The Durham Lords recently celebrated two milestones: their 50th annual athletic awards and their first awards in person since the start of the pandemic.
Malcolm Hooper, Devyn Fraser, and Mia Hildebrandt were all named Athletes of the Year.
Hooper, who already made the OCAA Men’s Rugby All-Star team and was named Durham Lords Men’s Rugby MVP, capped off a fantastic year with the William Avery Memorial Award for Male Athlete of the Year.
“This was my third athletic banquet,” said Hooper. “It was incredible to be back and to be in a space with everybody looking good and celebrating our successes for the season.”
The journey for Hooper was emotional, as the men’s rugby captain suffered a nearly career-ending foot injury in October 2019.
He said he never expected to come this far and win the biggest annual award.
“I thought I was done sports after that injury, I thought it was a lot bigger,” Hooper said. “Just walking up to the stage and getting the award at the end of the tunnel, it honestly made all of it worth it, the comeback, the journey, just all of it.”
Hooper said he needed three surgeries to fully recover from his injury, but with no varsity sports in 2021 due to pandemic restrictions, he was able to take the time he needed to fully recover and get back to full health.
Hooper’s comeback story is complete after a successful return to men’s rugby this past season where the team won provincial bronze, along with his personal awards, including a Five-Year award for playing five seasons.
“Getting the awards last night, it kind of excited me for the future in athletics potentially,” he said. “It opened up a different avenue.”
Hildebrandt was one of two winners of the Margaret Greenley Award as the Female Athlete of the Year. She was also women’s volleyball MVP.
The Winnipeg native said she couldn’t have done it without the team’s coach, Tony Clarke.
“Tony has been such an amazing coach all year, helping me on and off the court,” she said. “He cares for us as people first, so I think that’s super visible in what he does, and he made this year a fun year for us.”
Hildebrandt led the volleyball team with 192 points, 120 kills, 42 blocks and 30 service aces this past season. She was named a first-team all-star and championship all-star by the OCAA.
Though she had a successful night, the awards don’t stop Hildebrandt’s drive to win a championship with the volleyball team after earning a bronze medal in mid-March.
“We’re just missing that gold medal, so I’m going for that next year,” she said. “It motivates me in the off-season to keep training, reach even higher and train even harder to reach for that gold medal next year.”
Fraser, who was the other female Athlete of the Year, not only played on the women’s volleyball team with Hildebrandt, but also played a second sport this year with the golf team. She won bronze medals with both.
Fraser also took home the Bert Dejeet Highest Overall GPA award, as well as the Women’s Golf MVP Award and a Five-Year award. She also won an OCAA All-Academic Award and a CCAA Academic All-Canadian Award.
For the full list of the winners, visit the Durham Lords’ varsity website.