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Former Calgary Colt receiver Cassidy Doneff has become the sixth junior football player in as many years to win the nationally coveted Wally Buono Award. Doneff, a former All Canadian receiver is currently attending Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. As a first year Ichabod, Doneff is attempting to break the starting lineup.
This year sees a new face for the Wally Buono Award as Christie Buono replaces Christina Saint Marche. “Christie adds new life and a ‘creative edge’ for the WBA. She is an amazing athlete in her own right and her knowledge of football is tremendous. I just think people will be impressed with the exposure Christie will bring to the award in the near future,” stated Saint Marche, a UK resident, who will continue on as a long-term financial supporter of the national football award.
Christie Buono went on to add “We are proud of selecting Cassidy Doneff. Both my father and I were very impressed with his abilities and skills. What strikes us the most is his sincerity and humility. We could right away tell that he was a quality young man with an exceptional talent. I couldn’t help but see the look of pride on his coach’s face when he spoke about Cassidy.” Buono, who was active in the final selection process along with her father, legendary coach Wally Buono, has been involved in nearly every aspect of the football world since a very young age. Both Wally and Christie will be featured on TSN’s Brian Williams show in the coming weeks as they discuss their relationship and the Wally Buono Award which has become a “father and daughter award.”
The Wally Buono Award was established in 2003 by The Saint Bernard Pass Charitable Foundation for the purpose of recognizing Canada’s top junior football player. The award is a national award as it is the only award that recognizes all junior football players throughout Canada. Recipients must prove their athletic and leadership ability on the field as well as a high level of leadership within their community. Previous recipients have included 2003 winner, Al Giacalone, who is a former running back for Canada’s St. Mary’s University and a former Calgary Colt. In 2004, Chris Ciezki, running back for the University of British Columbia and the Edmonton Huskies, was awarded the Wally Buono Award. Chris is in his first year with the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. Jeff Halvorson of the Okanagan Sun Junior Football Club was the third winner of the Wally Buono Award. Known as the fastest man in junior football, Jeff died suddenly on the practice field on the first of Sep tember 2004, just before the end of a practice session. Halvorson was well on his way to breaking several Canadian national junior football rushing records. 2006 saw University of Manitoba pivot and former Winnipeg Rifle Nate Friesen take the award. Last year, Edmonton Wildcat record holder, Tristan Jones was honored as the 2007 Wally Buono Award winner as the finest junior football player in all of Canada.
An event to honor Cassidy Doneff is currently being scheduled in Vancouver, BC. A new large scale trophy and exhibit are under construction and will be placed in a sports hall of fame in Canada later this year as part of a national awareness program for the award which includes a coast to coast touring exhibit.