Vic High sports had fallen on hard times. But the Tyees soccer team has awoken the musty echoes from glories past as it recorded its first high school league win in seven years with a 2-1 stunner last week over previously undefeated Lambrick Park on goals by Daniel Nam and Chan Kim.
In its halcyon days, Vic High produced Canadian national team and World Cup soccer and rugby players such as Ian Bridge, Brian Robinson and Hans De Goede, not to mention four B.C. boys high school basketball championship teams.
But that was a long time ago. While the school has had a remarkable renaissance in the arts department, including with its killer R&B band, sports remained in a low period. But a new group of soccer Tyees has sent a jolt through Island high school sports, one it hopes to continue when it hosts the Mount Douglas Rams today at 3:45 p.m.
“It felt awesome to finally win,” said Vic High captain James Jeong, one of only three Grade 12 players on the team, which lost all its games last season.
“We were so happy, especially since we beat one of the top teams in the league.”
Victory came at long last following draws against Spectrum and Esquimalt and a loss to SMUS-B for the Tyees (1-1-2) under new coach Adrian Herlaar.
“We had 13 players last year but there’s been an effort with the younger students and we had 30 players try out this year, with most of them from Grades 9 to 11. We have lots of athletes from those grades coming into our sports teams now.”
The youth infusion was felt immediately.
“We lost games by 10 and 11 goals last year — the closest we came [in 2014] was a 3-2 loss against Parkland — we obviously got down … it was a hard time,” added Jeong, a native of Seoul, South Korea, who has been on the team since Grade 10.
“Now everyone in the school is so happy with our win against Lambrick Park,” said Jeong, who plans on studying business next year at UVic or UBC.
The growing excitement encompasses the school’s highest office.
“We are so thrilled for our players,” said Vic High principal Randi Falls.
“[Jeong] is a young man who has taken on a huge leadership role in our school, not only in sports, but in so many other aspects. He has energized the younger-grade kids. One advantage we have right now is that if you try out for our teams, you will likely make the team and get plenty of playing time.”
The cornerstone of the sporting rebirth is the Vic High Sports Facilities Renewal Project, in association with Bays United soccer, planned in five phases over six years. It includes an artificial turf infield with night lighting, followed by a field house, eight-lane track and stadium seating.
It’s a long way since the halcyon days, but the school’s adherents only have to look to the Vic High motto Palma Non Sine Pulvere, which translates to “No Reward Without Effort.” An old-school adage? Certainly, and fitting for an old school, literally.
Even through the losses, Jeong said: “It’s been an awesome school.”