Emily Duffy, Kaleb Pearson, and Kamari Scott named UPEI Athletes of the Year

UPEI Athletics and Recreation celebrates outstanding student-athletes
| Athletics
photo of three people holding large trophies
UPEI Athletes of the Year Kaleb Pearson, Kamari Scott, and Emily Duffy

UPEI’s Department of Athletics and Recreation celebrated the 2023–24 season at the annual UPEI Panther Celebration—Athletic Awards Gala on Friday, April 5, recognizing outstanding student-athletes who have excelled in sport, the classroom, and the community.

This year, the UPEI Alumni Association’s Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year award went to Emily Duffy, UPEI Women’s Rugby. The Male Athlete of the Year co-winners are Kaleb Pearson, UPEI Men’s Hockey and Kamari Scott, UPEI Men’s Basketball.

The event, held at the Rodd Charlottetown, included student-athletes, coaches, and team staff from both varsity and club sport programs along with members of the University community. UPEI’s varsity program includes Men’s Soccer, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Rugby, Men’s Hockey, Women’s Hockey, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Men’s Cross Country, Women’s Cross Country, Men’s Track and Field, and Women’s Track and Field while UPEI club sport teams include Men’s Rugby, Women’s Field Hockey, Men’s Lacrosse, Ultimate, Equestrian, Swim, and Cheer.

“Competitive sport is an integral aspect of education and a vital part of a full university experience,” said Jane Vessey, UPEI Director of Athletics and Recreation. “I am so proud of our student-athletes’ accomplishments this season and look forward to seeing them continue to grow and reach their full potential during their time at UPEI.”

The W.A. Ledwell Award is presented annually to a student who has demonstrated outstanding athletic ability in the intercollegiate program, academic excellence, and the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, and citizenship. This year’s recipient was Jonah Capriotti, UPEI Men’s Hockey.

The Gordon and Muriel Bennett Award is presented to a male or female student athlete who, over four years, has best combined athletic achievement and academic excellence. This year’s winner was Lauren Rainford, UPEI Women’s Basketball.

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. This year’s UPEI nominee is Kamari Scott, UPEI Men’s Basketball.

In addition to the overall awards, varsity and competitive club team awards were also presented. These included the Most Valuable Player (MVP), Rookie of the Year, J.T. “Mickey” Place, and Principles of Panther Pride awards.

The J.T. “Mickey” Place Awards are presented by the UPEI Student Union to varsity team student-athletes who contributed to student leadership on their team and on campus. Each coach presents the Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award to the student-athlete on their team, who best exemplifies purpose, preparation, respect for people, positivity, professionalism, presence, passion, and perseverance.

Team Award Winners for 2023–2024


Men’s Soccer: Riad Jaha (MVP), Emile Abele (Rookie of the Year), Jeremiah Osorio (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Max VanWiechen (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Women’s Soccer: Sarah Eden (MVP), Olivia James (Rookie of the Year), Mia Martell (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Claudia Mazzei (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Women’s Rugby: Emma MacLean (MVP), Alanna Mabey (Rookie of the Year), Olivia McLeod (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Abbey Morice (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Men’s Hockey: Kaleb Pearson (MVP), Noah Sedore (Rookie of the Year), David D'Agostino (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award ), Kurtis Henry (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Women’s Hockey: Lexie Murphy (MVP), Erin Cabaday (Rookie of the Year), Shaylin McFarlane (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Stephanie Leger (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Men’s Basketball: Kamari Scott (MVP and J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Owen Smith and Chinonso Njelita (Rookies of the Year), Sam Chisholm (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Women’s Basketball: Lauren Rainford (MVP), Lily Vrugteman (Rookie of the Year), Karla Benitez (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Grace Lancaster (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Women's Cross Country: Katie Richard (MVP), Anna Harris (Rookie of the Year), Ella Jenkins (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Men's Cross Country: Jack Roberts (MVP), Max MacIsaac (Rookie of the Year), Matt Kozma (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award)
Women's Track and Field: Alaere Peterside (MVP and Rookie of the Year), and Bianca Boutilier (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award)
Men's Track and Field: Jeremy Norman (MVP), Sidiki Diakite (Rookie of the Year), Colin Blanchard (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)


Women’s Field Hockey: Livi Lawlor (MVP), Charlotte Thompson and Kayla Batchilder (Co-Rookies of the Year), Lindsey Doiron (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award) and Reilly Sullivan (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)
Men’s Rugby: Adam Fitzpatrick (MVP), Jimmy Hulton (Rookie of the Year), Ben Bassett (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Adam Fitzpatrick (Warhorse Award)
Men’s Lacrosse: Top Senior-Will Mix (MVP), Top Freshman-Zack O’Meara (Rookie of the Year), Nathan Bailey (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award), Tanner Gallant (1st Annual James Thomson Memorial Award).
Ultimate: Luke McCarvill and Anna Lucassie (MVPs), Matt Dunn and Lilly O’Reilly (Rookies of the Year), Brian MacDonald (J.T. “Mickey” Place Award ), Danny Collins and Sophie Hayes (Spirit Players)
Equestrian: Emma Richard (MVP), Makayla Gerroir (Rookie of the Year), Hannah Mowat (Sportsmanship), Stefanie Angel (Principles of Panther Pride Coaches Award)

About the UPEI Athletes of the Year

Emily Duffy had another standout season as a member of the UPEI Panthers rugby team and was once again one of the nation’s top props. Duffy endured a long summer recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon before dominating the pitch again in the fall. With a strength that’s unmatched in the AUS, Duffy went on to lead the conference in tries with seven. Duffy came up clutch in the final regular season game, where she scored two late tries against St. FX to send the Panthers directly to the finals and secure a berth at the U SPORTS Women’s Rugby nationals. Duffy earned her third consecutive AUS all-star selection in 2023 and was the only UPEI athlete to earn all-Canadian status this year.

Kaleb Pearson often showed flashes of greatness on the ice, but it wasn’t until the 2023-24 season when it all came together for the third-year forward. Simply put, Pearson was a goal-scoring machine. Pearson, who was named the team’s assistant captain during the offseason, had a monster stretch where he scored 11 goals in just eight games, which included a four-goal night against the Dalhousie Tigers on October 20. He finished the year with career-best 18 goals—tied for second in Atlantic University Sport (AUS)—and 10 assists and guided the Panthers to the playoffs despite a large roster turnover. After his stellar campaign, Pearson was named an AUS Second Team All-Star for the first time as a Panther.

Kamari Scott reached the pinnacle of individual success in his fifth year with the men’s basketball program. After serving as the Panthers’ co-star in the previous two seasons, Scott emerged as the team’s leader and their go-to option on the hardwood. In 2023–24, he posted career-highs in points (19.4), field goal percentage (46.0), assists (2.7), and steals (1.8), en route to his first Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Second Team All-Star selection. Scott led the conference in total minutes played and finished fourth in scoring. When the team needed him most, he delivered. With the team’s playoff hopes hanging by a thread, Scott guided UPEI to three straight wins to end the regular season, propelling them to a postseason berth.

Go Panthers Go!

Media Contact

Ron Annear
Varsity Sport Coordinator
Athletics and Recreation
(902) 566-0991

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