By Orrin Farries
The ACAC regular season draws to a close for NAIT’s team sports and the Ooks will look to have a vigorous foray into the post-season. May they screech into battle and crush their opponents for the pride of our nest- with all due respect.
The opening weekend of provincial sports was the ACAC badminton provincials that were hosted at NAIT Feb. 22-23 . The Ooks captured the team title Saturday afternoon, unseating the incumbent team champions Concordia Thunder. This marks 9 team championships in 10 years for the NAIT Ooks wing of badminton. Whatever coach Sinead Cheah is doing is working.
NAIT’s own Roymond Kim, 2019-2020 ACAC male player of the year, took home gold in men’s singles. Ooks power duo of Smit Patel and Tyler Walsh captured gold in men’s doubles. Ooks claimed gold and silver in the mixed doubles event, Alex Fung and Eyota Kwan the champs, and Luc Nguyen and Connie Juang the runners up. Samanth Hsu and Ivy Ung captured bronze in women’s doubles. All together the weekend marked a decisive claim on Alberta’s badminton supremacy for Cheah’s badminton program.
Our other tournament sport team, Ooks curling, have finished off their regular season with a stripe of consistency, men’s, women’s and mixed teams finished with 8 wins each, securing their place in the provincial tournament held this year in Red Deer Feb. 28-Mar. 1.
Men’s and women’s volleyball have both punched their ticket into the playoffs. The men were a staggering force to behold this year, a record of 20-4 good for first in the ACAC North division. They will look to gratify head coach Greg Gulash’s first year at the helm with their performance in Lethbridge at the ACAC men’s volleyball provincials Feb. 27-29.
The women’s volleyball team found their footing later in the season, clinching the fourth and final playoff spot in the ACAC North division. They will look to leap the standing into National contention at the ACAC women’s volleyball provincials hosted in Medicine Hat Feb. 27-29.
On the other side of the ball, men’s and women’s basketball have their tickets to the big dance Mar. 5-7 hosted at Augustana and Medicine Hat, respectively. The men will look to complete a season long sweep of The King’s University Eagles to close out their season. Both teams have exhibited stretches of brilliant play on the court. They are going to have to lean into their identity as a team, and sustain through the trials that beset the intense playoff atmosphere.
Our ice hockey teams are also heating up as the post-season approaches. The men’s hockey team boasts an ACAC best record of 23-3 heading into their final weekend of regular season play against their familiar foes MacEwan University Griffins. Our women’s team has a record of 13-11 going into the playoffs, where they will likely meet with the RDC Queens who they drew their final weekend of play against, including a double overtime thriller the Ooks narrowly dropped.
As is generally the case with NAIT’s lineal history of success in ACAC Hockey, the March playoffs should see the best come out of both of our hockey teams, and their mettle will be known.
To all of our Ook athletes, thank you for your dedication to your sport, your diligent abode to your coaches, and the integrity with which you represent our school. As a post-secondary institute, we are blessed to have strength across our many sporting disciplines. It is an exciting time to be a fan of the Ooks. Best of luck to all of our athletes in this time of ultimate competition. If you see an Ook in the hallways, be sure to give them well-wishes so we can send them off to playoffs with our recognition and support.