LANGLEY, B.C. – For the first time in program history, the Trinity Western Spartans can claim the CW Coach of the Year as their own. Head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul has been voted the conference’s top coach by her colleagues, as the Winnipeg native guided TWU to a 16-4 regular season – the best result in program history.
Jean-Paul, who joined the Spartans in 2010, enjoyed the best season of her coaching career in 2017-18, as TWU doubled their win total from just two years ago, continuing its trip up the conference pecking order.
“I am thrilled that Cheryl's hard work and commitment to the process of excellence has been recognized with this award,” said TWU’s Athletic Director Jeff Gamache. “Cheryl embodies everything about the Complete Champion Approach, as she is fully committed to providing her players with an environment that supports them spiritually, athletically, academically and socially. Cheryl is a lifelong learner who has been humble enough to work with a team of people to accomplish the results the team has achieved.”
Under the guidance of Jean-Paul, the Spartans have been on an impressive three-year trajectory that has seen them earn their first playoff win two years ago, their first playoff series win last year and their first Canada West quarter-final series win this season.
Jean-Paul and the Spartans will now look to make yet another piece of history as they host Calgary in the Canada West Bronze Medal Game Saturday, with the winner advancing to the U SPORTS championship tournament – something TWU’s women’s basketball program has never done. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. (PT) at the Langley Events Centre. The game will be streamed live at www.canadawest.tv.
Winnipeg’s Antoinette Miller and Lena Wenke were among those acknowledged, as Miller repeated as both the CW Player of the Year and Defensive Players of the Year, while Wenke earned the Tracy MacLeod award for her remarkable determination, perseverance, and unwavering spirit.
Miller dominated the conference this season, leading in scoring (25.9 PPG), assists (96), and steals (77). She becomes the first player in conference history to win both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards in back-to-back seasons.
Meanwhile, Wenke epitomized both determination and perseverance this season. After being assaulted in her Winnipeg home last May, Wenke endured a tough recovery process, before returning to the floor for the Wesmen in late November. Her dedication to her academic and athletic pursuits were unmatched, as she continues to chase her dreams.
Along with the two Wesmen athletes, Regina’s Carolina Goncalves (Rookie of the Year) and Calgary’s Brianna Ghali (Sweeney Award for student-athlete community service) were also honoured.
All award winners now move on as the CW nominees for the national awards, which will be handed out at the U SPORTS Final 8 in Regina (March 8-11).
NOTE: The CW awards were selected by the conference’s 17 women’s basketball head coaches.
2017-18 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AWARDS
Player of the Year
Defensive Player of the Year
G – Antoinette Miller
Applied Health and Education
2017-18 CW regular season: 20 GP / 25.9 PPG / 9.1 RPG / 77 steals / 96 assists
Antoinette Miller followed up her dominant 2016-17 Player of the Year season with an even better campaign in 2017-18.
The fifth-year guard led the conference in scoring (25.9 PPG), assists (96), steals (77), and finished sixth in rebounding (9.1 RPG).
Miller was undoubtedly the driving force behind the Wesmen, as she scored 20 or more points 16 times this season, including two 40-point games (43 vs. Alberta Nov. 4 and 40 vs. Manitoba Jan. 19).
She is the first back-to-back winner of the CW Player of the Year award since Sarah Crooks earned the honour for Saskatchewan during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.
In addition to claiming the top honour, Miller also was voted as the conference’s top defender for a second straight season. She is the first player in CW history to win both the Player of the Year award and the Defensive Player of the Year award in the same seasons consecutively.
Miller is the reigning U SPORTS Defensive Player of the Year and is now looking to add the national Player of the Year award to her resume.
“Ant, for us, guided the ship. She pushed us in practice and pushed our team to get better so that we could compete with the top teams in our conference. The record we had (14-6) was due in part to not only what she did statistically, but what she did behind the scenes to elevate the play of her teammates and push our program to compete and challenge.”
“Game in and game out, she was very consistent at both ends of the floor and I think every coach in Canada West would agree that she was the conference’s best player. She could step on the floor, change a game and carry our team.” – Tanya McKay, Winnipeg head coach.
