Many Ooks teams have qualified for provincials in the 2019 season. Coaches and players share their strategies to make sure they’re in the running.
Entering the new year in 2nd place, the Men’s Hockey team plans to carry the momentum from 2018 throughout the rest of the spring.
Team Captain, Colton Waltz says translating good habits from practices to games will give the team a good chance of maintaining their spot in the standings going into playoffs.
The Ooks moved into a hotly-contested first place after the team kicked off 2019 with two wins against Red Deer College.
“In the last few years, we’ve played our best hockey at the wrong time of the year, so we’re hoping to play better when it counts in February and March,” said Head Coach, Tim Fragle.
– Callen Lehman
Nearly half of the Women’s Hockey team is made up of first-year players. Despite this, the team was able to finish 2018 first in the league.
“We are a resilient group. Our few key veterans have carried over a lot of experience that has trickled down to our new players,” said Stef Thomson, Head Coach of the team.
Even though the team is performing well in the regular season, players and coaches are bracing for tough competition in the provincial tournament.
“It’s definitely not going to be easy… It’s a tough challenge. We need to put in work, practice hard and continue to take it game by game,” said Cass Lyttle, a second-year forward.
– Suksham Shan
The Ooks’ Men’s Volleyball team finished the first half of the season in second place and are looking to carry that momentum throughout the rest of the year. Doug Anton, Head Coach of the Men’s Volleyball team, says usually a team goes one of two ways: either they improve or sort of disappear.
“I think we have the potential to defeat any team,” said Anton.
Devon Klein, who plays left side, said the Christmas break was a great time to rest after the first half of the season. NAIT is guaranteed a spot in the provincials competition because they are hosting the ACAC Men’s Volleyball Championship. How they finish in the tournament and if they progress to the CCAA Nationals will entirely depend on their provincial performance.
“The team’s just got to compete hard, play every point like it’s the last,” said Klein.
– Brandon MacPherson
The Women’s basketball team needs to place in the top-three spots in their division if they want to move onto provincials. With that in mind, both players and coaches are firmly intent on remaining competitive. The players are feeling confident going into the second half and players have been able to build good relationships with each other.
“Our biggest asset this season is the chemistry we have together. We have built up a trust in one another,” said Mackenzie Emmerson, a first-year forward.
Sydney Hurlburt and Leah Vandenboogaard lead the team in points per game, but the team is finding that this may not be enough.
“The other teams know who our big players are, so it is important we find new ways to score. Others will need to step up this half,” said Emmerson.
The team is feeling optimistic and has a game plan for the provincial stretch.
“If we play tough, and we play together, we’re in it,” said Head Coach, Todd Warnick.
– Evan Bowden
The NAIT Men’s Basketball team is feeling confident going into the second half of the season. Multiple teams, including NAIT, are in close competition for a spot in the provincials. Only the top 4 teams in the North Division will advance.
“We need to improve our defence… Even though we have one of the best defences, field goals against, we lapse mentally at times,” said Head Coach, Mike Connolly.
The team swept the King’s University in their first week back, starting the winter term with authority. Regardless, the team is still focussed on keeping a level head.
“If we can focus on each practice, take each game one at a time… that will be a big focus for us this semester,” said Keilan Dobish, a 3rd-year guard.
The Men’s Basketball team came in 2nd place in the North Division last year and placed 4th in the provincial tournament.
– Zak Kastendieck