Slotback Michael Schaper of the Vancouver Island Raiders has been awarded the 2011 Wally Buono Award.
"Mike’s play was striking and notable to me for a variety of reasons. The manner of how he sacrificed his body and the willingness to make a catch for his team was particularly impressive. Great hands, good body control and a tremendous ability to leap and make the big catch were some of the things that came to mind when watching Mike make this play," said Lions VP of football operations and general manager Wally Buono. "As committed as Mike was to bringing in the ball, I saw the same focus and commitment to his teammates and his community. A worthy recipient and a tremendous character in a young man."
"Mike is fearless on the field and his natural ability stood out in his level of play. However, this award isn't just about skill. The kind of person Mike is is admirable. Here is a young man spending time in the community to make a positive impact with these kids. He understands the responsibility of being an athlete and the kind of role model he can be and uses that in a positive manner," said Christie Buono, managing director of the annual award. "It's refreshing to find a young person with that kind of passion. I'm very pleased to have Mike affiliated with my dad and all that the award represents."
In recent seasons, Michael Schaper has been a BCFC All-Star as well as the CJFL Intergold Slotback. "It is simply unbelievable to be selected for the Wally Buono Award. To follow BC Lion’s Andrew Harris’ early path, at the end of his junior career, is an exceptional honour for me as a player and as a person." stated Schaper, who is currently a Bachelor of Arts student at Vancouver Island University.
Vancouver Island Raiders owner Hadi Abassi, added the following; "I am very proud of Mike, especially that he grew up in Nanaimo and he is a John Barsby Secondary School graduate. Mike played for Barsby, plus one year with the local midget team, Redmen. He then started playing for the Raiders. He is currently carrying on his education at Vancouver Island University. Mike is an amazing young man with great work ethic and a leader. The entire Raider organization is proud of him."
"You have to look at the amazing program Mr. Abassi and his people have built in Vancouver Island. In 2009, we had former Raider, Andrew Harris, as our winner and now, Mike Schaper," said Christina Saint Marche. "Harris goes on to play for the BC Lions and becomes a key member of the Grey Cup champion BC Lions. I know in his mind, Mike would very much like to do the same thing. He has exceptional talent and tools. At 6’4” and 210 pounds this young man is a big target for any pivot. Mike’s ability to execute a pattern and his peripheral vision on the field add to his future value in the sport of football."
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