Heat fans get ready! After months of toiling through the regular season, throughout stretches of wins and periods of heartbreaking loss (well, not periods so much as the very rare occasion); through the pain of injuries and the dredged out road trips, the final destination of the season’s long journey draws ever closer. Provincial Championships are February 24-26th, and the Heat are very proud to play host to all the teams in the conference traveling to Kelowna for the big event.
Fitting that the dominant Heat, who are moving to compete in the CIS next season, will have the opportunity to host the BCCAA Championships before the move. “Over the last half a dozen years or so we have proven to be one of the best teams in the conference,” said Men’s Head Coach Greg Poitras. “In recent years our program took some major steps on the national scale of things. So I think we have created a buzz with the success we’ve had in the BCCAA and CCAA. I am fairly confident that the positive exposure we’ve had will carry over to the CIS. Hosting provincials is just icing on the cake for us. We did not expect to host, and when [Selkirk College] pulled out we received a nice surprise.”
The progress that the UBC Okanagan Athletics department has made over the short few years since the campus became the University of British Columbia has been nothing short of amazing, having already built a legacy of championships and numerous individual achievements. “The growth and development of our varsity programs at UBC O has been nothing short of amazing,” commented women’s Head Coach Steve Manuel. “This is my 10th season and to see where we are at compared to when I started is mind boggling.” Hosting is also a very special opportunity for starting Setter Caitlin Nyhus of the Women’s team, who is graduating this year and will be playing her last year of College sports, unable to join the team in their move to the CIS.
Chris Howe of the Men’s team has attributed much of either team’s success to hard work and dedication, something he is no stranger to, having had the opportunity to play for the Junior National team last summer. “I can do nothing but believe our program is destined for success in the coming years. As a school we are young, but I believe it’s not so much about experience as about [our] commitment to improvement. As a whole, we are committed to improvement. That is how I have found success in Inter-Collegiate Athletics, and it’s how I intend to succeed in the CIS as a player.”
The atmosphere should be positively electric starting Thursday afternoon. “When you play in a gym, home or away…the adrenaline starts pumping and the sport becomes tangible. The sport becomes tangible. The competition becomes real.” He did note, however, that playing for the Home crowd is always a bonus to the team’s play. “Being in your home gym adds the confidence and support of your fans. You are proving to them why they support you, and bringing them a small piece of the pleasure you get from playing.”
The Playoff action begins Thursday at 1:00 pm in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.