On March 5, history was made for Kwantlen’s athletic department after two Eagles secured the school’s first national banner.
Ashley Jang was half of the mixed doubles badminton team that came back from Sackville, New Brunswick with the gold medal, and she had to go through a lot of pain so Kwantlen could raise their third banner in two years.
“Before every match, I spent an hour warming up and re-taping my knee and putting on a lot of lotion and ice. I tried my best to play as hard as I could, but I was really restricted,” Jang said.
The second-year biology student hurt her knee during the provincial championships, where Jang and her teammate, Jensen Ly, finished in second place.
The national championship took place two weeks after the provincials, and it gave Jang little time to prepare.
“I hadn’t played any real games since provincials, so I was really scared about my knee because I didn’t think that I would be able to play without injuring it,” Jang said. “It would hurt to straighten my leg. The next week I went to a lot of physiotherapy and I went to a Chinese doctor so I would heal faster.”
The injury haunted her for the entire two weeks, and she still had to deal with it in Sackville.
“When I would do really fast movements, I would get sharp pains in my knee. I taped my knee really tight so it would be secure in one position,” Jang said.
Jang found that her knee was causing her mobility problems, and it led to Kwantlen losing its first match to the pair representing St. Clair College, Johnny Tran and Julie Schell.
But after the defeat, Jang decided she wouldn’t let the pain get the best of her.
“I was really close to giving up, but after we lost that match, I thought that I would try my best in the next game because I didn’t care anymore. I wanted to win the banner for Kwantlen,” Jang said.
The Richmond native and her teammate were set to play their fellow B.C. team in the next match. Jenny Aronson and Bryan Cassels, representing Vancouver Island University, stole the gold from Jang and Ly at the provincials.
However, the outcome of this match was different as Kwantlen defeated the BCCAA badminton mixed doubles champions in straight sets. It was at that point when Jang really thought they could go all the way.
“After that [win], I was pretty confident that we had a really good chance at winning,” Jang said.
The Kwantlen duo won their next four games to set up the championship final against the tournament favourites from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Sinead Cheah and Joey Vandervet.
The Eagles pair beat NAIT in straight sets, and won the last set by a nine-point margin.
“I felt really happy and relieved. Jensen and I really went through a lot of difficult times, like provincials. He basically had to play singles against everyone, and I was in so much pain just standing there,” Jang said. “I went through a lot of pain just so we could get to nationals and hopefully win. I’m really happy that it all paid off.”
After a disappointing 2009-’10 season, the Kwantlen Eagles baseball program has folded this season.
“The baseball program operated as a club team, therefore it was a self-sustaining program. Although the university provided funds to assist the team in completing its final year, the club was unable to sustain itself financially,” athletics director Elise Le Brun wrote in an email.
The difference between a club team and a varsity team — the basketball and soccer teams are varsity teams — is funding. The baseball team was essentially paying its own way to play. While Kwantlen did contribute some funds to assist the team, it far less than the funding received by Kwantlen’s basketball program.
“The first year I was there, we got a little bit [of funding] and then the second we got even less. It was ridiculous. We almost couldn’t even finish our season the second year because we had no money,” said last season’s catcher Colton Mace.
The program also suffered as a club team in its recruitment of players and the team had just 15 players on its roster last season.
“You get no money, no nothing. You have to pay money out. You’re not going to get a lot of people playing that way,” said Mace.
With plenty of other Premier-level baseball teams, such as the Langley Blaze, in the Lower Mainlaind it was hard to convince athletes to come to Kwantlen.
While both the Eagles and Blaze are self-funded organizations, since 2001, the Blaze have had 26 players drafted by Major League teams. The Eagles have had just two: shortstop Lee Darracott and pitcher Chirs Lemay, both in 2004.
The Eagles did have some success in the early years of the program, including a Canadian College Baseball Conference Championship in 2003, but funding and recruitment difficulties eventually caught up with the team last season. They finished the ’09-’10 season with a 4-20 record and didn’t have a single player hit better than .275 for the season.
Le Brun wrote that “the club was unable to sustain itself financially. Therefore, the club administration made the decision to discontinue its support of the team in April 2010.”
Mace saw the decision a little differently.
“Rob [Webster], the coach, was supposed to get paid but because the school didn’t support it he had to get another job and he just didn’t have time for it. And there were no more guys that wanted to play.”
