CALGARY -- UBC Okanagan's outstanding outside hitter keeps setting historic firsts for the Heat women's volleyball team, and for all U SPORTS teams at UBC Okanagan.
On Thursday night, Amaya Perry was named the Mark Tennant Award recipient as U SPORTS Rookie of the Year.
After becoming the first athlete to win the Canada West rookie of the year, Perry has now set another first for the Kelowna university after becoming the first-ever Heat athlete to earn the nation's top honour for a first-year player.
Perhaps a bit anticlimactic for Perry, who should have received the award at the annual All-Canadian gala on the eve of the national championship tournament in her home province, Perry was informed of her award-win over the phone.
Sitting in a Calgary hotel room with friends and family after the cancellation of the All-Canadian Awards banquet, one of Perry's family members received a call from Heat head coach Steve Manuel.
Due to the evolving global situation regarding COVID-19, the awards banquet was cancelled and the 2020 U SPORTS championship will be played with only team members, essential staff and limited family members in attendance.
Manuel, after the cancellation, realized that his star rookie would not know that she won the award, made the call of a lifetime to the freshman and her family. Well aware of who was in the room, the 19-year head coach of UBCO asked to be put on speakerphone. He then announced to the room that Amaya Perry was the national rookie of the year.
Perry, who didn't have a chance to accept her award in person, was kind enough to forward a transcript of her speech that would have been spoken at the banquet.
"I'd like to congratulate the rookie of the year nominees, I feel honoured to be considered among you.
I want to thank my teammates, for the support and encouragement they gave me this season, and I would not be here without them. I am so grateful to be part of the Heat program with six incredible coaches and such a talented group of student athletes. I am looking forward to attending this banquet with my Heat team in the future.
I want to say my biggest thanks to my parents for doing everything they could to help me be where I am. My Dad has given me every opportunity he could to make me better, putting his heart, soul, time and money to the sport and has been my biggest fan since day one. I contribute so much of my success to his support. I don't know if I say if often enough but I am so incredibly grateful to dad and mom for everything that you have done for me.
Best of luck to all participants this weekend and I look forward to being back here next season competing at the National Championship."
Hailing from tiny Chin, Alberta, a hamlet just east of Lethbridge, the first-year player set the school's single-season mark in aces with 59. Her total is also fourth all-time in Canada West over a season.
A 2019 graduate of Lethbridge's Catholic Central High, Perry set a school record for kills by a first-year player and led all first-year players in U SPORTS in that category as well with 227.
Starting all 24 of UBCO's games this season, Perry was the best of an excellent Heat rookie group that also included fellow CW All-Rookie team member Abigail Dueck.
List of U SPORTS Award winners for UBC Okanagan:
2019/20: National Rookie of the Year: Amaya Perry (WVB)*
2017/18: Second Team All-Canadian: Aidan Lea (WVB)
2015/16: First Team All-Canadian: Katie Wuttunee (WVB); National Coach of the Year: Steve Manuel (WVB)*
2014/15: Second Team All-Canadian: Katy Klomps (WVB)
2012/13: National Rookie Team: Emily Oxland (WVB); National Coach of the Year: Steve Manuel (WVB)*
UBC Okanagan has now earned 7 U SPORTS awards overall since it joined U SPORTS in September of 2011 in basketball and volleyball. Soccer started competing in U SPORTS in the fall of 2014. Cross Country in the fall of 2018.
*Major national individual award.