Among the many celebrated hallmarks of the Saint Mary’s Huskies hockey program involves a tremendous group of wondrous women that have earned the Atlantic University Sports (AUS) Student Athlete Community Service Award. From 2007 winner Joyce Spruyt to the iconic Kori Cheverie, a three-time recipient, 2023 sees Ève Leblanc join this group, also including Beatrice Harrietha and Kiana Wilkinson.
Following it up with the honour of the Marion Hillard Award, Leblanc became the first player from Saint Mary’s, and sixth from AUS to enjoy such prestige. Adding to the sense of history, Huskies men’s ice hockey competitor Matt Welsh, earned the Dr. Randy Gregg Award, marking the first time in one year that the same university has earned the U Sports men’s and women’s ice hockey award for recognizing student-athlete community service.
With a group of finalists including TMU Bold forward Olivia Giardetti, McGill University’s Christina Colizza, plus Tatum Amy, captain of the Mount Royal Cougars, Leblanc was in distinguished company. In addition, Leblanc is among two stars from AUS to receive national awards this year. Joined by New Brunswick Reds goaltender Kendra Woodland, capturing the Brodrick Trophy, their dual heroics add another glorious chapter to conference lore.
Hailing from Petit-Rocher, New Brunswick, the fundamentally sound presence of Leblanc served well on the Huskies blueline. With a team best 23:15 minutes of ice time per game, equally notable was the demonstration of strong playmaking ability with 11 assists and a +12 plus/minus ranking, respectively.
Among her season highlights included an assist in the season opener, a 4-2 win as the Huskies defeated archrival Dalhousie Tigers in the annual Lobster Trap Challenge. Bookending the season, Leblanc supplied a multi-point effort on February 11. Closing out the final regular season game versus St. Thomas, she scored the game’s opening goal, finding the back of the net against Caroline Pietroski, followed by a second period assist, contributing in an exhilarating 6-1 triumph. Adding to the jubilation, LeBlanc earned one of the Three Stars of the Game.
Upon winning the prestigious Award, LeBlanc’s initial reaction involved inspiring thoughts about her parents. Instilling the values of giving back, it served as the foundation for the strong leadership and character that Leblanc brings to both, the rink and her admirable duties in volunteering.
“It was probably one of the proudest moments of my life! It sounds cliché but when you decide to volunteer, it is never to get recognized but when you do, the feeling is incredible. I immediately thought of my parents since they are the ones that showed me the importance of giving to others.”
Highly admirable, LeBlanc’s focus on volunteering has involved many great causes. In addition to four fantastic years donating her time to Ronald McDonald House Charities, whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of children, her passion for education, as evidenced by four Academic All-Canadian honors, provides a perfect opportunity to give back. Having expanded to 18 communities in Canada, the Chebucto Connections: Pathways to Education, a program that LeBlanc has volunteered with, is geared toward ensuring marginalized youth graduate high school. Programs not only include tutoring, but career mentoring, plus Student-Parent support workers.
Recently accepted into the University of New Brunswick’s doctorate program of clinical psychology, LeBlanc’s final year at Saint Mary’s also saw her give back on campus. In addition to serving as a peer advisor for Huskie student-athletes, a great example of her leadership was evident in the role of co-facilitator for a mental health series geared towards the university’s faculty and staff. Regardless of the endeavor, the raison d’etre is based on one core principle,
“This is simple, helping others in any way I can. Simple things like baking cookies, playing board games with the siblings of sick family members puts a lot of things in perspective. I have been gifted in many ways throughout my life and helping kids that need that little extra help with homework or just taking the time to listen is a blessing.
Building relationships outside of your everyday life builds character and opens your outlook on life. Volunteering keeps me grounded and reminds me of what is important when life gets chaotic at times.”
Equally impressive, Leblanc has displayed a proud proficiency in the classroom. Earning the university’s Student Leadership Recognition Award in 2021 and 2023, another pair of honours provided the exclamation point to a sensational career. Both earned at the university’s Athletics Awards Night, it marked an opportunity to spotlight LeBlanc, providing a well-deserved sendoff.
With team awards given, LeBlanc gained the Coaches Award, while Shae Demale earned MVP honors and Ridleigh Hansen was recognized as Rookie of the Year. Adding to the sense of achievement and celebration, the university’s President’s Award, in recognition of Outstanding Academic and Athletic Performance was the crowning touch. Demonstrating the admired pinnacle that a student athlete can achieve, perhaps LeBlanc’s greatest legacy is one of role model.
“I always took great pride in being a student athlete and it all started at an early age when I moved away from home at 13 to pursue my dream of playing hockey at the highest level. Living 16 hours away from home, I had to develop strong organizational skills, good time management and a willingness to confront my fears.
At any level, being a student athlete is very demanding but so satisfying when it all comes together. Being able to play your sport and receive a good education is a true gift and privilege.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated“