They once were Raiders. Now they’re Spartans, X-Men, Vikes, Warriors, Cougars, Blues, Paladins and Mariners.
The athletics program at Highland Secondary School – despite struggling to find coaches as well as players for their senior teams – has produced many fine athletes in a wide variety of sports who have gone on to shine at the college and/or university level.
Raider alumnus Ryan MacKinnon is in Austria trying out for pro teams, Grade 11 Bryce Marinus is playing soccer with the Junior Highlanders in Victoria, Grade 11 Nick Tancon enrolled in a private basketball school in Denmark for a year and Nolan Wirth is playing soccer with the Junior Whitecaps in Vancouver.
Here’s a look at what some recent Highland grads are doing in post-secondary sports.
Kalem Scott is playing soccer for the Trinity Western University Spartans. He has developed over the years with the Junior Whitecaps program and has played in Victoria for the Highlanders.
Kalem thanks his parents Bob and Diana and his brother Jeremy for their constant support. He also thanks Frank Ball, Steve Betts, Steve Simonson, Dante Zanatta and all his friends back home.
Mackenzie Zirkl is currently playing soccer (goalkeeper) at St. Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia. “It is my first year and I am taking Arts courses. I would like to thank all of my family and friends for all of the support through the years.
“Also I would like to thank Jeff Howe, Pat Bell, Derek Reidlinger, and Jon Bos for developing me as a player. Thank you to Bill Green and Ed Schum for encouraging me to go to school, and everybody else that has helped me through the years.”
A top recruit by Simon Fraser University, Ryley Carr throws hammer for the outdoor track and field team and does the weight throw for the indoor team.
She is in her second year and is studying Bachelor of Science, kinesiology. She would really like to thank coach John May and her dad Rob Carr.
D.J. Johnson has made a smooth transition from the ice to the water.
“I’m attending UVic studying Sciences and made the UVic novice rowing team – novice means never rowed before,” he explained.
“I’d like to thank Pati Creamer and Lee McKillican for running the Highland Hockey Academy helping me achieve the athletic background I needed to successfuly try out for the rowing team.”
Kailey Dodd is in her first year playing middle with the Vancouver Island University Mariners volleyball team in Nanaimo.
“I would not have accomplished what I have today without the excellent coaching I have received over my years in the sport,” said the Bachelor of Arts-general student athlete.
“Their dedication has inspired and educated me in the volleyball world. I would like to give a special thanks to Jake Plante, Derek Shuel and Judith Wright for really pushing me in my senior year of high school. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Noah Lewis is playing basketball for the Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary.
“Over the years in the Valley many people have aided me in my athletic endeavours,” the first-year Sciences student says. “The main people I want to thank are my coaches: For volleyball, Brian Stevens, Pat Lewis, and Brian Mcaskill and for basketball, Adam and Murray Erickson, and my trainer, Sharon DeGoede.
“I would like to thank the whole MacKinnon family, particularly Scott MacKinnon, for helping me pursue post-secondary schools and for always supporting me in my goals.
“I would also like to thank all the teammates and competitors that have made me better as a basketball player and a person. Finally, I would like to thank my family for always supporting me, no matter what.”
Stuart MacLean is attending the University of Waterloo in the Co-op Kinesiology program and playing for the Warriors men’s volleyball team.
He said he considers himself extremely lucky to have received great coaching in many places: all of his Comox schools (Village Park Elementary, Aspen Park Middle, and Highland Secondary), Comox Valley Volleyball Club, Baden Cup, BC Summer Games, and Team BC.
He is particularly thankful for the time he spent with his Highland senior coaches, Pat Lewis and Brian McAskill, as well as Team BC coach Jason Haldane. Stuart can’t talk about where he is today without giving credit to Steve Schmidt at Coastal Physiotherapy for helping him get strong and back on the court after his knee injury.
Jeff Travis is playing soccer and studying at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.
“I would like to thank Steve Betts, Ian Maclean, Bill Merriman and especially Frank Ball for coaching me over the years I’ve lived here on the Island. Good luck to all the other athletes! All the best!”
Kirsten Stewart is a 2011 Highland grad now in her second year at Simon Fraser University where she is taking International Studies.
She throws javelin on the Clan track and field team. “I joined the Comox Valley Cougars Track and Field Club when I was in Grade 6. I participated in track meets with Comox Elementary and Aspen Middle School and gradually focused on the single event of javelin. I continued throwing with the Cougars as well as with Highland. I have enjoyed attending many meets, local, provincial, and national over the years and last year competed in Washington, Oregon, and California with the SFU team.
“I have many people to thank for their support. Graham Morfitt my javelin coach, John May head coach of the Comox Valley Cougars, and the teachers at Highland who have coached me on the Highland track and field team: Mr. Nijhoff, Mr. Moore, and Mr. Gummer. Thanks for all the time you volunteer.”
Nate Ruston is playing soccer at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.
“I’d like to thank my coach, Frank Ball, for getting me to where I am today,” he says. “When I first met Frank, I was probably 10 years old, and he coached my spring house league team. I tried out for rep the next year, and moved on to play Metro soccer with Frank in Nanaimo two years later.
“Frank played an enormous role in supporting my career in soccer, and there is no way I could have ever reached the level I am at today without his influence.”
Angus Ireland graduated from Highland in 2012 and is in first year General studies (business/accounting focus) at Douglas College in New Westminster.
He is a setter for the Royals men’s volleyball team, which won the 2011-12 Pac-West championship.
Angus has played many sports in the Comox Valley and thankx all of his former coaches for donating their time and knowledge. He would like to send special thanks to Pat Lewis, Brian Stevens, Chris Densmore and Brian McAskill, all amazing volleyball players and coaches.
Hilary McLoughlin thanks Jake Plante and Derek Schuel for being such devoted coaches. “It was due to their patience and persistence that led so many players, including myself, to have the pleasure of playing post-secondary volleyball.
“This year I am playing for the Capilano Blues in Vancouver, and I am really excited to start the new season. I couldn’t have done it without the time and effort of my coaches and parents, thank you for all you have done.”
Ben Collin graduated from Highland in 2012 and plays alongside Nate Ruston on the Royal Military College men’s soccer team. Ben is pursuing an engineering degree and wishes to thank longtime coach Steve Betts for his support.
“Steve coached me for the majority of my years in the Valley, and I wouldn’t be the player I am without all of his time and effort.”
Ben also thanks Highland’s Ian Maclean for volunteering his time to coach the Highland senior boys soccer team.