By Sports and Lifestyle Editor Cole Schisler
It has been a phenomenal year for the Mariners athletic programs.
The Mariners are a force to be reckoned with across all sports; the Women’s Soccer, Women’s Volleyball, and Men’s Basketball teams are all provincial champions, many Mariners have received personal achievement awards in both the CCAA and PACWEST, and VIU has the highest representation of athletes, with 20 students named in the PACWEST Academic Excellence Awards.
Stephanie White, the Director of High Performance Sport at VIU says that it’s hard not to be impressed with the Mariners’ success.
“We’ve had many incredible achievements,” she says. “This institution has a great history of being successful. That tells me that there’s a strong culture here of winning. The beautiful thing about sport is that you can always be better. The question in my mind now is, how can we build on our impressive history?”
White says there are many pieces that go into developing a successful athletics program. Each of the pieces of the program needs to be evaluated so that the organization can make improvements. She says there may be a series of small modifications to strengthen the program, but the Mariners will also continue to do what they do well.
“We need to make sure that we have great coaches who are motivated and really helping to develop their student athletes. We need to make sure that are student athletes our being the best that they can be in their playing field, in the classroom, and in their physical and mental preparation. Honestly, I just want to have great people,” White said.
On top of improvements and adjustments to ensure the coaches and athletes continue their success, White says the athletics department will be evaluating itself internally to best help the Mariners move forward. White said she draws inspiration from the Japanese idea of “kaizen,” which means to change for the better.
Among those improvements is working more closely with the Mariners’ club teams, like the baseball, rugby teams, and the new coming hockey club.
“That’s definitely something that I need to evaluate and make sure that we can clearly articulate to the clubs what it means to be a club, and to be a Mariner,” White says. “They are Mariners, but, unfortunately, we can’t fund everyone equally.”
The role of VIU in supporting the club teams is more to provide access to the opportunity to play those sports at the post-secondary level. White says that the athletics department will do their best to provide support for the club teams, and give them the opportunity to represent the Mariners on the field.
Looking beyond sport, White hopes to provide VIU students with a new gymnasium in the coming years. The current gym is reaching the end of its life span, and is not large enough to support the student body. The athletics department is currently looking at funding options to make the facility a reality. White says that the gym will not only benefit the Mariners, but the VIU student body as a whole.
“For me, it’s about on campus culture and experience,” she says. “We want to provide a new facility where every student can have access to a great gym, good intramural programs, workout classes, and other health and wellness opportunities. I think the size of our current footprint is a little limiting.”
White says that the new facility will only be possible with support from the community. She says that while the community has been amazing in their support of the Mariners, the Mariners could do more to facilitate community support.
“I’m impressed with the support we get, but I do think there’s an opportunity for more support in this community,” she says. “I think we have a responsibility to be more active in community, and show the good work we do here. It’s time for us to go out there and be a part of the community so that the community will want to come and be a part of us.”
While the Mariners have accomplished many things, there is much more work, and many more achievements yet to come.
Cole is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in creative writing, minoring in political science. He has an interest in all things exciting, mundane, or otherwise. He hopes to one day become an author, actor, comedian, editor, and rapper, while moonlighting as an astronaut.