With a strong core of returning veterans balanced with some fresh new faces, the Camosun Chargers men’s and women’s basketball teams are eager to hit the hardwood this Saturday in their PACWEST season openers against the Vancouver Island University Mariners in Nanaimo.
“I expect this team to compete every single night and to play together,” states Chargers Men’s Head Coach Scot Cuachon who led his squad to a silver medal finish at last year’s Provincial Championship and the program’s second all-time appearance at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Championship. “The experience at Nationals this year paid off immediately. I was concerned about a sense of satisfaction of just being there but I’m pleased that the returning athletes used the experience as added drive to improve throughout the off-season, training camp and preseason.”
This season, the Chargers will rely on fifth-year veterans AJ Beaudry (Winnipeg, MB), Rulon Schmidt (Duncan), Evan Woodson (Oak Bay) and PACWEST 2nd Team All-Star Ted Neilson to lead the charge along with fourth-year guard Lucas Derksen from Saskatoon, SK. Island products Riley Botting (Tofino) and Andrew Larson (Duncan) will play their third year at Camosun while Cole Hutchings from Courtenay suits up for Camosun in his second-year of post-secondary play. Oak Bay grad Mathew Hampton rejoins the Chargers after a successful year in the PACWEST where he earned his first conference Athlete of the Week award and was named to the PACWEST All-Rookie Team.
New to the fold from Victoria are 6’6” centre Bryan Elder (Esquimalt), first-year guard Jack Wenstob (Belmont) and St. Michael’s University grad Jake Wilmott who helped the SMUS Blue Jags to a triple crown of victories in 2014-15 with championship titles In BC High School Boys’ AA Soccer, Basketball and Rugby. Red-shirting this season are Brady Greenwood (Sooke), Walker Vandevobenkamp (London, ON) and Thomas Weatherby (Salt Spring) who’s brother Eric played two years with the program from 2014-2016.
While the Chargers men have a wealth of experience on their side, the Chargers women’s squad is a young team with only one third-year veteran amongst ten first and second-year players.
“The roster is young this year,” comments Chargers Women’s Head Coach Carl Macdonald. “That being said, we have a strong core of returning players augmented by some very talented recruits.”
The Chargers expect solid contributions from third-year veteran Kathryn Candell (3rd year) who led the PACWEST in scoring last season and All-Rookie Team returnees Tessa Lannon-Paakspuu (Penticton) and Oak Bay High alum Carly Hopp. Hopp returns to the program after a lengthy hiatus; she was in her rookie year when the Chargers produced its most successful season capturing the 2009 conference championship and making their first national championship appearance where the team finished seventh.
Rounding out the list of returnees are second-year student-athletes Jade Heavener (Courtenay), Jasmine Montgomery Reid (Keremos, BC), Isla Swanick (Belmont Sec) and first-year player Claire Young (Nelson, BC) who advances to the roster this season from red shirt status.
New to Camosun’s 2016-17 campaign are local grads Madison Bullen (Belmont) and Mia Roberts (SMUS) along with Courtney Anderson from Nanoose Bay and Ali Wergeland, 2016 MVP of the BC Provincial Girls’ A Basketball Championship from Langley Christian School.
“Our coaching staff have worked hard to blend the experience with the youthful talent into a solid team,” says Coach Macdonald. “After purposely playing a diverse exhibition schedule against teams from the ACAC, Oregon, CIS, and even NCAA Division I Florida Atlantic, our young players are battle tested and eager to begin league play. Our expectations are very high and we expect to be challenging for the PACWEST Championship next March.”
The Chargers and Mariners hit the hardwood this Saturday, October 29 at Vancouver Island University. Women 6pm; Men 8pm. Games will be broadcast by SHAW TV Nanaimo.