Women's volleyball setter / outside hitter Natalie Livingston and men's soccer defender Hamish Walde rise above the rest and are the 2019-20 UBC Okanagan Heat's Outstanding Athletes of the Year.
The final major UBCO award, the Outstanding Male and Female Athletes of the Year, recognize the top individual performances for the 2019-20 season.
The two were announced and honoured as part of the ongoing digital celebrations which wrapped up the varsity portion of the UBCO virtual banquet on Friday.
Natalie Livingston excelled playing multiple positions this year for the young, up and coming Heat women's volleyball squad to earn UBCO's outstanding female athlete of the year. Meanwhile, Hamish Walde, becomes the first men's soccer defender to win the award for the top male athlete in the school in 23 years.
Male Outstanding Athlete of the Year – Hamish Walde (soccer)
Walde captained his team to its best regular season record in Canada West play, earning Canada West All-Star recognition on his way to securing his spot in school history by becoming the 29th Male Athlete of the Year at UBCO.
This is just the seventh time in those 29 years that the top male athlete at UBCO has gone to a soccer player, and just the second time a backline player has received that distinction. A defender, by virtue of the position on the field, does not generally compile the stats to earn major school awards. However, Walde's play had not gone unnoticed by his teammates, his coaches, or the opposing coaches, which is why he has become the first Heat athlete across all sports to be a two-time Canada West first-team all-star. The stalwart defender, a product of Salt Spring Island, B.C., also earned academic accolades and recognition as a U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian and he will graduate this spring with his degree in Electrical Engineering.
Walde was up against a strong men's field that included this year's Graduating Athlete of the Year, Mike Mitchell (cross country), a former UBCO Rookie of the year, Hafith Moallin (basketball), a two-time Leadership and Community Service team award winner, Denham O'Reilly (volleyball), and the first male golfer to win a Canada West tournament, Cole Wilson (golf), for the award.
"Hamish's value to the team is not based on stats; as a defender you will not have many of those. He is a team captain and true leader who leads by example. On the pitch he would always demand more from his teammates. In training, there is no harder worker and he is always willing to do extra, sacrificing himself to help the team win. Opposing teams would set up to limit the ball going to Hamish as he was a vital piece of us playing out of the back. This is a well-deserved honour for Hamish, and the entire coaching staff is thrilled that he was rewarded for his season as the top male athlete at UBCO and this is a great way for Hamish to cap off his five years with the Heat."
- Dante Zanatta
Female Outstanding Athlete of the Year – Natalie Livingston (volleyball)
Livingston's versatility and success at multiple demanding positions on the court allowed the Heat women's volleyball team to maximize their roster, and put together an extremely competitive season to earn her the award for top female athlete at UBCO.
A presence both on offense and defense this year from multiple positions, Livingston started numerous matches at setter and at outside hitter. Over the course of the year she played those two spots on the court and would also rotate in as a middle throughout the course of a match.
Excelling at those varied spots allowed the fourth-year biology student to post a unique stat line. She became the first player in the conference since 2011/12, and the first Heat player ever, to have more than 500 assists (526) and 100 kills (106) in a Canada West season.
The multitalented Livingston made her presence felt on the block as well. Normally a stat total reserved for strictly middle blockers, the Kelowna product led her team, and finished the season with the fifth highest total in the conference at 91.
Livingston beat out a list of outstanding female finalists at UBCO, including a Canada West All-Star, Camille Galloway (cross country), last year's top female athlete of the year, Jordan Korol (basketball), her teammate and top offensive player for the Heat, Hellen Lacava (volleyball), and this seasons U SPORTS Rookie of the Year, Amaya Perry (volleyball) for the award.
She joins an elite group as the 15th women's volleyball player in history to be named UBCO's top female athlete.
"Two of the most difficult volleyball positions to play in Canada West are the setter and middle blocker positions. Not only did Natalie play these on separate occasions but played them for half of the season at the same time. Natalie truly emerged as an impact player in Canada West."
- Steve Manuel
Don't forgot to follow and share the Heat's virtual banquet. You can do so with the Instagram and Facebook account of @ubcoheat, or feel free to join in the fun or congratulate the finalists and winners with the hashtag #NoBanquetNoProblem.
The virtual banquet, in the form of stories posted to both the @ubcoheat Facebook and Instagram channels will carry on with closing remarks and a look at the competitive club seasons. Or you can check out all of the award winners and the virtual banquet archives at goheat.ca/virtualbanquet.