Adam Williams, Contributor Ω
It’s been just a few weeks since the school year ended and already TRU’s sports teams have been busy. In a sense, summer is the most important time of the year for athletics at the University, as managers and coaching staffs work to lock up new recruits for a new year of WolfPack sports. Here’s an advance look at some of the bright young stars joining up with TRU squads for the coming year.
The WolfPack women’s soccer team has announced the signing of Madison Ellis, of South Kamloops Secondary. Ellis is the fifth prospect to sign with TRU from the Kamloops Secondary soccer program.
“Madison is more of a defensive midfielder,” said head coach Tom McManus. “She can play in a wide midfield role, usually in the centre. She will be able to hold the ball for you or distribute it well. She is an extremely athletic girl.”
While the WolfPack will only have one spot available at Midfield, Madison is confident in her ability to compete with a number of the team’s veterans. “I think I can measure up to the standards set by them,” she said. “I know it will be different than what I am used to but I am confident I can earn my spot on the team.”
Joining Ellis as recent WolfPack signings are Striker Courtney Daly of South Kamloops Secondary and Courtney Burnett of Langley, BC. Ellis will join a plethora of young talent at the forward position, a group that boasted three first year and two second year players last season.
“We lost only one player through graduation and to win the provincials and finish fourth in the country was an accomplishment,” said McManus, “I just see more and more strength coming from us. These girls (the recruits) are going to be pushing our vets from last year. Vets have to step up and do the job or they won’t be here.”
The WolfPack will be attempting to repeat as league champions this year and will look to improve on their fourth place finish nationally.
Sometimes, recruiting is nothing more than a game of chance. Just ask WolfPack Basketball prospect Tre Haslom.
Haslom is the most recent athlete recruited to play for the WolfPack in 2012-2013 and according to head coach Scott Clark, it was little more than a coincidence that the team stumbled across Him.
“We had been contacted about a point guard at Olympic,” he said. “Chas (Kok, Assistant Coach) went down to see Olympic play. He was really intrigued by Tre more than anybody else. Chas had played against him in some open gyms down at Skagit Valley. He knew him from that. All those factors combined to have us recruit him.”
Haslom is a versatile athlete that can play both forward and guard. Playing for the WolfPack at TRU will be his first opportunity to play Canadian Basketball.
The WolfPack followed up Haslom’s signing with by locking up highly-sough-after point guard Troy-Rose Grant, who played the last two seasons in Toronto, suiting up for the Regional Elite Development Academy. Grant expressed nothing but excitement when speaking of his opportunity to play for TRU, and coach Clark had a similar attitude about the signing.
“I think when you look right now, he is young. But once he goes through the growing pains of understanding what I want and what it is to be part of a university team, going to school and being away from home, he really wants to be a basketball player and I think he wants to put the work in. You have to get excited about working with someone like that.”
TRU is no stranger to PACWEST champions. In fact we have an entire Women’s soccer team of them. This coming season though, the Men’s Volleyball team will add a PACWEST champion of their own.
Graham Stoliker is a setter, formerly of the Douglas College Royals. He is expected to be a big part of the team’s future and has prior experience with current WolfPack middle Nic Balazs and outside hitter Brad Gunter.
“Graham is at Douglas College and could have stayed for two more years,” head coach Pat Hennelly explained. “He could have stayed there and transferred after [starting setter Colin] Carson was done. But what I am trying to do is improve the meshing of that group with Brad and Nic being two guys I went after hard on Team BC. I want to make sure that there is a good core for both of them to go through their CIS careers. Graham just gives us that stability. He will get a chance to get his reps in with the younger players and that’ll provide a continuity for the future”
Stolkier will be joined next year by libero Blake Majcher. Majcher comes to TRU after playing last season with the Medicine Hat College Rattlers.
“We really need to make a stand defensively and improve in that aspect of the game. We have a fairly big team and do some good things at the net but out back court needed to be shored up” said Hennelly, “Blake has a reputation of being a tenacious defender.”
The WolfPack have announced three signings in the past month, all of which are expected to bring considerable strength and scoring to the team. Forwards Rigby Burgart (formerly of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen), Chase Edwards and Colten De Frias (both formerly of the Kamloops Storm), will be joining the squad for the 2012-2013 season and will bring years of experience with them.
“Chase is a gifted goal scorer and is very instinctive in the offensive end. Puck’s seem to find him,” said head coach Don Shultz. “He has an excellent shot and skilled hands. He is a good skater and has some physicality to his game. I’m looking for him to contribute offensively and has the potential to be a top-six forward.”
According to Shultz, “Colten is a tireless worker and doesn’t shy away from any physicality. He has excellent speed and can score,” and Burgart will add size and grit to a team that needs it going forward.
All three players are expected to see significant time in the coming season, while playing very different roles. Edwards and De Frias will be expected to provide a significant amount of the team’s offensive production, while Burgart is more of the stereotypical “role player.”
“I’ve watched Rigby play since his first season in Quesnel and have admired the way he plays the game, said WolfPack general manager Chris Hans. “He’s an honest, tough player. I expect Rigby to play a significant role for the ‘Pack for years to come.”
The WolfPack finished the 2011/2012 regular season with a 12-8-4 record, before recording 1 win and 2 losses in the playoffs. The team will look to improve on that finish in the coming year and Edwards, De Frias, and Burgart will be significant players in next year’s push.
For more information on WolfPack off-season moves and events, go to tru.ca/athletics.