UNB Saint John Athletics
Home of the Seawolves

It wasn't a Cinderella Story, but it's a story that will go down in history

Author: Stephanie Guimond

Posted on Feb 29, 2016

Category: Varsity Sports , Volleyball , Alumni


February 28th, 2016 was the date that the UNB Saint John men's volleyball team had been looking forward to since they began training in mid-August. The team knew they were strong, and bonded like brothers on and off of the court since day one. However, it was not until early January that the team knew they had a legitimate chance to win the ACAA title and head to Douglas College in British Columbia to represent the ACAA conference at the CCAA National Championship.

The team went to a top caliber tournament in Quebec just after the Christmas break where they upset the nationally ranked Humber Hawks. Just two days later, they returned to the Atlantic Conference to knock St. Thomas off of the national rankings. The Seawolves remained nationally ranked from then to the championships this past weekend, seven weeks straight.

Everyone knew this team was special, UNB Saint John had not seen a men's volleyball program this strong since they last captured the ACAA title in 2009-2010. In fact, this was the first men's volleyball team to make the ACAA finals since that championship squad did six years ago.

As the players stepped onto the court to begin the championship match on Sunday afternoon, the packed gymnasium of fans erupted in cheers for the Seawolves. The Seawolves jumped to an early lead over the Tommies, taking the first set 27-25. The Tommies battled back to take the second 25-21. In the third set, the Seawolves took control and the crowd was going wild. The Seawolves went up 2-1 after closing out the set 25-19. With all the momentum, the Seawolves couldn't string another set together and the Tommies won the last two sets 25-13 and 15-9.

When the final point of the match was scored, there was a sense of defeat in the gym. The players dropped their heads in disappointment, and you could see hearts breaking on the court and in the crowd. However, the disappointment did not define that moment. That moment was defined with pride and a sense of family. The fans that packed the bleachers and the Seawolves coaches beamed with pride for the twelve young men that defied all odds and brought the Seawolves men's volleyball program back to life. The twelve players embraced each other like brothers, and showed nothing but class. After emotional embraces with their families, the Seawolves piled in the changing room to have one last talk as a team for the 2015-2016 season. After the coaches told the players how proud of them they were, 5th year graduating senior Dakota Lutes stood up to give the boys one last speech, "boys, it has been an honour and a privilege to play with each and everyone of you. I wouldn't change what we did together for the world. When I came here five years ago the men's volleyball program was in shambles and we made it our goal to bring it back to its former glory when players like Colin Rouse, Kyle Blanchard, and Nathan Munroe played. My time here has come to an end, and as I leave the program I can say that I don't need a championship banner to validate that we were successful in achieving that goal."

Lutes' words summed up exactly what happened that day, the Seawolves may have left without the banner and they may not have had their fairytale ending, but one thing is for sure - they achieved a goal, a goal that is more important than any banner. No one will forget how well the Seawolves played that match or forget the group of players who restored the Seawolves program to its former self.