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.”
Both of the Kwantlen soccer teams played their final home games of the season, against the Capilano Blues, on Oct. 17 at Newton Athletic Park.
Just like last year, the men’s team couldn’t wait for a dreadful season to end, while the women’s team was set to play in the provincial championships, which are being co-hosted between Kwantlen, Capilano and Langara.
Going into the match, the women hadn’t lost in three games, and were hoping to extend that run.
They were also sitting in second place; four points behind UBCO.
On the other hand, the men’s team was struggling before the match, only picking up one point so far this season.
They had only scored seven goals in nine matches going into this encounter with Capilano, including a streak where the team went over 450 minutes without scoring.
The Kwantlen women’s soccer team has signed four new recruits for next season’s team.
Hilary Andow, Melina Gomez, Tiffany O’Krane and Norma Sheane have agreed to play for the Eagles in the 2010-’11 season.
Andow went to R.C. Palmer Secondary in Richmond, where she played midfield and forward for the Griffins. She won the school’s Top Athlete award in Grades 8, 10, 11 and 12. She already has two years of collegiate soccer under her belt, and head coach Vladimir Samozvanov expects her to be one of the team leaders in the coming season.
Gomez is Kwantlen’s newest goalie and she has provincial and national soccer experience. She also won Athlete of the Year in 2007 at her high school, Carson Graham in Vancouver.
O’Krane is a midfielder/defenseman from Fleetwood Park Secondary in Surrey, where she won Athlete of the Year and MVP on her soccer team Grades 8 through 11.
Sheane is no new face to Samozvanov. He’s coached the defensive player in the past and is excited to have her join the Eagles this year. She was a member of the U18 Burnaby United, which was a 2009 national finalist; the U17 provincial championship team; and the U17 Las Vegas Tournament champions team in 2008.
Samozvanov feels that the new players will add to the squad’s style of play.
“The main goal in recruiting for me was to replace graduated players and add new dimension to the team’s play,” he said. “The [overall] goal is to build a strong team, which we were able to do for the past two years, and we want to keep the momentum going.”
Kwantlen’s 2009-’10 team won the school’s first-ever provincial title and the first national medal, with a third place finish at the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association national tournament in Ontario.
New fitness and recreation classes are springing up across Kwantlen campuses this year as part of an initiative to get more students physically fit.
Faculty and the Kwantlen Student Association are trying to get the word out about yoga, belly dancing and hip-hop classes beginning this fall, while they brainstorm ideas for intramural sports, other classes and clubs.
Classes already introduced are hatha yoga (a gentle posture and breathing exercise class), power yoga (a cardio- and strength-intensive exercise class), belly dancing and hip-hop dancing.
Hatha yoga was offered last year and saw a moderate response from students. But small registration numbers are complicating the introduction of the new classes. Though hatha yoga and power yoga had enough registration to start as scheduled in September, the dance classes were delayed for several weeks.
Recreation coordinator John Stewart said getting students interested has been difficult, something he attributes to the lack of awareness about recreation opportunities at Kwantlen.
â€œYou have to build a reputation, and once you get that, you get people coming to you to look for recreation programs. Itâ€™ll take some time.â€
The classes, coming intramurals and clubs are being pushed by the faculty and the KSA to promote mind-and-body health.
â€œIf theyâ€™re healthy and theyâ€™re exercising, their mind is healthy and theyâ€™ll do better in school,â€ Stewart said. â€œItâ€™s really important to keep yourself active. You think better and you think more clearly.â€
Elmo Lara, a KSA coordinator for the Student Health Improvement Program, is trying to raise awareness about a new running club that is being formed. He works to develop programs that will help students understand the connection between fitness and study success.
â€œIf theyâ€™re not physically fit, their brain wonâ€™t be working as it should,â€ he said.
When asked about the relevance of the dance and yoga classes to Kwantlen students, Stewart laughed and said â€œthey were just trying to offer something different. With the hip-hop, they were really trying to focus on something students might be interested in because itâ€™s typically a younger style of [dance].â€
The classes also reflect a gender discrepancy, which Stewart attributed to registration. Females register more frequently than males, he said, but intramural sports are generally male-driven.
Stewart is organizing several recreation classes and intramurals for introduction next semester. Ideas so far include a boot camp, kettlebells and a morning yoga session. Suggestions are welcome; contact John Stewart at (604) 599-2307.
The Kwantlen womenâ€™s basketball program tips off its 2009-10 season Thursday, Oct 1, when they host the 10th annual Kwantlen Eagles Basketball Tournament.
All games in the three-day event will be played at the gymnasium on Kwantlenâ€™s Surrey campus. This pre-season tournament is drawing teams from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Squamish who are all looking to prepare for the coming British Columbia Athletics Association (BCAA) season, which gets going in early-November.
