There was only one way Katie Graves could have made her season any better and that would have been by winning the national championship.
But the RDC volleyball Queens star power hitter put together a near perfect individual season, capping it off by being named the RDC female athlete of the year at the annual athletic awards night at the Westerner Wednesday.
Graves shared the spotlight with basketball’s Randy Davis and volleyball’s Mitch Irvine, who were co-winners of the male athlete of the year award.
Graves started every match for the Queens this season and finished second in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) in kills and was fifth in digs.
She was an ACAC all-star, an All-Canadian and the ACAC Konica Minolta volleyball player of the year and the ACAC representative for the player of the year in Canada. She helped lead the Queens to the Alberta championship and a fourth-place finish at the national finals in North Bay, Ont. She was named a first-team all-star at the Canadians.
“It’s awesome, I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Graves. “In fact it’s a little overwhelming. You don’t expect to get these awards and when you do it’s amazing. But it means a lot to be recognized at the end of the year when going in you’re not expecting anything.”
The native of Lacombe has always been one of the hardest workers on Queens.
“I always try to work hard as I believe everyone else around me is working hard and I have to keep up. In the end it makes you better.”
But Graves would give up all the individual honours for one national title.
“I’m still upset about the nationals,” she said. “We should have done better.”
Maybe next year as Graves will return for her third season.
“I don’t know if I can be any better, as this is a lot for one year. But hopefully next year, if I continue to work hard, I can live up to this.”
Graves edged out cross-country runner Jodi Sanguin, hockey Queens star forward Karla Bourke and basketball Queens veteran guard Megan Wiggins for the award.
“Any one on that stage could have won this . . . they were all deserving,” said Graves, who will play beach volleyball during the summer with Queens setter Quinn Schulzke.
Irvine turned in an outstanding rookie season for the Kings, finishing second in the ACAC’s South Division in kills and aces and was named an ACAC all-star and an All-Canadian.
“This definitely is a bonus for me,” he said. “And it’s an honour to share it with Randy, who had an outstanding year.”
Irvine, who graduated from North Dame, wasn’t sure what to expect coming in this season.
“I had no idea and certainly didn’t expect it to go this well,” he said. “When I came in I expected to play behind (Kyle) Baird, but all the guys and the coaches made me feel comfortable and helped me a lot.”
Irvine will return next season, but it’s still up in the air if Davis will be back for his fourth season.
“I have to decide between here and the University of Saskatchewan,” said the six-foot-five forward, who also is a Notre Dame grad.
“I’ll have to make up my mind in the next couple of weeks.”
Davis led the Kings and the ACAC’s South Division in scoring this season averaging close to 18 points per game.
“I certainly didn’t expect this,” he said. “I have to thank my teammates. I wouldn’t be here without them and (head coach) Craig (Behan).”
If Davis doesn’t return next season he indicated he’ll always remember this year.
“I’ll have this forever, plus that was the most skilled team I’ve ever played on. The skill level was way up there and as a result we made ourselves better every day. The only disappointing thing was we missed going to the (ACAC) final by one point.”
Soccer Kings outstanding leader and goaltender Bryan Klaus was also in the running for the award.
Contact Danny Rode at email@example.com