2021-22 Griffins Awards: Introducing our Female Athlete of the Year finalists

2021-22 Griffins Awards: Introducing our Female Athlete of the Year finalists

MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Another season of Griffins Athletics is in the books with big wins and great memories to cherish.

Excellence was evident on the field, court and ice as MacEwan student-athletes displayed character, commitment and talent throughout the 2021-22 season.

As we count down to the our annual MacEwan Griffins' Awards Banquet this Saturday we will be revealing the finalists for our major awards in the following order:

Monday: Female Rookie of the Year

Today: Male Rookie of the Year

Wednesday: Male Athlete of the Year

Today: Female Athlete of the Year

Friday: Academic Team of the Year and Team of the Year

Here are the three finalists for our 2021-22 Female Athlete of the Year award (in alphabetical order by last name):

Natalie Bender, women's hockey


MacEwan's Sandman Player of the month (February 2022)

MacEwan Athletics Second Star (Sept. 14)

Two-time MacEwan Athletics Third Star (Nov. 2, Feb. 22)


The fifth-year goaltender recorded a 2.67 goals against average and .922 save percentage in 742:29 of action for a Griffins team trying to find its way in its inaugural Canada West season.

Bender gave MacEwan a chance every start, despite being outshot regularly.

She was one of the busiest goaltenders in Canada West with 389 saves, among the most per minute in the loop.

She will leave as the program's career regular season shutouts leader after recording the 12th goose-egg of her career on Nov. 26 against Trinity Western.

A key member of two ACAC Championship teams, Bender has provided rock solid goaltending and leadership since first coming to MacEwan in 2017.

She has impacted the entire Athletics program at MacEwan as Student Athlete Council President for the past two years, spearheading multiple initiatives to integrate Athletics into the broader MacEwan and Edmonton communities.

She also served on the inaugural Canada West Student Athlete Board and is a four-time Academic All Canadian – three at the ACAC level and one in U SPORTS.

Natalie Bender posted a 2.67 goals against average and .922 save percentage during her final season with the Griffins (Joel Kingston photo).

Mackenzie Farmer, women's basketball


Canada West third team all-star

Three-time MacEwan Athletics First Star (Feb. 1, Feb. 15, March 8)

MacEwan Athletics Second Star (Dec. 7)

MacEwan's Sandman Player of the Month (March 2022)


Farmer led the Griffins in scoring, averaging 15.0 points per game (13th-best average in Canada West), tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.7/game) and led the Griffins in blocks (0.5).

Her final impression on the 2021-22 campaign may have been her strongest, though, as Farmer put MacEwan on her back, scoring 26 points to lead them past the UBC-Okanagan Heat in the opening round of the playoffs.

It's the third-best single game output in the Griffins' Canada West playoff history.

Farmer made great strides in her overall game in 2021-22, growing into a complete player at both ends of the court and providing the leadership necessary for the Griffins to make a playoff run.

Mackenzie Farmer led the Griffins in scoring, averaging 15.0 points per game during the 2021-22 season (Robert Antoniuk photo)

Samantha Gouveia, women's soccer


U SPORTS nationals MVP

U SPORTS nationals all-star

U SPORTS second team all-star

U SPORTS National Nike Player of the Game in the final

U SPORTS Top 8 Academic All Canadian

Canada West first team all-star

Canada West player of the week (Nov. 23, 2021)

MacEwan's Sandman Player of the month (September 2021)

Two-time MacEwan Athletics First Star (Sept. 21, Nov. 23)


The team captain played every minute of every game for the Griffins at the demanding centre-back spot.

Her strong defensive play and ability to build up play from the back was crucial in leading the Griffins to their best season in program history that culminated with a U SPORTS national championship.

Gouveia also contributed offensively with three goals and two assists during the regular season.

The four-time Academic All Canadian (4.0 GPA) leads by example in the classroom, on the field and in the community, but what makes her even more exceptional is her ability to connect with her teammates on a personal level.

She is a big sister to everyone, ensuring each teammate feels supported and valued, creating a team atmosphere where everyone is able to be at their best.

Despite the awards and accolades she's received, Gouveia is the most humble member of the team and is positive and calm under pressure, providing a steadying presence that keeps her team focused.

Captain Samantha Gouveia led the Griffins to the U SPORTS national championship, earning several accolades along the way (Robert Antoniuk photo).