Courtnay Pilypaitis had a long list of basketball accomplishments, playing for the University of Vermont and professionally in Europe, plus several years with the national team program.
But 2012 took the cake, with the 24-year-old St. Peter High School graduate pushing herself to her limits and becoming a driving force behind Canada’s Olympic qualification and performance.
And for that, she was named Ottawa’s female athlete of the year at the Ottawa Sports Awards at Algonquin College on Jan. 30.
Canada failed to qualify a women’s basketball team in the past, but Pilypaitis was determined to change that, scoring 21 points in a win over Japan that officially landed Team Canada a spot in the Games, and securing herself the qualifying tournament MVP honours.
She travelled from Vermont, where she is currently an assistant-coach with her alma matter, to accept the award.
“I’m so glad to be from Ottawa, it’s a great city,” Pilypaitis said. “I’ve been able to have a lot of support, especially from my friends and family. Without them, I would not have been able to achieve my lifelong goals.”
She also took home the individual sport award for basketball, beating out players from the Carleton Ravens, the men’s team of the year.
She also thanked all of her coaches, “who have helped me become the person I am, both as a person and an athlete.”
The Female Athlete of the Year Award was renamed after speed skater Kristina Groves, a six-time winner, who was never able to accept the award in person.
“There were some pretty humble beginnings for me,” said Groves. “Doing laps of the Rideau Canal … to have come as far as I did was a surprise to many – I know because they told me.”
Groves presented Pilypaitis with the newly-named Kristina Groves Female Athlete of the Year award.