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UBC Thunderbirds’ coaches in a class of their own

You don’t have to tell the basketball players on either team to get up for a Canada West matchup between the University of Victoria Vikes and UBC Thunderbirds.
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Calli McMillan the Vikes renew their rivalry with UBC this week.

You don’t have to tell the basketball players on either team to get up for a Canada West matchup between the University of Victoria Vikes and UBC Thunderbirds.

The annual rivalry set begins tonight at historic War Memorial Gym on the UBC campus and concludes Saturday on Ken and Kathy Shields Court at the newer and more state-of-the-art CARSA gym

UBC head coaches have been through a number of these sets in what are now record-breaking careers. Twenty-season Thunderbirds mentor Kevin Hanson surpassed legendary former Oak Bay High school coach Don Horwood as the winningest coach in men’s Canada West hoops history, while former Olympian and 25-season UBC women’s coach Deb Huband eclipsed former UVic legend Kathy Shields on the women’s side. In a remarkable coincidence, both milestones were reached last week by the UBC coaches.

The sweep of Trinity Western gave Hanson 315 career Canada West conference wins, two more than the 313 Horwood accumulated as head coach of the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

“It is a credit to [Hanson’s] work ethic and resiliency,” said UVic men’s head coach Craig Beaucamp, who has matched wits against Hanson in Canada West for the past 18 seasons.

“Kevin has done it for a long time and at a high level. I texted him when he set the record. I know the sacrifices in time and effort it takes to do this job. We have gone-head-to-head for many years. You know Kevin is always going to be prepared and go hard at you. He was competitive when he played and remained competitive as a coach.”

Dan Vanhooren, active as coach of the University of Calgary Dinos, is third on the all-time Canada West list with 251 wins and the late UVic and Saskatchewan Huskies mentor Guy Vetrie fourth with 245.

Hanson’s Thunderbirds come into the rivalry set at 11-3 in conference, while Beaucamp’s resurgent Vikes are 9-3.

Meanwhile, Huband moved to 338 Canada West career wins with last week’s sweep of Trinity Western. Huband, who captained Canada as a player in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, moved ahead of Shields’ former record of 337 conference victories.

“Deb is a great friend and colleague,” said the retired Shields.

“I’m happy it’s her who broke the record. [Huband] was one of Canada’s best-ever point guards and that mindset transferred into coaching and made her a very analytical coach. She has done a great job for UBC.”

Tanya McKay, current head coach of the University of Winnipeg, is third on the all-time conference list with 282 victories and Lisa Thomaidis of the Saskatchewan Huskies, also the current Canadian women’s Olympic team head coach, is fourth with 273.

Huband’s Thunderbirds come into this week’s set at 10-4 in conference while Dani Sinclair’s Vikes are 7-5.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

Twitter.com/tc_vicsports