VICTORIA – The University of Victoria Vikes varsity programs are wrapping up the majority of their seasons as the annual Celebration of Champions and UVic Sports Hall of Fame event draws closer. Earlier today, Mar. 19, the Robert T. Wallace Shield for female rookies of the year were announced.
The Male Rookies of the Year nominees for 2017-18 include rugby stand out Jackson Matthews, Canada West cross country Rookie of the Year Brandon Vail and field hockey defender and starter Jonathan Walters-Shumka.
Nominee: Jackson Matthews, Men’s Rugby – Beaconsfield, Que. (Business)
Playing with a maturity well beyond his years, rookie Jackson Matthews has been a mainstay on the University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby team since the moment he arrived on campus. Originally from Beaconsfield, QC, Matthews not only earned his way onto the varsity team but is also the team’s number one choice at 8-man, a highly-demanding position that is usually played by a senior athlete.
A member of the national U19 & U20 Canadian teams, Matthews was a standout player on the Vikes team that won silver at the Canadian University National Championships, being named MVP of the game that saw the Vikes defeat UPEI by a score of 95-0. Dealing with the rigours of an eight month season, Matthews has played a key role in a turnaround that has seen the Vikes win four of their last five games.
Nominee: Brandon Vail, Men’s Cross Country – Edmonton, Alta. (Engineering)
Brandon Vail accomplished just about everything he possibly could during an extremely successful first year with the University of Victoria Vikes men’s cross country team.
An Engineering major, Vail was the top Vikes finisher at the 2017 U SPORTS Cross Country National Championships on home soil at Beacon Hill Park. Crossing the line in a time of 32:01.79, Vail finished 21st overall in the nation while his fifth-place finish among Canada West runners, earned him a nod as a Canada West First Team All-Star.
Along with the conference all-star spot, Vail who is originally from Edmonton, AB, was also the Canada West Rookie of the Year and posted the second-best time of any rookie in the nation. Outside of his amazing run at nationals, Vail was the 2017 B.C. Junior Cross Country Champion, the top Vikes finisher at the provincial championships, and also qualified for the Canadian Junior Men’s Team to race at the Pan American Cup in El, Salvador.
Nominee: Jonathan Walters-Shumka, Men’s Field Hockey – Victoria, B.C. (Science)
Starting all 16 games that the University of Victoria Vikes men’s field hockey team have played in the Vancouver Men’s Field Hockey League in 2017-18, Jonathan Walters-Shumka has been one of the top players on the team in just his first year at the university level.
A Science major, Walters-Shumka has been forced to adapt to not only a new level of play, but also a new position. The native of Victoria, B.C. has transitioned into the team’s central defender this season, rising to the challenge of shutting down both current and former Canadian National team players in the highly-competitive league. Certain to be a fixture on the Vikes for years to come, Walters-Shumka has yet to miss a practice this season as he displays leadership qualities well-beyond his young age.
Female Rookies of the Year were announced earlier in the day on Mar. 19. The Robert T. Wallace Shield for Male and Female Rookies of the Year will be presented on Apr. 4.