Up island tradition continues for Vikes basketball

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Sept 23,2014(ISN) – VICTORIA – This will be the fifth-straight season that the University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team head up island for their important pre-season retreat. The team will practice and stay at Mark Isfeld Secondary community in Courtenay, B.C. this weekend and their inter-squad game on Sept. 26 will be another highlight for the up island basketball community.

The two-day retreat has been a tradition for the Vikes men who get to engage with the community, spend time bonding as a group and get their first chance to practice as a team following training camp. The trip offers a great opportunity for the up island basketball community to see some of the CIS’ best basketball players in action. The Vikes men will have open team practices for spectators but the biggest draw will be the inter-squad match at 6 p.m. on Sept. 27 at Mark Isfeld Secondary.

“It’s our first opportunity to get away from campus and extend relationships off the court,” said Craig Beaucamp, Vikes men’s basketball head coach. “We will be practicing, having goal setting sessions and the team will cook, clean and look after each other while we stay in the school.”

The Comox Valley will be treated to witnessing the talents of last year’s CIS fourth-place team, which includes Canada West Second Team All-Star and senior Chris McLaughlin, as well as Canada West Defensive Player of the Year and fourth year Reiner Theil. In addition, Beaucamp is the three-time defending Canada West Coach of the Year.

“Every year the team needs to re-establish its identity,” described Beaucamp. “Roles on the team change and players mature but we know we will be looking at Chris and Reiner to be key leaders for us both on and off the court. Chris is a true fifth year player, playing all five years with us, and he will be pivotal as he understands the team’s culture and knows this university.”

Outside of a bolstered list of returnees, Beaucamp’s 2014-15 roster will also feature seven new faces including true freshmen Kai Greene, Taylor Montgomery-Stinson and Hayden Lejeune. Also competing for their first time as Vikes will be Justin Kinnear, a transfer from Vanier College; Grant Sitton, a third-year transfer from Clackamas Community College; Jassan Abdullah, a second-year transfer from Dalhousie; and Jeremy Leonard-Smith a stand-out fifth year from Bishop’s.

“Vancouver Island is really the home place of UVic and it is a focal point for recruiting,” added Beaucamp about the importance of the up island exposure. “We are really an island team as much as we are a Victoria team especially when you think of players like Ryan MacKinnon (Comox) and Eric Hinrichsen (Campbell River). This will be a great chance for our fans outside of Victoria to see us and this ranges from alumni, to parents, to young players aspiring to be a Vike.”

The Vikes men will carpool up island, practice and stay the night on Sept. 25. Part of the team’s group bonding will be looking after each other while staying in the high school including cooking meals and cleaning up. The team will play their inter-squad match, open to the public, on Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at Mark Isfeld Secondary.

The Vikes’ first CIS exhibition match ups will be hosted in Victoria at the McKinnon Gym on Oct. 3-5, for the biennial Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament, which will feature CIS champions the Carleton Ravens, as well as Alberta and Bishop’s. Regular season games will begin at home on Oct. 31-Nov. 1 with a Regina double header.

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