In different times, there would have been a grand celebration for the performances of RDC athletes this season.
But, as such, those athletes earned their praise in a different way because of COVID-19.
RDC Kings hockey third-year forward Chase Thudium and Queens volleyball fourth-year libero Kaylee Domoney were selected as the RDC Athletes of the Year Wednesday on social media.
Domoney, one of the veteran leaders on the Queens had an exceptional season, which concluded with a bronze at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Volleyball Championships last month.
“The season was awesome, not only for me personally but the team as a whole, how far we went and finishing with bronze, going that far was really awesome,” said the Kinesiology student.
“I love my position I play and I put so much pride into it, digging balls is what I do.”
She was up against cross-country and track athlete Shayla Sklaruk, Queens’ curling skip Hollie Vincent and defenceman Ashley Sutherland for the award. Domoney said it was truly an honour to be recognized among that group.
“I found out a few days ago, it was exciting for sure,” Domoney added.
The Red Deer product was the backbone of the RDC defence as an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference All-Conference libero, helping the young squad (21-3) place second in the south. Domoney ranked fifth in the league with 288 digs and 3.47 digs per set. She also reached 1,005 career digs, putting her in the ACAC’s top seven all-time. Domoney was also named an ACAC and CCAA Athlete of the Week.
Her coach Talbot Walton said Domoney was a stabilizing force and key cog in the Queens’ success this season, which included a provincial silver medal and a national bronze.
“Kaylee was made to play the libero position,” said Walton. “Her technical ability, coupled with her never give up attitude, make her one of the best in the league.”
Domoney, who will be back for her fifth and final season next year, hopes the Queens can find their way back to nationals with a similar roster. She also hopes to track down the all-time ACAC digs mark of 1,244.
“I already broke the record for RDC, but it would be cool to break the record for the ACAC, that would be super cool,” she said.
Thudium was also a key cog in the wheel for Kings hockey this year, who finished second in the ACAC and earned a first-round playoff bye before the season was shutdown.
Like all other athletes, he was left wondering what could have been. He said winning athlete of the year is never something you focus on or worry too much about, but it was a nice honour after the season ended the way it did.
” I was surprised to be honest. It was a bit of a shock to me, I was obviously very honoured,” said Thudium, who was also a nominee for Athlete of the Year last year.
“I didn’t really think I had much of a chance winning last year, just surprised, wasn’t really expecting the nomination but definitely pumped to be receiving the award.”
Kings basketball fifth-year guard Spencer Klassen and volleyball outside hitter Patrik Toze were also up for the honour.
Thudium, who earned a second-team all-star selection was tied for fourth in the ACAC with 17 goals, which also led the Kings. His 36 points were the most on the team and tied for sixth in overall league-wide. He was a major part of the Kings power play that operated at 24.3 per cent, with six of the team’s 33 goals on the man-advantage.
“His competitiveness shines through every time he is on the ice and is evident by his many selections as Kings Player of the Game,” said Kings head coach Trevor Keeper.
“Chase has the potential to be the ACAC’s most prolific scorer in years four and five.”
Thudium said one of the most memorable parts of this season, was suiting up alongside his brother, Dylan, who was in his fifth and final season with Kings hockey.
“Just knowing it was my last year playing with him, just trying to soak all that it. When it’s over, you’re thinking it would have been nice to get a few more games or see what we could have done in playoffs,” he said.
The Kings were set to play the MacEwan University Griffins in the second-round of the ACAC playoffs before the season was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
RDC also awarded 83 students-athletes with an Academic Excellence Award, given to those with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
In addition, 8 student-athletes were also recognized as CCAA Academic All-Canadians after achieving honours (3.5 GPA or higher) at RDC and meeting additional athletic requirements.
From RDC Cross Country Running, Will Cebuliak, Caitlin Debree, Devin Saunders and Shayla Sklaruk qualified after excelling academically and placing in the top 14 at the ACAC Championships or top 10 at nationals. Emily Plett (Curling), Kyle Bett (Kings Soccer) and Alisha Coules (Queens Soccer) were selected to their respective 2019-20 ACAC All-Conference teams, and Nathan Swartz (Kings Soccer) made the ACAC Championship All-Tournament team while earning honours.