Wrestling, rowing, soccer, and basketball athletes picked up the hardware. Pictured are Brock’s Stephen Harris and Mia Friesen. Photo credit: Brock University Athletics/Stephen Leithwood
The Brock University Badgers and Niagara College Knights have announced their 2022-23 athletes of the year.
A wrestler and rower from the Badgers, and a soccer and basketball player with the Knights were honoured this past week.
First at Brock U, where St. Catharines native Mia Friesen was named Female Athlete of the Year.
Friesen, a second-year Psychology major, furthered the dominant tradition of Brock wrestling this season making a mark in her sophomore campaign on both the provincial and national levels.
Rounding into form as the season progressed Friesen earned two silver medals at the Brock Open and Western Invitational, while also capturing gold at the Guelph Open where she knocked off a previous world champion to take the top step on the podium.
Then at the OUA championship in Hamilton, Friesen won gold and OUA first team all-star honours in her 56kg weight class, knocking off opponents from Guelph, Western, and McMaster along the way.
Friesen was then dominant once again in her 56kg weight class at the U SPORTS championships in Edmonton, earning technical fall wins over Guelph and Alberta, before picking up the pin over Concordia to secure her place in the championship final. Matching up with Calgary, she once again put on a display as she claimed the gold following a spotless 10-0 technical fall victory.
The two-time U SPORTS athlete of the week and U SPORTS first team All-Canadian would go on to be named U SPORTS female wrestler of the year for her efforts.
In addition, the 2022-23 Brock women’s wrestling team captain also scored a bronze at the 2023 Senior National Championship, silver at the 2022 Pan-Am Junior Championship, and placed eighth overall at the 2022 Junior World Championship this year.
On the men’s side Stephen Harris, a third-year Economics major from Guelph, becomes the first back-to-back winner of Badgers Male Athlete of the Year in almost two decades.
Harris delivered another sensational season on the water for the Badgers helping the Brock men’s rowing team repeat as Ontario University Athletics (OUA) champions.
A team captain with Brock rowing in 2022-23, Harris captured OUA gold in the lightweight 2x and lightweight 8+ events at the provincial showcase, being named an OUA all-star and OUA Oarsman of the Year.
The accolades did not end at just the provincial championship though, as he went on to claim two more gold medals at the Canadian University Rowing Championships (CURC) in the lightweight 2x and lightweight 4+ categories, while also adding a bronze in the men’s 8+. The trio of national medals earned Harris CURC co-Oarsman of the Year.
Beyond the provincial and national events, Harris was also a member of Brock’s silver medal lightweight 4x crew competing at the Head of the Charles in Boston this fall against Ivy League powerhouses such as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Dartmouth.
Additionally, competing individually in the lightweight singles category he earned gold at the Head of the Trent and Western Invitational, along with a silver at the 2022 RCA Rowing National Championships and bronze at the U23 World Rowing Championships.
Rounding out his resume of success from the 2022-23 campaign, he captured three gold medals at the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games, taking to the top step of the podium in lightweight singles, lightweight 2x, and men’s 4+.
Harris becomes the first male back-to-back winner of the yearly honour since Brock men’s wrestler Jamie Macari in 2006 and 2007.
To Niagara College, where another local product in Niagara Falls native Sydney Sica had another outstanding season with the Knights women’s soccer team in being named Female Athlete of the Year.
Sica, in leading Niagara to its first ever OCAA championship bronze medal, earned her second consecutive Women’s Soccer OCAA West Division, OCAA Player of the Year award, All-Canadian honours, and West Division First Team All-Star.
She was the OCAA West Division Scoring Champion, scoring 12 goals in 10 regular season matches. She had four multiple goal matches, including a regular-season high three goals on one occasion. In the cross-over playoff victory over George Brown she scored four goals and then another four goals at the provincial championships. Sica holds three Knights scoring records including the all-time regular season scoring record with 21, the all-time single season goal record with 12, and the all-time playoff goal scoring record with eight.
Sica is a two-time recipient of the OCAA All-Academic and CCAA Academic All-Canadian Awards.
A Bahamian, Delroy Grandison of Nassau, was named Niagara College Male Athlete of the Year.
Grandison, an OCAA West second team league all-star, led the basketball team in rebounding and points per game. He is a team-first oriented player who leads by example both on and off the court. He has embraced Niagara College athletics with his outstanding work ethic, positive attitude, and overall performance in a highly competitive conference.
Niagara College Director of Athletics and Student Engagement Michele O’Keefe said she was “extremely proud” of all the college’s student-athletes, coaches, and staff.
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.