From medals at the provincial and national levels, to major individual awards, to gaining acceptance into Canada West, 2010 was an unforgettable year for the UBC Okanagan varsity athletics program.
In March, Steve Manuel and the Heat women’s volleyball team capped off one of the most dominant seasons in any sport with their second consecutive B.C. and Canadian collegiate (CCAA) championships.
At the national finals in Gatineau, Que., the Heat defeated FX Garneau 3-0 in the championship match.
“This team still really had that hunger,” said Heat coach Steve Manuel.
“It’s great that we won one national championship, but it was almost like from the get-go that the team wanted to prove that first one wasn’t a fluke. We wanted to show that it wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan, that the Heat are here to stay, it’s a real program.”
Heat player Alex Basso capped off a stellar year as the CCAA player of the year and national tournament MVP.
Meanwhile, the UBCO men’s team went 16-0 during the regular season, then added the bronze medal at both the provincials and the CCAA nationals.
Men’s volleyball coach Greg Poitras was also won the provincial and national coach of the year awards.
“It’s an honour and a team award,” said Poitras. “It was nice for our program to be recognized.”
In women’s basketball, Heather Semeniuk’s Heat won its second BCCAA gold medal in four years, beating the Camosun Chargers 69-67 in the final in Nanaimo. The Heat then went on to take fifth at nationals.
In men’s basketball, UBCO won bronze at provincials.
Later in the year, in women’s soccer, player Alexa Kennedy and coach Claire Paterson won national individual awards.
In May, the moment the UBC Okanagan had long been waiting for finally arrived as the Heat athletics department was approved for official status into Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
The men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams will begin play in the Canada West conference in 2011-12.
“We’re very pleased,” said UBC Okanagan athletic director Rob Johnson.
“A lot of people put a lot of energy into putting together a really strong application. We’ve had terrific institutional support from the board, the president, the vice-chancellor, just everyone all the way down who was involved in the bid process.
“It’s tremendous news for the athletic department, the university and the community.”