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Anstey and Connolly punched above their weight class over five seasons at UPEI
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Ryan Anstey and Amy Connolly weren’t very large, but don’t tell the newest members of UPEI Sports Hall of Fame that to their faces.
Or better yet, do and the soccer standouts would score on you, run past you or knock you over – sometimes all three.
“My coach Lewis Page always said I played better when I was pissed off,” Anstey said in his acceptance speech Thursday in Charlottetown.
Anstey and Connolly both played in the early to mid-2000s at UPEI, racking up Atlantic University Sport (AUS) championships and national championship appearances, conference and national all-star awards and national player of the year honours.
Now in their 30s, the pair were rewarded for their work with a Hall berth and Connolly was quick to credit her teammates.
“I wouldn’t be here without them. The AUS, when we won that (in 2004) it meant so much more to me than all those national awards,” said Connolly, who’s now a social worker in Niagara, Ont. “The biggest thing is I’m so grateful, it’s so humbling.”
Like Connolly, Anstey, who is a lawyer in Medicine Hat, Alta., sends the real kudos to his pitchmates.
“We had such a strong squad, it seems silly to receive such an honour. I was a byproduct of being on the field with those guys,” said the Charlottetown native.
Anstey was cut by Page for the 2001 Canada Games team but worked his way onto the UPEI roster as a rookie and by the time he finished his AUS career in 2006 tallied 43 regular season goals.
He moved on to a pro deal with the Toronto Lynx of the defunct United Soccer League, put on hold because of a cancer diagnosis that year. He returned to P.E.I., had surgery and radiation treatment and beat the disease.
He went on to help Churchill Arms win the national senior men’s title in 2010, making it the only Island team to win the crown.
Academic issues scuttled Connolly’s 2003 season. It fuelled her return in in 2004 and the Charlottetown native tore through the AUS, leading UPEI to its only women’s title and a berth in the national tournament.
The issues also made her a better student as she earned her degree and a second diploma in social work later in life. She also coached the Holland College women’s soccer team, earning Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association coach of the year in 2013, compiling a 16-4-2 record over three seasons and reaching the collegiate nationals three times.
And it’s not lost on Connolly she’s had a lot of support leading to her induction and lessons learned on the pitch stuck with her.
“I’m just so lucky to be surrounded by so many of the best, well-rounded people. Athletic. Role models. It’s the people that make this special.”
Anstey and Connolly are the 46th and 47th members of the Hall. The university plans inducting three in 2019, bringing the total to 50 to commemorate the school’s 50th year.
Need to know
A look at the new UPEI Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
- Named team MVP in rookie season.
- Named AUS first-team all-star five straight seasons.
- Captained UPEI to its first appearance at the CIS championship in 2004.
- Named CIS first-team all-Canadian in 2006.
- In 2005, named the CIS women’s soccer player of the year and UPEI female athlete of the year.
Former coach Mike Redmond: “Pound for pound, the toughest player ever to wear the green and white at UPEI. She could change games on her own. She was the heart and soul of this team for five years.”
- Won AUS title in 2002.
- Named team MVP and AUS first-team all-star in 2003.
- Named AUS first-team AUS first-team all-star, CIS academic all-Canadian in 2004.
- In final season, named team MVP, AUS first team all-star, led the nation in scoring, named CIS academic all-Canadian, earned a tournament all-star nod at the CIS championship, named UPEI male athlete of the year and CIS male player of the year.
Former coach Lewis Page: “Ryan is a great one-on-one player, quick and hard for defenders to get a hold of. He's also a striker that will come back and help his midfielders win the ball back. But I think, most important, he's just a great person, on or off the field.”