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After an unfortunate road trip to Prince George, the Kwantlen Eagles’ men’s team returned home to face Quest University’s Kermodes on Friday, Feb. 4, a team they’d never lost to at home. Coming into the game the Eagles had lost seven straight, bringing their record to 1-11 for the season.
The 2010-’11 basketball season will be the last for Bernie Love, the head coach of Kwantlen’s men’s team, who announced his resignation last week.
Love, who has coached the team for nine of the past 12 years, said his reasons for leaving were personal, and had nothing to do with the team’s poor record: He is moving to Trail to be closer to family.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. If I was not moving back there, then I would be back,” he said, explaining he had made up his mind several weeks ago.
When Love broke the news to his team, he was met with an “expressionless” response.
“They’re a bit of a quieter group. Not a lot of them said anything,” he said. “Maybe when the season’s done, then the goodbyes will come.
“I think that the last Saturday night will probably be a little bit tough.”
According to guard Doug Meyers, the silent reaction on the team’s part may have been for less-obvious reasons.
“There’s definitely a player-coach tension. It may not show, it may not come out in front of the team, but guys talk: It’s just the nature of the game,” said the second-year student.
“The problem here that I have most with Bernie is there’s a lack of accountability and perceived caring on his part and it leads to the team.
“Things that come from the coach definitely effect what goes on on the floor. I’m not going to say that it’s 100 per cent the coach, that it’s 100 per cent the players, it’s definitely a combination.”
The Eagles have suffered through nothing but losses since late November, a combination of poor shots and missing links on the players’ part; a lack of accountability and cancelled practices on the coach’s, according to Meyers.
He said that while the Love gave him “a lot of confidence” to be able to grow as a player and reach his potential, he didn’t follow through with his high expectations for the team.
“Talk the talk, walk the walk. In my opinion, Bernie’s a talker. It sucks to say, I haven’t seen a lot of walking,” he said.
On a personal level, Meyers went through what the team as a whole is struggling with.
When he was in Grade 9, he knew he loved the game; he also recognized that he “sucked.” But he confronted his coach with the goal in mind to be the team’s star by Grade 12. He was playing on the provincial team by the end of high school.
“I understand what it takes to get to that level [and] I just haven’t seen it here,” Meyers said.
Despite the effects of the coach’s “negative undertones” on the team, according to Meyers, Love is able to acknowledge part of the tension and focus on the positive.
“There’s wins and there’s losses,” Love said. “Obviously we’d like to be doing a lot better than we are… I don’t call this a waste of a year at all.”
The Kwantlen women’s soccer team has come back from the CCAA national championships without a medal.
The Eagles finished fifth in the six-team tournament after losing 3-2 to the hosts, NAIT, in extra time and then losing 2-1 to Humber the following day.
Despite finishing the regular season seven points behind the UBC Okanagan Heat, the team still managed to win the provincials, after they beat Langara 2-0 in the final and went through the tournament without conceding a goal.
The Eagles claimed a berth in the national championships by winning the provincial tournament they hosted.
The club picked up a bronze medal in the national tournament last year, and was looking to build on that with their new head coach, Gordon Smith.
Smith and his team arrived on the field a day early to scout NAIT, who teed off against Humber, knowing that his team would have to win all of their matches if they wanted the championship.
“We had scouted NAIT the day before, and one of their players scored off of a great free kick. We were aware of that and she did the exact same thing against us. That was a bit disappointing. But the girls fought back really hard,” said the head coach.
The following day, the women had to play Humber, but fell short and lost 2-1.
With two losses on the board, Smith’s team would have to play for fifth place.
They beat Holland in their last match and finished fifth in Edmonton.
Forward Shanay Sangha was named on the tournament all-star team, scoring twice in Kwantlen’s three matches.
Smith believes that his first year in charge is a base which he can expand on for next season.
“Having not seen the players before, and it being my first year, it took a while to get to know their strengths and where they best fit on the field. I think going into next year, I will be ahead of the game in terms of playing them in the right spots and using their abilities better.”
The women’s team will raise their provincial banner in the gym at Surrey Campus before the women’s basketball team tips off against Camosun Chargers on Friday, Nov. 26.
Josh Saggau and Lucas Meneses-Skoda are broadcasting live from the Kwantlen Eagles basketball game on Friday, Nov. 26. If the feed isn’t available here, go to our UStream feed.
