Payton LaGrange and Kamryn Henderson were named Notre Dame Cougars Male and Female Athlete of Year on Tuesday. (Photo by Byron Hackett/Advocate staff)

Notre Dame Cougars hand out annual athletic awards

As the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association season came to a close on the weekend with rugby provincials, the Notre Dame Cougars gathered Tuesday night to honour their top athletes.

Payton LaGrange, a member of the Cougars boys rugby team that finished sixth at tier 1 provincials in Sherwood Park, was named the male Athlete of the Year for his performance in various sports throughout the school year.

LaGrange was a beast on the football field, earning the team’s most valuable player honour and north team MVP at the Senior Bowl in May.

The Grade 12 student was the MVP of the boys team handball squad that won a zone championship and also ran at provincials for the Notre Dame Track and Field team.

“It’s a special award. It’s hard to accept just individually when so many people helped me get to where I am. Coaches, family, friends and all the support I had. It’s just unbelievable. I’m very thankful,” he said.

He added overall, the friends he made through sport are what he’ll cherish about his time at Notre Dame.

“Just all the memories I made with my friends and coaches,” he said. “It’s special when you get out on that field with a group of guys and compete together. You come close together and bond, there’s nothing else like it.”

A defensive back on the football field, LaGrange will head to University of British Columbia in the fall and suit up for the Thunderbirds.

“Just a new chapter in my life. Living on my own, time to make my own lunch, won’t have my mom there to take care of me. It’s going to be difficult, but it’s exciting at the same time,” he said.

Wyatt Reefhuis and Ty Moline were the other nominees for the Male Athlete of the Year award.

Kamryn Henderson completed her three year sweep of Female Athlete of the Year, winning the award in grades 10, 11 and 12.

“It’s really amazing,” she said.

“I’ve been a part of some really fun times the past few years, and it’s so special the teams I’ve been on and the friendships I’ve made, to be able to represent that is so cool, I’m so grateful.”

On Tuesday she was named the MVP of senior girls basketball team and the Coaches Award winner for the senior girls volleyball team. She also competed in cross country and handball.

Henderson said it’s a honour to be selected for the award and explained that it was really her fellow female athletes that pushed her to be at her best.

“It’s a great honour, but I think it’s so special because we push each other so hard,” she said.

“I think it’s so cool that we have such a great group of athletes that we can compete with each other every day and push each other everyday because we always want to be the best. It’s cool to push each other and be friends at the same time.”

Emily Downey and Leah Brunner were the other nominees for Female Athlete of the Year.

Henderson will embark on a unique journey next year, heading east to take part in the prestigious House of Commons Page Program at the University of Ottawa.

The Grade 10 Female Athlete of the Year was Anne-Marie Purdy and the Male Athlete of the Year was Brody Kopec.

The Greg Hall Spirit Award was given to Beko Wande. Sarah Koopmans and Johannes Smith were selected as the Athletic Leadership award winners.

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