For recent UVic graduate and former Vikes basketball player Ryan MacKinnon, playing basketball wasn’t only about the scoring titles and athletic awards. The connections he made with his teammates were the most memorable.
“The biggest highlight to me was all the friends I made along the way. Every single guy I have played with has impacted my life in one way or another,” he says.
MacKinnon, 22, ended his Vikes basketball career this April and was named Vikes 2012 male athlete of the year and Basketball B.C.’s outstanding male player of the year — two honours he won’t soon forget.
“It is very humbling to win the [Vikes male athlete of the year] award,” says the Comox native, who graduated this year with a degree in Education. “There are so many amazing athletes that compete for the Vikes, and to even be nominated is crazy.”
This past season, MacKinnon was named a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) second-team all-Canadian, as well as a Canada West first-team all-star. He led Canada West in three-pointers in 2011–2012. He has impressive career numbers, tallying more than 200 three-balls during his five-year career. MacKinnon attributes his on-court success to hard work and dedication.
“I always took a lot of pride in working hard, whether that be on the court or off the court as a teammate,” he says.
Since he first suited up for the Vikes in 2007, MacKinnon has become an example for his teammates and the basketball community of Victoria. He volunteered as a member of the Vikes Varsity Council and has been a role model to aspiring basketball players in Canada.
“Enjoy it and take advantage of the situation you are in,” he says by way of advice to young players. “Basketball is a game . . . have fun and just live in the moment.”
In spite of MacKinnon’s departure, the Vikes are sitting pretty for the coming season. Most of last year’s Vikes will return to play again in 2012–2013. Some to watch out for include 2012 rookies Reiner Theil and Vijay Dhillon, as well as veteran players Terrell Evans, Chris McLaughlin and Pierce Anderson. According to MacKinnon, they will be ready to win.
He says, “The Vikes look solid for next year. As always, I know they will come well prepared to have a successful season.” In May, MacKinnon set out on a two-month journey across Canada as part of a fundraising program called “Biking for Baha,” which he spearheaded with his three brothers. MacKinnon biked across Canada to raise money and support for Parkinson’s disease. According to Parkinson Society B.C., Parkinson’s disease affects more than 100 000 Canadians. MacKinnon has seen the effects of the disease first-hand. His grandfather, who’s nickname was “Baha,” had Parkinson’s for 16 years. After completing their journey, the MacKinnon brothers met their goal to raise over $40 000 for Parkinson’s research.
MacKinnon, ending his varsity basketball career as one of the most decorated basketball players in the Vikes’ recent history, says he leaves with a great appreciation for the last five years.
“Being a part of the Vikes programs has been unbelievable,” says MacKinnon. “The Vikes treat their athletes with respect and give them the best opportunity to succeed. I could not thank them enough.”