VICTORIA – In April 2017, former University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey player Carmen (Kirkness) Asche passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Field Hockey alumni gathered together to drive the creation of an endowed award in her honour and first years and Oak Bay Secondary graduates Judy Cristante and Cara Butler are the recipients for 2019.
The endowed award annually offers support to current Vikes field hockey athletes who exemplify the qualities that Carmen possessed – courage, humility, heart, hard work and loyalty.
This year head coach Lynne Beecroft decided to split the $2000 award between Cristante and Butler, both who had existing strong ties before coming to the university. Cristante’s mother, Kolette, was a former Vikes field hockey player and national champion, while Butler’s sister, Elise, played five seasons for the Vikes women’s soccer program and both her parents were former Vikes cross country and track athletes.
The multi-sport athleticism of both Cristante and Butler was evident through their high school years but it was field hockey that they landed on for their post-secondary careers. The pair were both a part of multiple national championship medal-winning teams for Team BC, while they both played pivotal minutes as rookies for the 2018 Vikes team that won the program’s first national title since 2008. This year the Vikes were also named Canada West champions for the 18th time in program history and third time in the last six years. Both have established themselves in positions on the field with Cristante in the back field and Butler in the center of midfield.
Carmen Kirkness’ parents were in Victoria when the inaugural award was presented in 2018 to now second-year Anna Mollenhauer.
“Cara had a 96 per cent average coming out of high school and has many of the wonderful qualities that Carmen possessed,” wrote Beecroft to Carmen’s parents, Bill and Stephanie, to tell them about this year’s recipients. “Cara is kind, humble and hard working.”
“Judy also possesses many of the qualities that were inherent in Carmen like humility, work ethic, loyalty to her teammates, courageous (she always played whether in pain or not), and she has the biggest heart of anyone on the team. They are both worthy recipients of Carmen’s Award.”
Kirkness was a two-time CIAU national champion with the then Vikettes field hockey program and her spirit touched many people throughout her 1986-90 career at UVic. Together with the help of the University of Victoria and the Kirkness family, the Vikes women’s field hockey alumni were able to drive the creation of the ‘Carmen Kirkness Award’ and raise over $38,000 that was then matched, to total over $80,000.