Here’s what you need to know about Vikes Varsity sports this fall

Sports Sports | Lifestyle

From swimming to soccer, we’ve got you covered

Photo via APShutter

In case you didn’t know, aside from renowned academic programs, UVic is kind of a big deal in the sports world, and there’s no better year than this one to follow along and root for your peers on varsity teams. 

Despite the size of our athletic department — unlike many other universities across the country, UVic is home to just eight varsity sports — Vikes athletes, coaches, and alumni have proven on countless occasions they have what it takes to represent Canada on sports biggest stage. 

UVic has sent 10 or more athletes to every Olympics since 1980, and won a total of 71 Olympic medals—34 of those gold. 

While UBC fields teams in 13 different sports, and the University of Toronto boasts 22 varsity squads, our athletic department focuses on honing the talent of a select group of athletes. Instead of depleting resources across a wide array of sports, UVic focuses their efforts in hopes of giving Vikes athletes an opportunity to pursue their craft at the next level —  whether it’s in a professional league, world championship, or even the Olympic games. 

This commitment to excellence will be in full force this year, as UVic will be at the epicenter of the championship season in U SPORTS — the national governing body for university athletics in Canada. UVic is hosting both the U SPORTS swimming and women’s soccer National Championships in the 2019-20 academic year. 

Men’s soccer kicked off the 2019/20 Varsity calendar with a game against Trinity Western University at Centennial Stadium on Aug. 23, and four other fall teams will begin play in the ensuing weeks as classes begin. 

Women’s soccer will hold their home opener on Sep. 6, while women’s rugby will lace up their cleats two days later in a home match against the University of Calgary. 

The Sep. 6 game is one of the most anticipated games on campus this entire year. It follows “Thunderfest” — a day-long festival to welcome students back to campus — which sees thousands of students flock to Centennial Stadium every year to support their hometown Vikes. 

Whether you have just moved away from home for the first time, or are returning to university for your fifth year, Thunderfest is the perfect opportunity to meet new people and gain that sense of community pride that only comes from being a fan. And of course, you have an excuse to paint your face and swing a cowbell as much as your heart desires. 

Admission to Vikes games is free for all UVic students. Last year saw a record 3 300 students attend the Thunderfest soccer game. 

But soccer isn’t the only game you can watch on campus. 

One of the other popular sports on campus is men’s and women’s basketball. The teams will tip off their seasons at CARSA in October, while the reigning U SPORTS champion women’s field hockey team begins to play in September and will host their games on the turf field, which is just behind the McKinnon building. 

While soccer and basketball may dominate the headlines or stat pages, UVic has a prestigious rugby team that plays just a short walk from CARSA, and swim team that boasts alumni like Olympic medalist Ryan Cochrane. 

Of course, I also hope you have the chance to watch me and the cross country team compete this fall — our first race will be held at Elk and Beaver Lake on Sep. 28. 

Sports are an integral part in the fabric of a university, and UVic has plenty of phenomenal athletes and venues where you can meet new friends and gain a sense of community pride while you cheer on your Vikes peers. So even when Thunderfest has come and gone, consider coming out in support of the athletes that train and compete almost every day in the name of our university.

In the meantime, you’ll probably see me running the trails and streets of Victoria in ridiculously short shorts, getting ready for the cross country opener later this month.