Not only was it a banner year and a championship season, it was the kind of season that demands a parade of champions.
Vancouver Island University celebrated its very best this week with its 40th annual athletic awards. All the university’s Mariners sports teams were represented at the banquet, held Tuesday night at the Coast Bastion Hotel.
“It was a pretty outstanding season, not only athletically, but the other accomplishments that our athletes achieved this year,” said Bruce Hunter, VIU’s athletic director. “Winning the most Academic All-Canadians in the province, more scholar athletes than anybody else – just the performance on the field, in the gym and in the classroom is remarkable for this year.”
The VIU Athlete of the Year award went to volleyball player Tylar Turnbull and basketball player Josh Ross; both were the expected winners after each was named the PacWest Athlete of the Year across all sports last month.
The Freshman Athlete of the Year awards went to volleyball players Andrea Cankovic and Braydon Brouwer.
President’s Awards were also presented to athletes from each VIU team based on coaches’ criteria such as commitment, leadership and performance. Winners were Emily Rowbotham and Mateo Kostering from soccer, Robert Foster from badminton, Kyler Bourgeault from golf, Kelsey Johnson and Ryan Marcellus from volleyball and Jamie MacFarlane and Bryson Cox from basketball.
Mariner Academic Excellence Award winners were soccer players Jillian Kelly and Jeff Travis, and the VIU International Education Student-Athlete Award winners were basketball players Lanae Adams and Ross. Golden Boot Award winners as top soccer scorers were Kelly, Maddy Dawson and Andres Algarin.
The high point of the year for VIU athletics was the women’s volleyball team winning the national championship.
“Every player on that team elevated their game to their top level,” said Hunter. “They just all clicked at the right time. I wouldn’t call it a miracle on hardwood by any means because they were a solid team, but it was an unexpected win and those are really fun.”
“This is the first time in the school’s history that we’ve had both women’s and men’s win in the same year, so that was exciting, for sure,” Hunter said.
The championships were all won out of town, but VIU got to host badminton nationals at its gym this past spring, when Melissa Liew won silver and Graydon Robb earned bronze.
“It’s really fun to host those national events and have all those people come from across the country and then when they go back, they say, ‘that was unbelievable, we had a great time,'” Hunter related. “‘Best nationals ever’ is what we heard from people.”
Although the PacWest has cancelled badminton, Hunter said VIU will retain the sport as a fully funded program.
“I’m very disappointed that PacWest badminton will not be functioning next year, but I’m quite positive that we’ll have a good, competitive experience for our athletes,” he said.
VIU athletics will look to keep up its championship ways in 2016-17. All the court teams are expected to remain strong, and Hunter said the soccer teams were both championship-calibre this past season and he expects them to be there again this coming fall.
Hunter said the institution takes a lot of pride in the achievements and successes of the Mariners athletes, and he would love to see the community further embrace VIU’s teams.
“I have to say, as an athletic director I’m a little bit jealous when I see the news coverage of the U.S. schools and thousands of people going crazy because a basketball team wins,” he said. “I’d love to see that develop at VIU, for the community to take pride in the athletic program and to really come out and support it at full force.”
Previously announced award winners include:
CCAA All-Canadians – Turnbull; Ross; Sienna Pollard, basketball; Jesse Bazergui, volleyball; Robb; Liew.
Academic All-Canadians – Samantha Rodgers, soccer; Jessica Burma, soccer; Travis; Liew; Bazergui; Turnbull; Mikayla Wagner, volleyball.
PacWest Academic Excellence – Helen Cheung, badminton; Lucy Dimitroff, badminton; Celine Smith, badminton; Zoe Grace, soccer; Katherine Ross, soccer; Samantha Rodgers; Katie Rodgers, soccer; Burma; Kelly; Darby Cronan, soccer; Miguel Banting, soccer; Travis; Wagner; Kaitlyn LaFontaine, basketball; Emily Clarke, basketball; Paige Schappert, golf; Morgan Proctor, basketball.
PacWest Coach of the Year – Matt Kuzminski, basketball; Shane Hyde, volleyball; Janice Walker, badminton.
PacWest Player of the Year – Liew; Robb; Pollard; Ross; Turnbull; Bazergui.
PacWest All-Rookie Team – Cankovic; Brouwer.
PacWest All-Stars – Turnbull; Megan Rosenlund, volleyball; Wagner; Bazergui; Zach Grigg, volleyball; Liew; Robb; Pollard; Adams; Jason Fortin, basketball; Ross; John Thompson, basketball; Burma; Samantha Rodgers; Sarah Meredith, soccer; Chris Arnett, soccer; Algarin; Travis.