Emily Swier wasn’t sure she would be back at RDC this season after taking some time off and getting married.
But when she made the commitment to rejoin the hockey Queens she was all in. She never looked like she was away and turned in a brilliant season, helping lead the Queens to the ACAC championship. She put the finishing touches on her season by being named the RDC female athlete of the year at the RDC Awards Night at the Arts Centre Monday.
Swier (nee Lougheed) shared the evening with volleyball Kings outstanding setter Luke Brisbane, who picked up his second consecutive male athlete of the year award.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all, there were so many awesome athletes up there with all the recognition. So this is just the icing on the cake.”
But receiving the award will go nice on the family wall.
“This is crazy. My sisters in the past were recognized with (college) volleyball so it will be nice to put this on the wall with the family achievements,” she said.
Swier beat out an outstanding group of athletes, which also included soccer keeper Lauren Good, golfer Kate Griffiths and basketball forward Emily White.
Good was an ACAC All-Conference goalkeeper and CCAA All-Canadian while Griffiths was second in the CCAA nationals and an all-star. White was the ACAC South Division rookie of the year and an all-star.
Swier finished tied in ACAC scoring with 25 points and lead the league with 12 goals.
“I try not to pay attention to that too much. I try to contribute to the team. Usually (Ashley) Graf or Pettie (Jade Petrie) made all the plays and I’m lucky to be in the right spot. It worked out for me this year.”
But despite the individual awards it was the team championship that she had the most pride in.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I think this year everyone was on the same page. We had a great vibe in the room and everyone was very competitive. We carried more skaters than normal which forced everyone to work harder to get a spot on the ice.”
Returning last year was a tough decision for her. Now she plans on being around at least one more year.
“There’s a few things that could change that, but I can’t foresee them happening,” she said.
Brisbane, who will be back next year, is coming off his second straight outstanding individual season. He was a first-team All-Conference player and was the MVP at both the ACAC and CCAA championships. He was also a CCAA Academic All-Canadian.
“It’s definitely nice to be recognized and there were a number of guys on my team who could have received this, and other teams as well.
“None of us play for individual awards,” he said. “It’s all about the team and what we achieved this year (CCAA gold) is the ultimate reward. But when I’m done I will look back and be proud of this as well.”
Brisbane was up against Ryan Dahmer, who skipped the men’s curling team, and hockey Kings netminder Mike Salmon.
Dahmer was an ACAC All-star and the co-winner of the male curler of the year.
He was also the all-star skip at the nationals.
Salmon put together an outstanding season for the Kings and helped lead them to a second round of the playoffs before losing to undefeated NAIT. He was also a second team all-star.
While Brisbane was enjoying his individual recognition he was more interested in talking about the team.
“Last year we were young … this year we’re more experienced. Tommy (Lyon) and Nic (Dubinsky) were in their fifth year and we added Riley (Friesen) and Matt (Lofgren) at Christmas. But more important was the fact we believed if we did the job the results would take care of themselves. Last year we were trying to perform above ourselves. This year we knew if we did our jobs and play our role we’d be OK.”
Brisbane is happy to be part of the RDC Kings volleyball legacy, which has them winning a CCAA record 12 national titles, including eight in a row from 2000-07.
“You take pride in being part of the legacy,” he said.
“We won this year and we want to add to that next year. It’s impressive seeing all the banners on the wall.”
Meanwhile, long-time cross-country running coach Brian Stackhouse, who is retiring after 41 years with the program, received the CCAA Coaching Excellence Award presented to one coach across all sports.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog.