Former Earl Marriott Secondary rugby star Michael Smith was honoured this month by UBC for his accomplishments on and off the university rugby pitch. (Rich Lam/UBC Athletics photo)

Earl Marriott rugby alum named winner of prestigious UBC award

Michael Smith presented with Jama Mahlalela Award for accomplishments on and off rugby pitch

An Earl Marriott Secondary alum is leaving the university rugby ranks with a pair of top athletic honours – including one so prestigious it has only been handed out four times in 16 previous years.

Last week, the University of B.C. held it’s annual Big Block awards gala – virtually for the first-time ever, rather than in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and rugby star Michael Smith was awarded the Bobby Gaul Memorial Trophy as UBC’s top graduating male athlete, while also winning the Jama Mahlalela Award.

According to UBC, the Jama Mahlalela Award – named after the former UBC basketball star and current coach in the Toronto Raptors organization – is awarded “in recognition of excellence in areas of selfless dedication, leadership and spirit as a student-athlete and citizen of UBC.”

“The award is conferred thoughtfully and only when a candidate worthy of the honour is present.”

Smith joins four other recipients of the award, including Mahlalela himself, who was presented the award upon graduating in 2004.

Mahlalela “set the bar for giving back to the UBC community,” the Big Block awards program notes.

Other past recipients include Claire Hanna (2008), Laura Thompson (2014) and Kristina Walker (2019).

• READ ALSO: South Surrey trio to represent Canada on international pitch

In bestowing the honour on Smith – who in addition to starring on the pitch for Marriott has also played internationally for Canada – UBC Athletics said he “is a consummate professional.”

“His work ethic in his social, academic and sporting endeavours are exception and not limited to rugby,” a news release continues.

“A well-rounded individual, Michael exemplifies what it truly means to be a UBC Thunderbird.”

On the pitch, Smith is a two-time Canadian university men’s rugby champion; two-time winner of the Wightman Boot – awarded to the winning team in the annual rivalry game between UBC and the University of Victoria men’s rugby teams – and three-time World Cup series champ, helping lead the T-Birds to victory over the University of California Golden Bears.

He served as team captain in his final season, while also serving as president of the Thunderbird Athletes Council.

Other winners at the Big Block Awards including the school’s women’s golf team being named team of the year; Surrey’s Kate Choi – a Johnston Heights Secondary grad – is a member of that team.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

College sportsUBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

What June 1 will look like at Surrey schools

High school students following a ‘tutorial model’ where they sign up through a set schedule of times

South Surrey church to host drive-thru food-donation station

Items dropped off to Mount Olive Lutheran Church to benefit Surrey Urban Mission program

Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension faces potential delays due to COVID-19

Pandemic ‘adversely’ impacting TransLink’s finances; ‘much work’ required to approve next investment plan

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 29: Feds to mull border-closure exceptions for families split between Canada and U.S.

SIMPSON: For real leadership amid crisis, look west of Scott Road

Delta council, under direction of Mayor George Harvie, defines leadership during pandemic

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Grand Forks braces for river flooding amid warm weather and rain

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Suspected ‘murder hornet’ leaves Langley man on edge after finding insect in bedroom

The extra-large invasive insect had been first discovered in Brookswood on Thursday, May 28

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

B.C. tourism seeks relief as businesses wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

Mid-June earliest for more in-province travel to be authorized

Reward for info on trapped raccoon rises to $6,000

Activists have donated to try to find whoever laid a trap in Delta

Most Read