As we close in on the end of a decade it’s time to look back at the past 10 years of RDC sports.
The Kings volleyball program dominated the college scene for most of the decade, winning eight straight Alberta and national championships, beginning in the 1999-2000 season.
The Kings, led by head coach Keith Hansen, twice wrote their names in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Conference record book.
When they finished their eight-year run in 2007 they had 10 national titles — the first two coming in 1995 and ‘96. Limoilou College in Quebec City previously held both records of six straight championships and nine overall.
Hansen was on the bench for all but one of the championships, but he was still the architect of the 2000-01 gold medal winning team, which was coached by Richard Schick while Hansen took a year off to coach professionally in Germany.
Schick was no stranger to the RDC program, leading them on the court during their national championship runs in the 1990s.
Following his playing time at RDC he attended the University of Alberta and eventually played professionally before switching to the coaching ranks.
The year he coached the Kings proved to be a perfect stepping stone in his career. He went on to direct the U of A Golden Bears for two years, replacing head coach Terry Danyluk, who was on sabbatical, and is now the head coach at UBC.
While coaching at the U of A Schick led the Golden Bears to gold at the nationals in 2002 and silver the following year. He had taken the UBC Thunderbirds to the nationals six times since joining them in the 2003-04 season.
Hansen returned to the Kings for the 2001-02 season and may have done his best recruiting while he wasn’t even in the country.
Hansen added outside hitter Nicholas Cundy, setter Brock Davidiuk and hitter/libero Robert Ellis to the roster that rolled to the 2002 title. But that was just a taste of what was to come.
It was the 2002-03 season that was something to behold.
The Kings added right side hitter Dallas Soonias and middle Mac Kucharsky to the mix and they were unstoppable. They lost only three times all season and were perfect against college competition.
They lost to the Grande Prairie College Alumni, which included several former university and national team players — then beat the same team a week later, dropped a 3-2 decision to then No. 1 ranked CIS team in the country, the University of Alberta Golden Bears, and split an exhibition doubleheader against Brigham Young University in Utah. BYU went on to finish second in the NCAA championships.
The Kings not only won the national championship with ease, but won the U of Saskatchewan tournament, beating three top-six ranked CIS teams along the way.
While the Kings were the No. 1 story for the decade the volleyball Queens also grabbed part of the limelight, finishing second at the national finals in 2005 and winning the Alberta championship in 2009.
The Queens head into the new decade with an 10-0 record in ACAC play and the No. 2 ranking in Canada.
The RDC women’s cross-country running team was certainly strong over the second half of the decade.
Debby Querengesser placed second in the national championships in 2006 and 07, leading the RDC team to gold in 2007. The 2007 team also included Jodi Sanguin, who took over from Querengesser as the team leader and this year placed second at the nationals.
The basketball Kings had their ups and downs during the decade, but for the most part have been a solid playoff contender under head coach Craig Behan, who took over the coaching reigns in 2002. The 2003-04 season was their best when they lost a heart-breaking 78-72 decision to NAIT in the league final before well over 1,000 fans at RDC.
The decade hasn’t been as kind to the Queens, although there has been several bright spots, including the play of Jody Potts in the early portion of the decade when she led the Queens to the playoffs. She also had a record 478 points during the 2001-02 season. Potts went on to play at the University of Victoria and was named the Canada West defensive player of the year. Michelle Willson was also a bright spot for the Queens and went on to play for the U of Calgary.
The middle portion of the decade was a disaster for the RDC squad, but with the hiring the Dawn Smyth three years ago things are beginning to pick up.
Smyth had a solid recruiting class this season, as a win at Mount Royal in November shows.
But the decade also had its down period.
Following the 2003-04 season the college lost the Kings hockey program, when there simply wasn’t the finances to keep it going.
That was an end of an era, which saw the Kings dominate the Alberta and Canadian college hockey scene for several years in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Talk is that the program will be back, but that probably won’t happen until the college gets its own arena.
The arena would be part of the new athletic complex, which would include a new gymnasium and field house.
But that’s hopefully part of the next decade.