Varouj Gurunlian, who played in the first two Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball Championships, will be inducted into the CCAA Hall of Fame in the Athlete Category.
Gurunlian led the Dawson Blues to a bronze medal at the inaugural CCAA event, hosted by Mount Royal College in Calgary, AB, in 1975. The following season, he and the Blues were crowned National Champions.
“Varouj was described as a player with natural born talent who worked hard to improve every aspect of his game,” said Dan Boyer, Coordinator of Student Services & Athletics at Dawson College. “Varouj continues to be active in basketball and is a well-respected basketball referee within Quebec and nationally.”
The 1976 CCAA National Championship victory at St. Clair College in Windsor, ON, was the highlight of his playing days with the Blues.
“This was an incredible finish to my playing career in the CCAA because we had reached the pinnacle of success as a team after working so hard all year,” said Gurunlian, who was named a first-team All-Star and National Championship most valuable player.
He was also named a CCAA All-Canadian in 1976, the first student-athlete from Dawson to receive the honour.
“While the awards were great, it was the championship as a team that meant a whole lot more,” he said.
After graduating from Dawson, Gurunlian went on to play at Laurentian University and St. Xavier University. He also represented Canada on the national team.
“The CCAA is what helped me get started, recognized and recruited by our National team, where I spent nine years proudly representing our country around the world.”
Gurunlian returned to the Blues a decade later to coach the men’s basketball team for three seasons. He guided his squad to three straight provincial championships and consecutive appearances at CCAA Nationals. As a head coach, he would earn three more CCAA medals: Bronze in 1986, silver in 1987 and gold in 1988.
The 1988 CCAA National Championship victory in Truro, Nova Scotia is among his most cherished memories.
“I was sincerely elated for my players because their faces were priceless, and I couldn't be happier for them,” said Gurunlian.
His fondest memories of his time at Dawson and in the CCAA are the friendships he made and the opportunity to travel across Canada and complete against the top collegiate players. A memorable midnight practice at the Dawson gym is also at the top of his list.
Perhaps most significant, his time in the CCAA is where Gurunlian learned to be a team player, thanks in large part to illustrious head coach Richie Spears.
“This is where we all learned real life skills that go way beyond the basketball court and to this day, I use all the people skills that we have all acquired throughout our careers and that helps me in my present work and life,” said Gurunlian.
“Moreover, I am able to pass on this experience and knowledge to the younger generation of today – hoping that they will become successful and better people all around.”