2016 as a whole was an up and down year for the general public and most people viewed it as one of the worst years in recent memory. When you look at Canadian University Sports, it was quite the opposite. 2016 was filled with upsets, overtime drama, thrilling championship games and much more than we could have ever asked for. With all the great games, there are some amazing pictures that came out of them, so I decided to do some research and try and find some of these hidden gems within Canadian University Sports.
Since most schools use all major social media outlets and things get lost so easily on Twitter and Facebook, I decided to restrict the photos to just those that were posted on Instagram between January 1st and December 31st. Below are my top 15 U SPORTS/CIS photos of 2016 posted to Instagram.
*For the Record: I decided to exclude any photos taken by myself to avoid any potential for favouritism*
#15 | Starting off the list is UBC Thunderbirds Women’s Soccer. Scoreless after 120 minutes, Goaltender Marlee Maracle made three huge saves in penalty kicks to help lift the Thunderbirds to victory and move on to the national title game.
#14 | Number 14 comes from Waterloo Warriors Football wide receiver Rob Summerfield. The photo speaks for itself.
#13 | Number 13 brings us back to UBC Women’s Soccer. A group of players celebrate together in the pouring rain. Every photographer can tell you: the rain sucks to shoot in, but it makes for some amazing photos.
#12 | Waterloo Warriors make their second appearance on the list as linebacker, #46 Kurtis Gray battles Queens Gaels receiver #8 Rudy Uhl to break up the pass. As someone who has not had the opportunity to shoot a ton of OUA football, but is a huge fan of it, this photo is a great action shot from Warriors photographer Steve Brooks.
#11 | From the west coast back to the east, Laurier Golden Hawks Football photographer Kha Vo captured this great shot of running backs Levondre Gordon getting tackled by a Carleton Ravens defender.
#10 | UBC seems to have some talented photographers at their school as they make their third appearance on the Top 15 list. Bob Frid normally captures the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy team, but on this occasion he captured receiver Josh Sangha stretching out as far as he can to haul in a catch. Is this the third and final time we see UBC on this list? You’re gonna have to keep reading to find out.
#9 | As someone who has a catwalk readily accessible to him to shoot from, I can appreciate how much work goes into getting a shot like this. To perfectly time players trying to box each other out and have the ball perfectly lined up in the basket is tough. What makes it tougher is the fact you have to do it from floor level with remotes. Much respect to Rich Lam for all the work he does for the University of British Columbia.
#8 | I remember being in a hotel room on UBC’s campus for Men’s Basketball nationals last year while watching this game. In triple overtime, Michael Clarke wristed home a powerplay game-winning goal to send St. FX to the national championship. This shot perfectly captures the madness that ensued in the celebration after that goal.
#7 | If you know anything about McMaster Volleyball, you know one of two things. One, they’re kinda good. They recently beat the NCAA’s #1 ranked team and defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes in STRAIGHT SETS. Two, they’re almost a lock to make the OUA and almost certainly the national championship games each year. Outside Hitter #9 Danny Demyaneko screams in celebration as the Marauders would move on to the national championship.
#6 | Sports shows you the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. #6 on our list shows you one of the lowest of low’s that Calgary Dino’s Natalie Arnett felt this year. After being stunned by the Manitoba Bisons in the first round of the playoffs, the Dino’s were left in dismay.
#5 | Unlike a lot of names featured on this list, Chris Blanchette from Ryerson isn’t your normal photographer. He is a writer first, photographer second. As someone who has shot along side Chris for a couple years now, this is one of the best photos I’ve seen. It perfectly captures the pure joy of Rams guard Adika Peter-McNeilly and Ryerson University President Mohamed Lachemi as they had water unexpectedly dumped on them during their team photo after capturing their first Wilson Cup.
#4 | The Vanier Cup was an extremely competitive game. It was exactly what you want out of a national championship game. Back and forth, lots of lead changes, and it comes down to the final minutes. But in the end, the dynasty that is the Laval Rouge et Or would come out on top over the Calgary Dinos. As great as celebration shots can be, heart break and defeat photos can be just as powerful and emotional. Dinos’ Iyanu Ojekale reflects on the 31-26 Vanier Cup loss on November 26, 2016
#3 | The Thunderbirds make their final appearance on this list and do so with not one, but two photos at number three on the countdown. Thunderbirds pitcher Curtis Taylor celebrates with his family after hearing his name called in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was one of three Thunderbirds to be drafted. Amazing moments captured.
#2 | Curling may not be an elite university sport, in the sense that it doesn’t have the biggest following, the most fans, or the most coverage compared to most sports. But everyone can appreciate all the effort that athletes put in to try and achieve the goal of winning a national championship. No better feeling than using your national championship banner as a blanket.
#1 | Everyone’s time in university sports as an athlete is limited. Once those years are done, no one knows what will happen next, but they will always have the memories made during those years to look back on. You meet people who will have an impact on your life but when Matt Letkeman joined the Calgary Dinos, he probably didn’t expect to be impacted by “Wild Bill” the way he was. This photo perfectly captures the emotions felt by the two friends on Matt’s senior night. This photo tops the Dinos’ list for photo of the year and it tops ours as well.
One thing learned from this list is that there is some amazing talent in Canadian University Sports, and not just those who compete on the field, but those who document and cover it as well.