Rowers make their way across Elk Lake at sunset. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

‘In my opinion, the team won not me’: Vikes men’s rowing coach wins President’s Award

Aalbert Van Schothorst was honoured Sunday evening for ‘substantial’ contribution to rowing

On Sunday night, the Vikes men’s rowing head coach Aalbert Van Schothorst was honoured with the annual President’s Award at the Canadian University Rowing Association awards. The award is presented each year to a person who has made a substantial impact in the development of rowing as a sport.

Both the men’s and women’s teams also brought home multiple medals, maintaining the Vikes consistent presence on the podium in Canadian rowing championships.

The annual awards ceremony and banquet was held Sunday evening at the CARSA Performance Gym following a day of final championship races at Elk Lake. The event put on by volunteers from within UVic’s rowing program.

READ MORE: University of Victoria Vikes host Canada’s best rowers at Elk Lake

Van Schothorst said the event ran seamlessly, thanks to the emphasis the program puts on teaching leadership and event management skills to the rowers. “They’re training 12 hours a week alongside their regular academic studies, so the amount of work that goes into their skill sets makes it hard for them to get a job,” Van Schothorst said.

“In my opinion, the program won the award, not me,” Van Schothorst said, “this is the second event they’ve put on in two weeks, back-to-back, so the sheer professionalism and the enjoyment of the participants was great to see.”

Van Schothorst said millennials are often talked about as being irresponsible, but there’s a difference between irresponsibility and lack of responsibility. “By showing them the connection between their sports skill sets and real-world skill sets, they find themselves transitioning seamlessly into work,” Van Schothorst said. “Millennials are just so thirsty for that kind of opportunity to dive in and practice those skills.”

The only Vikes boat to win gold was the women’s open pair McKenna Simpson and Piper Battersby. They were forced to race their final an additional time on Sunday after umpire crew determined a re-race was necessary. Even so, Simpson and Battersby pulled through to win the race and repeat their gold championship with a time of 7:17.94.

READ ALSO: Vikes women’s soccer team hosts clinic for young female players

The Vikes women’s team brought home the one gold, four silver (women’s eight, women’s lightweight single, women’s open single and women’s open lightweight coxed four) and one bronze medal (women’s open lightweight double), while the Vikes men’s team took away three bronze medals (men’s open lightweight single, men’s eight, and men’s open pair).

The women’s team came in second overall, while the men’s team came in fourth. The Vikes are now in a three-way tie with the UBC Thunderbirds and the Western Ontario Mustangs for the most national championship wins in the event’s 22 years.

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com


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