UBC Okanagan Heat outstanding athletes of the year (from left): Veronika Fagan, Mitch McCaw and James Casorso. -Image: Ken Reid/Greystoke Photography

Spotlight shines on Heat athletes at annual awards

McCaw, Fagan and Casorso, along with Lars Bornemann and Siobhan Fitzpatrick big UBCO award winners

In a repeat performance of a year ago, cross country’s Veronika Fagan and soccer’s Mitch McCaw were the toast of the evening at the UBC Okanagan Heat’s annual awards banquet.

But this time around, the two high-achieving athletes had some company.

For the second year in a row, Fagan was named the outstanding female athlete at UBCO, while repeat honouree McCaw was joined by golfer James Casorso as co-winners of the Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year award.

A West Kelowna product, Fagan won the individual gold medal at the 2017 CCAA national cross country championships, while leading the Heat to a bronze medal in the team competition.

“I’m just really shocked to be honest, the same as last year,” Fagan said of the award, following the ceremony Tuesday at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna. “I feel honoured and grateful to get this, I was up against some tough competition again, there were some really awesome nominations, I feel really grateful.”

Along with Fagan, the outstanding female finalists were volleyball’s Ann Richards, Michelle Jakszuk and Aiden Lea, and Emma Nelsen from Heat soccer.

McCaw had another standout season as the keeper for the UBC Okanagan men’s soccer squad. He set a new Canada West record in 2017, not allowing a goal in 685 consecutive minutes of play, while leading the conference in save percentage.

“It’s an incredible individual achievement but obviously it wouldn’t have been achievable without the help and support of everyone in the Okanagan,” said McCaw. “I have so much praise for the coaches and the community around UBCO, and everyone behind the scenes to allow the things that we love to do every day.”

Casorso won an individual silver medal at the CCAA national golf championships, while propelling the UBCO Heat to its first national medal ever on the men’s side.

Casorso credited his teammates and, in particular, coach Cass Hritzuk for much of the success he enjoyed during his decorated career at UBCO.

“Choosing to stay at UBCO was a tough decision at first but after the first year, my coach, Cass, he’s meant the world to me. He’s been more than a coach, he’s been almost like a best friend to me. He’s helped me grow as a person. Being part of the Heat family meant a lot, but he’s obviously one of the biggest factors as well.”

Other finalists for the Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year were Lars Bornemann from men’s volleyball and basketball’s Aldrich Berrios.

Bornemann was the biggest multiple winner at this year’s event, taking home three of the six major awards. The fifth-year outside hitter for the Heat was named Student Athlete of the Year, Graduating Player of the Year and winner of the Provost Award for Excellence (academic).

Heat volleyball’s Siobhan Fitzpatrick was a double award winner, earning Student Athlete of the Year honours, while sharing Graduating Athlete of the Year award with teammate, Michelle Jakszuk.

The men’s Rookie of the Year Award went to Caleb Funk from the Heat volleyball program, while Kate Johnson of the UBCO basketball squad was named the top rookie among female athletes.

A breakdown of each gender’s winners can be found here: FEMALE WINNERS | MALE WINNERS | Below are the winners for the headlining individual awards.

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