Team efforts make memorable year

by Don Wells
Athletics and Recreation

Among the throngs of graduating students passing through the Chan Centre will be 132 varsity athletes. And if, in 30 or so years, somebody asks any of them what they recall about sport at UBC in their graduating year, they won't have to think particularly hard.

For varsity sport, the 82nd year of classes at UBC was one of the most memorable.

Perhaps most importantly, there are three more Canadian university championship banners hanging from the War Memorial Gymnasium ceiling. With 40 championships, T-Bird teams narrowed their gap behind the University of Toronto which, with 48, ranks tops in Canada.

The success of this past season can, and should, also be measured by a windfall of individual performances and awards, such as volleyball aces Mike Dalziel and Melanie Griswold each winning the CIAU's prestigious TSN Award for best combination of excellence in athletics, academics and community service.

September: The football T-Birds stumble out of the gate, badly losing their home-opener in front of a record crowd and then dropping their second straight Shrum Bowl Game against arch rival SFU.

October: UBC's men's soccer team toils in relative anonymity against the televised success of Thunderbird football. They quietly win the Canada West Championship and go on to thoroughly dominate the CIAU national tournament in Halifax. But despite out-shooting McGill 20-0 in the final, the T-Birds fail to score, and an overtime shoot-out falls in favor of the Redmen, 1-0.

November: Football playoff time, and whatever it was that had plagued UBC in the first part of the season is long gone. The Thunderbirds capture the most coveted trophy in Canadian university sport, the Vanier Cup. Mark Nohra is named Hec Crighton Award winner as the most outstanding player in the country. Three T-Birds are first team all-Canadians and nine are conference all-stars.

December: While everyone expected the first-place standing of the women's volleyball team, few expected UBC's basketball teams to be as scrappy as they are. In particular, the small 10-player men's squad stuns a few conference and non-conference rivals. The hockey team hosts the popular Father Bauer Christmas Tournament, and posts a tournament victory.

January: At the conference championships in Victoria, UBC'S men's and women's swim teams cruise to wins. For the men, the win happens without the assistance of national team member Mark Versfeld, who is winning two medals at the World Aquatic Championships.

February: The women's volleyball team clinches the Canada West Championship. The hockey team bows out in conference quarter-finals. UBC's gritty hoop squads also lose in play-off semi-finals to rivals the University of Victoria. Women's ice hockey completes its inaugural season.

March: Women's volleyball coach Erminia Russo is named CIAU Coach of the Year, but in match two of the CIAU Championships, the defending national champion Pandas send UBC to the consolation final and eventually a fourth-place finish. The swim teams become the first teams in UBC history to win simultaneous national championships in the same sport. Swim team coach Tom Johnson is named CIAU Coach of the Year. UBC's women's golf team wins its first-ever NCAA Tournament at Santa Clara's Colby Classic. Olympic swimmer Sarah Evanetz and Mark Nohra are named UBC's top athletes at the annual Big Block Awards Dinner.