Athletics scores big

Athletics scores big

It’s been a stand-out year for King’s athletics, with a steady stream of awards and achievements. From badminton to basketball, volleyball to soccer, the Blue Devils made their mark and received accolades from the Canadian Collegiate Athletics Association (CCAA) and the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA).

“Simply put, we are ecstatic about the tremendous accomplishments of our teams [this year],” says Director of Athletics Neil Hooper. “This is a credit to the character and quality of the players and coaches that work together to produce these great results.”

We checked in with some of the players and coaches who’ve been part of this banner year.



Ritu Shah focuses as the badminton bird comes toward her - she is ready with a backhandComing hot off appearances at the Canada Games last year, members of King’s badminton team carried their winning streak throughout the 2023-24 season, straight to the ACAA and CCAA Championships. Second-year neuroscience student Ritu Shah was named ACAA Player of the Year, as well as CCAA Women’s Player of the Year. To top it all off, she brought home a gold medal in Women’s Singles from the CCAA National Championships—for the second year in a row.

“I had my eyes set on that second Women’s Singles gold since the very beginning of the season,” she explains. “I was very lucky to have my coaches [Aidan Badcock-Parks] and [Jack Ronahan] work with me throughout the year and push me towards my goal at every single practice. And at the tournament, it was incredibly motivating to be surrounded by my teammates who all delivered a top performance.

“It is an absolute honour to win a second gold for a school that has become like a second family to me. This has been a beyond incredible year for King’s athletics and I’m very happy to have been able to contribute to it.”

Shah wasn’t the only one who walked away from Nationals with a medal—Anna Dugandzic and Anna Gilles won bronze in Women’s Doubles.

“Winning a medal for a team our team of amazing athletes and amazing people is a great feeling,” says Dugandzic. “Everyone put in long hours and hard work, so it’s nice to be able to celebrate with them!”

Third-year microbiology student Thomas Ashton rounded out the team’s victories by winning gold in Men’s Singles. “I feel very proud and fortunate to have been able to come away successfully for [King’s] at the CCAA Badminton National Championships. I am grateful to my coaches, teammates and the school for all the support they continue to provide to our team.”

Ashton was also awarded ACAA Player of the Year.


This has been a beyond incredible year for King’s athletics and I’m very happy to have been able to contribute to it.


Women’s Volleyball

The players and coaches on the women’s volleyball team saw their hard work pay off come awards season. First-year student Maya Lees won the ACAA Rookie of the Year award, and Kaitlyn Legault was selected for the ACAA Player of the Year, as well as the CCAA All-Canadian award.

“It feels as though all of the hard work that I have put into this sport, and this team over the years, has been recognized and validated,” says Legault. “I look forward to continuing to contribute to King’s successes, and I am proud to be a part of the King’s athletics community.”

Coach Beate Shannon was named both ACAA and CCAA Coach of the Year—showing that behind this great team is a great leader.

“It has been a privilege to work with this tremendous group of athletes and the staff at [King’s] to further develop the program,” she says. “All my past experiences in the school and club system in Nova Scotia, as well as with Volleyball Nova Scotia/Volleyball Canada and Dalhousie, have helped me develop into the coach I am today. I am fortunate to be in a position to grow the sport I love.”

To top it all off, the team finished the season winning the ACAA championships—a first for the department.

Women’s Basketball

Women’s basketball finished their season stronger than ever, joining the growing roster of King’s ACAA champions for the first time in 24 years.

Jenna Bain, who was named to the ACAA’s Women’s Basketball All-Conference Second Team, reflects on the victory. “Bringing home the ‘ship for King’s was the best feeling in the world. We’ve been supported by the whole King’s community, and it finally felt like our hard work has paid off!”

Men’s Basketball

First-year Bachelor of Arts student Tariq Armstrong played a stellar season alongside his teammates, and his efforts were rewarded. Armstrong won ACAA Rookie of the Year, an experience he describes as “amazing, but also humbling.”

“I can’t thank my teammates and coaches enough for having put me in this position. I’m also very glad I chose to play at King’s this year!”


Men’s Soccer

Earlier this year, two players on the men’s soccer team received top honours competing at CCAA Nationals. Second-year students Luke Kotaska and Michael Zinck received the CCAA Championship All-Star award and CCAA All-Canadian award, respectively.

“It was definitely exciting,” Kotaska says. “I feel super lucky to get [this award] because there were a lot of really great players on my team who’ve had great showings … I was a little bit surprised, but super excited and happy to have been chosen for it.”

Another highlight of the team’s trip to Nationals was a dinner with Chancellor Debra Deane Little and her husband, Bob Little. The Chancellor and her husband are stalwart supporters of King’s athletics, and Zinck and Kotaska speak fondly of the experience.

Women’s Soccer

First-year student Iriana Theoharopoulos was named a CCAA All-Star player at the National Women’s Soccer Championships in November. However, unlike most players who receive the award, Theoharopoulos wasn’t there to receive it. In fact, she was enjoying a movie night with her parents when found out she’d won.

“We had just gotten home and we were all together,” she says. “It was really cute, I think my parents were more excited than I was.”

She accredits the team’s performance at the national level to the camaraderie and extreme positivity of the team.

When talking about the accomplishments of the Blue Devils teams, Hooper is quick to point out that he and the rest of the administration would be proud of the teams, win or lose.

“Another important point is that our student-athletes are great leaders on the courts and fields, but also in the classroom. This was truly a great year that will hold its place proudly in the rich history of King’s!”


Are you a high-achieving student who excels in athletics? Since 2019, King’s has celebrated the combination of athletic excellence and academic leadership in students with the Debra Deane Little and Robert Little Academic Scholarships for Varsity Athletes. Find out more. 

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