It’s been a dreamy start to the UVic Vikes basketball careers for Cordova Bay’s Marissa Dheensaw and Oak Bay’s Morgan Roskelley.
Growing up, the two 19-year-olds were former teammates in Victoria’s youth basketball night league. At the same time, they played against each other on their respective school teams.
And now they’re teammates at UVic, second-year players making regular contributions who are about to host the U Sports Women’s Basketball Final 8, March 9 to 12 at CARSA.
Despite being eliminated from the Canada West playoffs by the Winnipeg Wesmen on Feb. 25, the Vikes are taking their host berth in the nationals seriously, Roskelley said.
“We don’t want to be that team that just shows up and loses their first game because we didn’t qualify, we want to be a contender to go all the way.”
For Dheensaw and Roskelley, playing nationals at home is another reason they’re happy they committed to UVic.
“It’s awesome, signing up we didn’t know we would [one day] host nationals,” Dheensaw said. “It’s really fun right now.”
From Cordova Bay elementary to Royal Oak middle to the Claremont Spartans, Dheensaw recalls facing Roskelley on the floor, especially near the end of high school, when the Bays and Spartans met repeatedly in the city and Island finals (they did again this year too).
But it’s competitive on the court only, and always a good relationship off the court, Dheensaw said.
Of course, neither knew for sure they’d end up with the Vikes.
At six-feet tall, Dheensaw was a noted prospect with the Spartans. She had been in contact with Vikes coach Dani Sinclair (also involved in the night league) since before high school but had an idea to follow big sister Shalie, a Claremont grad who starred with the Washington State Cougars, in playing south of the border. A torn ACL in Grade 11 ended that plan, and interest faded when she was unable to play in her Grade 12 year. But Sinclair never closed the door to UVic.
“It didn’t matter to [Sinclair],” Dheensaw said. “I had decided if I was going to play in Canada it would be with the Vikes.”
Roskelley’s path to UVic was a little different. The five-foot-four guard was willing to give up on basketball when she was invited to Sinclair’s office in the fall of her Grade 12 year.
“My plan was to go to UVic anyways, I had a couple of offers [in Canada] but wanted to stay at home for school. I was not intrigued in going away,” Roskelley said. “But after Dani sent me that email I was relieved I could still play basketball, I didn’t want to quit.”
From Willows to Monterey to Oak Bay and then UVic, Roskelley’s never travelled far to reach her home court. And it doesn’t get any better than full-time access to the brand new $70 million CARSA facility.
“We seriously lucked out, in our first year we walked into CARSA, we missed all the construction, and now nationals,” Roskelley said.
The two aren’t the only locals on the Vikes. Roskelley’s Oak Bay teammate Andrea Psotka is also in her second year, while Claremont’s Calli McMillan and Pacific Christian’s Jasmine de Vries are rookie.
Homegrown B.C. talent on Vikes roster
Andrea Psotka, guard, Oak Bay – Oak Bay SecondaryCalli McMillan, guard, Saanich – Claremont SecondaryMorgan Roskelley, guard, Oak Bay- Oak Bay SecondaryJenna Krug, guard, North Vancouver – Seycove SecondaryAleah Ashley, guard, Comox – Mark Isfeld SecondaryKristy Gallagher, North Saanich – Parkland SecondaryNicole Karstein, Kamloops – Sahali SecondaryMarissa Dheensaw, Saanich – Claremont SecondaryJasmine de Vries, Saanich – Pacific Christian SchoolClaire De Mug (red shirt), Kelowna – Kelowna Secondary
Family tournament passes are available for the four-day, 11-game tournament for two adults and two children for $90 (an average cost of $5 per person, per day).
Tournament passes are available for $75 per adult on the floor, $55 in the blue seats and $45 in the yellow seats. Seniors (65-plus), students and alumni can purchase passes for $35 in the blue and yellow sections. Children’s tournament passes are $25 for the blue and yellow sections. Service charges apply.
Game day tickets (includes minimum two games per day) start at $12 per adult, $10 for seniors, students and alumni (gold medal final tickets are $15 and $13). Tickets are available through the website vikestickets.universitytickets.com, by email at email@example.com or by calling 250-472-4000.