Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart, ISN
February 1, 2017, VICTORIA, BC (ISN) – University of Victoria Women’s Basketball Coach Dani Sinclair and current players Jenna Bugiardini, Marissa Dheensaw, Jasmine de Vries and Paige Thomson were all on hand Wednesday afternoon, as Vikes Athletics and Recreation unveiled a new Walk of Excellence exhibit that features medals, jerseys, photographs and more, highlighting the championship tradition of the Vikes women’s basketball program.
Coach Sinclair and her players hope to add some of their own memorabilia to the display in early March, as they, and the CARSA Performance Gym, will play host to the 2017 U Sports Women’s National Basketball Championships, March 9-12.
Also on hand for today’s unveiling were Clint Hamilton, Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation, and decorated alumni Luanne Krawetz (Hebb) and Lindsay Brooke.
Krawetz and Brooke, both of whom won national championships with the program, spoke about their experience with the Vikes and the importance of the upcoming national championship. Krawetz helped lead the Vikes to three consecutive CIAU Championship titles between 1979 and 1982 while Brooke was the CIAU Championship MVP on both the 1998 and 2000 championship teams.
“I look at my five years here most fondly,” said Krawetz, “because the lessons I learned on that basketball court, including our trips to finals, were instrumental in shaping what I have done in my life, both in my career as a teacher and in life in general. I am looking forward to being part of the group bringing Nationals back to UVic and to touching base again with my fellow alumnae and seeing how they have applied those lessons to their lives as well.”
Brooke, who went to the finals in all five of her years at UVic, spoke of how great the local exposure will be. “I remember the last time UVic hosted, I was in Grade 10 and thinking what a great opportunity I have to be part of this. It will be the same this time around for local players and Island players, who dream of playing here. It will be a great opportunity to showcase our sport and to showcase this great facility.”
Current Vikes forward Bugiardini, in her fifth and final year at UVic, hopes to add her name to that list of Vikes champions and is excited to be participating in this year’s event. “This is the peak, this is what we work for, year in year out, to make it to Nationals where anything can happen. Knowing we have this opportunity guaranteed this season makes us work even harder. We want to earn our spot here. The excitement around Nationals is just insane. Everyone is bringing their families out for it and of course bringing together the best in women’s basketball is huge and it’s going to be so exciting.”
Asked whether she or her team could lose focus on the regular season, knowing that they had a spot reserved in the finals, Bugiardini emphasised that this was not the case. “For me, being in my fifth year, I know that every single game I play could be my last. So I play every single game with the mindset that I am going to be the best I can be and to strive to be better each time. I think my teammates share some of that attitude and I think that drives us forward to compete hard in every game.”
“Our goal too, as a team, is to work every day to be better than the last,” added Bugiardini, “so for us, we really have not planned to “peak” now (for regular season) or to “peak” later at Nationals. If we are working hard to get better every single day, then that concept really does not come into play. We know that we will be best at Nationals because we are playing until Nationals. We work every day to get better and better and that is the mindset we carry forward.”
The U Sports Women’s Final 8 Championships kick off on March 9 at 12 Noon with the first of four quarter-final games, with the Vikes playing in the final game of the day at 8:00 pm. Action continues on March 10 with a pair of consolation semi-finals at 6:00 and 8:00 pm, while the main semi-finals happen Saturday March 11 at 2:00 and 4:00 pm, followed by the consolation final at 7:00 pm. On Sunday March 12, the tournament concludes with the Bronze medal game at 10:00 am followed by the Championship at 1:00 pm.
Both Saturday’s semi-final match-ups and the Sunday final will be broadcast across the Sportsnet network.
Ticket packages were also announced Wednesday and are priced so as to be affordable to both the University and local community, who are expected to come out in droves to support all the teams.
Tournament Passes, which include all 4 days and 11 games, begin at just $25 dollars (plus service charges) and include:
Adult Floor Seat (Courtside) – $75
Adult Blue Seat (Sides) – $55
Adult Yellow Seat (Ends) – $45
Senior/Student/Alumni Blue or Yellow Seat – $35
Child (Age 3-16) Blue or Yellow Seat -$25
Family Pass (2 Adults / 2 Children) – Blue Seat – $90
Tournament passes are available at govikesgo.com/nationals and come with a 25% discount if purchased before February 15 as part of the Vikes Nation Fan Pack promotion, which also includes a noise-maker, face paint and a Vikes Nation t-shirt for a limited time. Single session ticket sales will open on March 1.