Posted on: March 16, 2017
The athletics department is stable, teams are trending in the right direction and program growth is on its way to Thompson Rivers University, says Ken Olynyk.
The WolfPack’s director of athletics and recreation offered generally positive reviews of his department’s performance in 2016-2017.
“Overall, I think we accomplished what the coaches wanted to accomplish in many of the areas,” Olynyk said.
“I think we’ll keep moving forward. Our goal is always to have at least half of our teams in the playoffs and we accomplished that this past year. We’ll continue to work towards that until a time when we hopefully get 100 per cent of our teams in the playoffs, all at the same time.”
The 2016-2017 athletics season was marked by both successes and failures on McGill Road.
A new coach and roster turnover saw the WolfPack women’s soccer team struggle in its third season in the Canada West.
After qualifying for the post-season for the first time in team history in 2015, the 2016 campaign saw Thompson Rivers outscored 54-4, finishing the season with a 1-12 record, well short of playoff contention.
On the men’s pitch, a strong start ended in disaster as the WolfPack lost their final three regular-season matches to fall short of their first-ever post-season berth.
The 2017 season is expected to be a big one, with much of last year’s roster returning for a run that will include an automatic berth at the USports national championship as tournament host.
“It’s great that we’ve gotten our program to the point where — save baseball and the cheer team — all of our sports are Canada West and USports now,” he said.
On the hardcourt, the WolfPack men’s basketball team fell in a quarter-final series to the Calgary Dinos after finishing second in the Canada West and qualifying for the USports national championship for the first time in team history in 2015-2016.
The women’s basketball team had one of its poorest seasons on record, finishing the year 2-18 and short of the playoffs, as did the men’s volleyball team, which finished 2-22.
The women’s volleyball team continued its upward trajectory, finishing the regular season with a 13-11 record, but the club fell short of expectations in the post-season, bounced with losses in back-to-back contests against the UBC Thunderbirds.
The fledgling WolfPack swim team started to make some waves on the university scene in its third year and Thompson Rivers’ cross-country running team is expecting a big season in 2017-2018.
Moving forward, Olynyk said the WolfPack’s focus will be on growing its programs, rather than adding more teams.
Scholarship fundraising will remain an issue and facility growth will likely become a priority as the institution expands.
He hopes to increase support of varsity teams both on campus and throughout Kamloops, a goal which in no small part relies on success in the standings and, perhaps more so, on athlete recruitment.
“I think the biggest factor for the coaches is that in order to be competitive, you have to look beyond Kamloops,” Olynyk said.
“Not that Kamloops doesn’t do a great job in its minor sports systems — it does, it’s outstanding.
“But, I think to compete at that level, you have to be able to recruit. If we try to compete with only local kids, it’s going to make it harder.”