Smithers’ own Trent Monkman is heading to the nationals with his team the UVic Viking (Vikes) this weekend.
The University of Victoria Vikes beat the formerly undefeated University of Alberta Golden Bears 70-64 in the Canada West championship game last Saturday night in Edmonton, capturing their first men’s title since 2015.
While the pressure was off, as they had already assured their spot in nationals with a win over the University of Regina Cougars in the semifinals on Friday night, and Alberta had a secure spot as the host team, Monkman said they were hungry for the win.
“It is really exciting, I’ve been in this league— Canada West, for 5 years, 6 including the pandemic year, so to make that step is really exciting,” Monkman said.
This season has been a magical one for the Vikes, only losing one game.
The 6’1” guard started off at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops for his first year and then transferred to the University of Victoria.
He added the victory last weekend was a season high for him and the entire team.
“Winning the Canada West final was incredible, it is something I’ve never done, and even my coach who has been to the finals a number of times, but I think this was only his third or fourth time winning it so doing that and winning our conference and proving we are the best in the west was incredible.”
The 2022 U Sports Men’s Final 8 Basketball Tournament is April 1–3 in Edmonton.
Their first match this weekend is against Carleton University who have won 15 out of the last 18 national championships.
However, they got knocked out in their conference and got the wild card seed putting them against UVic in the first round.
“We are confident we can beat anyone,” said Monkman. “Obviously, they are beatable if they were knocked out at the level they lost at.
That gives us confidence and I think we take this week to prepare for them and we come out strong on Friday.”
Once this season is over, Monkman has one more year of schooling and he plans to finish with a physical education and social studies teaching degree and is inclined to come back up north to teach.
Aside from the draw of coming home to work, he added his love of fly fishing, skiing and golfing are also pulling him back to Smithers.