Whether it was baseball in the fall or hockey and basketball throughout the winter, it was a memorable season for Brock Badger athletics.
The success started with the incredible fans that came out to support some of the most action-packed varsity games in years. Over 33 per cent of OUA conference basketball games this year were sold out in the Bob Davis gymnasium. That was a new record for Badger athletics, and a season record across the entire CIS.
In men’s hockey, two games were sold out this year: RBC Steelblade Classic, and the Do It For Doczy fundraiser, which had over 1,400 in attendance for each game.
In baseball, attendance was up throughout the season compared to 2013, and support was felt more than ever by the players when over 100 die-hard fans made the trip to Hamilton to cheer on the Badgers in the OUA Championship.
The 2014 season was also historic for the Brock Baseball program. The Badgers captured their fourth OUA Championship in school history after defeating the Waterloo Warriors 8-0 in Hamilton. This Badger team seemed untouchable all season, posting a regular season record of 17-1, and overall record (including non-conference competition and playoffs) of 30-3. Senior Justin Ayles was named OUA top pitcher and first team All-Star, while Justin Gideon was named OUA top hitter and first team All-Star. Ayles pitched 32 innings in OUA conference competition, and was charged with just two earned runs the entire season. In five starts he picked up five wins, while striking out 27 and posting an inhuman 0.56 ERA. Ayles now embarks on a new chapter in his life, but he will leave behind the legacy of being the all-time wins leader in Brock Badgers’ baseball history.
Despite Ayles graduating from the program, don’t think that 2015 will be a let down of a year. Gideon posted some of the best regular season numbers in the history of OUA baseball, and the best part about it is that he is only going into his third year of studies. Playing in all 18 regular season games, Gideon had a .469 batting average, with 2 home runs, 16 RBI, while leading the league in hits (30), triples (5), stolen bases (18) and total bases (52). Those are numbers that most can’t get in a video game.
Lastly, the bench boss Jeff Lounsbury, who put all the pieces together and forms consistent chemistry year after year, was rewarded with the 2014 OUA Manager of the Year award. Lounsbury has become a legend at Brock. In his 19th season at the helm, he’s won two CIBA National Championships (1998,1999), and four OUA Championship (2002, 2004, 2009 and 2014). Lounsbury is a people’s person and knows how to get his message across to his players. You also have to applaud his consistent recruiting process, as he continues to produce a great product on the field each year. Lounsbury has now been named coach of the year three times since 2005, but has already announced that the 2015 season (his 20th) will be his final year at Brock.
In basketball, it’s all about the bright future at Brock. In women’s basketball the team reached the same point as they did in the 2013/2014 season, losing in the first round of the playoffs; however, the entire starting lineup is expected back next season. Kira Cornelissen was a pleasant surprise this year in the front court for the Badgers, contributing both on the defensive and offensive side of the floor. Rookie Melissa Tatti lived up to her potential, averaging the most minutes in a game out of OUA rookies, while averaging 12.6 PPG. Having Jenalyn Yumol, Becky Ralph, Kate Harpur and Kayla Santilli to compliment Tatti and Cornelissen with another year of experience under their belt should bring more success to the 2015/2016 season.
In men’s basketball, there hasn’t been this much buzz around campus in anticipation of the future since the Badgers won the CIS National championship back in 2008. Head Coach Charles Kissi has done great things for the program after just two seasons in charge. Last year Dani Elgadi was OUA rookie of the year, and this year, his top recruit Johneil Simpson was recently awarded OUA and CIS rookie of the year. The Badgers improved by three wins this year, and finished just one game out of a playoff spot. Again, Kissi has continued to revitalize his team and the basketball program by adding top recruit Colin Connors, and the word is that there are more announcements soon to be made. Ever since Kissi took over the controls of the Brock basketball program, all signs have pointed to the team’s improvement.
In men’s hockey, it was another early exit from the playoffs. Similar to women’s basketball, the Badgers failed to advance past the first round for the second straight season. However, after losing one of the top scorers in program history, Matt Abercrombie, their former captain Josh Schram, Dalton Mcgrath, Kevin Christmas and many others, it would surely be tough for the Head Coach of 17 years, Murray Nystrom, to put a competitive squad together with between 9-10 rookies in the lineup on a nightly basis. However, Nystrom wasn’t looking for excuses, and he got his players to buy in. After a great first half of the season, the Badgers struggled to start 2015, winning just two regular season games in the new calendar year. Their overall season performance was enough to get the final playoff spot in the OUA West where they met the reigning OUA Champions and No. 1 seed Windsor Lancers. Through two games, the Badgers and Lancers were tied 1-1. Game three in Windsor was a heartbreaker, where the Badgers lost 4-3 in overtime, ending their season. They were one goal away from making history and gathering the attention of many CIS fans across the country.
If there was one team this year that fell completely off the cliff, it was the Brock women’s hockey team. In 2013/2014, the Badgers didn’t win a game the first half of the season before having a remarkable second half, and finishing just one-point shy of making the playoffs. The success gave hope to the 2014/2015 season. However, it was just a disaster. The Badgers lost their first 12 games of the regular season, before closing out 2014 with a win against Nippissing on Dec. 30. Their Head Coach at the time was Jim Denham, who was relieved of his duties over the holidays. Assistant coach Corey Williams was named Interim coach for the rest of the year. In the 2015 portion of the season, the Badgers lost their first 10 games, before closing the year on a high note, defeating Laurentian 5-2 in Sudbury on Feb. 14. Arguably the Badgers’ best game of the season came in their final home game when they lost to the eventual CIS champions, the Western Mustangs. The bright spot of the Badgers season that will be remembered forever was fifth-year senior Jessica Fickel becoming the all-time point leader in Badger’s history with 116 points. The Brock Badgers honoured her in her final home game of the year by retiring her No. 9 forever.