Vancouver Island University’s student athletes were first in the standings and in their studies.
VIU’s athletics department honoured its best last week with an annual awards banquet at the Coast Bastion Hotel.
There was plenty to celebrate – gold at nationals for badminton, gold at provincials for women’s volleyball, the PacWest aggregate championship, and much more.
“One of the big things for me is for us to win the most Academic All-Canadians of any school in the country,” said Bruce Hunter, VIU’s athletic director. “We have a lot of top athletes who are also top students and that’s really what we’re all about … That’s what makes us most proud.”
VIU has built some programs that are perennial powers in the Pacific Western Athletic Association, so Hunter is always happy to see breakthroughs like Pat Thompson and Graydon Robb’s badminton championship.
Another highlight of 2013-14, Hunter said, was the dominance of the women’s basketball team; it got upset in the provincial semifinals but not before compiling a 20-1 record.
He foresees more good things from women’s basketball, and also men’s b-ball, which he said has attracted some great recruits.
The game-night experience at the VIU gym was a little different this past season. The VIU Mariner Girls dance team was visible both at home games and also at other community events, spreading the cheer. Almost-new bleachers were purchased and installed, increasing capacity to 1,600.
“We’re really looking forward to hosting the women’s basketball national championships next year and seeing if we can pack those bleachers, which I think would be very exciting,” said Hunter.
Graydon Robb, Pat Thompson and volleyball player Leanna Gildersleeve won Athlete of the Year awards and soccer player Keegan Lang and v-ball player Mychaela Roelants won Freshman Athlete of the Year.
President’s Awards went to soccer players Carli Rey and Dan Cato, v-ball players Tylar Turnbull and Greg Howe, basketball players Jenna Carver and Clayton Billett, golfer Matt Haddad and badminton player Connor White.
The Mariner Academic Excellence Award winners were Megan Goenendijk from the volleyball team and Harrison Stupich from the basketball team. The VIU International Education Student Athlete Award went to Marie Hohn from the golf team and Diego Bustos from the v-ball squad.
The first award of the evening was the Golden Boot Award to the top scorers on the soccer teams, Kaylee Dodds and Nick Moore.
Another highlight was the recognition of fifth-year athletes who played their whole college sports careers at VIU, including basketball players Heather McCarthy, Clayton Billett, Alicia Grossi, Shayna Worthington and Evan Verdel, soccer players Laura Rae, Dan Cato and Caity Genereaux, badminton player Pat Thompson, volleyball player Paige Wiebe and golfer Dustin England.