Tracy MacLeod Award
G – Lena Wenke, Winnipeg Wesmen
2017-18 CW regular season: 9 GP / 5.0 PPG / 64.3 % shooting
To say Lena Wenke is a deserving recipient of the Tracy MacLeod award – which recognizes determination, perseverance, and unwavering spirit – would be the biggest of understatements.
On May 23, 2017 Wenke's life changed forever when she was assaulted in her Winnipeg home while she was innocently focusing on completing spring courses and continuing with her off-season training. Wenke’s life was saved by a good Samaritan, the quick work of paramedics on the scene, and the doctors at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, where for 24 hours she was on life support.
Wenke’s recovery continues, as she exemplifies resiliency, determination and strength.
Since the day Wenke woke from the attack, she committed to finding the will to continue the pursuit of her life goals. She has continued her psychology studies at the University of Winnipeg, while playing the game she loves, and showing remarkable courage and determination along the way.
After a long, grueling summer of recuperating, Wenke returned to school in late September, where she continued with her recovery, relentlessly training and studying to get caught up on the time she had missed. Amazingly, six months after the attack, Wenke stepped back on the basketball court in mid-November, entered her first game on December 1 and went on to play nine regular season games for the Wesmen, along with all four of the team’s playoff games.
“Lena’s been a pillar of strength considering what she has been through and where she is now. When I look at what Lena’s done this season, returning to action and working through what she’s been through, it’s remarkable. She’s full of courage and I don’t know anyone stronger than her.” – Tanya McKay, Winnipeg head coach.
Rookie of the Year
G – Carolina Goncalves, Regina Cougars
2017-18 CW regular season: 17 GP / 12.1 PPG / 2.3 RPG / 37 steals
Goncalves played a key role off the bench for Regina in her first season with the Cougars, but was still third on the team with an average of 12.1 points per game and second on the Cougars with 37 assists while averaging just under 22 minutes played per contest.
She joined the Cougars with a significant amount of international experience, and bolstered her resume in November by joining Portugal's senior national team for two qualification games for the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2019 tournament.
She is the second straight Regina player to be named the conference’s top rookie after Kyanna Giles earned the honour a season ago.
"Carolina had an immediate impact on our team by giving us another quality scorer. Given her international experience, she's been able to fit right in and contribute on a nationally ranked team. To play the significant role she has for us is a testament to her skill level and Carolina has an extremely bright future in this sport." – Dave Taylor, Regina head coach.
Sylvia Sweeney Award
G/F – Brianna Ghali, Calgary Dinos
2017-18 CW regular season: 20 GP / 14.8 PPG / 7.2 RPG / 31 steals
Fifth-year Brianna Ghali is the Sylvia Sweeney Award winner for excellence in basketball, academics and community service.
An Academic All-Canadian throughout her time at the University of Calgary, Ghali has maintained a 3.9 GPA while studying kinesiology and has been involved in a variety of research projects during her degree. The Calgary native spent a summer as a research assistant in Switzerland, where she supported a project examining smoking cessation among individuals with diabetes.
In terms of volunteer commitments, Ghali has worked with the Autism and Asperger’s Friendship Society and the Alberta Children’s Hospital among others.
On the court, Ghali was a third-team all-star in 2016-17 and a second teamer this season, while leading the Dinos in scoring her final two seasons.
"Brianna is simply an exceptional person. What she can achieve in a few days, many struggle to achieve in a week. She strives for excellence in everything she does, but has not lost sight of the important things - people, community and living life to the max. I am very proud and feel very fortunate to have coached and met such an impactful person." – Damian Jennings, Calgary head coach.
About Canada West:
Canada West (CW) is the leading university athletic conference in the country and is home to champion student-athletes that excel in the classroom and their communities. Canada West and our 17 members from across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba collectively carry on a legacy of competitive excellence, as our champions proudly go on to represent the conference at U SPORTS national championships.
Canada West – training leaders, building champions