Following a promising 13-7 regular season, the men’s basketball team finished sixth in the ACAC after losing 83 to 81 in the fifth-place game against the Lakeland Rustlers. With the additions of guards Canadian Junior Basketball League (CJBL) Second Team All-Star Tayshon Potoma, and MVP of the YEG showcase tournament Austin Walter, the men’s team will receive some reinforcements for the upcoming season.
It was a tough year for the 2022 CCAA Women’s basketball champions. They came into the year as the youngest team in the conference. The roster was composed of first and second-year players, which may have been their downfall—the team finished 5-15. With another season under their belt, expect this team to take a step forward.
The Ooks men’s soccer team came close to winning their 12th ACAC title, but despite their remarkable 11-0-1 season, they took home silver after losing the gold medal game to the SAIT Trojans in double overtime. With reigning ACAC Player of the Year Rodane Cato and ACAC Coach of the Year Jeff Paulus returning for another season, the men’s team should be a contender to finish first in the North Division for the fifth consecutive time.
Although the women’s team has won seven of the last 11 ACAC Championships, 2022-2023 ended with a loss to the Lethbridge Kodiaks in the bronze medal game. With seven rookies on the roster last year, this women’s team gained some much-needed experience after last season’s playoff run. The new head coach, Dhee Ghovender, may look to shake things up.
The Ook’s volleyball teams have lots of momentum to build off from last year. After the women’s team doubled their win total from the year prior, the men’s team reached the semi-finals before being knocked out by the eventual ACAC Champions, Briercrest Clippers. Going into this season, the men’s team will be without head coach Jordan Taylor as he leaves the Ooks after serving as head coach for the past two seasons.
Before Taylor’s departure, the Ooks recruited what has been called a “historic recruiting class” by the Ooks athletics page, with members of the New Zealand National Team Josh Watson and Finn Howard headlining the new players set to join the program this fall.
After both the men and women’s teams lost in the ACAC Championship to Red Deer Polytechnic, both teams took home silver to finish off an incredible season.
Coming off their 17th ACAC title, the men’s team came up just short of repeating as champions, with their loss to Red Deer in three games. This year the Ooks will be without First Team All-Conference forward Dylan Stewart after he graduated last spring. Stewart led the team in points with 29 in 2022-2023.
The women’s team also impressed last season, finishing at the top of the league for the first time since 2018. The team’s success did not go unnoticed; coach Brendan Jensen was named ACAC Women’s Hockey Coach of the Year. With forward Cass Lyttle being the only player lost to graduation, the Ooks will have plenty of experienced players on their roster to make a run for their fourth ACAC title.
Last year, five Ooks made the trip to the CCAA National Championship. Sylvie Bibeau and Noel Do secured the bronze medal in Nova Scotia. With three returning ACAC All-Conference players, they are hoping for another high-level performance year.
The women’s team struggled with a 3-7 record between the fall and winter regionals, ultimately missing the playoffs. However, the mixed and men’s curling team captured silver and bronze in the ACAC Championship. With 14 of the 16 curlers from last year’s roster in their third year or earlier, the experience they gained last season should help them in 2023-2024.
Golf & cross country
NAIT is welcoming the return of golf and cross country for the 2023-2024 ACAC season after a lengthy absence. The golf and cross country teams will make their return to the sport schedule this fall. Both teams bring an abundance of past success–they won 36 combined ACAC titles before folding in 2014.
With teams new and old ready to start the year, it is shaping up to be a thrilling ride from start to finish.
Cover photo by NAIT Athletics