Notre Dame hands out sports awards

Life can be all about options and opportunities. Notre Dame male athlete of the year Luc Laplante has plenty of both after this year. With scholarship offers for three sports — wrestling, rugby and football — at different universities, he’s still mulling over his future.

Photo by Josh Aldrich/Advocate staff -- mug shot for Josh's story -- Notre Dame male athlete of they year Luc Laplante.

Life can be all about options and opportunities.

Notre Dame male athlete of the year Luc Laplante has plenty of both after this year.

With scholarship offers for three sports — wrestling, rugby and football — at different universities, he’s still mulling over his future.

But his recent past was in the spotlight on Wednesday night at the school’s annual athletic awards banquet.

“It’s a great honour to be the male athlete of the year here at Notre Dame,” said the six-foot, 230-pound Laplante, 18. “I want to thank all my coaches and teachers who have put me on the right path and shown me the right path to go on and helped me to improve my general school and sports abilities.”

In addition to male athlete of the year, he was named the football team’s MVP, the wrestling team’s most outstanding performer and received the rugby team’s coach’s award. He also competed in track and field and handball.

Though he was a three-time Central Alberta High School Athletic Association all-star in football, he says he will either play rugby or wrestle at university with both the University of Victoria and the University of Alberta offering scholarships.

In wrestling, he had to train at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, but the effort paid off winning a rare double-provincial gold, capturing both the rural and high school championships, while winning 28 matches in his two years.

This summer he will also be trying out for the U-18 Rugby Alberta team which could potentially lead to a spot on the U-18 national team.

Excelling in sports has given him some important life lessons that also helped him excel in the classroom, holding down a 90 average.

“Commitment is a big thing,” said Laplante, who added he will be going after an engineering degree. “I’ve put in a lot of commitment to sports — my off-season training, and then during the season I was at every practice early, ready to go and helping after. That commitment follows through in school, with your studying and into your tests.”

For his football head coach Gino Castellan, also the school’s athletic director, it is tough to see him leave the sport that he dominated at linebacker, but his options showed how good an athlete he is.

“From his Grade 10 year to now, he’s a different person, he’s a young man right now,” he said. “He has the drive — and that’s what you like to see in athletes, that drive and enthusiasm to keep playing.”

For the school’s female athlete of the year, Kelsie Caine, 18, there is no question her future sport of choice. She will be attending Red Deer College as she goes after a future in kinesiology, but in the meantime she has set her sites on making the soccer team as a midfielder. Being named the school’s top female athlete was a huge honour.

“It means a lot. I love giving back to my school, and just to be recognized for all my years at Notre Dame is awseome . . . it’s a great privilege for me,” she said.

She was named Notre Dame’s MVP for girls’ soccer, while also being named MVP in volleyball and received the coach’s award in tennis. She also played on the rugby team and competed in track and field. Outside of school, she was also one of this province’s best ringette players, making the provincial team for the national championships in 2012 and was named the junior female athlete of the year at the 2013 Red Deer Community Sport Awards.

It’s a lot on the plate for anyone, let alone a student.

“I like keeping active and keeping busy, so I feel like playing lots of sports benefits me a lot because I have an athletic drive,” said Caine.

However, all of those sports also helped develop different skills, contributing to her overall success as an athlete.

Caine’s talents were evident early on at Notre Dame — winning the Grade 10 athlete of the year award two years ago — and she only got better from there.

“She’s a competitor, she could have won the spirit award, she could have won the North Star Leadership award as well,” said Castellan. “She means a lot to our school, she’s a great leader and when you play that many sports, it’s awesome.”

NOTES — The athletic department renamed the Spirit Award for outgoing principal Greg Hall, after nine years at the school.

“The spirit award was built for Mr. Hall,” said Castellan. “He’s at everything and he’s yelling and he’s running with the flag; you don’t see a lot of administrators or parents or even teachers and kids doing that kind of thing. He went to see everything and he cared about the kids.”

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