The winter sports season at St. Thomas University was a successful one for the Tommies. Four teams made it to the finals and eight players and coaches across the volleyball, basketball and track and field teams won awards.
Despite falling just short in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association finals, the 2018-19 season was one to remember for head coach Fred Connors and his squad. The Tommies finished with an impressive 17-4 record and were ranked seventh on the national scale.
“There was a tremendous amount of growth over the season,” said Connors. “[Ranking] seventh in the country is certainly something to be proud of.”
The Tommies were led by Bridget Frazee, who averaged 15 points per game, along with two assists and 2.8 rebounds. She was named to the first ACAA team and named a Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association All-Canadian. Frazee’s most memorable game was a blowout win against the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus Rams, where she recorded 29 points and seven steals.
Fourth-year guard and graduate Lainy Dow was named to the second ACAA team, as her veteran presence was well displayed. Dow averaged 11 points with five rebounds a game and was the only senior on the team.
“We were fortunate enough to have some major award winners, but I don’t want to overshadow the amount of team play that was needed for them to receive those awards. You can’t do that alone,” said Connors.
The Tommies youth provided depth, as the defensive-minded and hometown guard Vanessa Soffee was hard to get by, as she had 2.4 steals a game and averaged 7.5 points, four rebounds and 2.5 assists. It earned her the league’s rookie of the year award.
Connors said he was very proud of how his team represented St. Thomas.
“I very much loved coaching this team and am proud of how they all represented our program.”
Even though the men’s basketball team had a slow start, the Tommies made a solid playoff push with a 0-7 record. They finished their season with a 7-14 record, going 6-8 in their last 14 games of the season. The Tommie’s record changed when Crandall University was forced to forfeit seven games because it had a professional player on the team. The Tommies never gave up, showing heart during their season, even when they lost some key players.
The Tommies had multiple bright spots, with rookie Geoffrey Lavoie leading the team in scoring, putting up 14.7 points a contest, while grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game and shooting 45.7 percent from the field. Almin Dervisevic put up 14.6 points for the season along with 8.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
After falling just short in the 2017-18 ACAA finals to the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics, the Tommies entered the 2018-19 season with six rookies.
Head coach Don McKay said they had to replace two outstanding players who graduated last year.
“It took us a while to see who would best fit those roles,” said McKay.
Though having a very new team, McKay said the team never stopped improving.
“We had a very interesting season. We are in a very competitive league … We got better every match.”
The Tommies started their season 1-5 but finished on a positive note going 8-2 in their last 10 games, finishing their season above .500, with an 11-10 record and a spot in the ACAA playoffs.
The Tommies came up short in the quarterfinals, going down to the wire against the Mount Allison University Mounties. They lost 3-2, losing the final set 16-14.
The men’s volleyball team went into the 2018-19 season looking to defend their ACAA championship and book another trip to nationals. In a rematch of the 2017-18 ACAA finals against the Holland College Hurricanes, the Tommies fell short, losing 3-1.
The Tommies went undefeated in November and started with a 7-0 record. They finished with a 12-3 record. It was good enough for a first round bye in the ACAA playoffs and set up a semi-final matchup against the Université Sainte-Anne Dragons. They won a 3-0 sweep. This set up their rematch against the Hurricanes where they fell short.
Track and Field
The track and field team was represented by 14 athletes this year at the Subway Atlantic University Sport Championships. This was the biggest Tommies representation at the AUS championships since 2017 and their highest points total since 2016.
The team went into the championships at the Université de Moncton fighting injuries. Ryan Terry battled a lung infection and Sarah Hickman battled a foot injury.
Grace Baker was STU’s top female in the 300m sprint with a 44.81 time, just short of a school record. This would earn her eighth place. Sarah Hickman finished 10th place. Baker later tied her school record of 8.45 seconds in the 60m dash to finish 11th, STU’s top finisher.
In the 4X800m relays, the STU women’s team finished sixth place with a time of 13:55.82, while the men finished seventh with a time of 9:42.11.
Head coach Nicholas Larade expects the team to improve in the years to come. At least nine athletes are returning for the Tommies next season.