Jordan Heather makes long trek back to Canada from France for BLG Awards
Sunday, Apr 27, 2014 06:00 pm
CALGARY - Jordan Heather wasn't going to let anything stop him from attending Monday's BLG Awards in Calgary.
One of four nominees up for the Doug Mitchell Trophy to be awarded to the CIS male athlete of the year, Heather endured a nine-hour flight back to Canada from France, where he's playing professional football for the St. Etienne Giants.
"I had to talk to our team president to obviously come back," said Heather, who missed a game on Sunday so he could be in Calgary. "They were very much on board with me coming over. They thought it was too big of an opportunity to miss."
Heather, from Oromocto, N.B., recently completed his fifth and final season as quarterback for the Bishop's University Gaiters. He set a new Canadian university record by throwing for 3,132 yards in eight league games en route to claiming the Hec Crighton Trophy as CIS player of the year.
"For me, winning the Hec Crighton was a huge honour," said Heather during a Sunday afternoon reception for all eight male and female award nominees. "I never thought at all of ever being nominated in the class of athletes that we have here. We have people here that could potentially be in the Olympics one day. It's a surreal moment and it's the height of my athletic career so far."
Heather is aiming to become the second straight football player to win the men's award after McMaster University quarterback Kyle Quinlan took home the trophy last year.
In addition to being presented with white cowboy hats on Sunday, the eight nominees also each received a custom-made commemorative gold ring.
"It's nice to be in the same room with all these people and to be at this event is just incredible," said sprinter Khamica Bingham from York University. "We're treated like royalty. I've already done three interviews in a matter of two days and a lot of pictures. It's kind of nice to get the publicity and feel like a celebrity."
Bingham, from Brampton, Ont., is in contention to win the Jim Thompson Trophy, which will be presented to the CIS female athlete of the year at Calgary's Jack Singer Concert Hall on Monday night.
"That would be the icing on the cake," said Bingham, who's aiming to be the first York athlete to win a BLG award. "It would be amazing. We work hard every day. It's nice that BLG is supporting the CIS and showing that CIS athletes are great and recognizing them."
On the women's side, the other nominees are McGill hockey player Katia Clement-Heydra from St. Bruno de Montarville, Que., UBC volleyball player Lisa Barclay from Brandon, Man., and St. Mary's University basketball player Justine Colley.
"They've been treating us like royalty," Clement-Heydra said. "It's been really an amazing time. We're really lucky to be here and get all that attention."
Barclay is aiming to become the second straight volleyball player from UBC to win the award after Shanice Marcelle accomplished the feat last year.
"It would be amazing," Barclay said. "I never thought I would be at the same level as her and Liz Cordonier also won it a few years back as well, so that would be incredible."
Colley was also nominated last year, but lost out to Marcelle.
"It's such an amazing group of athletes that they have here this year," Colley said. "Just to be placed in the same conversation as them has been a huge honour for myself."
On the men's side, the other nominees are University of Saskatchewan hockey player Derek Hulak from Saskatoon, Acadia hockey player Liam Heelis from Georgetown, Ont., and Carleton basketball player Philip Scrubb from Richmond, B.C.
"An award of this magnitude is such a huge honour to just be nominated for," Hulak said. "For me, win or lose, this weekend has already been such an amazing experience."
Heelis said that he's "blown away" by all the attention the athletes are getting leading up to the awards ceremony.
"It's great to be here and I'm very, very thrilled," Heelis said. "It's such a prestigious honour."
The two BLG Award winners each will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship. The awards date back to 1993 and are sponsored by and named for the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais.
"A lot of people that I see are really passionate about sports," said Scrubb, who helped his Carleton Ravens win their fourth straight and record-setting 10th national title in March. "I didn't know that this law firm was full of a bunch of sports fans and they really take this stuff seriously. It's great just to know that people out there in the workforce still care about the CIS."
In 2009, the men's trophy was named after Mitchell. The creator and founder of the BLG Awards said that it's difficult every year to pick the male and female winners from the eight nominees.
"Each and every one of the eight should win basically," said Mitchell, who serves as chairman of the Canadian Athletic Foundation. "That's why it's so important that we have an independent board of trustees that have no vested interest in anything. They're not leaning to one school or another school. They're totally independent, but every year they recognize how tough it is to make the decision."