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  • Writer's pictureAllie

Rookies to watch out for

NAIT gets new students every year, which means the Ooks get new players. Some of these players went above and beyond to land their position on the Ooks and are expected to shine throughout their athletic careers. These are the “rookies” to watch out for. The Ooks soccer season ended in October, but some exceptional rookies stood out and left their mark.

Meron Werede is a five-foot-six midfielder from Edmonton on the men’s soccer team. This Ooks team won 11 out of 12 games with three assists from Werede. Of the four games played, Werede took his shot and scored. With a 100 per cent success rate, this rookie surpassed all others and is someone to watch out for next season.

Lamisi Sirett is a five-foot-tall midfielder on the women’s soccer team. Scoring six goals—three being game-winning shots—and with two assists, this Edmontonian took the lead over all other rookies on the team this season. Players usually excel on their home field, but this rookie beat the odds and made 10 out of 11 shots on enemy fields.

Six Ooks teams are mid-season, giving their rookies plenty of time to showcase themselves. Volleyball, basketball and hockey are the longest-running sports per year at NAIT. They also have the most games.

Jarod Robert is a six-foot-one outside hitter from New Zealand. With 22 sets and 24 kills, Robert has accumulated 31 points in six matches. Men’s volleyball is the team to watch this season, as they know how to put on a show and get results. Robert has helped achieve three of the team’s wins thus far.

Charlotte Vandenelzen is a five-footeight outside hitter from Lethbridge, Alberta that earned 84 points in just 12 matches this season. With 37 sets and 77 kills, Vandenelzen put up a fight against the enemy teams. This rookie tied up their first match against Red Deer Polytechnic, finishing with the most kills on the women’s volleyball team.

Nhiall Kuech hails from Calgary, Alberta. This six-foot-three men’s basketball guard has played—and started—10 games this season. The Ooks team won six of those games with the help of this rookie. Kuech has the most play time of the team’s rookies and put it to good use by scoring 92 points. The Ooks have won nine of 14 games so far this season.

Rory Vandermeer moved a neighbourhood over from St. Albert to join the Ooks women’s basketball team as a forward. In just eight minutes against Medicine Hat College, Vandermeer got six points. While the team is off to a rough start, this five-foot-10 rookie—wearing lucky number 13—has the potential to help turn it around and get those “W’s” they deserve.

Ryley Osland is a six-foot-one rookie on the Ooks men’s hockey team. This St. Albert goalie is making some noise with 181 saves in six games. Osland helped the team win three of the six games he tended. Keeping Osland in front of the net can help the team take home the ACAC championship for the second year in a row.

Halle Graham is a five-foot-five forward on the Ooks women’s hockey team. Hailing from Red Deer, Alberta, this rookie had a bold start with a penalty in the first game she played, a goal and penalty in the second and an assist in the third. The team has won 12 games this season (six with the help of Graham, tied one and lost one.

The Ooks mixed-gender sports, badminton and curling, had their first tournaments in November so it may be too soon to tell which rookies will stand out the most this season.

The 2021-22 ACAC badminton champions had their first tournament of the new school year on November 20. At the tournament, hosted at Concordia University, the team started strong with two players placing. Anirudh Sharma took second place in men’s singles, and Sylvie Bibeau (not pictured) took third place in women’s doubles. The next tournament takes place on January 22 at NAIT’s home base, giving the other rookies a chance to show their strengths.

After a great last season and bringing home a few medals (ACAC silver in mixed curling, women’s bronze and men’s bronze), the team is off to a rocky start. Both the men’s and women’s teams had three losses out of four at their first tournament. The mixed teams had better luck, winning five games and taking one “L.” The men’s and women’s teams will have a chance at redemption during the next tournament which takes place on January 20-22 hosted on Concordia ice.


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