"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. 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."
Christie Buono, who is the Managing Director of the annual award added:
“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. 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.”
Michael Schaper, in past seasons, 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.“
Christina Saint Marche stated the following; “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. 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.”
About the Wally Buono Award:
The Wally Buono Award was established in 2003 and is funded annually by Christina Saint Marche through 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 a former member of the Edmonton Eskimos. Jeff Halvorson, of the Okanagan Sun Junior Football Club was the third winner of the Wally Buono Award in 2005. Known as the fastest man in junior football, Jeff passed suddenly on the practice field on the first of September 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. Edmonton Wildcat record holder, Tristan Jones was honored as the 2007 Wally Buono Award winner for being the finest junior football player in all of Canada. Winnipeg Blue Bomber, Cassidy Doneff, followed Jones as the WBA winner in 2008. In 2009, the award went to Andrew Harris who is now a member of the BC Lions and was voted the Most Valuable Canadian in the 2011 Grey Cup. For the 2010 season, the award was presented to Kleevens Jean-Louis ,who is the first winner selected from the QJFL. 2011 saw Vancouver Island Raider Slotback Michael Schaper take the award.
2011 Michael Schaper, Slotback
2010 Kleevens Jean-Louis, DL
2009 Andrew Harris, RB
2008 Cassidy Doneff, WR
2007 Tristan Jones, RB
2006 Nathan Friesen, QB
2005 Jeff Halvorson, RB
2004 Chris Ciezki, RB
2003 Alan Giacalone, RB
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The Wally Buono Award was established in 2003 and is funded annually by Christina Saint Marche through 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.