Vancouver,BC- They’re not the biggest school, they’re often forgotten, but that does not mean that the UBC Okanagan Heat did not have some great stories through the 2019-20 U SPORTS season. The coming year is going to be a tough one for UBCO, who only have two sports not yet cancelled by Canada West, but in no way does it diminish the achievements of 2019-20.
Women’s Volleyball: The future is heating up with Amaya Perry
Amaya Perry is a name that will be remembered for years to come at UBCO. The freshman outside hitter became the first UBCO student-athlete ever to win the Canada West and U SPORTS Rookie of the Year Awards after being selected to the conference’s all-rookie team.
Perry led the UBCO attack, a feat that is seldom achieved by volleyball rookies. She either led the or was near the top in every team offensive category, where she finished with 227 kills, good for the second-most and a mark that topped all first-year U SPORTS players.
Volleyball is one of the sports that is very difficult to crack as a freshman. Often times the skillset and pace of play are much higher and faster than high school athletes are used to, making it a difficult adjustment. However, Perry was able to step right into a confident, seemingly veteran role with the Heat.
In speaking to UBCO Heat Athletics, Head Coach Steve Manuel described Perry- “She’s fearless from the service line, and she used her devastating float serve as a weapon to keep teams off balance every single time she stepped back to the end line.”
An experienced presence in a young athlete, what more could a team want? The Heat missed out on the Canada West playoffs, but with Perry alongside fellow Canada West All-Rookie team member Abi Dueck, the Heat could turn hot in the near future.
Men’s Soccer: Playoffs? Almost. Awards? Sure thing!
One point. That’s all it was between the UBCO men’s soccer team and a spot in the 2019 Canada West soccer playoffs. The Heat finished the year at 22 points, a single point behind Thompson Rivers, who beat them on the final day of the season. Nevertheless, Heat players were honoured for their play despite a second year without playoffs.
Fifth-year captain Hamish Walde was named a Canada West First-Team All-Star, while Pierson Stanley received a place on the All-Rookie team. The two players are opposites in every way except honours. Walde is a stingy defender with a ton of experience, meanwhile, Stanley is a young, feisty forward. Regardless, the two played important roles on the Heat in 2019.
Walde’s time at UBCO has come to an end, but a word that can describe his time in blue and gold is “reliable.” He played all but one game this year, which was his first match missed in three seasons. Night after night, Walde was a consistent player in the team, and his leadership skills only grew throughout his 60+ Canada West matches.
Head coach Dario Zannata spoke to Heat Athletics on his team’s captain, saying “Walde’s leadership was two-fold, on and off the pitch. In both areas, he always led by example with a desire to win that was second to none.” From his coach’s words and on-field example, Walde was a textbook leader who deservedly won conference honours.
Walde’s now ex-teammate Stanley plays at the other end of the pitch but is a promising player for the future of the program. Coming out of a high school league where he was scoring more than a goal a game, Stanley had a bit of trouble adjusting to U SPORTS, but they were short-lived. Although he was only able to score once in Canada West action, he started eight times and learned what to expect from U SPORTS opponents. With no formal soccer competition in 2020, it will be difficult for him to progress as a lot is gained from gameplay, but the experience of 2019 will aid him when competition resumes in 2021.
The cancelled seasons are tough for everyone, especially for soccer, which is missing an entire year. In Canada West’s June 8th cancellation announcement, they stated that volleyball could return in January, meaning Perry could have a shot at a sophomore season.