As summer ends and students prepare for the upcoming semester, the UNB Reds are hard at work getting ready for the upcoming sports season.
Teams practice four to six times a week, strength train three times a week, participate in classroom sessions and undergo individual training. There are countless hours spent by student-athletes studying, travelling, training and competing in hopes of winning a championship title.
The UNB Reds women’s hockey team is entering into the second year of their new varsity program. Head coach, Sarah Hilworth, is excited for another shot at the championship title.
“It’s exciting but at the same time a bit more pressure on us so it’s definitely another step forward for our program. I think we’ve come back in better shape than last year and we have a little bit more confidence” said Hilworth.
She says though the team is still finding their way in the league, they are pushing towards an AUS (Atlantic University Sport) championship title. “I think we have an opportunity to break into the league and make a statement that we didn’t follow up on last year” said Hilworth.
It’s exciting to see women's hockey back at UNB with the majority of last year’s team. That includes two AUS rookies of the year and a member of U18 Team Canada.
Home opener is October 4 at 7:00pm against UPEI and will be played at the Aitken center. The Women will play Saint Thomas University (STU) the next day, October 5, at Grant Harvey. In the finals last year, the Women’s team beat UPEI in the first round and lost to STU in the finals.
In the past four years the Men’s hockey team has won three national championships. This year head coach Gardiner MacDougall plans to make that four championships in five years.
“We talk about three things here—protecting, building and believing” said McDougall, “obviously this has been a really good legacy left by the people behind but this year it’ll be the first opportunity in our history to win four championships in five years. It’ll be a really special challenge for our group”.
With the potential to create history the men’s team is excited for this opportunity and are working towards being even better than they were last year.
“I think the biggest thing here in the group is trying to find ways to get better each and every day and it’s a competitive journey ahead of us. We’re fortunate this year that the nationals are held in Halifax with Acadia University so it’s a destination point for the team” said McDougall.
The men’s season started September 27 against Saint Mary’s University. Their home opener will be October 11 at 7:00pm against Moncton and will be played in the Aitken center.
This year the women’s volleyball team consists of young, dynamic athletes who are hungry to make the starting line-up and show their skills. Head coach Christine Biggs says the opportunity for different athletes to step on the court creates an opportunity to learn, compete and grow with their teammates in a positive way.
“We want to be in a position to get ourselves to university sport national championship on a regular basis,” said Biggs, “I think the athletes have come in hungry to be better than we were last year”.
Biggs says getting into the finals last year was a big accomplishment for the team but they left things unresolved.
“We’re excited to get another crack at it” said Biggs.
The team have been busy preparing for competition in exhibition matches with different opponents.
The first home game will be on October 27 in the Richard J Currie Center.
The men’s volleyball team’s athletes came back to school stronger and faster than last year. They’re are hungry to win a championship title and head to nationals again says head coach Dan McMorran.
“One of our team goals this year is not just to compete for a conference title but it’s actually to win the conference title and to get back to nationals. We were fortunate, we’ve won 5 of 7 conference titles, before we got into the AUS conference. Last year was our first year in the new conference and we’re now hungry to get back to nationals” said McMorran.
The team has a real focus and intensity when they practise says McMorran. The men practise five to seven days a week and have to be in the weight room three times a week.
“We have a great group of young men, like I said, we have some experience now this year but we’ve got some great character guys. It’s nice to be able to come to the gym with this group each day” he said.
The home opener is November 1 against Dalhousie University.
The women’s Basketball team is a group of hard-working and committed student-athletes according to head coach Jeff Speedy.
The team will be hosting the Stewart McKelvey Helen Campbell Tournament the weekend before Thanksgiving. The following weekend they will be travelling to Regina to play against the best teams in Canada’s West.
“Our goals are usually and always to win an AUS championship, some years it’s more realistic than others” said Speedy.
It may be a cliché to say they’re focused on the journey rather than the results but Speedy says they need to focus on the week to week.
“You can’t just focus on trying to win three games in March and win a championship,” he said, “if we do the right things on the journey then we’ll be in the right place in March to have a chance”.
The league is balanced and full of strong, competitive teams says Speedy.
“I think we’ll be very competitive and if we continue to stay healthy and work hard all year I think we’ll have a shot to be playing in the final” he said.
The league will begin the first weekend of November with the home opener being played on November 2 against Memorial.
The men’s basketball team is a mix of returning athletes and new recruits who are looking to compete for the AUS title says head coach Brent Baker.
“We were ranked in the top 10 last year we plan to get back there this year,” said Baker, “we figure we’re right there in the mix with four to five other teams so we’re looking pretty positive but still a lot of work to go and it’s a long season so we’ll grind”.
The men have been training hard in order to make up for graduating students.
Baker says they lost some critical players, “they were big team guys so those guys are kind of hard to replace but talent wise we have as good as center man as we had last year, I know that”.
The men’s season begins the first weekend of November with their home opener on November 8 against Acadia.