Loss of Pasquale defines importance of national championships for UVic Vikes

University of Victoria host public tribute to life or Eli Pasquale on Nov. 16

Canada’s Eli Pasquale in action in Edmonton in this 1983 photo. Canadian Basketball Hall of Famer Eli Pasquale, a two-time Olympian who played at four world championships over his career, has died. He was 59. Pasquale, a native of Sudbury, Ont., died Monday from cancer, Canada Basketball said in a release. Pasquale led Canada to a fourth-place finish at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He returned to the Games four years later in Seoul and helped Canada to a sixth-place showing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Staff

With an opening game loss against the Calgary Dinos the host UVic Vikes are out of the running for the national women’s soccer championship at Centennial Stadium.

But hey, it’s the third national championship hosted by the University of Victoria this week, and you can’t win them all.

It’s all part of a roller coaster week of emotions for the Vikes athletics program, which saw the field hockey team win their 13th national title on home turf on Saturday. On Sunday the women’s rowing team finished second to UBC at the Canadian University Rowing Championships at Elk Lake, with one gold, four silver (women’s eight, women’s lightweight single, women’s open single and women’s open lightweight coxed four) and one bronze medal (women’s open lightweight double).

Win or lose, it’s a celebration of the University of Victoria’s success as a national athletics program. And it was made all the more real with the death of Eli Pasquale at just 59 years old on Monday. The university has organized a tribute to the life of Eli Pasquale for Saturday, Nov. 16, at the McKinnon Gymnasium.

READ MORE: Eli Pasquale’s impact on basketball in Victoria second to none, says former coach

This was the quiet kid who single-handedly rewrote Victoria’s basketball culture when he arrived at McKinnon Gym as a scrawny point guard from Sudbury, Ont., in 1979. As a leader of five straight national basketball titles from 1980 to 1984, Pasquale’s impact reached beyond basketball into the entirety of the Vikes program.

It’s safe to say the Vikes might not have the legacy they do if Pasquale chose a different school in 1979. The gravity of the championship week combined with Pasquale’s death is a collision that’s hit the Vikes at their core.

“The passing of Eli grounds you in reality, it’s a reminder that life is precious,” said Clint Hamilton, director of Vikes Athletics, and a member of the 1984 Vikes national championship team with Pasquale. “Championships are exciting, and I work with phenomenal people who are absolutely working their best and delivering exciting championships. Any time you get to watch a national championship, you cherish them and value them.”

Few university athletic directors in Canada hold their administrations to a standard as high as Hamilton does. The former U Sports (CIS) and Canada West national president is as prepared and organized as anyone in the industry. He helped drive the building of the $70 million Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities, and he led the bids for the Vikes recent hosting of the national women’s basketball (2017) and rugby championships (2016) as well. And still, nothing prepares you for the death of a major alumni, the guy they called Steve Nash before there was Steve Nash.

“It’s always challenging,” Hamilton said. “It’s been a range of emotions to go from watching the rowing team come within a whisker of winning the national title, and watching your events team deliver these championships, to have the heartbreak of losing Eli.

“I love working around championships. You see your athletes at their best and you know how hard they’ve worked. You get to see how they perform at their maximum, just like what Eli did. What he meant to the community and program at UVic, and what his family has gone through, it grounds you in reality. It’s why championships are critically important. But it grounds you.”

The public is welcome to the Eli Pasquale tribute on Nov. 16. Doors open at 2 p.m.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

School strike: SD63 says grade 12 students ‘will not lose their graduation year’

Parents, students concerned about educational impact of CUPE 441 strike

Sno’uyutth Day returns, this year celebrated at The Oaks

Songhees’ Florence Dick to speak about reconciliation

Christmas lights appear on Oak Bay Avenue

Installation marks the countdown to the annual Christmas Light Up

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

Oak Bay police respond to three car crashes in a week

Thief pulls smash and grab from store window on Oak Bay Avenue

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

Most Read