CALGARY - A basketball player and a cross country and track star were chosen as the Canadian Interuniversity Sport female and male athletes of the year at the 23rd annual BLG Awards on Monday.
Korissa Williams, from the University of Windsor, became the second straight women's basketball player to earn the honour after Justine Colley of Saint Mary's University took home the award last year.
"It's so surreal right now," said Williams, 23, who helped her hometown Lancers win their fifth straight CIS national championship this year and was selected as the tournament's most-valuable player.
"I'm trying to take it in. I feel so overwhelmed with emotions. I'm so grateful. I'm humbled. I could never expect this or imagine this in my last five years ever. It's the highest award I've gotten this year and I'm so grateful and happy."
Meanwhile Ross Proudfoot, of the University of Guelph, is the first cross country and track athlete to win the award since Ryan McKenzie of the University of Windsor accomplished the feat back in 2003.
"To actually win it, I'm ecstatic," said Proudfoot, 22, a two-time winner of the University of Guelph's male athlete of the year award. "It's the biggest thing I could have done in my CIS career. It's the biggest award, the most prestigious award."
Proudfoot was the men's individual champion at both the Ontario and national cross-country meets.
Williams and Proudfoot each received a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship. They were chosen by the Canadian Athletic Foundation, which administers the awards, from a group of eight finalists. Each nominee received a gold ring and a watch.
Williams, who was in her fifth and final year of CIS eligibility, became the third BLG Award recipient from the Lancers program, following former basketball teammate Jessica Clemencon (2011) and McKenzie (2003).
Other finalists for the Jim Thompson trophy for top female athlete were McGill University basketball player Mariam Sylla from Conakry, Guinea, St. Francis Xavier University rugby player Emma Taylor from Scotsburn, N.S., and Trinity Western University soccer player Jessica King from Liverpool, England.
Proudfoot, who hails from Sudbury, Ont., was also in his final year of CIS eligibility. He became the first winner of the Doug Mitchell Trophy from the Gryphons program.
He claimed the male athlete award ahead of Cape Breton University soccer player Justin Maheu from Ottawa, McGill hockey player Cedric McNicoll from Boucherville, Que., and University of Calgary quarterback Andrew Buckley, who was hoping to win the award in his hometown.
Proudfoot was also named male MVP of the national university indoor track and field championships after winning both of his events, the 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres.
Although they're finished their athletic endeavours at the university level, both Williams and Proudfoot still have promising careers ahead of them.
"I have tryouts next week (in Edmonton) for the senior national women's basketball team," said Williams, who will either compete at this summer's Pan Am Games in Toronto if she cracks the roster of the senior team or at the FISU world university games in Gwangju, South Korea if she makes the development squad.
Like Williams, Proudfoot has a chance to compete this summer in either Gwangju or Toronto.
"It's really just what experience is going to help me and do I want to take the sure ticket and make sure I'm getting that experience at FISU or do I want to push through and make a run for Pan Ams," said Proudfoot, whose ultimate goal is to compete for Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. "It's playing with a pretty big balance."