Brock wins best mascot, best new marketing initiative at OUA awards

It started as a hashtag and turned into a movement.

The Brock University #WeAreReady campaign was named the Best New Marketing Initiative at the Ontario University Athletics 2016 Awards banquet Wednesday night in Collingwood. The St. Catharines University also won the Best Mascot award for Boomer the Badger.

The two OUA CHAMP (Celebrating and Honouring Achievements in Marketing and Promotions) awards were the culmination of a major marketing push for Brock athletics in the community, including hosting four basketball games over two nights at the 5,300-seat Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines.

Brock Director, Athletics and Recreation Neil Lumsden said the awards are the result of hard work by many people.

“Recognition is wonderful, but the results are what’s key, and they spoke for themselves with respect to what happened at the University,” he said. “This is only the beginning. The reach doesn’t just have to stop at Brock. There’s more work to do in our own backyard and that energy can be shared with the community.”

The #WeAreReady campaign was launched by fourth-year Sport Management student Bawe Nsame and third-year Economics student Mohamed Hassan, who both accepted the award Wednesday night at Blue Mountain Resort. Nsame came up with the campaign concept after reading about Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock’s role in the War of 1812.

“I’m blown away that we won,” Nsame said. “In the beginning, that wasn’t the intention, but I guess by winning, it means we’re doing something good.”

Asked if there was one moment over the course of the 2015-16 year that stood out from the rest, Nsame said it was watching Badger fans, who had taken a fan bus to Ottawa, tear up after the men’s basketball team was eliminated from the playoffs.

“That confirmed that it’s more than just a game. We’re building a culture here,” he said. “I thought ‘we really accomplished something great this year.’”

Accepting the award for Best Mascot was Brock student Colin Gratton, who impressed many with his high-energy portrayal of Boomer.

“He has attached our personality to what he’s doing and how he presents himself. That’s tough to do, but boy it’s contagious,” said Lumsden, who started his tenure at Brock in February. “A mascot can play an enormous role.”

In all, Brock won four OUA awards this year.

Badgers head wrestling coach Marty Calder was named the OUA Male Coach of the Year after leading both the men’s and women’s teams to dominating seasons that included capturing the OUA and CIS titles.

The late Marilou Iusi posthumously received the J.P. Loosemore Award, which is presented to someone who has made a major contribution through their administrative work within university sport. Iusi started her career at Brock in 1976 and was the longest-serving Athletics and Recreation employee. She played an integral role in the day-to-day operations of the department and its many teams, serving under former athletic directors Arnie Lowenberger, Bob Davis and Lorne Adams, all former J.P. Loosemore Award recipients. Iusi died in January at the age of 63.

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