â€œExpectations are quite high this year,â€ said Kwantlen Eagles coach Gary Pawluk. The second-year coach expects his team will be competitive, but will be in tough to unseat last years defending BCAA league champions from Victoria, the Camosun Chargers.
This years Eagles have eight players returning from last year’s squad, as well as one fifth-year pick-up. Their experience is the reason Pawluk is so optimistic about the season.
The Eagles tournament schedule will see them play three games in three days beginning Oct 1, with a game against the Douglas Royals. They will then play the Capilano Blues and Langara Falcons over the next two days.
â€œItâ€™s all about preparing for season play,â€ said Pawluk. â€œWe want to try to play all the teams in our league before it starts.â€
There will be no final game to determine a winner in this tournament. The format sees all teams play three games and a champion determined based on points for and against. The team with the biggest positive differential in this category will take home the trophy.
Tickets for the tournament will be of minimal cost, said Pawluk, who was unsure of exact ticket prices. There will be reduced ticket prices available for Kwantlen students and tickets will be available at the door.
As the weather warms and the fields dry, the start of baseball season nears for the Kwantlen Eagles. Jessica Rolli provides a words-and-pictures look at this year’s team.
With baseball season approaching, the Kwantlen Eagles are taking steps to ensure a successful season, both on the field and in the stands.
Head coach Rob Webster is hoping to make the games at their home field at Macleod Park in Langley more of an event, and working to create an atmosphere that people will look forward to attending.
â€œGame days will be a blast. The score board will be up and going, weâ€™ll have an announcer for in between innings, and when the players come up to bat, theyâ€™ll have their own music,â€ said Webster.
Webster is also working with the township of Langley to, one day, have a beer garden at the games, and a game-day events coordinator who is planning different activities for the fans.
â€œHopefully, weâ€™ll get to a point where people will say, â€˜Hey I got nothing to do, letâ€™s go check out the Kwantlen game,â€™â€ said Webster.
The team will put on fundraising events that will also be aimed at engaging the community. A pub night has just been approved and is in the works, as well as a raffle where the first prize will be a trip for two to New York to see a Yankees games.
Although a strong fan base is priceless for any sports team, Webster and the team have been working hard to ensure they play a good game for anyone who does come out to watch.
They practice six times a week and are constantly on the look-out for skilled players.
â€œThereâ€™s a ton of talent that has come out of here that have gone on to the big leagues,â€ said Webster, motioning to the posters laced around the diamond, printed with names and MLB logos.
One of the names is Brett Lawrie, who became the highest drafted Canadian, at the young age of 18 last year.
Kwantlenâ€™s recent upgrade to a polytechnic university has helped entice some of the local talent to stick around and play for the Eagles.
â€œNow I can draw from players who want to take a trade and I can offer a solid four-year degree to prospective players,â€ said Webster.
The team’s first regular season game will be a double-header against Vancouver Island University on March 28. An up-to-date schedule of their pre-season games is available online.
Reporters Rachelle Ashe and Alexander Nkrumah spent part of their weekend watching Kwantlen’s best badminton players face-off against collegiate competition from through the weekend. The slideshow below captures some of the action; their coverage is here.
In late October, the Kwantlen Eagles women’s soccer team made university history, making it to the provincial playoffs for the first time and then winning bronze in the toughly-fought finals. Jessica Rolli, who covered the women through the season, provides a photographic look back at some of the play that led to the team’s success.
The whir of birdies and squeaking shoes echoed through Capilano University’s gymnasium Saturday afternoon, as local universities badminton teams swung-it-out during the first rounds of a two-day tournament.
Peter Hawn and Tony Lee of Kwantlen defeated Langara’s Terrence Tung and Danny Luu in the men’s double to clinch a spot in the finals which begin Sunday at Capilano University.
“We’re doing pretty good as a team,” said Lee. “We’ve so far won all the team events – although we haven’t played Douglas yet.” The players looked confident and relaxed, ready for the next round which will consist of winners from today’s game.
Like their male counterparts, Tuyen Pham and Michelle Zhang of Kwantlen blew past Capilano in the ladies doubles, effortlessly advancing to tomorrows finals.
In other events, women’s single player Grace Wang is favoured to win against Sandy Neil of Langara, in a match that will be held in the late hours of Saturday.
From the looks of things, Kwantlen may be poised to win most of the events in this two-day tournament.
Reporter Rachelle took a video camera to last weekend’s women’s Eagles basketball game. The result is a video essay with some highlights from the game, and visual detail on those who led the Eagles to their win over Quest. (Video is large.)