Students filled the Surrey campus gym ducking, diving and dodging their way to dodgeball fame on Friday night.
With more than 15 teams participating, Kwantlen’s Movember dodgeball tournament was unquestionably a huge success for the KSA and Kwantlen Recreation, who collaborated to host the event.
“Our goal initially, because we’ve never done one, was if we got eight to 10 teams we would have been happy and we got 15. We also got a lot of singles who came in and tried to pick up teams. It definitely exceeded our expectations,” said Eddie Lee, who coordinated the event.
“It’s one of those things that snowballs. You do as much as you can and some things are going to work and some things aren’t and you kind of just have to roll with it. Not everything you do or plan is going to work out the way you anticipated. This is one of those successes that hopefully we can build on.”
The KSA has not always had a lot of success promoting events — the Oct. 2 street hockey tournament was cancelled due to lack of interest — but the dodgeball tournament was an unbridled success.
“It was a lot of fun. We’re just happy to come out and play and support a cause,” said Amy Basi, winner of best female moustache.
Perhaps the best part of the day was that everyone was there for more than just dodgeball. Exact numbers for the fundraiser, for cancer research, will take some time to add up but organizers seemed happy with the donations made by students.
“We all knew it was for Movember, and we just came back from nationals, so we all said, ‘Let’s do this and see if we can raise some money,’ so that’s what we all came out for,” said Courtney McCulloch, who captained her team to victory in the championship.
The win for McCulloch’s team was no small victor,y either. Competition was fierce through round robin play and intensified once the knockout round began.
“It was a tough run. Eventually our team decided to settle down and took it for the win,” said McCulloch.
What has to be exciting for the KSA is the enthusiasm that the event brought. The Surrey gym was filled with participants and spectators and the crowd really seemed to be enjoying the event.
The KSA’s marketing coordinator, Nathan Griffiths, said they were excited for future events after the success of the dodgeball tournament and that it was good to see Kwantlen developing that university spirit. He also said that after interest shown in the event this year they could probably have 10 more teams next year.
The Kwantlen Eagles qualified for the BCCAA final after winning their previous matches against Quest University and Vancouver Island University.
The women’s team were set to play local rivals Langara for the provincial title with the winner advancing to nationals.
Langara beat Thompson Rivers University and UBC Okanagan before playing the Eagles in the final.
Despite only picking up a single point this season, Kwantlen men’s soccer coach, Ajit Braich, says that there are a lot of positives his team can take away after his first year in charge.
The Eagles finished at the bottom of their division with a -34 goal difference. But Braich, who has spent over 25 years coaching professionally, has his eyes and mind on the future.
“It was a difficult season. I didn’t realize we’d lose by as many goals, but we are such a young team. However, with the signs that we left on the field, with other schools, the coaching staff and the athletic directors, is that we are on the right road and we are trying to build a program over two or three years,” said Braich.
With majority of the roster consisting of first-year students, the men’s team was labelled inexperienced. The average age of the team was just over 19 years, and the team was in the midst of a shift.
“It was just a matter of these young players growing up from a youth mentality to an adult mentality player-wise. That was the biggest thing. I think every game they got better and went further with that transition,” said Braich.
However, the head coach is scouting for some experience to add some depth into his squad.
“We’re looking to recruit better players and experienced players out there who aren’t getting playing time with other schools. I’m hoping we’ve painted a picture were people want to come to Kwantlen. That was my intent. We want to bring some players back, but we don’t want to stop recruiting,” said Braich.
The main cause of concern this season was the Eagles back line, which conceded 51 goals over the 12-game season.
“We are going to definitely recruit two or three defenders. That was one of our drawbacks. We didn’t have defenders in depth. So I had to stick with what I had. That is a priority,” said Braich.
With the 2010 BCCAA Provincial Championship being hosted by Kwantlen, the men’s coach said it was a shame they couldn’t make the cut.
“They could have showcased their abilities in front of a home crowd. So that was disappointing, knowing that we were at home. But having said that, it was almost a brand new year for us. We had very little to build on from last year,” said Braich.
“The primary goal now is to start looking to get those Ws by hard work and not just ability. It’s not just ability that will get those. We’ve got to learn how to grind results or keep results and next year’s goal could be that we make the provincials.”