NANAIMO — Don't tell students cramming for their final exams that the first semester is over, but all of the VIU sports teams are on hiatus until after Christmas.
Vancouver Island University's director of high performance sport Stephanie White says there were two sporting achievements that stood out above the rest in the first four months of the school year. At the top of the list is the men's soccer team winning the CCAA national championship on home soil Remembrance Day weekend.
"It was a great turnout from the community. Nothing like having a packed house for the gold medal game when you're in it, playing your rival from the PACWEST (Douglas College). And then winning the game and becoming national champions. That was clearly a special moment for our program but it was also special because we had such great community support - we had over a thousand people there at the pitch," said White.
Another major accomplishment for the athletic department was getting the new men's hockey team off the ground. White says moments like the launching of a whole new program don't come around very often.
"Their first games, and the fact that they've got their first wins already. They've actually beaten every team in the league at least once," said White.
The final hockey game of the semester on December 2 was perhaps the best performance to date. VIU beat Selkirk 6-4 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre, handing the first place Saints just their second regulation loss of the season. The Mariners will leave 2017 in a tie for third in the BCIHL with a record of 6-6.
The programs with the most notoriety at VIU are basketball and volleyball. All of the critical games are still on the horizon in 2018, but the men's basketball team leaves the first semester ranked second in the country. Meanwhile the women's program is making huge strides with Tony Bryce taking over the reigns in the summer time. Basketball will take centre stage March 1-3 when the Mariners host the 2018 PACWEST provincials.
Both volleyball squads are nationally ranked too. The women sit third in the CCAA rankings while the men are slotted fourth in the country.
The VIU athletic department has a number of other programs including golf, badminton, rugby and baseball.
Of those other sports, probably the most impressive story so far has been the play of golfer Wyatt Brook. The 18-year-old was named a PACWEST All-Star and carded two first place finishes in just four PACWEST tournaments. In his rookie campaign Brook finished fifth in the overall standings.
There won't be any league action for VIU teams until early January, but there will be some exhibition play for the men's basketball and volleyball teams right after Christmas. The women's volleyball team will play some matches in San Diego and the badminton team will be heading to Hawaii for a tournament.
The second semester will have a lot to live up to based on the success the Mariners program has had in the first half of the school year.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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