On Friday, November 11th, several members of the Oxford Lancers set out to attend the 14th Annual Oxford Sports Awards Night. Coming off the back of the most successful season in their history, the Lancers were nominated for three different awards.
Benedict Shillito was nominated for the Norman Smiley Award, this award is given to a player who displays "Humility in ones success, morality in ones ambition, pride in ones ability and willingness to add value to ones surroundings." Although Benedict did not win this award, it is a huge honor to receive the nomination. He is a true model of what the Lancers desire in their players and his altheticism and dedication to the team will provide inspiration for future generations of the team.
The Lancers were also nominated for the Club of the Year Award. This award is given to a team based on their performance and growth over the past year. The Lancers have had a remarkable run. Their recent achievements include: completing an undefeated regular season, winning their first playoff game and making it to the Tier II Southern Conference Finals, being promoted to Tier I in the BUCS American Football Leage, being promoted to Half-Blue status and beating Cambridge in tremendous fashion (49-0) for their first Varsity win. Again, although the Lancers did not take home this award, we are honored that the University has recognized our success over the past year and we look forward to continuing our success this season.
The highlight of the night, however, was when they announced the winner of the Coach of the Year Award. This was one of the toughest brackets as we went up against strong coaches from the Boxing, Judo, and Cross Country teams.
This award is presented to a coach that has made a real difference to a teams experience and performance over the past season. There was no better recipient than Coach McKenzie. After taking over the team during the 2014-15 season, he took a 1-2 record and finished the season 5-2. His streak continued into the 2015-16 season, where the Lancers finished the year 9-1. He was the Head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Responsible for every single assignment on the field for an undefeated regular season, first playoff berth and victory in club history, promotion to division one and a narrow loss in the clubs first championship game. It might be the first time in Britball history that has ever been done.
Coach McKenzie showed his character when he announced the award win to his former players, "off the back of your incredible performance last season, and as a culmination of the success we've been working towards the past few years, WE won the coach of the year award tonight. Whilst my name will be engraved, this is most definitely down to all of our hard work this last season." Coach McKenzie put in countless hours analyzing game tape and preparing us for our opponents. He pushed us to reach our maximum potential but never asked for more than we were able to give. Finally, win or lose, he always stood shoulder to shoulder with us and accepted the result with humility and respect.
All the Lancers are incredibly proud that our coach received this award. He is a leader of men and an inspiration to all those who have had the privilege to play for him. This is truly a Lancer who embodies our motto, "Lead the Charge."