Abbotsford fields, rinks and courts were jam-packed with activity all year long with a busy year in the local sports scene. From the BC Summer Games to Olympic and collegiate success, Abbotsford athletes and teams excelled. Here are our picks for the top five sports stories for 2016 –
1) The Abbotsford 2016 BC Summer Games
Over 3,000 athletes from all over the province competed in 18 different sports, and took over Abbotsford and surrounding areas from July 21 to 24.
Opening ceremonies for the event kicked off on July 21 at the Abbotsford Centre, with athletes battling against each other for glory on July 22, 23 and 24.
More than 3,000 volunteers, the majority being Abbotsford residents, 473 coaches and 289 officials also arrived for the Games, which were deemed a success by organizers and Games officials.
Sports at the Games included: athletics, baseball, basketball, three on three basketball, canoe/kayak, equestrian, golf, lacrosse-box, lacrosse-field, rowing, rugby, sailing, soccer, softball, swimming, synchronized swimming, towed water sports, triathlon, volleyball beach, volleyball and wrestling.
The Vancouver Island-Central Coast team won the medal race, capturing a total of 161. The Fraser Valley team, which included Abbotsford athletes, placed second with 137. The Fraser River team was third with 130.
Local athletes excelled at the event, several teams and individual athletes earning bragging rights.
Abbotsford swimmer Ryan Han won a pair of gold medals in the pool, with local wrestlers Ravdeep Toor, Juggy Gakhal, Sahil Bajwa, Sunny Benning and Jade Trolland all winning gold in their divisions.
Other locals with gold medals at the Games included: Jaelyn Dragt (triple jump), Sheleena Wiley (4 X 100), Cassidy Hutchison (4 X 400) and Tori Warner (towed water sports).
The closing ceremonies for the event occurred on July 24 at Rotary Stadium, as Abbotsford officials passed the Games flag to a representative from the group organizer the 2018 Winter Games in Kamloops.
2) Claypool signs with Notre Dame Fighting Irish
After a magical 2015 season that saw him help lead the Abbotsford Panthers to their first provincial final since 1984, Chase Claypool made it official on Feb. 3 by signing on the dotted line with the NCAA’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Claypool starred for the Abbotsford Falcons minor football and Panthers teams for years, collecting more than 1,200 yards receiving with 13 touchdowns in his Grade 11 year. He was also named the AA football player of the year for 2015. Those numbers, along with his skill and athletic potential, drew interest from all across the United States.
A total of 14 NCAA Division 1 teams contacted him in 2015, including powerhouses like Oregon University, the University of Michigan and Mississippi State. But, it was the lure of the tradition,history and education at Notre Dame that convinced Claypool to head to Notre Dame.
Claypool joined the team’s training camp in June, and appeared in five games for the Irish in 2016. He collected 81 yards passing off of five receptions, and is expected to play a bigger role on a rebuilding Notre Dame that finished the season with four wins and eight losses.
3) Basketball and volleyball court conquests
There was lots of news on the hardwood in Abbotsford in 2016, and the Bateman Timberwolves Grade 9 girls basketball team were at the top of the list.
The team earned the school’s first-ever provincial banner by defeating the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints 46-44 in Kelowna on Feb. 28. The girls also won the Abbotsford city and Fraser Valley tournaments.
At the senior boys basketball provincials in March, both the Rick Hansen Hurricanes and the W.J. Mouat Hawks had strong tournaments. Hansen earned bronze in the AAA conference, while Mouat finished fourth in the AAAA.
On the high school volleyball court in December, the MEI Eagles senior girls repeated as AA provincial champs, while the Eagles boys took home the bronze.
The UFV Cascades men’s and women’s basketball teams both bowed out in the first round of their respective playoffs in the spring. However, women’s basketball star Kayli Sartori was named a Canada West first team all-star and a CIS second team All-Canadian, while men’s basketball phenom Kevon Parchment was named a Canada West first team all star in his final year on the Cascades.
UFV also made local news by signing Yale Secondary grad Riley Braich and Mouat grad Jordyn Sekhon to the men’s basketball team in April.
4) Schmidt wins second bronze medal
Abbotsford’s Sophie Schmidt made her hometown proud again by earning bronze for the second time in her career with the Team Canada women’s soccer team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Canadian team had a strong tournament winning five times, and only losing to Germany in the semi-final game.
Even more special for locals was that Schmidt returned home to Abbotsford on Aug. 21 for a private party at the home of a family friend. Fans, friends and family had the chance to take a picture with the soccer star and her bronze medal at the event.
Schmidt’s stop in Abbotsford was short, as she has to return to her professional team in Germany days later. She told The News that she hopes to once again don the red and white at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
5) Cardinals win baseball championship
The Abbotsford Cardinals got hot at the perfect time in the British Columbia Premier Baseball League season.
The club finished the regular season ranked eighth, but proceeded to knock off the top-ranked Langley Blaze in the first round of the playoffs on July 24.
Abbotsford defeated the Victoria Mariners 10-1 in the championship game on July 31.
The team lost several key players to graduation, but the future is bright for the Cardinals, as the BCJBL version of the team finished first in the regular season. The junior club ultimately came up short in the playoffs, losing in the semi-final.