Windsor's Thomas Kennedy and LaSalle's Mandy Brunet added prestige to their resumes Tuesday night at the Evening of Excellence held at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts. Kennedy won the Olympic Shield as male athlete of the year.
"It's an honour considering the history of the Olympic Shield and all the past recipients." said the St. Joe's grad.
He referenced previous winners like his cousin Austin Kennedy who was a standout quarterback for the Windsor Lancers and his assistant coach Greg Surmacz who won an OUA basketball title at the university in 2007.
Kennedy beat out three nominees who had great season but in the end it was hard to overlook the accomplishments of the 5th year big man. Kennedy became the first Lancer ever to be named the best university basketball player in Canada. He finished 9th in the country in scoring and was the top rebounder. He also became the University of Windsor's all time leading scorer and rebounder.
"I was given every opportunity by the University of Windsor and administration to be myself and they've put me in every position to succeed. Had two great coaches in Chris Oliver and Chris Cheng who believed in me. I'm always gonna be part of the Lancer family and I'm always greatful I had the chance to wear the blue and gold."
At the banquet Brunet, who won the Banner Shield Award, pointed out to Kennedy that they both won rookie of the year, super sophmore of the year and now athlete of the year together. "Having someone local and seeing them develop and be at such a high level was always so motivating and inspiring." said Brunet whose story is also a source of inspiration.
A medical condition forced the Villanova grad to shut down in March of 2022. She was cleared to practice a couple of months later and worked hard to return to form. With the help of her coach Rich Coughlin, she became a stronger jumper. "He's known me best for years so he was able to build me back up physically, mentally, emotionally. Through his guidance it all worked out"
The rebuild produced a Brunet that was virtually unstoppable in the triple jump. She never trailed in competition while winning gold at provincials and nationals. Brunet also took provincial silver in the long jump.
"As negative as it was it all happened for a reason. I've learned so much and have become that much stronger of a person, athlete, student, everything."
Brunet has one year of eligibility left and plans to return to the field while completing a second year of her Masters in Human Kinetics.
Kennedy plans to return to the CEBL this summer for a short stint before turning pro in Europe.
Both are proud to represent the Windsor-Essex sports community through this accolade.