlight CCAA Award Winners

Blazers Recognized as the CCAA's Best in Soccer and Volleyball

With the MCAC seasons now over, and all the individual and team awards handed out at last month's Green and Gold Banquet, Blazers Athletics would like to once again recognize three top-tier student-athletes from our ranks who brought their teams to the next level and were recognized nationally for their efforts on the field of play.

A full member of the CCAA since the 2021-22 season, when a spot at the National Championships in the sports of women's and men's soccer as well as women's and men's volleyball were opened for MCAC Championship-winning teams, 2022-23 marked the first year that MCAC athletes became eligible for the association's major awards. Each CCAA-participating MCAC sport is eligible for two All-Canadian awards, which go to the top two student-athletes in All-Conference voting; the Player of the Year and runner up, as voted by the conference's coaches. In last year's inaugural class, a CMU athlete received All-Canadian status for the first time, as Matheus Aquino of men's soccer was selected for the award.

This year's class, a total of eight student-athletes from soccer and volleyball teams across the MCAC, included a remarkable three Blazers athletes, as Ayesha Umar of women's soccer, Victor Hugo Gomes de Abreu of men's soccer, and Cameron Gayleard of men's volleyball all added their names to the CMU Blazers history books. For Abreu and Gayleard it was a bittersweet consolation, as both student-athletes sustained season-ending injuries in the second-half of their respective seasons, but were able to impact their team and the league enough to garner widespread acclaim for their talents. Both also concluded their time in the Blazers uniform, as they are set to graduate later this spring. As the MCAC Player of the Year for men's volleyball, Gayleard was also nominated for the CCAA Player of the Year, another first for CMU Blazers student-athletes. For Umar, the accomplishment was an incredible one as well, coming from the fourth-ranked team heading into the MCAC playoffs, when the award nearly always goes to a player on the top two teams after league play. Blazers Athletics is incredibly proud of the athletic achievements of these and all of our student-athletes as they continue to push the boundaries of competitive collegiate sport in Canada.

All three of this year's All-Canadians will be eligible for Academic All-Canadian status, alongside fellow MCAC All-Conference award winners Humayun Umar of men's soccer, Julia Ignagni of women's soccer, Halle Meisner of women's volleyball, and Brayden Griffith and Markus Martens both of men's volleyball, as well as MCAC Championship MVP Layla Reichert of women's volleyball. In order to receive an CCAA Academic All-Canadian award the student-athlete must feature on the conference's All-Conference team, or have received a championship MVP award while also maintaining honour roll status at the institution for the year.

The Blazers' top academic achievers from the sports of soccer and volleyball can also gain CCAA recognition as members of the National Scholar list, which names student-athletes that achieve honour roll status during their semesters of play. Last year CMU topped the MCAC in that honour, with a total of 31 student-athletes making the list, and the school hopes to aim high again this time around when the recipients are named later in the spring. The CCAA's Torchbearer Scholarships are the final major awards to be handed out, which are given to student-athletes that display an outstanding dedication to community service. Only six awards are handed out nationally, and both CMU's Gode Katembo of men's soccer and Lauren Ens of women's volleyball received recognition for their work outside of school and team commitments last year. We have seen plenty of good work done by our amazing student-athletes in the past, and we are hoping to see more on this list in the future!

As the school year winds down, and off-season training begins, Blazers Athletics would like to commend all of our student-athletes for their time and commitment this past season. A first-ever appearance for Blazers women's volleyball at a CCAA National Championship was certainly another achievement to highlight, as were fantastic seasons by our women's and men's basketball programs as well as women's and men's futsal teams, who don't always receive the national recognition they deserve!

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