Sandra Viekle - Daily News Feature

February 3rd, 2013

Veikle savouring last weeks
Mariners senior libero aiming for return to CCAA championships in Lloydminster
Josh Aldrich
Daily News


Sandra Veikle's college volleyball career is in its final month.

The Vancouver Island University Mariners' fifth year senior transferred to the school three years ago, looking to play for a winner. The problem was, she found herself stuck behind one of VIU's all-time greats, Tamara Rosenlund. This year, however, Veikle grabbed the starting spot and has not let it go.

She comes from a big volleyball family on the Saskatchewan prairies and found a home in Nanaimo.

Now she is trying to soak up what's left of this season, which will likely include another run to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Conference Championships at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, Sask.

"I'm trying to savour the practices and savouring those big games, because I'm not really going to get the opportunity to play at this level for that much longer," said Veikle, 22.

That included this past weekend's match up where the CCAA No. 2 ranked Mariners split with the No. 1 ranked University of Fraser Valley Cascades.

"It was so fun to play an intense match like that and be pushed," said Veikle.

After staring in high school in Cut Knife, Sask., Veikle played the first two years of her career with the The King's University College Eagles in Edmonton. But the program was never a power in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association.

She wanted more. She wanted to play for a team that wasn't hoping to scrape into the postseason. She wanted to play for a team that was going to be a contender for national championships. She also needed a change of scenery from the Prairie life.

After an exhaustive search, she landed on the VIU and has not regretted the decision.

Head coach Shane Hyde was more than happy to welcome the ACAC's dig leader from the 200910 season into the fold.

But she had her work cut out for her to get into the lineup, playing behind Rosenlund.

"She was always been a better defender than Tamara, but it has always been her passing that kept her off (the floor). This year she has really improved her passing and has really owned the position," said Hyde, noting she is now holding off Rosenlund's younger sister Megan, who is a freshman.

This competition meant limited playing time her first year at VIU, but last year she started to take more an more floor time away from Rosenlund. But, with VIU hosting the CCAA championships last year, Rosenlund got the nod in her final shot at a national title.

It was a great story. But it also left Veikle watching a lot from the bench.

"It was tough because I wanted to be out there, but I like to think that by practicing so hard, I was making the other starting six that were out there, I was making them better in practice and hopefully good enough that they could succeed," she said. "It was hard, but it wasn't that hard. Those are my best friends and essentially family while I'm out here. Watching them play well was fun for me to enjoy."

Veikle will likely be in the same position Rosenlund was in this year. With the Pacific Western Athletic Association getting two spots at the CCAA's this year, the Mariners stand a good chance to grab one of them, needing only to make the PacWest final.

The CCAA's this year are at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, about an hour and 15 minutes from the 6,800-acre grain farm she grew up on.

It will be a chance for her family to watch her go out on top.

It is a lifestyle she has tried her best to impart on her teammates, preaching the Good News of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"I am always quick to say (Saskatchewan) is better," said Veikle. "I don't know if it actually is, but something inside me has always made me not forget about the place I grew up and had a lot of fond memories."

Both of her sisters also played college volleyball. She actually played two years with her older sister Sarah at Kings' before transferring to VIU. Her younger sister Sabrina played for a year at Columbia Bible College.

"Playing with an older sister can sometimes be challenging when you think you're right and they think they're right, so we definitely butted heads a couple of times," she said. "But overall it was really fun because we were both really intense and really into the game."

Veikle is now mulling her options for the future, and they are many.

She can pursue a career with a physical education degree with dreams of becoming a community school coordinator and developer, she may have opportunities to play in Europe with some of her friends who are already there, or she may even take a shot at the Canadian national team, joining fellow Mariners senior Dani Smith. Sarah also lives out in Winnipeg, where the national team is based, so that weighs in as well. But first, she is going to make the most of her final few weeks with VIU.

"I'm just really enjoying this year's play," said Veikle. "Out of all five years, this would probably be my best year."

The Mariners host the Douglas College Royals this weekend, playing at 6 p.m., on Friday and then 1 p.m. on Saturday. The men will follow on both days.