With all of the action wrapped up for the season, the Gazette sat down with Tigers varsity athletic director Tim Maloney to find out how he thought the 2016-17 year went and what he hopes the future will bring.
Gazette: What are your thoughts on how the year went?
Maloney: Well, I think after last year’s performance it was a pretty high bar for us to tackle this year but I think we can safely say that we improved over last year overall.
With the championships, we had 9 AUS banners that Dalhousie won. Two being the men’s and women’s curling which is a club team here, but great performance for them and another seven banners, which is tough to do.
When we look at how many varsity programs we have (14), to win over 50 per cent conference championships in those sports, I think is a lot for us to be proud of. Combined with, I think it was another seven AUS coach of the year awards, another 80 academic all-Canadians and our student athletes have continued to give back to the community.
When we look at those three pillars of success for us, being academics, athletics and community I think we had another great year.
Gazette: In the men’s volleyball final, in particular the Dalplex was packed, it was full and the people were excited. How did the attendance numbers look for home games this year?
Maloney: We’re still actually capturing all of the numbers but in general it looks like our attendance has improved year over year.
We’re still working on that student engagement piece, which will continue to be a focus for us for a long time. That’s something that we need to be attentive to and work on year over year.
You’re right (the men’s volleyball final) was arguably the best night in the Dalplex in the last ten years. Many people from Dalhousie and the community said to me that it was an electric environment, you couldn’t get a seat and that they hadn’t seen that in a long, long time. So that’s a really positive sign.
And when we went to the AUS basketball championships, that weekend as well, we had a great turnout from students, alumni and community. There was a lot of black and gold in the stands, which is great to see.
Gazette: 88 academic all-Canadians last year, 80 this year, how are Tigers student athletes doing in the classroom?
Maloney: Well that change actually stemmed from a slight increase in the academic all-Canadian standard on our campus (3.43GPA up to 3.5GPA). We would have had 88 again this year if that hadn’t of changed.
The overall academic performance of our student-athletes continues to be really-really good.
We always say that they’re student athletes, but students are first and that is the priority all of the time. I’m really, really pleased with the academic performance of our student-athletes and we hope that that just continues to improve.
Gazette: Looking forward to next year now that all of the action has wrapped up, what is the focus moving forward?
Maloney: Well the focus now is some final recruiting pieces for all of the teams. Although, I think we can safely say we’ve had a great recruiting year.
We have an exciting year ahead of us. All of our teams, I think, are in great positions going into next year. So if we add a few pieces to each team then I think we can improve.
We’re in the process of bringing on a new women’s soccer coach, which will be exciting.
We are hosting the final eight (CIS championships) men’s basketball tournament next year.
So the plan right now is to just keep getting better, to keep trying to set that bar higher and higher each year on the academic, athletic and community front. We want to continue to leave a great impression on Canada from a Dalhousie perspective.
For our men’s basketball team to play on national TV in a semifinal game this year, when no one expected them to win is fantastic. We lose one player from that team, we’ve landed a top-10 recruit in Canada and we’re hosting nationals next year. So that’s really exciting from a Dalhousie perspective.
All of our programs have shown great improvement this year. The swim teams coming fifth and sixth in the nation, our men’s track and field team coming eighth in the nation, our women’s cross country coming seventh, there’s lots, our women’s volleyball team came in top-10 (sixth).
So if you look at our top-10 performances across the board in the country and all those programs should be as good if not better next year.
It’s about a build. I think this job is a test of my patience because you want to be great at everything right away but it does take time. I’m really pleased with our coaching staffs, our student-athletes and our recruiting platform and we will continue to get better.