The days of VIU being just a volleyball powerhouse are long gone. In recent seasons, several of Vancouver Island University’s sports programs have become championship-calibre.
VIU’s athletics department honoured its many standouts from all its sports teams at a banquet Wednesday at the Coast Bastion Inn.
This year it was the Mariners’ basketball stars who shone the brightest. Brandon Jones of the national-champion men’s team and Jocelyn Jones of the provincial-champion women’s team won VIU’s Athlete of the Year awards.
Bruce Hunter, VIU athletic director, said the Mariners’ success across all sports has really become noticeable over the last few years.
“Before, we had our women’s volleyball program, which was our flagship, and they were at the top every year, and every now and then one of the other programs would do well,” he said. “But what we’re seeing now is most of our programs are battling for that top spot.”
Aside from the two b-ball MVPs, many other Mariners were honoured at the banquet.
Badminton player Melissa Liew, who reached nationals in her rookie season, won one of the Freshman of the Year awards and b-ball player Jon Bethell of Nanaimo won the other.
VIU’s academic excellence awards went to badminton player Lindsay Ward and basketball player Harrison Stupich.
The Golden Boot awards for top soccer scorers went to Rachel Jones and Stephen Ewashko.
A President’s Award was presented to one athlete on each Mariners team. Winners this year were soccer players Caity Genereaux and Dan Mercer, volleyball players Sandra Veikle and Adam Tishenko, basketball players Jenna Carver and Clayton Billett, badminton player Zack Yim and golfer Mike Hrabowych.
The banquet was a chance, too, to say some goodbyes as graduating fifth-year players got one last round of applause. Hrabowych, Yim, volleyball players Dani Smith, Lee Hamilton and Sandra Veikle, soccer players Matt Rigden, Matt Mehrassa, Brant Losch, Ben Leggett, Emily Nicholson, Mariah Robinson and Davis Stupich, basketball player Tyler Olsen and two-sport athlete Jolene Nagy were recognized for their years in Mariners blue.
Vancouver Island University’s All-Canadians for 2012-13 include: Jocelyn Jones, basketball; Brandon Jones, basketball; Dani Smith, volleyball; Leanna Gildersleeve, volleyball; Lee Hamilton, volleyball.
Academic All-Canadians include: Stephen Ewashko, soccer; Matt Mehrassa, soccer; Samantha Rodgers, soccer; Melissa Liew, badminton; Pat Thompson, badminton; Shayna Worthington, basketball; Leanna Gildersleeve, volleyball; Tory Zaytsoff, volleyball.