“The happy story is we're back”
Sometimes, the real wins aren’t reflected on the scoresheet.
All of the Ooks teams made the playoffs this year but “the top podium finishes weren't there for NAIT,” says Jordan Richey, athletics administrator. “This isn't the result [we] usually get.”
That said, he's not worried about that. Richey is looking at success differently, because 2022-23 wasn’t a “usual” year.
The recent season saw the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), in which NAIT participates with 16 other post-secondary teams, resume full competition following the height of the pandemic. The polytechnic was active in seven of 10 sports on offer.
“You can just feel the energy back on campus,” says Richey.
The return to the field, court and arena is one reason for that boost. The other is a renewed focus on athletics at NAIT. Ooks staff offices have relocated to a central location between the gymnasium and arena, bringing the program higher visibility by weaving it into everyday polytechnic life.
Richey also points out that executive leadership is backing college-level sports, too, and including student athletics in the ongoing conversation about NAIT’s growth and development.
Gerard Hayes, vice-president students and campus life, is at nearly every game on campus, says Richey. “Then he brings out other senior leadership as well.”
These days, they’re part of a growing crowd, joined by several hundred fans each game, when there might have been several dozen before the pandemic.
“The happy story here is we're back,” says Richey.
“We're providing all the opportunities for student athletes. So now it's just [a matter of] maximizing what we can do.”
Until that maximizing begins again in the fall, here’s how the Ooks fared in 2022-23.
In the season’s best result, the mixed doubles team won NAIT’s sole gold medal at ACAC championships. Women’s doubles earned silver.
At the national level, through the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, the women’s doubles team would go on to take the bronze medal.
Men’s basketball wrapped up the season with a 4th-place finish. The women came in 6th.
In keeping with a tradition of strong competition, NAIT’s curling teams put in a fine showing at ACAC finals. The mixed team earned silver against hosts at Lakeland College in Vermilion. The men won bronze.
Support the Ooks and win!
For 35 years, The World’s Richest Hockey Draft has raised funds – more than $1 million to date – in support of NAIT Ooks athletics.
Grand prize is $50,000! Player selection deadline is April 17, 2023.
In NAIT’s second season of futsal, a version of indoor soccer, the women managed a 4th-place finish. The men left the tournament without a win.
NAIT’s typically strong soccer teams finished their seasons with respectable results, including ACAC silver for the men, who met SAIT in the final. The women wrapped up their season in 4th.
The women’s and men’s teams moved through the ACAC on virtually parallel paths, meeting Red Deer Polytechnic in the finals. The result was double silver, with Red Deer sweeping both series.
See Basketball (i.e., men: 4th; women 6th).
Coaches of the year
Two NAIT staffers were named ACAC Coaches of the Year.
Alan Chow (Finance ’04) finished his second year as the polytechnic’s badminton coach. In his first, seven members of the team qualified for the nationals.
Brendan Jensen (Bachelor of Business Administration ’19, Management ’17) also wrapped up his second year as a NAIT coach, in this case for the women’s hockey team. Jensen is also an alumnus of the men’s hockey team, where he netminded during the 2015-16 perfect season of 36 wins and zero losses.