The highly anticipated Women’s National Basketball Championship tournament has been canceled—possibly the largest event at VIU this year is lost, along with the Mariners’ hopes of winning gold.
The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Basketball National Championships was scheduled for March 18–21, 2020, at the VIU gym. The CCAA Board of Directors’ decision to cancel the event, along with the CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, was unanimous.
In a statement issued on the CCAA website, the Board of Directors said, “The safety of our student-athletes is our priority.”
Since 2007, VIU has hosted five CCAA National Championships: Men’s Volleyball in 2007, Women’s Volleyball in 2012, Women’s Basketball in 2015, Badminton in 2016, and Men’s Soccer in 2017.
The prospects of the Mariners taking gold on their home court was promising as they finished the regular season with a 17-1 record—same as the 2018-2019 season—and they won gold at the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) BC Championships, making them back-to-back PACWEST gold medalists.
Following their fourth-place exit in the 2019 CCAA Nationals, the Mariners received a host berth; they had the entire season to prepare for redemption at the national stage, on their own court.
The Mariners were ranked second in the country going into the Nationals. The Dawson College Blues were the only team ranked higher, but they would have been traveling to VIU as one of the CCAA’s wildcards.
That said, accolades and rankings meant little to the Mariners and Starting Guard Amber Lease.
“It doesn’t mean anything to me unless we’re hanging a banner on the wall,” Lease said.
The teams traveling to Nanaimo for the Nationals were the Mount Saint Vincent University Mount Mystics, Fanshawe Falcons, Lakeland Rustlers, Sainte-Foy Dynamiques, Capilano Blues, Keyano Huskies, and Dawson College Blues.
Brent Dunlop, Sports Information Coordinator at VIU, said that the Nationals are unlikely to be rescheduled.
Head Coach of the Mariners and CCAA Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year Tony Bryce said, “it was predictable and understood, but at the same time, it was almost like a shock and awe kind of thing that it was all over.”
Although the cancellation was made with good intentions, it has had a significant impact on the world of sports. Aliza Dueck, Guard off-the-bench, noted that it has affected people beyond the athletic programs.
“It’s been pretty heartbreaking for the whole team and everyone’s families,” Dueck said.
Although this is not a proper send off for the team’s only fifth year player and Starting Guard Danielle Vanbergen, and no way to end a season, the Mariners are young and in a good position for future seasons.