RDC Kings fifth-year hitter and Queens cross-country runner Jill Stewart were named RDC Athletes of the Year on Tuesday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Regan Fathers and Jill Stewart named RDC Athletes of the Year

They are polar opposites in many ways but are now etched side-by-side in RDC Athletics history.

Jill Stewart, small in stature but mighty on the cross country course packed a punch all season long. Stewart, a third-year runner on the Queens rose to the occasion throughout the campaign.

Regan Fathers, a six-foot-six Aussie with plenty of spark and passion on the volleyball court, was the Kings volleyball emotional leader from day 1.

Both were honoured Tuesday for their accomplishments, as Fathers earned the nod as the 2019 RDC Male Athlete of the Year and Stewart was named 2019 RDC Female Athlete of the Year. Stewart edged out Queens golfer Shaye Leidenius and hockey player Catherine Longchamps.

“I was really shocked. They were some really good nominees. Both those girls had a really good season and they are really good athletes,” Stewart said.

“I am really honoured and very grateful to receive the award. Overall, I’m really shocked.”

She called this season, her third as an RDC runner the best she’s had.

The Red Deer native led the Queens to a silver medal at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association Cross Country Running Championships and earned individual bronze along with an All-Conference selection. At the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Cross Country National Championships, Stewart finished 10th and guided the Queens to national bronze.

“I think my season was the strongest it’s ever been. I’m really happy looking back,” she said.

“I loved the team this year that I’ve been able to be a part of and my coaches and everything has been wonderful. I feel like I’m really lucky and really grateful. I have no regrets.”

The Occupational and Physical Therapist Assistant Diploma student was also a strong runner for the Queens Indoor Track team. She helped them win silver at the ACAC championships and was a member of the gold medal-winning women’s 4×400 metre relay team. In the women’s 3,000m final, she earned bronze.

Stewart will return for the fall semester at RDC and represent the Queens next season. She hopes to bring home a top-five finish from nationals.

Fathers, in his fifth and final season at RDC won every individual accolade he could have.

The East Fremantle, Western Australia product was the ACAC and CCAA Player of the Year, leading the province in kills at 435 and kills per set with 5.37. He was also tournament all-star at nationals and a CCAA-All Canadian as well as a CCAA Academic All-Canadian.

As an ever-dangerous threat from the right side, Fathers helped the Kings to a silver medal finish at CCAA Volleyball Nationals on home court– an experience he will not soon forget.

“Nationals was unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I thought in my third year, playing provincial championship at home, that’s as good as it gets,” he recalled.

“When I came back, Diane (St. Denis) said ‘we’re going to do the same thing, but now we have 1,100 more seats. What do you think?’ it was insane. The energy and the passion from people I don’t even know, but know me was incomparable to anything else I’ve ever been a part of.”

As for capping off his career at RDC with his second RDC Athlete of the Year award, Fathers said seeing the accomplishments of his fellow nominees, Kings basketball’s Spencer Klassen and hockey player Chase Thudium makes it that much more special.

“Seeing and hearing the accolades of the two guys, Chase and Spencer– he could have been most improved as well. It’s insane the increase (in points) he had this year,” Fathers said.

“It’s insane to stand next to those guys… it means a lot that there’s people out there working just as hard. I’m honoured to receive this.”

During 2018-19, RDC Athletics picked up another 26 medals. RDC teams won 10 ACAC and three CCAA medals. RDC athletes added 11 ACAC individual medals and were recognized with 23 ACAC awards. At the CCAA level, two individual medals and eight awards were earned. Kari Elliott (Cross Country Running), Scott Bergdahl (Golf), Brad Hamilton (Curling) and Chris Wandler (Queens Volleyball) were honoured as ACAC Coach of the Year.

Other award winners included:

Al Ferchuk Athletic Leadership Award – Matt Hope (Kings Cross Country Running and Indoor Track)

Nexus Energy Technologies Student-Athlete Leadership Awards – Shae Best (Queens Basketball) and Spencer Klassen (Kings Basketball)

Come Back Awards – Ashley Sutherland (Queens Hockey) and Adam Turlejski (Kings Volleyball)

Corporate Loyalty Award – ZS Holdings

Donor Spotlight Award – Phyllis Ward

Team Awards

Kings Basketball

Coach’s Award – Eric Bakker

Most Improved Player – Barzin Eskandarkhah

Most Valuable Player – Spencer Klassen

Rookie of the Year – Payton Baltzer

Queens Basketball

Coach’s Award – Lauren Cardinal

Most Improved Player – Samantha Wade

Most Valuable Player – Sandra Garcia-Bernal

Rookie of the Year – Heena Sidhu

Cross Country Running and Indoor Track

Coach’s Award – Daniel Szucs

Most Improved Player – Devin Saunders

Most Valuable Player – Jill Stewart

Rookie of the Year – Shayla Sklaruk


Coach’s Award – Brett Day

Most Improved Player – Jayden Mitchell

Most Valuable Player – Thomas Crawford

Rookie of the Year – Erica Watts


Coach’s Award – Gaige Weseen

Most Improved Player – Bradie Ouellette-Pillman

Most Valuable Player – Shaye Leidenius

Rookie of the Year – Chloe Sies

Kings Hockey

Coach’s Award – Anthony Neurauter

Most Improved Player – Chase Thudium

Most Valuable Player – Tanner Butler

Rookie of the Year – Ryley Smith

Queens Hockey

Coach’s Award – Shelby Ballan

Most Improved Player – Sydnee DeCorby

Most Valuable Player – Catherine Longchamps

Rookie of the Year – Mary Hirsch

Kings Soccer

Coach’s Award – Kyle Bett

Most Improved Player – Will Arcinegas Salazar

Most Valuable Player – Theoren Gill

Rookie of the Year – Colin Purnell

Queens Soccer

Coach’s Award – Emily Richard

Most Improved Player – Hayley Nassichuk-Dean

Most Valuable Player – Teryn Wright

Rookie of the Year – Mikayla Fujimoto

Kings Volleyball

Coach’s Award – Paul Mennie

Most Improved Player – Mark DeWit

Most Valuable Player – Regan Fathers

Rookie of the Year – JJ Graham

Queens Volleyball

Coach’s Award – Britt Davis

Most Improved Player – Natalie Bloemen

Most Valuable Player – Kaylee Domoney

Rookie of the Year – Emma Holmes

Major Volunteer Contributor Award – Brittany Carlson (with Kings Hockey)

ACAC Minor Officials Awards – Emma Mantie and Kelcie Garnick

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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