(FREDERICTON, N.B.) At a special presentation during the St. Thomas University Athletics awards gala Wednesday evening in Fredericton, N.B., Atlantic University Sport announced Tommies women’s hockey goaltender as the 2019 recipient of the 33rd annual James Bayer Memorial Scholarship Award presented by PepsiCo Beverages Canada.
This marks the first time a student-athlete from St. Thomas University has been honoured with this award.
The James Bayer Memorial Scholarship Award was established in 1985 and is awarded annually to an outstanding student-athlete in Atlantic University Sport for excellence in academics, athletics, leadership, sportsmanship and citizenship.
Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport, was on hand to make the presentation on behalf of the selection committee which also includes Marg Bayer, wife of the late James Bayer, and Dr. Kent MacDonald, president and vice-chancellor of St. Francis Xavier University and chair of the AUS board of directors.
A fifth-year goaltender from Springdale, N.L., Clarke has achieved success on the ice and in the classroom, while also being heavily involved in the community during her time at St. Thomas University.
She was named the AUS Championship MVP this season as the Tommies captured their first-ever AUS women’s hockey title in program history.
Clarke led the AUS in saves throughout the playoffs and was instrumental in the Tommies’ dramatic comeback in the finals against StFX. In Game 3 of the series she stopped 39 of 40 shots in St. Thomas’s 2-1 victory.
In regular season play, she backstopped the Tommies to a 22-5-1 regular season record, a first-place finish in the conference standings, and a bye through to the playoff semi-final round.
Starting in 23 games, Clarke finished the season with the highest win percentage (.739) and the second highest save percentage (.943) in the AUS conference. She was named an AUS second team all-star for her efforts.
Clarke also earned AUS and U SPORTS athlete of the week honours for the week ending Jan. 6, 2019.
“She is a top student, tremendous athlete, a great teammate and a community-oriented person,” said St. Thomas athletic director Mike Eagles.
In the classroom, Clarke is a U SPORTS academic all-Canadian currently completing a post-graduate degree in social work.
“Abby is a conscientious and sincere student,” said St. Thomas assistant professor Dr. Barry Miller. “She is an exemplary ambassador for St. Thomas University as she has been the goaltender on the women’s hockey team for the past five years and [is] now a member of the prestigious Bachelor of Social Work program. I consider Abby to be in the top 1% of the students I have taught.”
Clarke’s involvement in the St. Thomas and larger Fredericton community has included volunteering for the Fredericton Sports Investment Auction which raises funds to provide financial assistance to local sports programs and organizations. She has also worked with the Brendan Oretto Hockey School camps in each of her five seasons, including putting on two separate clinics for young goaltenders in the area.
Clarke volunteered with local Park Street School, reading to students and participating in physical education activities. She has volunteered for the Fredericton Santa Claus Parade, collecting donations for local food banks, as well as at Fredericton’s Pine Grove Nursing Home over the holiday season.
“On behalf of Atlantic University Sport as well as the selection committee, I would like to congratulate Abby on this outstanding achievement,” said AUS executive director Phil Currie. “She embodies what this prestigious award is all about.”
“I’d also like to offer a sincere congratulations to all of this year’s nominees for this award. To be chosen by your respective institutions and nominated for this award is an honour in and of itself.”
Each year, AUS member schools nominate one student-athlete for this prestigious award. As this year's recipient, Clarke receives a $1,000 scholarship.
Also nominated were Acadia’s Zachary Visser, Cape Breton’s Ciera Disipio, Dalhousie’s Maya Venkataraman, Memorial’s Teri Murphy, Moncton’s Sarah-Ève Mailhot, Mount Allison’s Heather Richards, UNB’s Jennifer Bell, Amy Graham from StFX and Brent Andrews from UPEI. Each of the nominees receive a $500 scholarship award.
James Bayer taught education and physical education at both high school and university levels. He served as supervisor and consultant for the Nova Scotia Department of Culture, Recreation and Fitness.
At Acadia University, he served as dean of recreation and physical education and as director of athletics from 1978-1985. As an administrator in the AUAA and the CIAU, he was a key player in the establishment of intercollegiate athletic policy.
This memorial scholarship is the most prestigious award offered annually by Atlantic University Sport.
Previous recipients the James Bayer Memorial Scholarship Award:
1987 - Greg Berry, StFX University, Soccer; Caroline Lulham, Mount Allison University, Volleyball
1988 - Gunnhildur Baldursson, Acadia University, Soccer
1989 - Jackie Wong, Mount Allison University, Volleyball / Soccer
1990 - Augy Jones, St. Francis Xavier University, Basketball
1991 - Heather Morrison, University of Prince Edward Island, Field Hockey
1992 - Keith Donovan, Dalhousie University, Basketball
1993 - David Sykes, Saint Mary's University, Football
1994 - Kathy McNally, University of Prince Edward Island, Field Hockey
1995 - Scott Bagnell, Dalhousie University, Volleyball
1996 - Carla Edwards, Mount Allison University, Volleyball
1997 - Chris Diamond, University of Prince Edward Island, Soccer
1998 - Peter Benoite, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Basketball
1999 - Jan Trojanowski, Acadia University, Basketball
2000 - Kristen Lewis, Dalhousie University, Cross Country
2001 - Jillian MacDonald, Dalhousie University, Basketball
2002 - Louis Poirier, Université de Moncton, Track & Field
2003 - Dan Tudin, Dalhousie University, Hockey
2004 - Eric Gillis, St. Francis Xavier University, Cross Country
2005 - Adrienne Power, Dalhousie University, Track & Field
2006 - David Chant, Saint Mary's University, Hockey
2007 - Colin Sinclair, University of New Brunswick, Hockey
2008 - Katherine Quackenbush, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Basketball
2009 - Isabelle Miles, University of New Brunswick, Soccer
2010 - Alex Legge, Dalhousie University, Basketball
2011 - Jacob Kilpatrick, University of New Brunswick, Volleyball
2012 - Daniel You, Dalhousie University, Volleyball
2013 - Rebecca Haworth, Dalhousie University, Track & Field
2014 - Alana Fairfax, Acadia University, Soccer
2015 - Karolyne Blain, Cape Breton University, Soccer
2016 - Katie Ross, Acadia University, Soccer and Basketball
2017 - Eric Locke, St. Francis Xavier University, Hockey
2018 - Kiera Rigby, University of Prince Edward Island, Basketball
2019 - Abby Clarke, St. Thomas University, Hockey