Sports can bring some pretty special moments. Like a provincial championship football game, at B.C. Place stadium, with Barsby and NDSS teams lining up across from each other.
The B.C. junior football final this month was one of the sports stories of the year in the city. And there were so many others.
The biggest and best sporting event held in Nanaimo in 2016 was the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships in June at Rotary Bowl stadium. It was athleticism, activity and colour like the track has never seen.
It was a terrific year for champions. There were a host of VIU Mariners gold medallists – the women’s volleyball team won nationals, the men’s and women’s basketball teams swept B.C. titles and then the women’s soccer side won a provincial crown, too.
Among the younger provincial champs were the aforementioned Nanaimo District Islanders in football, the Nanaimo Buccaneers in U18 baseball and the Upper Island Storm in soccer.
It’s hard to choose athletes of the year, but a few come to mind, including Tylar Turnbull, VIU volleyball captain; and Sheldon Rempal, the Nanaimo Clippers star who torched BCHL goalies for 59 goals. Hall of fame wheelchair racer Michelle Stilwell added two more gold medals at a perfect Paralympics.
Other athletes who stood out included curler Marika Van Osch, basketball player Hayden Jeffrey, judoka Alicia Fiandor, sprinter Hassy Fashina-Bombata, rower Meg Montgomery and football player Dustin Rodriguez. And there are countless other honourable mentions – basketball, volleyball and lacrosse players, gymnasts and boxers and more.
It was the sort of year that makes a sports fan feel appreciative, and also anxious to see what’s in store in 2017.